Feature

Free To Play

Free To Play On $20 A Day, Second Edition

We revisit our coverage of the worst things in the world to spend money on. The list now includes alpacas, crimes against humanity, and PSY.

By Joe Keiser and Effigy Power • March 27, 2013

It’s been nearly a year since we last talked about free-to-play games and how they blend play and market mechanics into fine works of capitalist art—think of them as digital theme parks, where admission costs nothing but the pretzels are five dollars and also don’t, technically, exist. They were big business then, but they’re ubiquitous now, and it’s becoming harder to think of these “free now, pay for extras later” exercises as strange.

So here’s a reminder. For $20 you could choose from any number of classic games, with structure and meaning and intent. Or you could spend nothing and jump into a game with an overt intention of twisting your desires, watching in horror as you spend 20 bucks on pretend colanders and proclaim yourself the champion of straining pasta. For second time, here is what that money gets you in the world of free-to-play.

Note: Due to obfuscation and fluctuation, all fake-currency-to-real-money exchange rates are estimated.

NRA
NRA: Practice Range (iPhone/iPad): A varied 20-gun arsenal

Price: $20

The NRA famously called video games a “corrupting shadow industry,” so here they are to show everyone a better way. For no money, they’ll give you a small number of guns and let you shoot at man-shaped targets all day long. They’ll also provide useful gun safety tips like “Make sure the gun is safe to operate.” That’s the Platonic ideal of a gun safety tip!

For every dollar you give them, they’ll add one gun to your arsenal. It’s a curated group of weapons perfect for the sporting huntsman or personal defense—you know, like the Dragunov SVD sniper rifle that cut its teeth in Vietnam. Clearly other game makers have a lot to learn about crafting family-friendly entertainment.

Odin Quest
Odin Quest (Browser): PSY

Price: 390 Goldleaf

Most free-to-play games have the same basic strategy, which goes something like this:

  • 1. Build an appealing fantasy world
  • 2. Show them cool stuff within that world
  • 3. Charge them to get to that stuff faster, or at all

Odin Quest, a swords-and-sorcery game from China, has steps one and three down pretty well. But it’s replaced step two with “sell anything anyone could possibly want, free of international copyright restriction.” Sexy costumes? Easy, that will be $20. You want to play as Mario, from Nintendo, but he shoots magic missiles from his hands? Great! $20. Do you want to be PSY, and have him dance Gangnam Style, but now it ends in a kick that is devastating to giant spiders? NO PROBLEM TWENTY DOLLARS. Art stolen inspired by World Of Warcraft is free.

Camelot
Kingdoms Of Camelot: Battle For The North (iPhone/iPad): Hypnotize the overworked serfdom into thinking they’re happy, twice

Price: 200 gems

Kingdoms Of Camelot is probably the greatest simulation of raw capitalism ever devised. The game starts by giving you seven days to build and fortify your cities as fast as you can, with an in-game store ready and waiting to help in exchange for dollars. Enjoy those seven days, because when they end, every other, richer kingdom will start pillaging your lands to better its own economic standing, leaving you to rebuild. How to get out of this endless cycle of destruction? Well, that cash shop is right over there…

Or you could just order a little bit of mass hypnosis and buy your war-ravaged subjects some false happiness, so they’ll whistle while they work harder, for a moment or two anyway. At least that way, somebody will be happy. Amnesty International might have something to say about your method of governance, though.

LOTR
The Hobbit: Kingdoms Of Middle Earth (iPhone/iPad): Force the elven populace into a joyous drunken stupor, twice

Price: 200 Mithril

Kingdoms Of Middle Earth cements Kingdoms Of Camelot’s status as an incredible feat of capitalism, because Kingdoms Of Middle Earth is Kingdoms Of Camelot. They share much of the same art, the tutorial is exactly the same, and the items in the cash shop are only superficially changed. They did rename the “Squire’s Hourglass” so now it’s “Bilbo’s Hourglass”. So, good effort.

Instead of hypnotizing your decimated Elven subjects, in this game you can buy them all a round and achieve the same effect. Whether this is a more or less responsible method of leadership is an argument you can leave to historians.

Smurf
Smurfs’ Village (iPhone/iPad): 50 homeless man-Smurfs

Price: 250 Smurfberries

Man, have you seen your Smurf village? It looks like, well, a village. You’ll never make crazy Smurf gold at this rate, so consider investing in a pack of young, able-bodied male Smurfs. They don’t need houses, and they work for free. You can use them to farm the land, build, or perform other menial tasks you don’t have time to do. Pretty soon, you’ll have one of those high-level Smurf villages, which are definitely whimsical and fun forest wonderlands even though they all inexplicably look like labor camps.

Oh, you want lady Smurfs? Those cost six times more. But in the fine tradition of Smurf villages everywhere, you don’t need that many of them.

Mermaid
Mermaid World (iPhone/iPad): Between one and 12 mermaids of varying desirability

Price Varies

Mermaid World is a game where you collect mermaids and keep them in what is basically an aquarium. Then you force them to sing so they attract other mermaids you can toss into more aquariums. This is a pretty good, low-impact (for you) way to grow your mermaid collection—if you only want “common” mermaids, anyway. For a real chance at the rare “gilded” or “limited edition” mermaids, you have to head to the mermaid market, where each lovely princess of the deep is priced based on demand. So if you want to spend hours staring longingly at a diamond swan mermaid—because in the world of mermaid buying and selling, only the mermaids are beautiful—you will pay dearly for the privilege.

Power Coin
Power Of Coin (iPhone/iPad): Coins

Price: $20

Let’s not think about how the man who made Sonic the Hedgehog now leads a company that makes games like Power of Coin, where you buy coins to throw coins at coins so you can GET MORE COINS, but instead you run out of coins and have to buy more. Let’s not linger on the fact that this is a game where you figuratively throw money away so that you can literally throw money away. Hey, remember when you bought your Sega Genesis and it came with Sonic The Hedgehog, for free? Yeah, that’s a nice memory. Let’s think about that.

