Posts by tag: IAPs
What if you had a football game that combined the Madden Ultimate Team mode with something like Tom Landry Strategy Football? Would that sound like a game you’d download for your Android device? Because over 1 million people have, in a game called Big Win Football 2014. This title is a free to play, pay to win, collectable card game that begs you for money worse than that guy standing outside of the stadium after a game gets let out. This title is also about as much fun playing, as the Minnesota Vikings have been to watch so far.
Everything in Big Win Football 2014 comes down to the cards in the various packs you buy. You start out with what you believe is a generous amount of currency, but upon seeing the prices in the card packs one realizes it isn’t much. Of course, in the Madden Ultimate Team mode on consoles, you could theoretically grind your way to insanity in order to buy a premium pack of cards. That could be possible in Big Win Football, but you’d be playing a ridiculous amount, as good luck at all of your team winning any games without having a good amount of “Big Impact” cards, cards which supposedly boost your team’s abilities through out a game. This game presents itself as a catch 22, no win scenario, unless of course, you pony up your nickels and dimes.
This wouldn’t be the end of the world, a game relying on IAPs to succeed, if there was anything to it beyond card buying and pure dumb luck. But that’s what Big Win Football 2014 boils down to, because you don’t actually get to play any football. Instead of getting to play America’s game, you get to sit quietly on the sidelines, if you so choose, without calling any plays or having a single bit of interaction or effect on the outcome of a game. Or, you can just skip to the end, as though you were playing a text based adventure game, minus having any input as to what occurs. At least in Madden 25 on Android, as bad as it was, you actually play the game. What’s more, is that this game requires you to be online always, as games are played against other players, who are randomly assigned to you. Therefore, as a new team, who usually is rated pretty low, could get put up against a team rated 2 or 3 times what yours is, crushing you like they were Ivan Drago.
Big Win Football 2014, at best, is about on par with a dice throw simulation app in terms of how much fun you are going to have. In all reality though, it’s about as fun as a lottery scratch off game and chances are you’ll find yourself with just as much taken out of your bank account at the end. As a game that brags about being a football game, it sure has a lack of any actual football playing done by the user.
It is considered bad form to begin a review talking about yourself. After all, it is supposed to be about the game not the writer, but I feel it is necessary to lay out where I was coming from when I approached this review. I love the Madden franchise. Yes, I know it is basically the same thing year after year with updated rosters and slight modification, I don’t care. I love it. I love taking my Jets team to a place they haven’t been in forty five years. I love pouring over my roster trying to figure out who to cut and who to keep. Do you wonder why Franchise mode lets players take control of absolutely everything, from drafting to free agent pickups to stadium naming rights? Do you wonder why they need to include 30 years worth of draft picks for the franchise mode? It’s me. I’m the reason. While I have never honestly made it to year 30, I have made it past year 10, and I control every little detail of my team. I scout players, negotiate contracts, I even play the preseason most of the time, and when the draft comes around I have my own draft board written down on several pieces of paper detailing what players and positions I want to target. I am a fanatic.
Every year I buy Madden, even when I was unemployed and couldn’t afford any other games for the entire year, I still managed to scrape together enough cash to get Madden. This year was the first year since my one year flirtation with the 2k series back in 2004 that I skipped on buying the console versions of Madden. I write about Android games now, I don’t have the time nor the funds to dedicate to console games. And so, with a bit of sadness, I looked at the option to pre-order Madden 25, the twenty fifth anniversary of the franchise that I have loved for years, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I said “no thanks.”
When I saw that EA had released Madden 25 on the Google Play store, I was psyched. I was so excited I actually ran upstairs to tell my girlfriend, as if she could even begin to comprehend what this meant to me. Finally I could play Madden again, no “NFLPro” by Gameloft that has “Number 7″ under center, I was finally going to get to play with my team, my players, and make virtual representations of them lift the trophy that they haven’t touched since Joe Namath and Weeb Ewbank were household names.
Then, I booted the game up, and it all came crashing down. Madden, it should be said right off the bat, is free to play. Which, depending on your perspective, I suppose, could be a good or bad thing. The way it is implemented here, however, unequivocally makes it a horrible thing. Every single thing about this game is wrong. I’m not sure what team handled this version of Madden, but it is clear they don’t know a damn thing about American Football.
