There are some things that we can do in video games that we can’t possibly do in real life. Some games let us fly, or unleash super-powers, or pilot fighter jets or spaceships. I call this feeling “superful.”
Other times, it’s the things we don’t have to do in video games that make them so great. We don’t have to go to the bathroom, or fold laundry, or actually get hurt or die or go to jail.
Leave it to EA to screw up this magical formula and make games more like the boring parts of life—all in the pursuit of more mobile game revenue.
According to Crave Online, the video game publisher has struck upon a truly terrible idea: To charge players to fill up their gas tank in the Orwellian-titled Need for Speed: No Limits—or play the waiting-game.
This is classic wait-gating, something that many poorly designed mobile games inflict upon their players.
But in this case it not only saps the fun from a game, it does so by reminding players of the very least fun thing about cars in the real world: paying money to fill up the tank. Really, the more fun you have with the car, the less fun you’ll have with the tank. Why drag that into a game?
Whether this make it worse than EA’s notoriously awful Dungeon Keeper is hard to say until we’ve had some hands-on time, but it strikes me as pretty egregious.
The game is out on iOS in some regions, and players are already complaining, and rightfully so. At a certain point, these revenue schemes become not only greedy but disrespectful to consumers.
Soon, all EA mobile games will be as horrible and boring as real life. Racing games will come with Corollas and Mini-vans, and you’ll need to spend real-world money to unlock actual race-cars. First-person shooters will have IAPs for ammo.
I’ve reached out to EA for clarification. I must admit I’m a little surprised that they’d make the same mistake again with yet another popular franchise. It’s possible there’s some confusion, something lost in translation here, given the game only appears to be out in non-English speaking regions.
Then again, the publisher’s take-away from the Dungeon Keeper debacle was that they’d “innovated too much” so maybe the important lessons just aren’t sinking in. The bad PR must not outweigh those sweet, sweet piles of money.
Here’s a rule of thumb for freemium game development: If your revenue model actually breaks the game you’re building, essentially requiring players to pay to fix it, you’re doing it wrong.
Unless, of course, you’re shooting for the much-coveted Worst Company in America award. Again.
That advice was free. If you want more, you’ll have to pay for it—or just wait around long enough.