FFATB
Final Fantasy: All The Bravest (iPhone/iPad): 20 beloved characters from your childhood that were previously withheld from you

Price: $20

I see you there, Final Fantasy: All The Bravest. You thought you could fool us all into thinking you’re not a free-to-play game, just because you cost some money. But once someone buys in, it’s all the same tricks. In the game, you swipe haphazardly at the screen to view explosive pastiches of legendary battles from classic Final Fantasy games—it’s a game a cat can play. But to add your favorite Final Fantasy characters to these battles, you have to pay, and then you get one randomly, so it could be one you hate or don’t even know. And the characters don’t change anything about the game, because nothing can be changed about the game, or the cats will get confused. So here we are, spending money to paw uselessly at our childhood memories—trying to get them back, but doing this instead.

CS Racing
CSR Racing (iPhone/iPad): A down payment on an Audi

Full car price: $80

CSR Racing is a drag racing game where you press your thumb against the screen to drive fast. If you’ve upgraded your car enough, you win. Since that’s all there is to work with here, the only thing left to do is press the win button with style. So why not bling out your garage with one of the most coveted sports cars in the world, the Nürburgring-winning Audi R8 LMS Ultra? Do you have that $20? Man, you can’t even afford a pretend version of this car. Come back when you have $80, and don’t let anyone tell you that you could use that money to get a real racing game that has Audi A8s included.

Pockie Pirates
Pockie Pirates (Browser): Two broken seashells

Price: $16

Pockie Pirates, an eye-searing browser game that plays itself, has to do something to get the money for the popular anime licenses it is already using. Unfortunately, it has nothing of value to sell you, so it has undertaken the four-year-old-on-the-beach business plan of selling broken shells it found in the muck. But wait, you think, maybe the shells provide some kind of additional in-game perk that justify their price? Well, let’s see: These shells over here increase your defense against magic by 0.90 percent. So if a wizard sets you on fire, this will make sure you are only 99.1 percent on fire. Maybe you can get that one and the one that makes you only 99.1 percent stabbed with a sword.

Eden Eternal
Eden Eternal (PC): A lime green alpaca

Price: 1,999 Aeria Points

So you have some money. That’s great. Eden Eternal has a fluffy, lime green alpaca that they will give you in exchange for money. Does this even seem like an even trade, no matter what the amount of money is? It’s an alpaca, and it’s green. You can ride it, or (I’m hypothesizing) shave it and make a coat for a clown. Did you know alpacas are hypoallergenic? They also have lots of stomachs. Here’s a video about potty training alpacas, so that’s not an issue anymore. What I’m trying to say is, this is a pretty good deal.

Crystal Saga
Crystal Saga (Browser): One divorce

Price: 1,945 gems

In Crystal Saga, love is free, and anyone who plays this anime-inspired multiplayer role-playing game for long enough can get married to any other player, no real dollars required. And that’s a beautiful thing. But let’s say that you come home early, and you find your beautiful wife running her hands through another man’s fluffy, pointed cat ears. Your Crystal Saga is shattered, and you know you have to get on with your life. Well, it turns out that divorce papers do cost real money, and more of it than nearly anything else in the game—it’s cheaper to bring a pet back from the dead. So now you have a trial separation, you live alone with a zombified Pomeranian, and your new girlfriend has wondered for years why you change the subject when she talks about rings.

Words by Joe Keiser. Illustrations by Effigy Power.

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  • PaganPoet

    Being a bit taken aback by the phrase “drag racing game” in the blurb for CSR Racing totally reminded me that drag race totally had a meaning before RuPaul snatched it and ran with it. Is there a RuPaul’s Drag Race free-to-play game? I want that one.

    • Jackbert

      There’s one based on Paris is Burning, but you have to pay $5 for each individual Vogue.

      • PaganPoet

        $0.99 to add each of the following words to your lexicon:

        work
        shantay
        sashay
        hunty
        kiki
        realness
        serve
        dive
        read
        shady

        • Jackbert

          SPOILERS

          At the end, somebody named Madonna just steals all your XP anyway.

    • O Superman

      In fact, there’s a game coming soon (allegedly, it’s been delayed since November) called Dragopolis, with art by my friend Chad Sell, the guy who does the Drag Race prints that get a fair amount of play online. It looks to be RPGish and is supposed to have Pandora Boxx, Yara Sofia and Peaches Christ. Their FB page has been dormant for a while but they’ve been teasing that something might come soon.

      • PaganPoet

        I hope Yara Sofia’s character has collectible contact lenses and hair pieces.

        You’re friends with Chad Sell? His Drag Race prints are pretty awesome, especially Milan swiffering the floor with her taint.

        • Chum Joely

          “Swiffering the floor with her taint.”

          I have to go lie down for a while so that my stomach will be calmed down again in time for lunch.

        • PaganPoet

          @ChumJoely:disqus Observe: http://www.deviantart.com/download/286539169/milan__swiffer_by_shadcell-d4qlj1d.gif

          (Don’t worry, it’s SFW)

        • O Superman

          Yeah, we were buds when I was in grad school and I try my best to keep in touch with him, although it’s not as easy now since he’s in Michigan and I’m in DC. But yeah, I love his stuff; I’ve got Manila, Raja and Delta Work all hanging in my apartment.

        • Chum Joely

          @PaganPoet:disqus Swifferrific.

        • Persia

          When you level up you get new wigs!

    • Chum Joely

      Totally.

  • caspiancomic

    I’m beginning to worry I might not like Eff anymore.* I mean, can you really like someone and experience entrenched, bone-deep envy of them at the same time? If I, too, can one day collect my twentieth stud, will I unlock the opportunity to write or illustrate for Gameological? Alternatively, can I spend 200 Soupy Bucks to unlock the privilege right away?

