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In recent times mobile games have become almost as popular as console game titles. Each advance in mobile technology challenges developers to step up their game. What many people may not realize, though, is that developers will always need to pay their team. For some users, the apps they play may feel like nothing more than a cash grab.

How Mobile Gaming (Kinda) Works

How Mobile Gaming (Kinda) Works

When mobile games are free, players do not usually have the incentive to stick around. Certain enhancements come free as user levels up. Tower building games, for example, reward players when they achieve certain feats. These feats may be sped up with certain items or completely paid for with a separate currency altogether.

Any tower building game or game with similar mechanics will offer a variety of “packs” to supposedly enhance gameplay. This is where many people fee mobile gaming begins to get unfair. Many agree that such a system shouldn’t exist in the first place, but no one can really say why it does.


A great deal of mobile and console gamers alike feel that developers have gone “anti-consumer.” It’s not really a well-known term but simply put: anti-consumer games focus more on the available game items instead of players themselves.

Having special item packs isn’t a bad idea, but almost requiring them to gain exponential levels is unfair. Anyone with deep pockets is able to stomp out lower-level players, fulfilling the developer’s desire to gain all the money possible.

The Pay-2-Win Experience

Not all games on Google Play or the App Store require someone to pay for full access. But those that do usually charge once and it enhances the user’s experience. Others will require a continuous contribution to the user’s part in order to ‘get ahead’ in the game app.

Star Trek: Fleet Command, developed by Scopely, is one mobile game that does nothing to hide its pay to win model. As a Star Trek fan, I couldn’t help but download the game and play it for a good while. But I ran into a huge roadblock when I reached level 15.

No matter how sneaky I was about mining resources, a higher-level player took me out before I finished. At that point, if I didn’t “instantly” mine resources, I wouldn’t get anywhere.

Not all developers feel so greedy, right?

When it Works

Pay-2-win comes in two forms: 1) where you advance exponentially from purchasing special item packs and 2) Freemium, where there is an optional way to advance faster or gain an upper hand against enemies.

The game Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade is an example of a freemium game. Players have the option to purchase resources and speed boosts to shorten the time it takes to grow. But it isn’t absolutely necessary to purchase these item packs. Lost Crusade is fairly balanced and does not punish players who rarely put money into the mobile title.

Free players are just as likely to achieve high levels but at a slower pace. It does not give users the same impression that Fleet Command gives.

Paying the Team

It’s not uncommon to feel that developers are greedy. There is often a high amount of focus on in-game app purchases, often in the form of “limited time offers.” Many mobile games will shove these into the player’s face long before they have a chance to run the game. It’s understandable to need the money, but not all developers choose to be subtle about gathering money.

Mobile gamers should understand, though, it takes hundreds of hours to develop a proper working gaming app. The team that develops an app can be number anywhere from one to thirty people. Each person in the team has dedicated a large amount of time to creating the app and ensuring it works.

A great deal of the money may contribute to testing the app on a variety of different devices. Developers also need test versions of the OS for those various devices. You do have a right to be upset if dev is money-hungry, but consider why they charge the amount they do.

Spending on the Right App

In the game, Just Kill Me 3, packs as low as $0.99 cents are available. They do not contain a lot of items, but even the small boost makes the game more enjoyable. Check out mobile games that offer such packages with frequency. You’ll be able to enhance gameplay slightly without spending a large amount of money.

Many gaming apps offer these packs but not all will have the same quality of items.

Keep a Lookout

Keep a Lookout

No one likes to pay into a money-pit of a game. If you cannot advance past level 15 without spending at least $100, you are definitely playing something that is pay to win. And there is nothing fair about that. If one keeps an eye on the review section of Google Play or the App Store, the greedy apps make themselves known.

While the development team does need to be paid, someone with a mind for math can see the imbalance between “special price” packs and the hundred dollars “god-tier” item packs.

The better items are always contained in more expensive packs. Some gaming apps will choose a shady advertising strategy to acquire the money, shoving “sale” banners into the start-up of an app.

At its base, there is only one simple explanation for why mobile games are so greedy: things are worth what people are willing to pay. It really is the only workable business model for mobile app/game developers.

Remember that these days, many developers are open to suggestions from their player base. If you want to get pay-2-win a little more balanced for your chosen gaming app, share your criticisms with the team that created the app.

If they are not told that their micro-transactions have such a negative impact on player experience, not much will be done to change it. Protest the business model, but do so in a way that can make a positive impact for all players whenever they play a mobile game.