Newbie Mobile Gamer likes Icebreaker but thinks its IAP is 'cheating'

Newbie Mobile Gamer likes Icebreaker but thinks its IAP is 'cheating'
There's a strong argument that we're too close to the mobile games industry to experience all its nuances. So with that in mind, we introduce our first column from the Newbie Mobile Gamer.

I'll begin by saying I'm a complete stranger to the world of mobile games.

I'm used to writing about subjects as far away from bulletproof monsters and exploding candies as you can imagine. I won't even attempt to sound like an expert, because the truth is, I know nothing about this industry.

Apart from the occasional go at Tetris and chess in recent years, the last time I sat down to play for hours was Super Mario Bros. about twenty years ago.

Although I sucked at it, there was something that kept me hooked; a feeling that persistence would one day pay off. I kept playing, determined that if I only put in enough time, I'd get the skills required to complete all the levels.

I can't remember how long it took me, but to my great satisfaction it eventually happened. Since that day, I haven't looked at a game.

A new dawn

With that history, it's no understatement to say I surprised myself a few weeks back when I accepted an invitation on Facebook to play Candy Crush Saga - and more - liked everything about it.

Most of all the simplicity.

For someone who isn't into games it's off-putting if it takes more than five minutes to understand the story and technical skills required. Candy Crush Saga took less than a minute to figure out.

Candy Crush Saga - a gateway drug

However, after completing the first 'world' I couldn't get any further without either my friends' help or by paying. There my saga ended.

Yes, I liked it, but I wasn't willing to pay real money for it. I've got a life, more important things to do, better things to spend my money on and so on...

Eureka moment

So, what's even more surprising is that just a couple of weeks later, I bought Icebreaker [from Nitrome/Rovio Stars] on my iPad mini.

Hurray! It was the first time in my life that I've paid for a game.

Nitrome's Icebreaker

Although I should point out that initially I played the free version online and really liked it. Then I admitted to myself that actually I didn't have that many more important things to spend £1.99 on. And after some serious debating with my inner self, I decided to give it a go.

Just like Candy Crush Saga, Icebreaker feels like simplicity personified.

It takes about a minute to understand the story. With some very basic skills in physics your aim is to free vikings who are physically trapped in various ways.

The characters are cute, dialog mildly entertaining, levels challenging enough to get you thinking, and once you find the mute button, this game is a truly pleasant experience.

A new way to play?

The one thing I'll point out as annoying, however, is how the game-makers try to make money.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problems with the concept of in-app purchases, especially not when the game is free or costs nearly nothing.

It's that although being in all other aspects clever, the fact the game tries to persuade me to buy IAP is really irritating. It doesn't seem well thought through at all.

The reason is that the IAP aren't not like a small push through a tough element or a shortcut you could achieve only if you're willing to put in the extra work/time finding them (like the green tunnels in Super Mario Bros.).

No, this is more like a 'skip level' button. You can purchase the ability to move a viking from A (start) to B (goal) completing the level without any effort whatsoever.

Desperate business

Now maybe I'm completely not getting what mobile games are about, but I want a game to get progressively tougher - to even seem non-solvable at times. And by working hard and getting more skillful, I should be able to complete it in the end.

What pleasure would I get out of knowing I didn't try my hardest but instead just bought my way past the hindrances?

To make matters even worst, the next IAP ability I'm offered to purchase is magnetism.

Magnet of the God or the devil's work?

This tool makes a viking magnetic. When you can't be bothered to figure out how to reach the gold coins in a level, by enabling this feature you can simply have them come to you automatically.

Seriously, what is all this about?

I honestly don't see the point in trying to be good at a game when I can simply pay to get through the parts I can't be bothered solving.

Maybe it's something that's really common in mobile games now, but to a complete newbie like me, it's comes across as nothing short of cheating. Only you're not cheating, because it's the makers of the game who are telling you to do it.

Yet, this won't make me stop playing Icebreaker. Although I have to say, a game that is so nice and clever, really doesn't benefit from such unimaginative ways of trying to get my money.

It just comes across as desperate.

Generous people who've shared their wisdom with Pocket Gamer


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