    More to the point: I believe I have only ever once actually payed for content that can otherwise be unlocked normally. It was in the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Back when I was playing it just to grind up my Galactic Readiness and had a whole squad of boring level 1 humans, back before I started playing with some butties from right here on the site, I actually dropped five bucks on a couple of equipment/character packs to help alleviate how boring multiplayer is when you’re just starting out. Now that I’ve got a bit more of a head start, I actually seem to be earning enough credits the old fashioned way to buy the packs without having to spend actual money. The drop rates for characters are still crap, though. Most times I pick up a pack it’s full of useless garbage or one-time-use upgrades, or whatever. Never anything cool, like a Volus Adept, or a Hanar.

    *I’m kidding of course. All hail Queen Power!

    • Jackbert

      I haven’t bought anything in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, but I spent like $10 in packs in Fifa 11 Ultimate Team (you build a team out of packs and an bidding market and play games with said team to earn credits to buy packs and bid), built up a good team, but only played for a couple weeks. And @PaganPoet:disqus was a Volus Adept when I played multiplayer with him last weekend, the lucky bastard.

      • PaganPoet

        Yeah, I read its one of the most rare characters, right? I really lucked out on that one, it was literally the first Reserves Pack I bought. That Biotic Orbs ability is awesome, but the little fucker can’t go into cover…too chubby to kneel???

      • Bakken Hood

        Eh, a well-driven volus is a serviceable enough support player, but you have to spend the whole game hiding because you’re about as bulletproof as a ripe cantaloupe.  Now the new Krogan Warlord Sentinel, there’s a class that never gets old.  If paying money let you choose what class was in your Reserves Pack, I’d 1) wish an even more painful death on EA’s brass, and 2) be sorely tempted.

      • OldeFortran77

        You spent $$$ on Fifa 11 ? Are you the guy who was  stealing everyone’s Xbox Live accounts last year?!

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      There seem to be a number of talented illustrators in the commenting ranks; if you’d like to be considered to illustrate a Gameological feature down the line, email me at john (at) gameological (dot) com. It’s a paying gig. (You’re not going to get rich, but still.) Effigy has encouraged me to make more use of the readers’ artistic talents, and she’s right to do so. 

      • caspiancomic

         I believe you will be hearing from my people, Mr. Teti.

        • Effigy_Power

          Yeah, who feels like a turd now, huh? I stuck my neck out for you! ^_^

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          I need Fluka here to remind me to WORK ON MY THESIS and not to just chuck it and start shilling for freelance work I have zero time for.

          Though it would be lovely to make an aesthetic contribution to my favorite video game site (and possibly favorite site period)…

        • Fluka

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus (Three hours later)

          FINISH YOUR THESIS.

      • Citric

        I’d like to get money, but am not so good at the drawing. Are there any other opportunities for me to get money?

        • HobbesMkii

           There sure are. First, call up everyone you know with money. Then, tell them you’ve got a dynamite sure investment strategy that pays well over the average market interest, but they need to invest now. When they invest, use the money you’ve collected to pay each investor his or her interest. Keep the rest for yourself. Encourage them to tell their friends about it. With each subsequent investor’s money, pay the others their interest. Now, the trick is to get out before the SEC notices you’re selling unregistered securities, so as soon as you have an investor who asks to look at the financial model in closer detail and you can’t shake them off by spinning bullshit, you should probably pack up and go to a tropical country without an extradition treaty with the U.S.

        • stakkalee

          @HobbesMkii:disqus Pssh, that’s WAY too much work!  Couldn’t we just rob a bank?  What about a kidnapping (either real or staged?)  And what’s wrong with a good, old-fashioned mugging?

          I’ve got it!  Soupy and I fake a murder-suicide plot while @Citric:disqus romances Nipsy.  Then, while John’s grieving for Soupy, @Citric:disqus convinces Nipsy to convince John to change his will, then you kidnap John and fake his death, allowing Nipsy to inherit GS!  Since cats aren’t interested in anything like hard work, we buy Soupy and Nipsy out on the cheap with some prime mackerel, then you, me and Citric sell the site to Kotaku, and by the time John frees himself from that South American Turkish prison we’ll be long gone with the loot!

          Hmm, perhaps I shouldn’t have publicly posted this.

        • Enkidum

          Buy low, sell high.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          I can draw muppets and make cookies, does that count for something?

        • Effigy_Power

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus: Wan cookie, muah muah muah. Two cookies, muah muah muah…

      • fieldafar

        That’s it, I’ll definitely take the time to learn how to draw. 

      • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

        Does contributing drawing puns about games count, because I put almost five minutes of effort into this badboy yesterday.

        Mediocre wordplay trumps genuine artistic talent any day of the week, my mama says.

        • Destroy Him My Robots

          I can draw misguided conclusions and ire, but they never come up in Pictionary.

        • The_Misanthrope

          Great job, Effigy Power!

          I can draw blood, draw the line, draw the curtains, draw a bath, draw money from the bank, draw a card from deck, draw strength, and draw out this sentence far too long.

          Are any of those worth anything? 

      • Cloks

        If you’re looking for deliberately terrible artwork, I’ll drop you a line.

      • George_Liquor

        Oooh pick me! Sure, I can’t even draw a bath, but I’ve got moxy!

        • Chum Joely

          Come back when you’ve got moxie and a spellchecker, Liquor.

        • George_Liquor

          I got American Moxy, not your crappy British Moxie.

        • HobbesMkii

           Ugggh, Moxie is the worst soda ever.

