7 Ways Modern Games Have Turned Into Scams

In-app purchases allow developers to reverse the polarity of the Mario series: As we run through a game, it's constantly collecting coins from us. Which is especially ridiculous when you realize that the greatest weapon in gaming history was available for free on the first level.

We've already seen some stupidly expensive virtual items. Now we'll see how in-app purchases are doing more damage to the worlds of gaming than every alien armada ever simulated.

#7. Hundred-Dollar Buttons

Adventure Time Pocket Free Games

Super Monster Bros. is Mario remade with Pokemon sprites -- it has all the character variety of the former and the authentic platforming feel of the latter. It's the ultimate recipe for harvesting child money with an army of soulless clones. And we only wish they'd stopped at that level of evil.

Adventure Time Pocket Free Games
Even the developer's cells hit copy+paste instead of undergoing mitosis.

Every second tap on the screen brings up a purchase confirmation for items, usually for a hundred dollars. But installing the game on your iPad required your password, which by default remains active for a while, and by the age of five, every player is trained to click "YEAH SURE WHATEVER" on any alerts that pop up at the start of a new game. This isn't a game; this is a Trojan Horse using the existence of children as a weakness in your credit card.

Sky View/Photodisc/Getty Images
The existence of children can also result from a weakness in Trojans.

It wasn't even an attempt to exploit a parent's love. It weaponized a parent's wish for a child to be quiet for just a moment, and hoped that they'd be too busy to check their credit card statements. This app was designed specifically to harvest money from overloaded, newly-bankrupted parents, and leave them screaming at their own children. It's the most evil software outside of the guidance program which steers nuclear warheads through hollowed out volcano craters. On the upside, it's possibly the most educational software ever written.

#6. Paying for Healing


The Dungeon Hunter series isn't just a tragedy -- it's a mobile museum exhibit on the greedy destruction of a game franchise. The first game was a great idea, the second improved on the first, the third razed everything to sell shovelfuls of the ashes, and the fourth started digging through the ruins to extract treasure from the corpses. You're only meant to do that when you're playing a game, not when you are one.

Notice that the lower right potion is yellow, because it is literally taking the piss

In Dungeon Hunter 4, your options are "FIGHT," "ITEM," and "CREDIT CARD," because you have to buy healing potions. Note that we didn't say "better" healing potions. You start with three each day, and cash money is the only way to get more. Never mind enchanted armor and game-breaking weapons, we're now expected to pay for the most basic of power-ups. Expecting people to pay for medical care? Gameloft's importing the absolute worst things about the real world into fantasy.

#5. EA's Rating Scam


Our first line of defense against bullshit like this is online reviews. EA knows this, and decided to destroy the rating system instead of making a good game. The new Dungeon Keeper asks you to review it. If you give it five stars, then the rating goes through. Give it anything else and you're routed to a feedback form. And your review doesn't go through. And an EA executive really thought players were stupid enough to be fooled by that.

"We put an actual demon on the page, in case our evil wasn't clear enough."

As gamers, working out the scores that result from pushing buttons is our only skill, and they still thought they could screw us over. Especially since the only authentic review of the new Dungeon Keeper would be grabbing it by the throat and screaming "HOW DARE YOU TAKE THAT GREAT GAME'S NAME?", and then it taking 24 hours for that action to complete unless you want to pay real money.

#4. Retroactive Ruination


Mobile gaming unleashed a plague of clickfarming bullshit when it should have heralded a golden age. Portable technology has passed through the exact same levels of power as our old consoles -- a hardware resonance should have opened a portal of nostalgic joy. There are countless retro games aching for another lease on life. Cheap downloads should see them arisen renewed to share joy with us again. Instead they're being resurrected as zombies -- shambling wrecks wracked with hunger for our wallets.

This screen literally says "go to hell" while demanding 60 dollars.

Classics like Theme Park and Dungeon Keeper have been rewritten as annoyance-a-thons. Two decades of improving technology have made the games actively worse than they were when first released. In the old days, they only slowed down if you tried to run two programs -- now they do it because they've been programmed to. In an awful irony, putting less than a megabyte of data on a bulky plastic cartridge was a less stupidly expensive waste of technology.

Big developers aren't just devolving into Supercell-grade garbage; they're desecrating their own icons in an attempt to extract a bit more money. But if you try to sell an emulation of the old games, they'll still sue you to oblivion. Luckily, no one is charging money for free and easily-found emulations of all those classic games. Because it sure would be terrible if everyone downloaded emulators and played those instead until the current business model collapsed.

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Luke McKinney

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