Friday, November 4, 2011

"Freemium" Gaming

Over the past year or so, I've come to appreciate the game of golf, which I never thought I would do.  No, I don't literally go to the nearest club and hit the links.  I play golf video games.  A lot of them are very accessible to the layman, like the Hot Shots Golf series.  Another one I really enjoy is a series called "Let's Golf" for mobile devices.  I have the 1st one for my iPod and the 2nd one for the Nintendo 3DS.  Between them, they were less than $10 and I was impressed by the replay value.  The gameplay tends to be more forgiving than the Hot Shots series, and the 2nd one has a cool, RPG-style level-up system. 

I had just seen that the 3rd one was now available in the App Store, and even saw that it was FREE!  I figured I stumbled into a limited-time offer; BTW, the reason why I love games on the iPod is that they are usually very affordable and their graphics could rival Nintendo's and Sony's offerings (I think gaming on mobile devices like iPod, Android, cell phones, etc. will be the death knell for Nintendo and Sony as far as portable gaming goes).  So I was excited and downloaded the game.  And then I read the reviews.

Let's Golf 3 has what is called a "freemium" system.  "Freemium" means offering the initial game free-of-charge, and then charging for advanced features, or merely to progress further in the game.  In "Let's Golf 3", you are given a certain amount of "energy", which you use every time you play a hole.  Once you use up the "energy", you either have to wait an hour for it to recharge or pay for more energy using in-game cash (which is utilized either by playing well, or paying for the in-game cash with actual money).

Opinions seem to be mixed, but they're veering towards the negative side of the spectrum.  I must hang my hat there as well.  I'm a lifelong gamer, and am used to paying for games.  When I pay for a game, I am used to having unlimited access to it.  In this case, I'd rather pay the $2 or $5 or $10 for the latest Let's Golf and be able to play as many holes as I please, without having to wait an hour for my "energy" to fill up (or having to pay to fill it up).  I have not tried it out yet, and now am not sure that I will.  I heard that under this model, you can play one hole of golf an hour; that's right, not a round, a hole!

Oh, and to really add insult to injury, Gameloft (the makers of Let's Golf) have removed the first two games in the series from the App Store.  These games were not "freemium" games, they were full-featured games that provided hours of fun for a very low price.  I'm thankful I have the games, and I don't have to wait an hour to play a hole either. 

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