      • Aaron Riccio

        I can draw these squiggly things called letters . . . does that count? ;)

    • The Guilty Party

      They recently (I don’t know how recently, i took a break) came out with character-heavy packs. So for 99000 credits, you get a rare/ultrarare pack with a very high chance for characters. It’s worked pretty well for me. (They have a weapon-heavy one too, if that’s your thing)

    • Army_Of_Fun

      For all the shit EA gets, their small transaction model is quite good. Certainly true for ME3 MP at any rate. Unlike the ‘free’ to play model, where you can’t really even play the game unless you put down some real money or spend a day or two not playing the game you supposedly want to play. You can play ME3′s MP for fun and get rewarded with exactly the same items and characters you can get by paying extra for them. What isn’t clear is if that model would hold up without the high base game cost subsidizing the ‘moocher class’ to paraphrase, uh, what’s his name? I want to say, Trance Manface?

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        I’m fairly certain that EA’s influence led to the micro-transactions in Dead Space 3, but the way they were included was inoffensive enough that I was several hours into the game before I even noticed the DLC menu. Heck, you could trade for the packs with an item you collect in-game as well, so I also could’ve “bought” them without any actual money involved.

        Really, the whole thing was superfluous to the game, and not in a “horse-armor” way. The game had its own horse-armors, to be fair, but that’s getting away from the topic.

    • Halloween_Jack

      I haven’t gotten into ME3 MP yet; I have spent money (via Microsoft Points) on weapon packs, even with the pretty decent ones that drop in the game, because the Geth SMG is the shiznit, and so is the Indra sniper rifle. (I also got one of the appearance packs for ME2, just to put some armor on Miranda, because the fanservicey booty shots were starting to grate on me.) 

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        I bought appearance packs for Final Fantasy XIII-2, just becuase the default outfits were so terrible. I’m on to you, Square Enix!

        • PaganPoet

          Oh god, Noel’s default pants reminded me of those super baggy JNCO jeans that was popular with all the wannabe cholo kids in the 90s at my middle school. Awful.

    • Effigy_Power

      Don’t hate me. I am not bad, I just draw that way.

      • George_Liquor

        I dig ‘em. The car salesman in particular, who reminds me of Stan from the Monkey Island games.

      • Morgan Filbert

         That is both a filthy lie and a great film reference Effigy.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    Nice work, Eff.  How long before you drop your nom-de-post and make this thing above the table?

    • Effigy_Power

      Ah, my secret identity shall never be revealed. I may not be the hero you want, but I am the hero you bloody well shall get.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        Probably for the best.  You don’t want to know about the hero I want.

        • HobbesMkii

          GIMPMAN!

      • Effigy_Power

        @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus: Yeah, I mean where am I going to get a contured buttplug and a cape made from money?

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I didn’t know a contoured buttplug was a luxury. What sort of untapered slab of silicone are you used to?!  And what mystic of the ancient Orient provided the esoteric knowledge to use it?

    • Fluka

      Yeah Effigy_Power!  Yeah art!

      • Effigy_Power

        In future I want all comments to be like that one.
        Only naked. And stuffed with fivers. And lobster.

  • Enkidum

    So, uh, this article is depressing. 

    In other news, has anyone else just checked out the Square Enix sale on PSN? Holy crap, I’m going to buy a bunch of stuff there – basically almost all their games are <10 bucks, and DLCs are a buck each or less.

    Do I want Kane and Lynch? Never played it, think I might want to though.

    • Citric

      Why buy Kane and Lynch when Odin Sphere is $5?

      I’m really bad at Odin Sphere, but I should give it another go.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

      Considering the “financial” troubles Square seems to be going through, maybe having sales is a bad idea for them.

      • neodocT

        Or maybe it’s a great idea because it’s a quick way to raise capital? It’s not like people were exactly lining up to buy the PSN version of Kane and Lynch before…

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

          I was mostly being tongue-in-cheek with my comment. Maybe the sales will do them a world of good!

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        It sounds like game publishers are starting to get unrealistic expectations about sales figures. If you’re in a position where you need to break sales records in order to break even, then there’s a serious problem in the way you fund development and promotion.  

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          I meant comment about this on the news post on Monday, but it sounds similar to the situation with EA, just more serious.

          I’m no expert on economics, but I would hazard a guess and say that this is a result of the way large corporations with shareholders work. Shareholder’s profit when the company grows in value, so the business needs to aim for more sales and larger budgeted games, but there’s no way to guarantee that for every game. If a business could decide they didn’t want to be on that treadmill, well, I doubt many shareholders would stick around.

          I recall another instance of this with Resident Evil 6. According to Capcom, it under-performed. How many copies has it sold? Five million.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          @The_Helmaroc_King:disqus : Yes, in order to appease shareholders, publishers need to be more ambitious. They need to increase the market for their games. The problem is that they are doing it so poorly.

          Some of these problems are inherent (for example, it’s not always easy to tell if a game will be “good” when it gets the green light). But publishers can also compound their problems by throwing good money after bad money (e.g.: market the hell out of a game that was expensive yet turned out shitty).  

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          @twitter-493417375:disqus For some reason, I had thought that the marketing budget of most games would be lower than the development budget, but I went looking for some numbers and it seems like the opposite might be true.

    • djsubversive

      Did you ever play Freedom Fighters, the 3rd-person game where you’re a plumber saving New York from Russians, Red Dawn-style? Plus, it had music by Jesper Kyd (who did the music for the Hitman games).

      Kane and Lynch is kind of like FF, gameplay-wise, but it looks  a lot better. K&L hate each other, Lynch is fucking psychotic, and things always keep getting worse.

      It’s not a bad game, really, but there are better ones out there (if you see Freedom Fighters, snatch that shit up; it’s a good one). I guess it depends on if you like heist-gone-bad and revenge stories (the construction site… “You should! Have let me! Talk to them!”).

