Here is a cautionary tale about an app I downloaded in the past.
Two years ago I was looking for something to occupy my time and stumbled across Choices. It’s a mobile game designed to allow users to choose the direction of the story, how their character reacts in the story, and how their character is perceived by other non-playable characters in the story.
I got hooked on one particular story titled The Royal Romance and when I tell you that I read through the chapters of the story faithfully for weeks, I am sincere. The story was compelling and I wanted to get to the end. So I did and as ashamed and I am to reveal this, I used my real money to purchase certain choices.
In the beginning, I was stern that I would not spend any actual money to move through the story. But then, after a few days, I earned a good amount of the in-game currency. So I decided okay I’ll play with the currency I earned from playing the story. But, that is where the trouble began.
What started as a cautious playthrough became more involved and I ended up spamming through my in-game currency faster than I could earn it. So of course, the game starts to coax you to buy some currency.
Now, this is the point where people who don’t understand how microtransactions work say, “Just don’t buy it, you’ll be fine.” I have to admit I too thought that way once until it happened to me.
The story slows down so quickly once you stop feeding it currency. Your time limit breaks become longer, your currency slows down to a drizzle, and because you want to continue to enjoy the content, you pay.
Before I realized it, I had paid out $30.00 on that story!
That may not sound like a lot, but when you factor in the cost of the currency between $.99 and $2.00, I nickeled and dimed my way up to $30.00.
Luckily, I have self-control and determined that finding out who attempted murder on the Prince of Cordonia and fiance was not more important than stopping my mini spiral out of control. But I did start to think more about how pay to play has evolved and
In my case, I’m able to prioritize and decide when enough is enough. However, what about the folks who aren’t able to make such a decision in the middle of a binge. Or impressionable children who could care less about blowing $100 dollars to progress. This is a question about accountability and who should own it.
Sure microtransactions are pretty much commonplace now whether its a mobile app or a console/pc game. But, what is the line between a product or service needing to earn money versus predatory practices that dictate how a consumer has to use their service in order to “enjoy” it?
It’s just a question.