When Social Gaming Doesn’t Cut It Anymore

When Social Gaming Doesn't Cut It Anymore

Ten years ago, a big computer and pocket-sized music player manufacturer burst into the mobile phone market with a product that started a revolution. The big computer manufacturer in question is Apple, and its product was the iPhone, a handset that single-handedly changed the way we look at mobile phones. It wasn't its form or touchscreen that was revolutionary – similar devices (usually referred to as PDAs, or personal digital assistants) have been around for years. It was the way we use smartphones that changed fundamentally in the last decade. Smartphones have become an important part in the lives of almost half the planet's population, an indispensable tool to keep in touch and keep oneself entertained when away from home.

One of the harbingers of this change was the appearance of the “app” – a small piece of software, perfect to be distributed to mobile phones. Over the years, the “app” has become a vital part of the new mobile paradigm – today, a phone without apps installed on it is almost “dead in the water”. Not that there wouldn't be any pre-installed apps on mobile phones – manufacturers fill them with a series of services and tools that we, the users, either like or not (we don't have a say in this, unfortunately). And there was a major shift in the world of gaming, too. The smartphone has become the gaming device of choice for billions of people, even those who otherwise wouldn't've even considered playing games on their phones. And game makers are taking advantage of this boost in their audiences, inventing new ways of grabbing a bit more of their cash each year.

Take DoubleDown, a social casino app I've reviewed a few years ago, as an example. It is a “freemium” game, just like most others, meaning that you can play it free of charge but if you want extra coins when you run out (or a few extra features to be unlocked) you need to pay up. And most similar games use the same approach. Compared to this, the business model of Wild Jack casino online is much more honest. When you play the games at the Wild Jack for free, you won't be bothered with ads, in-app purchase incentives, and calls to action – you can dive into the clean and clear experience of playing your favorite games. And if you want to give it a go for real – and perhaps win some cash in the process – all you have to do is make a deposit and give it a go. The Wild Jack will even boost your bankroll with a hefty deposit match when you first register a “for real” account.

There are times when social games go a bit too far with their “extra” features. More than once, you have two choices – either wait for your resources, coins, or lives to replenish in a certain period of time (it usually takes hours) or you can pay up and continue playing. This way, they take advantage of our craving to continue playing (or our frustration when we can't finish the next level for the fifth or tenth time) to make an extra buck. If back in the day, buying a game gave you access to all its features, today using a mobile game feels more like renting it, with all the ad breaks, incentives, calls to action, and in-app purchases crammed inside them all.

There are times when social games just don't cut it anymore. There are times when the player feels nostalgic for the times when buying a game meant owning it for real. Unfortunately for many, those times are gone – thanks to Apple and its new smartphone paradigm.

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