First, the entire game is based around the Ultimate Team mode of the big boy versions of Madden. Each team is given their starting players, or at least who was projected to be the starting players back in July, and everyone else has to be bought. This would be bad enough, but since the rosters (despite coming out last week) are so far behind, fans will likely have to buy their new additions. Instead of Rookie QB Geno Smith as the starter of the Jets, the game starts you out with “The Sanchize”. Instead of giving Bills fans their first look at a virtual EJ Manuel, the game provides them with Kevin Kolb, who went on Season ending IR back in August and never even played a meaningful snap in a Bills uniform in real life.
Roster problems aside, this could still be a good solid game of pigskin football, right? Wrong. There are two control schemes in Madden 25 for Android. One, the “casual” version takes control out of the player’s hands and instead just tasks them with juking, spinning and stiff arming. And the other, which is more or less a simplified version of the console games, with a virtual joystick and swipes taking the place of buttons. The first one is incredibly boring, since you aren’t doing much of anything. The later control scheme actually works fairly well, until you play defense. As soon as the Quarterback passes the ball you automatically switch the defender closest to the intended receiver, but since you were more than likely trying to rush the Quarterback with a linebacker to defensive lineman, you have now just taken your Cornerback off his assignment and possibly given up a touchdown. This is extremely frustrating and the only solution seems to be letting the defense run itself.
EA seemed to be privy to this, because online multiplayer doesn’t have Defensive play, only asynchronous play where you simply play against a computer controlled defense and compete with the other player for touchdowns. Does that sound fun to anyone? I didn’t think so.
I wish the problems ended there but they continue on. Ultimate Team mode in the big boy versions of Madden, and the entire game here on Android, is based off of cards. You start off with the (again, horribly outdated) starters and then replace them with cards that you can earn or buy. Beyond the obvious problem that I want to play with my team, not Peyton Manning or whoever else in a Jets uniform, there is also the problem of wanting to make earned cards more valuable than starting cards to encourage purchasing. This has completely messed up the ranking system of the players. I got a card for Eric Fisher, An offensive lineman and the number 1 pick in last years draft. Eric Fisher is a great prospect and will more than likely have a great NFL career. He is also still a rookie, and completely unproven. So imagine my surprise when I found him to not only be ranked higher than fellow 1st round pick and three time Pro-Bowler D’brickashaw Ferguson, but ranked higher by nearly 10 points. In the console versions of Madden, D’brick is ranked with a 91 (as opposed to a 67 in the mobile version) while Eric Fisher is ranked 74. Basically their real life counterparts, as shown in the console versions of Madden, have no bearing on the players represented here, here it is all about the purchasing of cards. Which means the whole advantage Madden has over Gameloft’s NFL Pro series boils down to names on uniforms.
Worse still, basic concepts of football are left by the wayside in the name of IAPs. You cannot insert backups in the middle of the game, meaning you have to use one running back the entire time, players also can’t play two positions, meaning a kick returner or punt returner cannot also be a wide receiver or running back, you also can’t switch a player’s position, so Jeremy Kerley, arguably the best wide receiver on the Jets, is stuck returning punts and only returning punts. The computer AI is also laughably bad, without any understanding of how clock management works. Computer teams would regularly let the final seconds click off the clock while I clung to a 3 point lead while holding onto all of their time outs for no reason at all. Which brings me to another ridiculous feature of the game, quarter length. The default length for a quarter is a speedy 1 minute. They can be, in exhibition and multiplayer modes, be increased to 2.5 minutes, but no longer than that. Forget the 15 minute quarters played in real life, Madden for Android doesn’t even let you play the default 5 minute quarters found in the console versions.
Did I mention that most of the playbook is locked out initially and you have to unlock it through IAPs or by leveling up? No? Well, it is and you do.
The single player “season” where you can gain cards without buying them is similarly a slap in the face to true Madden and Football fans. Players are given certain mini-game challenges, like run for fifty yards in six attempts, then thrust into full games that represent “playoffs” before being put into a game called “The Super Bowl.” This is another reason I doubt the team in charge of this port have any experience watching real life American Football. In my short time with the game I won several “Super Bowls” and it never once felt like the “big game.” Madden for Android links the team you face in the “Super Bowl” with the team who has the player whose card you are trying to gain, regardless if it makes sense. Playing as the Jets I often found myself playing another AFC team in the “Super Bowl” and NFC teams in the “Playoffs.” The whole thing feels inauthentic and nonsensical. It’s like EA found an overseas team who had never watched football before, and they simply made the company watch some Youtube videos of someone playing Madden and then said “Make something like that, but with IAPs” and this is what they came up with.
