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  • Writer's pictureIndy Goodwin

Who the hell thought up idle games?! - Indy's Soapbox

Ah Pam... How could you betray me like this?

I have a very bad habit of indulging in freemium games on my mobile when I feel isolated. As you can imagine, lockdown was especially bad for this. This week I found myself having to self isolate again and slipped back into old habits. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely mobile games that are worth your time. I love Pokémon Go and Wizards Unite, and buying currency is not really required. No, my beef is surely and squarely focused on the most nefarious of all genres - the idle game.

I'm sure you will all have seen the adverts for the Archer flavoured idle game called DangerPhone. Do not be taken in. I decided to try it out in a fit of extreme boredom because goddamn do I love Pam Poovey. It was not worth it.

Danger Phone follows a tried and tested idler formula. You must generate currency - in this case Kriegerands - and invest it back into rooms that will generate more and more currency. Missions are won by generating a certain amount of currency and then the board is wiped clean and the rooms require a higher stake to invest for greater reward and progression in what is a very tenuous storyline. This whole system operates very slowly. Basically - weaponised tedium.

"But Indy!", I hear you cry, "No one would play it if the end goal was to be bored of how slowly the game takes to progress!" Well here is the kicker. You can definitely speed up how long it takes you to generate currency... by spending real world money on the game! Improvements to rooms to gain more currency quickly can be yours, all for the low, low price of the contents of your wallet. After all, there's no such thing as a free app.

However, maybe you get players who are too broke or too stubborn to spend money on the game as it stands. Everything becomes achieveable if you just wait, right? Well app developers thought of that and introduced timed events. I played through a few events and the only way to succeed in time was to spend that cash. You receive prizes that carried on to your main game by playin g and reaching certain goals, so it is an attractive offer but ultimately designed to ensure you spend money

I am genuinely concerned by the fact the idle game was even conceived of. I'm sure it came from the same leak in Hell that brought us 2020. The only function of this game is to make you spend money. That's it. There's nothing challenging or intriguing about it, these apps demand your money and your time and that is it.

What do you get in return? It is that most nefarious of things - a sense of undeserved achievement. You've done nothing but waste time and make yourself poorer, there's no achievement in that. If this sounds overly harsh then know that is mostly directed inwards, spending far too much precious time thinking I was doing something.

But hey, if this is you don't feel too bad. The idle game, especially now, fills an uncomfortable void that the pandemic has left. The normal ways one may experience a sense of achievement have been severely limited. Life is so different now. The way we work, socialise, play sports... Nothing is the same. It may never be the same again.

So what can you do? Whatever you decide, maybe swear off idle games. There are cheaper and healthier ways to feel like you've achieved something. Try crafts, or running, or baking. Just don't sell your soul for microtransactions and an empty feeling of success. No matter how prettily it is packaged.

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