Whether it's the Netflix owners or the devs of the hottest new mobile title, content creators go to great lengths to keep users tied to their platform. As is their prerogative, of course. However, we have a right to question the methods they employ, and I think it's time we stopped passively consuming it
Many mobile games employ perfidious methods to ensure that we play their games frequently. From my own experience, I can highlight Star Trek timelines as a particularly egregious example of this. The game clearly has appealing content for Star Trek fans, featuring favorite cast members, ships and enemies. But the mechanics are problematic.
Each mission you take your crew on costs Chronitons, the premium in-game currency which you have a limited number of. You slowly earn more of these over time, but if you spend them all, you can only play the game for ten or twenty minutes before you are required to wait several hours for enough to play again. Or else, pay real money for more.
What at first seems paradoxical to a consumer is simply an accepted part of the free-to-play gaming landscape; it is the developer's job to keep you returning to the game to spend more money, and making use of time limits and premium currency is ostensibly the best way for them to do that.
The major concern for me, as a consumer, however, is that paying money for play time doesn't feel at all rewarding. Only frustrating.
Wasting time on a marketing gimmick
Binge-watching – or more recently, "Netflixing" – is the act of watching multiple episodes of a TV series in one sitting. It's a practice that Netflix does, of course, acknowledge; it even created its own Binge Scale back in June of this year.
This study suggested that the average length of time it takes a viewer who fully completes a season (of the 100 shows analyzed in their research), to complete it, is just five days.
For a provider to keep users hooked on their service is a wonderful thing, and Netflix even has fans on Twitter and other social media outlets participating in and encouraging this binge culture. But somehow, it's sad that instead of pursuing meaningful activities, we sit in front of the TV, laptop, tablet or something else and simply swallow TV series whole. Is this what we want our legacy to be?
Endless runners are endless
In most of Android's popular endless runner titles, a typical run lasts only a minute or two, and then the next begins soon after. You may have to view an ad or two somewhere in between, but these games are generally built upon short rounds that encourage a "just one more turn" mentality.
The problem with endless runners? There isn't a real end goal. To be fair, the clue is in the name. But it means no matter how far you've come, it goes on. Forever.
To what end, then, are we spending money or using our precious time?
In the free games on Amazon Underground, developers receive money for each minute a player is actively running the game in the foreground of their device. When media is built with this as one of its core aims, I'm not sure how healthy it be for me as the player.
What about Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a balancing act for me. On the one hand, the game is incredibly simplistic and there isn't much in the way of real gameplay, but it forces you to go outside. PokéStops not only attract Pokémon but real people. And where people are gathered, they talk to each other. Being outside, doing exercise and talking to others has lots of health benefits. For now, I can't complain.
I am guilty of wasting many an hour on such pursuits as those mentioned above. If I have a few minutes on the train to try a new game or an evening to give a TV series a look, I'm happy to. But I try to avoid excessive behavior and never spend money on in-app purchases which lack a defined end goal or objective.
In the end, there are many parts of life which I believe deserve my time and money but I hope family and friends remainschief among them.
This article reflects the opinion of an AndroidPIT editor and does not represent the views of the company as a whole.