I can’t imagine any Madden fan enjoying this game, and as if to rub salt in our wounds, EA has pulled Madden 12, the last decent representation of Madden on Android, off of the Google Play Marketplace. It seems like they feared players would reject this free to play monstrosity and tried to force it onto us by giving us no other options.
The whole game is criminal, nearly any monetization scheme would work better than this. Give us Ultimate Team for free and have us pay for Franchise, real multiplayer and SuperStar mode. Simply port the last PlayStation 2 version of Madden with an updated roster and charge six bucks for it, anything that would allow us to enjoy a real game of Madden on our phones and tablets, because this is crap. Pure IAP filled EA seal of approval stamped, crap. There are more things wrong with the game, play limits, unrealistic physics, no audibles, the list goes on, but this review doesn’t need to. Stay away from this game. Downloading it will only encourage EA. I would rather they re-release Madden ’94 with updated rosters than play this pile of stinking garbage.
If you pay attention to American football, you know that a couple of former big name players have been let go in this crazy day where the rosters have to be down to a magical number of 50 some players. Amongst those names were two first round busts; Tim Tebow and Vince Young. Both of these gentlemen had the world before them, or rather, lucrative contracts without the talent to back it up. In as such, their respective teams who tried to give them a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, whatever number of chances, decided it just wasn’t working out and subsequently dropped them like people dropped Blackberry about 5 years ago.
But not all big names in mobile gaming get thrown out to the pasture. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to make a franchise out of it, you may very well have the staying power of the Rolling Stones. In addition to announcing the big Angry Birds Star Wars Part Deux earlier this year, Rovio mentioned another Angry Birds game called Angry Birds Go. At the time, the Scandinavian mobile giant didn’t reveal any other details about this game. This week, however, it was revealed that this title will be a kart racer game, similar to what many elongated gaming franchises often do, like the Super Mario Series, Little Big Planet and even Mortal Kombat. (It exists, see here) We also know that this game is sponsored by Red Bull, because what else makes you think of birds shaped as balls racing around a track then an energy drink that probably isn’t safe for human consumption.
I’ve never been quite sure about whether or not human flesh is “safe” for human consumption. I’m certainly not going to try it, but I’ve heard mixed reports as to whether or not its ok. However, if you’re a member of the undead horde of zombies, human flesh seems to be your cup of tea. Now, we could go on and on about zombies in pop culture, but one of the biggest franchises to perpetuate the zombie craze has been The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead game released by Telltale Games has been huge and released on a variety of different consoles. If you happen to own an OUYA, you now have another means in which to play this exceptionally awesome game. That’s right, sometime this winter all five episodes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead along with the expansion 400 Days are coming to the ill-fated OUYA console. Ironic that a device that is almost dead, could possibly be given a second life, through the undead. In any case, we’ve also learned that the second season of this game will also be coming to the OUYA, should consumers still be playing the console at that time.
Another great game that’s getting a bit of a bump is Fireproof Studio’s The Room. This intricate little puzzle game has received rave reviews, even from us, for being original and challenging. However, this week, the good folks at Fireproof decided to give their title a little shot in the arm by releasing a whole new expansion for this game, for the low price of nothing! You may not be able to get a free lunch, but in the age of IAPs and DLC, when’s the last time you got FREE expansions? On top of that Fireproof have put this awesome title on sale. Dear god, what are they doing over there? This expansion released on August 29th and should be available to you now if you already own this game.
Speaking of IAPs and DLC, we all have to admit sometimes these get a little bizarre, expensive, or just plain dumb. People spend lots of money on map packs, extra candy to crush or whatever. Ever felt empty handed by this? Like, sad that you didn’t have anything physical? Amazon has heard your cries and pleas ladies and gents, and has introduced a program in which players will now be able to buy real life items within an Android game, without having to leave the app at all. Announcing the Mobile App Associates API this week, Amazon allows app developers to allow the sale of real life items through Amazon and sell directly to their customers as though it was an IAP. Maybe your tired of getting nothing from Candy Crush Saga? Well now King could send you a pound of Sour Patch Kids for your troubles? We don’t know too much more about it, other than some games, such as Ticket to Ride, are already using this feature.
Could any of these upcoming games also use this feature?
Ever get the feeling like you’ve been cheated, when buying IAPs? Amazon wants to remove that feeling when you purchase IAPs by filling that void with… actual stuff.
Under a new initiative Amazon is introducing called Mobile App Associates API, developers of games can work their games in a way to where users would actually be able to buy real life items through the game or app, without actually leaving it. Additionally, developers would receive a 6% commission on said sales.
