The Entitled Gamer
I was on my mobile, playing the sequel to Where’s My Water, a slick and challenging little game from Disney that pops up an ad every now and then to get their revenue. One ad in particular was for a new platformer based on the Star Wars Rebels animated series. It’s a limited, 4 level taste of the full game, available for $4.99 that has mixed reviews. Admittedly, I just scanned the star ratings in the play store without actually reading the reviews posted, but I downloaded and played through the sampling. The app is pretty good. Excellent graphics and sound. The gameplay is mostly basic run/jump/collect coins and defeat enemies, but nothing particularly stood out as a reason to give it a 1-star rating. I considered purchasing the app, so I went back to read the reviews in more detail to see what people had to say:
1-Star – “Decent enough game at first, although it is buggy. You then have to pay to play on from lvl 4. Not worth the money”
1-Star – “Why do they only let us play the four missions it was so good then we have to pay for it arrrrr sooo mad please fix it”
1-Star – “This would be a nice game, but the fact that you must submit a payment after 4 levels i believe is not good. But still well done creating this game i hope in the future it will be possible to play simple gameplay without spending money”
1-Star – “… it said I had to pay for one of three packs? I am a star wars fan and I’ve seen a lot of crappy star wars games. But this is just madness! Dysney are now the empire since they brought lucas film!!! Hopefully they don’t much up star wars episode 7 or I am going yo rage!”
These go on and on. The majority of the reviews are positive, mostly 5 stars. Now, I’ve no doubt games and apps aren’t the only products people have this kind of attitude towards, but it struck me as some of the most elitist, entitled and just plain whiny expectations from a gaggle of spoiled gamers who have no appreciation for what it takes to create a game, let alone a grasp of basic spelling and grammar.
It’s hard to pinpoint how these expectations got started. I suppose it would be easy to put blame on big titles like Angry Birds that have been around since mobile started booming. Developers know all too well the impact the freemium model has had on the industry, but when did consumers start forming their opinions solely on whether or not they had to fork up a lousy couple of bucks? It completely nullifies the point of consumer driven reviews like those found on Google Play and the iTunes store. It goes beyond disappointing and creeps into deplorable. It sets an embarrassingly poor example for the next generation of players whose first gaming experiences are increasingly mobile.
Don’t get me wrong, free is a great price for pretty much anything. I’ve downloaded plenty of free games for a wide range of devices, but I’ve never judged the quality of the game based on its price. I won’t hesitate to judge the value of a product, but to dismiss something solely because I’ve had to pay for it is, if nothing else, irresponsible.
Do these same people watch a movie trailer and rate it down because they’re expected to pay 12 bucks for a movie ticket? Do they complain to store managers after getting a sample at Costco and learn it will cost them for a full meal? It wasn’t all that long ago that it was common practice for game studios to offer free demos on a regular basis in order to entice players to drop 50, 60 or 70 dollars for the full title and these whiners are screaming bloody murder over 5.
How do we fix this? Free apps aren’t going away any time soon, and if there’s one thing users complain about more than spending money, it’s seeing ads pop up in their free games. Somewhere along the line this vicious circle has been created that will ultimately lead developers, artists and production companies away from mobile gaming for good. Is there a solution? Sound off in the comments below.