what is a reverse improvement

Out of Balls!


So I've been playing Peggle Blast again and I think I've finally figured out what it is that's been bugging me: I want to to buy it.

This is normal for people who like Peggle, and I like Peggle, but most of this game isn't for people who like Peggle as much as it is for people who hate money. And/or themselves. Because Peggle Blast is a complete, fully released, and well-made game... that does not allow you to purchase it. That is an actual sentence, and you could say it about a bunch of games that somehow still manage to be called "Free-to-Play."

"Whoa Free-to-Play games have issues? I can't believe it's 2001 already!" Fair, and there are plenty of games that get it right, but Peggle Blast is not one of those games. You start your journey with 5 lives. Lives are lost when you run out of balls. If you connect to Facebook you can get +1 life (even though that's technically the opposite of what happens when you connect to Facebook), but you could also just buy more balls using 10 "P-coins." But wait you can also just buy more lives with 10 P-coins. Until you get to a new world anyways, then you'll need 10 P-coins. It's okay, you've only spent 3 real-world dollars so far, but it was for an odd 31 P-coins so you still have one left over - maybe you should re-up for another 13 bucks to even out? If you had just spent 20 bucks on the only even-numbered bundle in the first place you wouldn't have any problems at all!

Or you can wait. 15 minutes for a life to recharge. 6 hours for a new world to open up. Sure, I have plenty of other things to do during the day, and I actually wish more of them would actively block me from doing them for 6 hours at a time, but this will only get you as far as a difficulty ramp so steep that the message is unmistakable: what's free is for paying customers only. It's a bait-and-bait scheme designed to dig interminably into the wallets of people with too much money and/or not enough self-control, every other player be damned. Granted, having a one-time "buy all" fee might defeat that entire pay structure, but wait a second defeating that entire pay structure would be awesome.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this way of doing things makes more money than selling the game outright, and people can and should be allowed to spend their money any way they want, every other human be damned, but none of that means Peggle Blast isn't an exploitative whale-humper of a game. Maybe I wouldn't care if I didn't actually think a skilled designer or two spent enough time on Peggle Blast to successfully craft a fun, meaningful iteration of a fundamentally great game. Maybe I can't think of any game great enough that I'd want to temporarily rent it to play it. Yep, that's the one.