The Android version of Ticket to Ride, developed by Days of Wonder (read out review here) is the first to utilize this by allowing players to purchase the actual board game through the app itself. Likewise, should players purchase an expansion for the real board game through the app, they would also unlock that expansion on the mobile version of the game.
Amazon even plans on giving recommendations on items developers can feature and players can buy.
This feature would extend to any Android appstore, not just Amazon’s.
I’m not going to say that IAPs or freemium model games are the absolute great Satan of mobile gaming. I’m also not of the opinion that ALL licensed games are inherently garbage either. However, in the case of Marvel: War of Heroes, both of those stereotypical thoughts about mobile and licensed games seem to hold true. While players will get to immerse themselves in everything within the Marvel Universe, there are tons of glaring flaws with this mobile title. I plan on going into more detail through the course of this review, but Marvel War of Heroes had the potential to be the Cyclops of mobile gaming, but instead ends up becoming more like Cypher. Marvel doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record when making games either. Most of the licensed games, in recent memory, have been perceived as rather mediocre at best by critics. We even reviewed the Iron Man 3 a couple months ago, giving it a 3/5, pretty average on our scale. Most of their console games also haven’t exactly enjoyed high scores.
Gamers, get ready to spend a bundle when playing FIFA 2014, the most popular sports game in the world, on your Android phones and tablets…
At Gamescom 2013 yesterday, EA informed the world that, much like many of their other mobile games (Plants Vs. Zombies 2 for example) is going Free to Play, which means IAPs in some form, whether it be stadiums, or gouging your pocket book for the Ultimate Team portion of this Android game. Whatever they chose to force people to spend money on in this game is all pure speculation and anyone’s guess right now.
There is no set release date for FIFA 2014 on iOS or Android, but the console version is coming out in just a few weeks, September 27th.
Obviously, once we know more details, we at Gamewoof will keep you in the loop. Ole! Ole! Ole!
Destructamobile Talks A Thug in Time, IAPs, Struggles of Being a New Developer, and Their Next Titles
Destructamobile is a relative unknown. While trying to do some research before this interview I found their About page empty and their Facebook profile all but empty. What is known is that their first game, A Thug in Time, is one of the best games of its kind available on Android. I talked to Athanasios Ikonomou the CEO and Lead Engineer of Destructamobile to get some answers. We talked about their debut game, monetization strategy and the struggles of being a new developer.
GameWoof: First, for the benefit of our readers can you give us a quick overview of A Thug in Time?
Destructamobile: A Thug In Time is a dual stick top down shooter. Its the story of a former thug (Kai) who is thrust into an extraordinary situation. Kai must collect crystals from different time periods that will then help power a device that will save humanity. Players have access to over 35 different weapons and must travel through over 65 different levels that span over 4 time periods which include: Viking Age, Wild West, Mob Chicago, Present Day NY.
GameWoof: A Thug in Time is Destructamobile’s first title, what were some of the challenges you encountered during the development phase that caught you by surprised?
Destructamobile: Dealing with our contractors was rather challenging. We really had a hard time finding quality studios and individuals that were reliable with art content since we chose to contract out all of our artwork.
GameWoof: As a brand new developer how difficult or easy was it to get A Thug in Time released on the Google Play Store? How did it compare to getting it onto iTunes?
Destructamobile: While we are a new studio, our team is not new to mobile development. The iTunes store was pretty painless as it usually is. However, this is the first time for us experiencing Google Play. We had some pretty major install issues due to the expansion pack format from the beginning. It was something we thought we had prepared for but unfortunately not thoroughly enough.
GameWoof: This being Destructamobile’s first title people know very little about you, your site and facebook page have little to no information on who you are. Can you give us a little insight into who makes up the Destructamobile team? Where are you guys(and gals) from and how did Destructamobile come to be?
Destructamobile: Destructamobile is comprised of a few console veterans and a very talented writer/creative director. We are all from the west coast and combine for over 30 years of industry experience. I am the CEO/face of our company. I have worked in the industry for about 12 years now, from console companies to startup mobile companies. My main trade is that of an engineer. On A Thug In Time I served as the Lead Engineer as well as the only engineer, our assets were all contracted out and our core team helped with all of the writing, game design, game direction as well as hours and hours of game testing.
GameWoof: There have been multiple updates for A Thug in Time, many of them adjusting the difficulty. How surprised were you to find gamers having trouble with early levels and do you think you have hit the sweet spot now?
