The Real Cost of Free-to-Play Games

Free-to-play games dominate the app marketplace.

Free to Play Cell GameThe top 10 games in the ‘free’ section of Google Play store all have in-app purchase available. Many of these games state that purchases are optional and are a way for you to keep up with your friends, or to progress quicker than if you were to continue to play without paying. The further you typically get into a game the more difficult the challenge becomes, in some cases, the challenge can be too difficult to overcome and leaving you with either the option to quit, or for a small fee, say $4.99 in credits to purchase in-game items in order to pass that seemingly impossible level.

Then, at a quicker pace than before, the same type of wall might present itself and the same solutions present themselves. Keep trying over and over or pay another $4.99 to get even further along. The cycle typically repeats itself and with many of these games into the multi-hundreds of levels, you can see how it would be easy to charge several hundred dollars to a credit card just for the ability to press forward.

There are also competitive free-to-play games that operate under a building and war type platform. You gain ownership over your little slice of the kingdom, and for example, you are tasked with maintaining and developing it. The catch is other people can attack what you’ve built and ruin your chance to progress. You have a few choices here as well. You can continue to slowly build and not pay a dime. Your progress will be impeded and you will likely never be able to catch up with other players. You can also quit, or for $4.99 you can get the items that will keep your stuff protected and speed your building up. Then, when you realize you need more assistance later on because you are in the same position yet again, you can buy another pack, but perhaps this time you have to pay $9.99 and so on until packs cost you $99.99 in order to continue. Usually, there is no reduction in the amount the packs cost.

The main objective, in my opinion, of free-to-play games is to generate as much revenue as possible. Game developers have figured how to tap into some of our worst spending behaviors. The need to press forward and win at all costs have created many stories of people spending $30,000 or more on their game of choice with many others spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

free-to-play gameI’m not here to criticize anyone, however, I do feel that it’s important that we consider what we ultimately gain from spending so much. Does the game provide stability, true happiness or motivation to do better? Does the game uplift us and help us provide for ourselves and our families? Could we do more with that money or find other forms of entertainment? Will we avoid going into debt that we’ll struggle to pay back? Would we be better off purchasing one game for $59.99 and receive hours and hours of enjoyment rather than be pushed into wanting to invest into a game that could truly be limitless in the amount we could potentially spend?

No one wants to see people already struggling financially end up digging themselves deeper into debt.

If I could recommend one thing to anyone considering paying to play for a free-to-play game; sleep on it. See how you feel about the purchase the next day and don’t let a game force you to pay just to move forward because from what I’ve seen, with some consumers that pattern will only continue as they keep tapping away.

Best wishes! If you, or someone you know, has found themselves in debt due to the real cost of free-to-play games please give us a call at (877) 688-3328 today! Our nonprofit Certified Credit Counselors will advise you on the solutions you have available to you to get back on track financially.

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