      Oh, and the last chapter turns into a slog through Cuba with a shitload of soldiers and some APCs and just… a lot of shit that the game hasn’t prepared you to deal with. It loses a lot of the fun the previous levels had (a bank heist AND the getaway, a Heat-style street-shootout after a job in a skyscraper, a crowded nightclub, and a hostage negotiation that goes bad fast, to name a few).

      • Enkidum

        Yeah, after reading a few reviews I decided to just settle for Deus Ex and all the DLC (played it until like halfway through the last mission on Xbox and then there was a disc error, fuuuuuuck, but it’s worth going through again), Sleeping Dogs and most of the DLC, and Just Cause 2 and all the DLC. Might actually get Lara Croft & The Temple of Light, because it looks decent, although apparently the story and script are stoooopid. Kane and Lynch just looked like more mediocre games than I need right now.

        And I just discovered that Stacking and Costume Quest are both like 7 bucks. Never played anything by Double Fine, might have to start there…

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        I was really fond of Freedom Fighters for a time. It wasn’t a blockbuster but it was interesting enough and had good mechanics. It’s the earliest game I remember playing that had rag-doll physics.

        I especially liked the squad mechanics. They were simplistic, since you could only give an order to the next person in a revolving queue or give an order to the entire squad, but it was quick to pick up and it fit the scale of the game’s combat.

  • Citric

    Ah, Bilbo’s Hourglass, because Bilbo is most famous for his high quality hourglass craftsmanship.

    • PaganPoet

      I’m torn…should I go with Bilbo’s Hourglass, or Smaug’s Handmade Marzipan?

      • The Guilty Party

        COINS.

        ALWAYS MORE COINS.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        The hourglass.  Smaug likes to put orange extract in his marzipan.  He thinks it makes it a bit more ‘Mediterranean’, but it just tastes kinda’ burnt.

      • Morgan Filbert

        What about Legolas’ Leg-o-Lamb? A full elf is a happy elf.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       I’m a sucker for anything Tolkien so I looked into this game and was very confused at how they were coming up for names of things.  Knowing that it is a re-skin of another game clear things up.

  • Mercenary_Security_number_4

    Its time to play: Are the following statements about guns or video games?
    Here’s a list of quotes, all made by gun industry representatives.  Are they talking about deadly weapons or computer software?

    1. “There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people”

    2. “They’re a tool, not any different than a car or a baseball bat.”

    3. ““Who knows? Maybe you’ll find [product] under your tree some frosty Christmas morning!”

    4. “stakeholders such as managers and manufacturers should target programs toward youth 12 years old and younger.”

    5. “kids love [product].”

    hint: Its always the most ironic choice.

    • djsubversive

      “all made by gun industry representatives” eh? I’ll play your game.
      1. video games
      2-5. guns

      What do I win? A depressing reminder of how fucked-up this world is? Because I already have a couple of those in my closet. I could use a new video game console or a gun, though, if you’ve got any extras lying around.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Is a baseball bat really considered a tool? Like, you can play baseball with it, sure but what else can you do with it? Oh I guess you could use it as a weapon? Like a gun… What even are the requirements of being a tool, besides an NRA membership?

      BOOSH and/or KAKOW!

      (Also, wait what. Why are we talking about guns?)

      • Morgan Filbert

        You could beat a shed into construction. Maybe perform blunt force open heart surgery? It can also perform admirably as a makeshift raft, as long as they’re wooden and you have 15 to 20 of them and some twine to tie them with.

      • uselessyss

        I think Pulp Fiction taught us all that in terms of usefulness:

        hammer < baseball bat < chainsaw < katana

  • fieldafar

    A virtual divorce for $20? If only it were that cheap in real life! Hi-yo!

    …anyway, I love the Effigy Power illustrations. Wouldn’t mind seeing more in future articles.

    • Effigy_Power

      Well said. Have a badly drawn fiver.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      It’s like the $15 exit fee at the Mystery Shack.

  • http://twitter.com/SteveCall5 Steve Call

    just before I saw the check which was of $4785, I did not believe …that…my best friend woz like actualey taking home money parttime on their computer.. there best friend has done this for only about 15 months and by now paid the dept on their apartment and purchased Lotus Carlton. I went here,………….. BIT40. ℂom

    • Chum Joely

      Whoa, I made a typo, went back to edit it, and got a pop-up that said all edits by author are being reviewed by moderators. We’ll be feeling the repercussions of that dust-up in the Bioshock: Infinite review for a while, I guess… THANKS OBAMA

      • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

        I haven’t changed any settings. Sounds like a Disqus belch.

        • Chum Joely

          What? But normally it’s so reliable!

          Thanks for the feedback. Anyway it was not exactly a masterpiece of commentry.

    • Chum Joely

      So my comment is gone but Steve Call here is still advertising his awesome services with no problem. Interesting new policy.

  • DrFlimFlam

    My son once spent $99 in the iTunes store. I had all the password check controls in place, but when I turned on the iPad the next day it was prompting me for my password. I figured I must have forgotten something, so I punched it in.

    They gave me the money back.

    If I download an indie developer game for free and like it, I will throw $1-3 at them to say thanks, like with Knights of Pen and Paper. Otherwise, I will never pay an extra dime for virtual crap.

  • EmperorNortonI

    I’ll admit it.  I have paid money on a Free to Play game.  I have spent about $50 on League of Legends.  Yes, I didn’t have to.  I could have played a rather insane amount to accumulate points sufficient to buy the characters I now own.  But I had played enough for free, and enjoyed it enough, that I felt almost guilty for NOT paying something.  It’s a damn good game, and I’d got a lot of enjoyment for free – nearly as much as I’d gotten from many games I’d paid for.

    That said, these all look like horrible, horrible rip-offs.  While I appreciate the comedic value of such a list, an appraisal of the FTP games where it’s actually worth spending some money, just to give thanks for well-crafted gaming experiences, might be worthwhile.  I dunno, an inventory of the 10 best ways to spend $20 in FTP games, or something.