Destructamobile: We were a little surprised by this as we had over 20 beta testers and their main focus was the difficulty/pacing. Our goal was for people to be able to finish the game without forcing them to purchase anything. However, it became apparent after release that it was a bit too difficult. The difficulty here is that when you have one of the more powerful weapons such as the ‘Antimatter Rifle’ the game is extremely easy, so we fought hard to properly set the difficulty with more standard weapons while making sure that if you did have one of the more powerful weapons it was still somewhat challenging. We’ve since made the first 15 levels continue “free”, refined the difficulty as well as added some in game powerups to help players to stay alive. We feel as it is right in the sweet spot now.
GameWoof: In my review I praised your IAP system for keeping the purchases really inexpensive, but also mentioned that I felt like it was hard to progress without buying at least 1 package. This wasn’t really a criticism, but I compared it to another dual-stick shooter, Zombiewood, that had the opposite approach: an easy enough difficulty curve to get through without buying anything but if you did decide to buy something it was really expensive, with packages going up to 100 dollars. Ultimately, I said it came down to person preference because for a few bucks I got to enjoy all the weapons in A Thug in Time, while in ZombieWood a few bucks wouldn’t open nearly as much. What are your thoughts on this and what kind of factors did you consider when developing A Thug in Time’s monetization strategy?
Destructamobile: When we created this company one of our goals was to deliver great games that everyday people could actually afford. As I mentioned in the last question, our goal was to have players be able to finish the game without having to purchase any items. We have made a promise to ourselves that we will always commit to making any IAP’s resonable and affordable. We feel very strongly that having IAP’s that go up to 100.00 is not only the wrong approach, but a shady approach. Destructamobile is about delivering the best content we can possibly deliver at prices that are affordable and not ridiculous.
GameWoof: I know the storyline had an explanation, but one of my few criticisms of the game was that there didn’t seem to be time period weapons, even the Vikings had guns. Did you ever consider giving them more time appropriate weapons, like maybe bows and arrows?
Destructamobile: In our very early builds we actually had the Vikings wielding swords and spear type weapons. During all the playthroughs they just didn’t feel as well as we had hoped and ultimately we ended up taking them out. Each time period does have some uniqueness to the weapons that they have though. Mobsters favor dual tommy guns, while present day thugs favor uzi’s.
GameWoof: Are there any plans too add more features to A Thug in Time, like leaderboards or dare I say, Cooperative multiplayer?
Destructamobile: We absolutely are talking about co-op multiplayer and some other things as well.
GameWoof: Now that you have shipped A Thug in Time, what are Destructamobile’s plans for the future? Any hints on what we can expect from you guys next?
Destructamobile: Currently we have 3 Titles in development. The next one that we’re really excited about is a physics based puzzler. It combines aspects of ‘Cut the Rope’ along with ‘Wheres my Water’ with a mix of ‘Fruit Ninja’ rolled in. The art style will be very stylish and cartoony. That one is scheduled for a Dec. 25 release date. After that we have another cartoony time management game in the works. Once those are out we will then turn our attention to a title that I have had in my hip pocket for 8 years. Its one of the real reasons why I chose to be a part of the creation of this company. It will be a FPS that we plan on being EPIC from start to finish.
GameWoof: Lastly, is there anything else you wanted to let our readers know about?
Destructamobile: We really appreciate all the support and feedback. Stay tuned because we really are just getting started.
When you have a puzzle game that screams Angry Birds gameplay, you may not necessarily download it in an instant. Though Stay Alight! has familiar objectives for a puzzler, it is a well-polished Android game that is challenging with creative visuals.
To the dismay of many fans of the original series and Android users alike, it seems the game featuring everyone’s favorite creeper, Larry Laffler, has some compatibility issues.
Many of the Android’s most popular devices, according to users, including the Galaxy S4 and the Google Nexus 7 are incompatible with this game, while older devices such as the Motorola Droid 3 or the Samsung Galaxy S3, fully support this title.
According to the game’s Google Play description:
We realize Larry may not be 100% compatible will all devices, we are making it free to test out yourself with no device restrictions. There will be an in-app purchase option available should you wish to continue playing. If you encounter any compatibility issues please contact our Customer Service at email@example.com so we may investigate your issue. We would ask that you don’t rate our game based on your device’s compatibility.
On top of that, as the game states above, the game is free with IAP’s to continue gameplay. No word on what the cost is to continue gameplay or if there are any other IAPs involved in this remake of a classic point and click adventure game.