Once upon a time, there came the iPhone. They were cool to look at, were fancy and were equipped with all kinds of games and apps that you could show off. Of course, much of this came at a price, but $0.99 seemed like such a small price to pay to show off to flashy apps that could tell you the weather or speak like a squeaky cat.
Then came the FreeBie People. Using phones that were mostly built on the Android platform, these users had access to a vast variety of games and apps that weren’t available on the iStore, thanks to Apple’s parenting policies. Google believed in the free-for-all buffet and they thought their users were intelligent enough to figure out what they wanted. So big companies and app developers had to join the bandwagon. Except, who would pay for an app when they had another 100 of a similar kind for free. So they put their food on the buffet for free.
Nobody can survive in this world too long on a free buffet. There were ‘limited’ apps – the ones that asked you to buy the game for full access. We’ll have to dig into hard numbers to figure out how well this model succeeded. Personally, I rarely purchased an app that stopped me too early to continue the game and one that allowed me to play too long – I would have gotten bored of it before I needed to purchase it.
And then came Candy Crush Saga.
There is nothing unique about the game. It is a reworked version of Bejeweled Blitz. It is candies instead of jewels and you have the same kind of boosters and the levels get harder as you go on.
But the internet works weirdly, and this is backed by a nice company, so there it is on everyone’s phone.
The thing about Candy Crush and Kings.com… they discovered that there is always a loophole to make people pay. Nobody forces your hand outright but it is a nice psychological twist at play.
The strategy, for those who are still living under a rock, is you match 3 ‘candies’ of the same colour to get rid of the blocks. Each stage has different requirements, and you get bonus candies depending on the number you match. The game, however, is completely free.
Unless you read that one line in the description – Please note Candy Crush Saga is completely free to play but some in-game items such as extra moves or lives will require payment.
The items are very cleverly designed to generate more players, or get you to pay. You require “tickets” every so often to move on to the next stage. You have to request 3 friends from Facebook to send you these tickets, or you can merely pay INR 55 ($0.99) and move ahead. You get 5 lives to play, which regenerate every 30 minutes.
You are also told that you can earn “boosters” every so often, except I still haven’t figured out a way to regenerate those boosters other than paying for them.
Sure it is a fascinating game, and there are plenty of ways you can play without ever paying for it. But the amount of factors where you have to pay – lives, boosters, tickets, charms – makes you wonder if we could expect more such ‘free’ games with tons of hidden charges. How many people playing the game have not succumbed to temptation and paid at least once?
The game also synchronizes with Facebook, which means they also get access to your personal information. A world of information right there, at their fingertips, for a game.
What was that story where the girl was offered an apple in exchange for her life? Interesting story this would make.