The Cost of Mobile Gaming: From Reasonable to Ridiculous

As much as I like a bargain, I also firmly believe that if you are enjoying something, by that measure, it’s worth spending money on. Usually, that’s not a problem when it comes to PC gaming – most games have a purchase price at the very least. Sometimes, especially when it comes to MMO gaming, there are mandatory or optional subscription fees, and cash shops.

When you get a free to play PC game, again, there are usually ways to show your appreciation by throwing money at the game. When a developer can give a game away and find ways for the consumer to spend money that don’t compromise the core experience, I always want to give them my money.

Mobile games, though, are such a different creature.

While I wouldn’t consider myself an avid mobile gamer, it’d be safe to say that I do more than dabble. Since the only console in our home is a failing XBox 360, if I can’t be at my PC but I still want to play something, I have the choice of using my phone or my tablet.

What I’ve discovered is the majority of mobile games are free to download, and most frequently ad-supported, and I get it. This is the new demo – get your game out there, make your pennies per ad and people who like it will pay you, and you’ve really lost nothing on the folks who stop playing (or who elect to watch ads forever – who even ARE those people?).

Now, ad-supported is probably my least favorite revenue stream when I’m gaming. It’s intrusive, and usually loud if you’re playing something where you actually want sound, but I’ll put up with it long enough to let me decide I like the game. However, if once I’ve made that decision you don’t give me an easy and reasonably priced way to remove ads, you’ve probably just lost a customer.

I’ve lost count of how many mobile games I’ve enjoyed but stopped playing because there was no way to directly pay for the game, so it was going to always be ad-ridden.

On the flip side, I’ve gotten an immense value out of buying a single prism pack in I Love Hue. A one-time purchase removes all in-game advertising, and because prisms accrue daily, most causal players will never pay another dime to play the game as much as they like. As a result, I recommend the game whenever someone is looking for a new mobile puzzle game.

Alternatively, I don’t mind games with a one-time purchase price, although honestly, they’re not the ones I tend to gravitate to. I’m actually more likely to play free games that have micro-transactions because they tend to have more longevity, and I am fine with putting a game down when I run out of energy or lives or whatever mechanic it has to suck the money from your pockets.

However, I recently encountered what I think might be the absolutely most egregious pricing for a mobile game yet. The game in question is called Onnect, and it’s a pretty simple tile matching game. After playing around with it for a bit, I decided I liked it enough that I wanted to get rid of ads, and I was greeted with this:

Yep, you’re reading that right. A recurring subscription of almost $10 a month for a phone game. I can’t imagine that’s working out too well for them. This is a game that I gladly would have paid a one-time fee of around $5 to keep around, but a subscription for one single player game boggles my mind.


How do you feel about all the different ways to can pay to play on the go?

3 thoughts on “The Cost of Mobile Gaming: From Reasonable to Ridiculous

  1. I don’t play mobile games, so I can’t exactly answer your question.

    I general though, while the F2P revolution has without a doubt brought a lot of advantages with it, I’m sickened by a lot of money-making practices out there. Lockboxes, especially if they contain ingame-power, are the worst offenders, but there’s other stuff that borders on fraud too. It’s not even funny anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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