    Still, this was absolutely hilarious.  I loved the homeless Smurf.

    • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

      Given that I was just talking about a possible F2P round-up feature before this was posted, I agree about there being a space to fill for discussing what’s worthwhile in the market.  This is a fun article (and great illustrations!) but it’s more like something I’d expect to see at Cracked.

    • Logoboros

      I’ve spent a grand total of $40 on F2P games, in the form of two $20 “points” cards for two different games. The first was D&D Online, which I used to buy some adventure packs — which seemed like a pretty reasonable value (if only they game were better — its key failure is a lack of variety, which is fairly inexcusable when you’ve got the entire world of D&D to draw from, especially volumes and volumes of Monster Manuals).

      The other was Star Trek Online, which I got really into for about four months, and then tired of (though I still find the combo of ship-to-ship combat and standard ground melee combat/adventure rather appealing). I think I only spent a small amount of those points — I unlocked one of the bonus player races — but most of them are still sitting in my account.

      • djsubversive

         I like the ship combat in STO. Mainly the “choose your ship’s name” part (I’m currently flying the USS More Awesome, successor to the USS Awesome). Also, kit-bashing parts from different ships just to annoy my trekkie friends.

        “Those nacelles don’t belong with that chassis.”
        “I don’t care. It looks cool.”

        • George_Liquor

          Fun Fact: The Reliant in Star Trek II was supposed to have the nacelles above the saucer section, but Harve Bennett was holding the ship’s drawings upside-down when he signed off on them. The designers, being either really mellow or total pussies, just went with it and flipped the bridge over to the other side of the saucer.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      I would also love looking at worthwhile microtransactions in FTP games (don’t get me wrong, I love the snark, too).

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I played LoL for months (probably around a year, actually) and never spent a dime on it, but I was ALWAYS behind my friends who did pump money into it. I never had enough gamedollars to buy runes because I wanted to try out more characters, so I was pretty much always weaker than most people in the game. I still never unlocked more than like 1/3rd of the characters either.

      I’m into Dota 2 now and I’ve already bought FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS WOW worth of stuff because a) it has literally no effect on the gameplay b) The prices are in actual currency and c) valve makes me want to give them money for how awesome they are. I absolutely didn’t need to give them money, but they gave me such an awesome game in it’s entirety that I wanted to buy something for it. Also, a lot of the cosmetics (all?) are made by players who get cash whenever people buy them. 

      So yeah, you should check out Dota. It fixes just about every problem I had with LoL. Except for people being jerks, but that happens with like every online game (not that that excuses anything).

    • http://www.facebook.com/mjbrady Matthew J. Brady

      I never did spend any money on Glitch, but I kind of wish I had, now that it’s gone. It was a cool experiment in F2P gaming, offering everything you needed to actually play the game for free, and only making people pay for decorative stuff that didn’t provide any gameplay advantage, like outfits and furniture. It didn’t work out, but it was awesome while it lasted.

  • doyourealize

    Since these all exist, it means that some people spend money on them. Let that sink in.

  • OldeFortran77

    America isn’t the Land of the Free, it’s the Land of the Free with Additional Purchase.

    Also, the description of “Power of Coin” very much reminds me of the machine at Chuck E. Cheese where you put in a token which is then flung into the pile of tokens already inside in the hopes of forcing some tokens to fall down, thus giving you some tickets. I’ve often pointed that machine out to my kid as a learning exercise in economics.

    • DrFlimFlam

      I have relatives who LOVE that game at fairs.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Sometimes I find it’s useful to  draw out an extensive family tree, so I can be aware of just how much (or  how little) DNA I actually share with some of my relatives…

        • DrFlimFlam

          I should clarify that they are in-laws, probably.

      • OldeFortran77

        DrFlimFlam is undoubtedly known as “the rich uncle” in his family.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mjbrady Matthew J. Brady

      I was addicted to an Iphone version of this game for a while. It didn’t require real money though; it was one of those where it would grant you 20 more coins every half hour or something like that, so if you ran out of coins, you just had to wait until it gave you more. Without any actual monetary investment, it was one of those addictively simple games, where maybe tossing just one more coin in front of the pusher-thingy would dump a bunch off the edge for a jackpot. The things we humans amuse ourselves with…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6UCVIFHVWTZZBJ5SS6MXD6IPXQ Richard

    I got sucked into SimCity Social and was impatient enough to complete ALL THE THINGS that in just three months I probably spent about $200. Definitely not my finest moment, and honestly by the end I wasn’t even enjoying myself. I don’t know what it is about completing fake quests (over, you know, real-life things) that is so compelling or addictive, but I finally said to hell with it and uninstalled that app. Immediately a weight was lifted and I haven’t missed the game at all.

    (I know, I know. Cool story, bro.)

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      I am having this problem currently with Marvel: Avengers Alliance.  I have spent about $40 of my own money and completed a bunch of special offers for gold on other things I would buy or donate to just to upgrade my fictional heroes and their gear.  Dunno what it is, I just love turn-based combat between opposing teams of heroes and villains.

  • ferrarimanf355

    I spent $100 on Need for Speed World, and another $125 on Real Racing 3.

    Someone help me.

    • Chum Joely

      Sure thing, I’ll help you for free. There’s a clear path to changing your spending habits by setting short-, medium- and long-term goals and gradually finding other ways to enjoy racing games without spending so much money.

      Or, give me your credit card number and $20 and I’ll take care of blocking all future game-related transactions starting right now. Whichever way you want to enjoy your free help is fine with me.

      • ferrarimanf355

        In my defense, though, I did get $65 worth of free iTunes cards for my birthday, and I’m buying the value packs and the discounted super cars. And unlike CSR Racing, you have to steer the car.

