Freemium – how to know when you’re doing it evil

I don’t hate freemium. I love the concept of free game/app downloads coupled with optional painless micro-transactions for extra features. It’s the future, man.

But take a look at CrowdStar’s Top Girl, a good example of the latest form this new model has been taking:

People are spending hundreds of dollars on tiny new pretend shoes in this ridiculously shallow (my opinion, from admittedly limited testing) single player game.

$144 USD?! CANCEL, CANCEL!

Read Do Social Games Exploit the Mentally Ill for Ryan Henson Creighton’s take. (hey, that’s the Ponycorn dad)

Looking at these games I simultaneously feel disgust and a grudging respect, similar to playing a well designed Pachi-Slot machine.

Pachi-Slots are the ultimate unholy merger; a vegas slot machine crossed with casual mini-games that use the absolute best psychological conditioning tricks to keep the player feeding in paper bills.

Maybe comparing this new breed of exploitive freemium “games” to gambling isn’t fair – I mean, a real casino is limited to targeting adults and actually pays out tangible goods. (sometimes)

If your business success is dependent on locating people who are poor at discerning value, you’re doing it evil.

Why does this game offend me when Capcom Arcade for iPhone doesn’t?

Is there any kind of objective way to measure the “exploitive asshole” factor of a game?

2 thoughts on “Freemium – how to know when you’re doing it evil

  1. Shawn

    The sad truth is the world is full of people that are begging to be used. In most cases the fastest legal way to make money is selling
    something that doesn’t exist to somebody who thinks it does. Like self help books or pimpin hats in Team Fortress 2.

  2. Pingback: Two guys made an MMO: The Growtopia Postmortem « Code Dojo

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