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Mobile gaming is, thankfully, a cheap hobby

by Phil Owen

Recently, Google Play hit 25 billion apps downloaded, and to celebrate they sold a bunch of apps and games for $0.25 each for five days. This was fun for me, and I picked up a bunch of new games that week. Among those games was Cut the Rope: Experiments. It was a bit strange that I didn't already have this game, since it was only $0.99 to begin with, but oh well. I have it now, and that's all that matters.

Experiments was updated at the beginning of October, and I think most of the folks who own the game were hoping for new levels. Alas, that was not to be. Instead, they added the ability to purchase a telekinesis power with real money. This is a nonessential feature, and while it may be disappointing that we got that instead of new levels, I kind of brushed it off as not really being that important. And then I read some user reviews in the wake of the update. Here are a couple negative reviews for you to enjoy:

Yay! New levels..., Oh no, sorry it's just a ploy to get some cash out of you. So, that's how you ruin a 5star game!” --Northern Dragon

“Booooooooo! You said new levels; this is BS! Two updates and no new levels, only shallow attempts to get more cash out of us! Five stars is now one! “ --Melissa

So money-grubbing! So annoying! Good game otherwise. 5 stars when new levels.” --Alex

You can read more here.

The outrage here is quite shocking to me, because Experiments comes with plenty of content, and it only costs a dollar to own. We might hope for free new levels, but we should not feel jilted when they don't come. And just because there are now micro-transactions within the game does not mean you are being forced to spend more money. As I said before, the telekinesis power is strictly nonessential, and merely a neat little new feature you might want to try out if you're bored. That people would change their ratings of the game from five stars to one star is a bit offensive to me, considering the quality of the game has not changed one bit with this update.

Being a person who plays retail PC and console video games regularly, I am used to spending tons of cash on my entertainment. The biggest games this month, like Dishonored and Assassin's Creed III, will run you a cool sixty bucks each. I picked up XCOM: Enemy Unknown for the PC for $45 with $10 in bonus credit at the online retailer from which I purchased the game, and I thought that was a great deal.

Once I became invested in mobile gaming, I basically started spending money indiscriminately. I own a Galaxy Nexus, which comes with 32GB of internal storage, and I have so many games I can't even fit them all on there. That's a lot of games, man. And I've only been gaming on Android for half a year. I also own a massive collection of iOS games for my iPad.

And even with all the mobile games I buy, it's only a fraction of what I spend each year on AAA core home console and PC games, and I have far fewer of those than I do mobile games. I will die of old age before I manage to actually even play all the mobile games I own and will own in the future.

So when I see people complaining about a lack of free new content for a game they paid a dollar for, I get a little bit upset. There is so much stuff for you to play on your phone that is so ridiculously inexpensive that I feel some of us have become a kind of spoiled. We expect our cheap distractions to keep feeding us new levels at no additional charge, even though we blow tons of cash on other things we don't really need. You probably have an insane amount of condiments in your refrigerator, and you likely don't use them all before the expiration date. And if you don't, you're forced to buy more, because what would you do without condiments?

As mobile gamers, we have endless amounts of entertainment at our fingertips for stupidly low prices, and yet we sometimes still don't think we're getting our money's worth. Cut the Rope: Experiments is a very fun game, and we can get hours and hours of play time out of it, but a dollar can only go so far. Eventually, we have to buy something new, just like we do with condiments.

We should not be distressed that we have to pay these tiny amounts of money for entertainment that doesn't last forever. We should be ecstatic that we can have so much fun for so little money, and then if the developers – who are making these games because they have their own bills to pay, rather than just for the hell of it – choose to give us free extras, we can be over the moon about it. But if they choose to not give you new free content, you should not be angry. You should instead thank them for providing you with hours of entertainment for a very low price, and then move on to another game that costs a dollar. That you can do that is the beauty of the world of mobile gaming right now.

But, of all things, do not try to discourage others from playing a game that you liked, simply because you are unfairly bitter about a lack of free updates. We should, at all times, celebrate those things that bring us joy. We are very lucky to have this inexpensive entertainment. We should act like we know that.

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