        • Chum Joely

          The fact that this game requires skill AND that the upgrades might affect what you can do with that skill does make a huge difference.

        • ferrarimanf355

          That, and the gold coins are pretty easy to come by. Between the gold I got in the value packs, the free gold for watching videos, and the ones through normal progression, I was able to get the McLaren MP4-12C (65 gold) pretty quickly.

          I currently have 111 gold and the Porsche 918 RSR is 150 gold. I should unlock that sucker soon.

  • Chum Joely

    Damn, the Final Fantasy: All the Bravest and CSR Racing ones sound especially egregious. Is that FF game really just… replays of classic battles? Like SportsCenter for Final Fantasy fans?!

    • Steve McCoy

      All the Bravest is less interesting than that. Basically you get into a fight, maybe kill the monsters, but probably not, get some experience from the fight regardless, spend it on a character chosen by a random number generator, repeat. Fights consist of touching one of your characters to make them attack, and everyone only attacks, even the generic white mage. It really could be a game for cats.

      • Chum Joely

        How utterly, utterly depressing. On the other hand, that totally gives me an idea for the Friskies Games for Cats Hackathon, thanks dude.

      • Citric

        My cat’s more into Shin Megami Tensei anyway.

        (At least, she does like to carry around that plush thing that came with one of the Devil Summoner games).

        • PaganPoet

          Was it a Jack Frost doll?

        • Citric

          @PaganPoet:disqus  Yep, dressed as some sort of cop. The cat found it one day and decided it would be fun to chase, wrestle and sometimes sleep with if she wanted to look as precious as possible.

        • Morgan Filbert

          My cat’s recently gotten into watching my fiance and I play Tokyo Jungle. He’ll just stare transfixed with his tail beating staccatissimo against the coffee table.

          I’m worried we may be giving him ideas.

  • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

    Commentariate above the “Write A Scintillating Comment” line?  That’s like crossing the streams!  Do you know what you’ve unleashed.

    Next they’ll be interviewing Chum Joley about what he’s playing this weekend, Caspian Comic will write a review for the latest iOS release, and before you know it the natural order of things will have gone topsy-turvy!

    Did you guys even listen to the Prophet Comstock!?!?!?  He foretold of the day of the mixing of the commenters and the writers and the ruin it would bring.  The False Shepherd is upon us!!!!

    • Effigy_Power

      It’s the end of your world and we know it.

    • OldeFortran77

      It’s free to comment, but if you want to comment better you should consider buying Gameological Society points.

      • Chum Joely

        Yeah, that’s totally how you get into the exclusive Gameological commenters’ lounge as well. Someone was saying that the commenters’ community can seem  insular at times, but it’s totally free and open to anyone with enough GS Points (earned over time by leaving your browser open to this page while you’re at work).

        • djsubversive

          “Gameological commenters’ lounge”? Is that what we’re calling the Steam chat now?

          More people should use the steam chat. There’s good conversation there, and sometimes gaming.

          We had a full Gameological Warframe crew last night for a while – Effigy, Fyodor, zerocrates, and me. And Chum broke his online-gaming cherry playing Alien Swarm with us the other day! And I’m pretty sure it didn’t hurt! And there’s 7 of us now with Guns of Icarus, which is almost enough for a full 2v2 ship battle! The more people we can get to play, the more airships we can use!

          And, of course, there’s PlanetSide 2 (NC on Mattherson), but we’ve been playing more co-op stuff lately.

        • Chum Joely

          @djsubversive:disqus For sure. GS Chat is already getting very lively, but the more the merrier!!

          Don’t know if you’re counting me among those 7, but I just bought Guns of Icarus 10 minutes ago (along with Binding of Isaac and Analogue, for a grand total of $8.24). Also, for those who were in on the GoI discussion in chat last night, I got some feedback from my acquaintance on the dev team– I posted it in the comments under @Effigy_Power:disqus ’s GoI announcement.

        • djsubversive

          @ChumJoely:disqus whoo! more Gunners of Icarus! I’m at work, so I’m not logging into steam to respond, but that’s awesome that your buddy actually listened to our feedback.

          And it makes sense about the game not being balanced for 1v1. I guess I was really looking for a sandbox/practice mode for multiple people and multiple ships, and it sounds like that’s what he’s taking away from our suggestions, so yay!

          And as far as the “other people are assholes” issue, good to know that we can block/report people, but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue since we’re pulling in enough GSers that we shouldn’t have to deal with them. :)

        • Electric Dragon

           And the bonus is that if you keep leaving your browser open on GS while at work, soon you’ll have lots more free time to enjoy it!

        • ChicaneryTheYounger

          Don’t worry about sucking, I’m pretty much the worst at everything we play and I still have fun!

        • Chum Joely

          @ChicaneryTheYounger:disqus Yeah, I got over that self-consciousness pretty quickly during our Alien Swarm session, because (a) Zerocrates was approximately as clueless as me, and (b) we all had fun and did well in the game anyway.

          Although there was that one moment where @djsubversive:disqus walked off a ledge and died 10 feet from the end of the mission, after all the enemies were dead.

        • ChicaneryTheYounger

          One time in PlanetSide 2, I tried to heal an enemy.

          One time in Arma III, I got in a helicopter, immediately turned it on its side, and crashed.

        • djsubversive

           @ChumJoely:disqus I didn’t “walk off the edge,” it was a strategic search underneath that platform. The stupid GAME just didn’t recognize my awesome tactical sense. :)

          @ChicaneryTheYounger:disqus Arma III barely counts right now, but I did the same thing. Started the engine, barely got off the ground, and then BOOM. And I tried to repair a TR guy in PlanetSide 2 once. Not a MAX, a regular dude.

          Also, I’m probably the worst driver in our outfit for PS2. Hobbes and his quad-flipping ain’t got nothing on me and getting tanks and Sunderers stuck in the most inconvenient places.

