The IAP Inspector

Standard delivery: the monetisation of Futurama: Game of Drones

Standard delivery: the monetisation of Futurama: Game of Drones

Welcome back to the In-App Purchase Inspector - our regular look at free-to-play games from the consumer's perspective.

In each instalment, we consider the incentives or pressure applied to make in-app purchases, their perceived value, the expansion offered by IAPs and the overall value of the experience.

The end goal is to see whether the game makes a good enough case for us to part with our cash, or whether players are content - or engaged enough - to 'freeload'.

This time, we're taking a look at Wooga's Futurama: Game of Drones, a match-four puzzler that ties in with the animated sitcom.

License to kill?

Acquiring a high-profile license is all well and good, but it's what you do with it that counts.

Glu stablemates Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and James Bond: World of Espionage show the two extremes of this, with the former smartly capitalising on its brand and the latter feeling like a wasted opportunity.

In many cases, and certainly in the examples given above, the faithfulness to the source material (or lack thereof) is also reflected in the game's commercial performance.

Game of Drones' story revolves around a parody of retail giant Amazon

So, into what camp does Wooga's Futurama: Game of Drones fall?

Is a match-four puzzler really the best use of that license? Somewhat unexpectedly, it works well.

Reference-laden dialogue between characters largely maintains a high standard.

For the majority of the game, it barely matters that it's a Futurama-licensed - you're matching coloured delivery drones, but they might as well be gems or candies.

However, in between, there's reference-laden dialogue between established series characters that largely maintains a high standard.

Shut up and take my money!

Monetisation-wise, it's your standard fare - having to match four rather than three isn't enough to spare it comparisons to King's output, for instance.

Like Candy Crush and Farm Heroes Saga, there's a life system. Replenishing at a rate of one every 30 minutes, you can also either give or receive lives using Facebook.

Aside from going cap in hand to your Facebook friends, if you run out entirely you can also watch an incentivised video ad to restore one life, or spend 90 Bucks (hard currency) to refill all five.

Bucks come in bundles ranging from 100 for $0.99 to 5,000 for $49.99, and you get 350 (worth approximately $3.50) from the outset - a fairly generous haul.

Need a boost?

However, if you're after boosters to help clear a level, you'll have to spend money.

Priced at 400 for a pack of 3 Fishy Meal boosters, a Happy Meal-inspired consumable that begins a level with a Line Bomb and a Prism Super Drone.

Larger Fishy Meal booster bundles include 9 for 1000 Bucks and 18 for 1800.

With even the lowest being 50 Bucks north of the 350 you're given from the outset, and with no apparent drip-feeding of hard currency throughout, there are no handouts in this area.

Delivery complete

Otherwise, there's not much to report monetisation-wise in Futurama: Game of Drones.

Effectively front-loading its currency with an above average freebie to start out with, but nothing more in the long-term, it leaves it down to the player to budget the Bucks they've been given.

I'm not particularly deep into Game of Drones, but I haven't resorted to IAPs yet.

However, as the difficulty increases, I can already see that the pressure for boosters and the like - especially for those wanting 3 stars - is ramping up.

All in all, though, Game of Drones is a fun, marginally more complicated take on an age-old puzzle formula that isn't obstructed by monetisation.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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