Cell Phone games explained



If you're not a cell phone game player, you've probably learned to avoid explanations. They're always written by someone describing their favorite game, trying to convince you to play it. What you want is this: an explanation from someone who's not impressed.

Most cell phone games are completely free. You can play the entire game without spending a penny. That sounds pretty good, except they make their money by setting annoying limits and charging you to remove them. The good news is that they start out friendly since they want to reel you in. The bad news is they often start incredibly easy -- you win no matter what you do -- so you won't know what the real game is for a week.

Some other funny things they do:

These games make money on pay-as-you-go. Almost everything is a 1-time buy: extra plays, skipping waiting, power-ups -- these games are devilishly clever about inventing an annoyance and giving you a way to buy it away. They try to make it as confusing as possible, too. Instead of 5 plays, you get 60 energy at 12 a play, and can buy 20 more energy for 5 gems. You're not sure if that was a good deal or not.

They all use gems as cash, the way casinos use poker chips. You can't use cash directly. You can only spend real money on gems, which work like cash in the game. But you also get some gems for free, every day. This makes the rules muddy. Anyone can buy an extra power-up using their free gems, so it's not really cheating. But spending money lets you do it a lot more.

The other thing many of these do is really drag things out. New rules are introduced slowly, which would be fine, but it can take days or weeks. It's entirely possible for someone to recommend a game, forgetting to tell you that it does't get good for a month.

If you still care, a mini-list of common game types:



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