        • Chum Joely

          @djsubversive:disqus @ChicaneryTheYounger:disqus Yes, I don’t read the GS Steam page all that often but even so, your Planetside team’s prowess at crashing aircraft in varied and sundry exciting ways has become the stuff of legend.

      • His_Space_Holiness

        Uh, yeah, I’m running that system. Everyone give me $20 and I’ll make sure you get lots of points.

        • OldeFortran77

          “I bought a bunch of Space Indulgences from this dude, and they really work!”
          Olde Fortran 77

    • Chum Joely

      Man, that would be the most boring WAYPTW interview ever. And yes, I am taking the last two into account.

    • PaganPoet

      WARNING!!!! MASS EFFECT 3 CITADEL DLC SPOILERS!!!!!!

      WHAT YOU WILL READ CAN NOT BE UNREAD!

      HEED MY WARNING, TRAVELER!

      TURN BACK NOW!!!

      *False Shepard

    • Morgan Filbert

      He might not be as good as Jennifer Hale, but calling Mark Meer the False Shepard is a little harsh.

  • ComradePig

    I knew someone who had dumped over $1000 dollars into a exceedingly lazy and horrible free-to-play browser game. Trying to react with anything but utter horror to this statement was a monumental exercise in self-restraint. They also referred to their player character as a ‘toon’, which for whatever reason I find intensely irritating.

    Why anyone would ever do such a thing when you could play something more substantive like WoW or what have you, for $150 a year or so, boggles the mind, and yet people do so.

    I’ve also touched on this before but the integration of the free-to-play, pay for progression system into paid AAA games is probably the most corrosive and worrying trend in the current gaming world.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      I don’t generally begrudge game companies their creative pricing models, so long as they’re open and optional.

      Day one DLC? That’s fine. Paying to unlock content already on the disc? Kinda douchey, but alright. Paying real money for new outfits? Sure. Paying real money for new weapons? It’s frustrating when they’re always the coolest ones, but I guess so.

      But something just feels tacky about offering players the ability to gain experience points in exchange for real money. “Why play when you can pay!?!”

  • Logoboros

    You know, I was kind of a proponent of “causal gaming” back when it primarily meant a return to arcade-style games. But now that the genre seems to have been utterly colonized and corrupted by Zynga-type monstrosities (it doesn’t take skill, it just takes time — and as much money as you’re willing to throw at it), I think I have to take up arms with the sneering gaming elitists. On the plus side, most of the damage is currently contained in the iOS ecosphere, which I have no intention of ever entering, but no doubt iOS is just the first domino to fall… (though Facebook actually seems to have somewhat fought back — at least, I’m no longer barraged by messages about second cousins playing Zynga games, though no doubt they still are).

  • His_Space_Holiness

    The only time I’ve paid money for imaginary goods is in Team Fortress 2, to open their mysterious crates o’ items. I think I’ve paid a total of $20 or $30 over the years. Now, I know it’s a bit of a scam, that I’m essentially picking the Mystery Box when I have absolutely no reason to, but the game’s so endearing that I don’t have a problem with it. I try to take the advice given by someone whose name escapes me: think of it like a tip, as a thank-you to the people behind the scenes for making something you enjoy.

    Plus, hats are awesome.

    • OldeFortran77

      Speaking of hats and popes (a two-fer!), years ago the Pope came through my town. I mailed tourist-y postcards of my town to all my friends saying “as the pope-mobile drove down the street, I looked and looked but didn’t see your face in the crowd. p.s. that hat was only on loan (hint, hint). JP II”

    • ItsTheShadsy

      I’ve bought TF2 items too, but embarrassingly just name tags for weapons. I play a decent Pyro, but there’s something special about killing someone with my Backburner “No Remorse” and Flare Gun “No Regret” (which sadly no one has gotten the reference to).

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I never bought TF2 keys, but I have bought a Dota 2 key, which is pretty much the same exact thing. Although in Dota, there aren’t different weapons, only cosmetics, so it sort of makes less sense.

  • Halloween_Jack

    Candy Crush is probably the worst offender that I’ve experienced directly. You get, what, three extra lives for your $.99? For what is, for all its cutesy features and power-ups, a jumped-up match three game? Fuck that hullabaloo. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/eutropiusmaximus.wagge Eutropius Maximus Wagge

    Car pedantry: the R8 LMS isn’t one of Audi’s Le Mans winning LMP1 prototypes but a GT3 racer based on the roadgoing R8. The road car was named after Audi’s R8 LMP1 prototype but doesn’t really have anything in common with it.
    Neither are related to the A8 which is a big luxury sedan.

    • Citric

      And the RX8 is a Mazda and not an Audi.

  • Logoboros

    Just out of curiosity, can anyone tell me what game the front page illustration for this article is from? The picture of what looks like a ferret in a neon green laser bowling pin costume?

    • Steve McCoy

      That’s the green alpaca from Eden Eternal

      • Logoboros

        You know, I considered that possibility (because of the green), and just didn’t see it, probably because I had Effigy_Power’s rendition dominant in my brain. And the face totally looks like a rodent or weasel. But now I see the hooves and the ears, and it’s clearer.

        • Effigy_Power

          Yeah, I pretty much freeformed that thing. I didn’t have internet the day I drew it and just sort of made a dumb-looking beaver-donkey.

  • Electric Dragon

    “Common mermaid” just made me think of this.

  • Greg Sheppard

    the thingi’ve found with free to playis too often are priced too high accross the board.

    i’m always put off buying anything because of the price. The only f2p thing i’ve bought was the tribes:ascend pack in the steam sale because it was worth it for the price.

    I’m sure many games would entice in a bit more money by selling more stuff at lower prices. in the 5-95 pence/cents range not the absurd amounts they often sell at.

    They just keep a few extra items super expensive for the obsessives who buy the stuff