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The wrong way to do it

Posted by Nathan Strum, 02 February 2012 · 1,349 views

Video Game Ramblings
Buried somewhere in this blog, I've been keeping a running list of apps I've gotten for my iPhone. (I suppose if tags were actually working in the blogs, I could tag the entry with something useful so people could actually find it. :razz: )

One app I won't be getting is the recently released Namco Arcade.

Even though it's free.

Of course, it's not really free. If you want to play the games, you have to pay for them.

Now, this should come as no surprise, since Atari does the same thing. Their app is free, the games cost 99¢ per pack. You buy them, you own them. Play them anytime you want. This is pretty-much the way apps of this sort should work.

But that's not how Namco did it.

Namco took the "Arcade" part of its title too literally. To play these particular games - you have to pay per play.

'Scuse me?

You read that right. You have to buy "Play Coins" in packs to play the games. Otherwise, you get one free play, each day. Run out of "Coins"? You can't play anymore until you buy more. And your "Free Play" is used up before you dip into your "Coins", too.

Can't you just buy the games? Like you can with other arcade games by Namco? Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Rally-X, Galaga, Dig-Dug, Pole Position, Mappy? Nope. We've reverted back to the days of quarter-eaters. Insert coin to play. On your phone.

And the games? Xevious, Tower of Druaga, Motos and Phozon. Of the bunch, only Xevious is worth squat. In fact, I'd never even heard of the other three until MAME came along. (But they promise more are on the way.)


This is so greedy and stupid, I'm beyond being insulted by it. I'm actually offended.

Fortunately, it won't run on my iPhone 3GS.

Can't say I'm going to lose any sleep over it.

Here's hoping Apple puts a stop to this sort of thing.

Wow, that model sucks! I certainly won't be downloading this app either.
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I'm going to play devil's advocate for a moment if I may.

I agree that that model sucks if actual coins are indeed the only way to receive "tokens". But if they develop other ways of earning tokens, either through advertising, buying other products, promotions, referrals, trading tokens, earn tokens from scores, etc, I could see it working. Look at it as an attempt to recreate a sense of arcade community of some kind. If it were done right I could see it as an attempt to recreate that sense that these games are partially inaccessible. I mean I never walked into an arcade back in the day and expected unlimited free plays. You had a limited amount of $ and had to spend it wisely. You rationed it, shared games with friends, and made plans to come back another day to try the games you couldn't play today.

I have a William's Pinball collection for PS2 that works in a somewhat similar way. I was at first disgusted to learn that to play each table in free-play mode you had to actually earn credits from challenges and other aspects of the game. Then after a few plays I realized how ridiculously easy it was to earn credits in these challenges and how much fun it was to see how many credits I've earned over time and how many credits my friends and I could earn in a night of playing. It's a little like earning a high score, an Activision patch, or some other bragging rights.

So if that is indeed their plan I'd love to see how they evolve that. On the other hand if they really think people will shell out cash to play 30 year-old games on their phone on a per play basis, I predict they're in for a surprise.
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It's a nice sentiment, but I don't think Namco was motivated by nostalgia. I like the idea of earning arcade tokens through achievements, but that's not what they're doing here. And it's a pretty steep buy-in price too, when you consider it usually takes quite a few plays to get the feel of any given arcade game. 99¢ buys you less than three plays for each of the games. A bargain in the arcade days, but this is effectively a console system with competitors selling their games outright for 99¢. Even Namco sells its other arcade games, so I can't figure out why the sudden change, especially for second, third, and eighteenth-tier games like "Tower of Druaga". :roll:
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eighteenth-tier games like "Tower of Druaga". :roll:

That game intrigues me for some unknown reason. Maybe it's the maze as I tend to gravitate towards maze games for some other unknown reason. I really want to like that game. It has a moderately slow pace that is conducive to exploration of the maze and implies there will be some sort of payoff for doing so. After researching the game further it seems that there are indeed hidden things in the mazes but they're so random that they make almost no sense. Like killing a bad guy on one level somehow affects something 5 levels later. I have no idea how anyone could ever figure that out without Wikipedia. It's like a frustrating memory game disguised as some sort of dungeon crawler. Although for yet another unknown reason I still go back and play it.

(I'd insert a rolleyes icon here if I could figure out where they went to.)
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I gave Tower o' Druaga a shot, but it was just too agonizingly slow to get into. Not one of Namco's better efforts.

(For the icons, you have to either type them in manually, or if you can go back in and edit a previous comment then the menu for them appears. But I don't think you can edit a comment in someone else's blog. Stupid blog.)
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