Nothing micro about these micro-transactions
The nice thing about freemium games is that, well, they dont cost you anything to download. But theres a reason why theyre called freemium and not simply free. Most of these games come with two types of currency--one is the kind you get for playing (running, collecting, shooting enemies, etc.) and the other is a lot harder to come by. This premium type of currency gives you access to some nifty power-ups, removes the need to sit through long wait times before you can play again, or quickly unlocks things youd otherwise need to spend hours grinding to get. Premium currency can be pricey, but so can some in-game items.
How pricey are we talking here? Well, some of these characters, weapons, and tools can cost you as much as a new iPhone. If youre in desperate need of completing a game or if your younger sibling or child gets a hold of your device, they can pretty much break your bank. So hide your credit cards; here are some of the most expensive in-game purchases on iOS and Android.
5. Simpsons: Tapped Out
Mmm, donuts. These sugary treats are not only Homers favorite snack, but theyre also premium currency in Simpsons: Tapped Out, a town building game that gives you the task of rebuilding Springfield. Like in most games in the genre, you need to construct buildings to make income and afford even more landmarks and items that will lure in notable Simpsons residents. Buildings like Moes Tavern and the Krusty Burger are yours to purchase, just as long as you dont mind waiting for stuff to get built.
You get money over time, but if you dont want to wait, you can use donuts to speed up the process. Some buildings can only be built using donuts, so you either need to whip out your wallet or play (and wait) for a long time until you save up enough of those tasty treats. Barneys Bowlarama, for example, is the most expensive building in the game and costs 250 donuts--thats about $20. Wouldnt a few boxes of actual donuts be more satisfying?
4. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Before you dismiss this game as one geared towards children, have you heard of bronies? Regardless of how old you are, My Little Pony brings all the Magic from the television show and injects it into every minute of this world-building game. As youd expect from most titles in the genre, you need to do a lot of waiting before you can harvest coins from all the shops you set up in Ponyville. These coins can help you construct more buildings and purchase additional characters to populate your bustling equestrian community. And then there are some ponies that can only be purchased with gems
As you level up, you get rewarded gems, but youll need to do a lot of playing, waiting, and tapping before you save enough of these shiny things to be able to afford everything and complete Ponyville. A pony like Princess Celestia costs 500 gems, which is the equivalent of about $44--thats a whole bunch of pony figurines if youre a collector. But alas, all she does is help you complete your village and bring an air of regality to your game. I suppose thats enough for some bronies.
3. Contract Killer
Armed with nothing but a hunting rifle, the titular character in Contract Killer makes a living killing people hes hired to snuff out. This freemium game is mission-based, and each contract you accept requires to scan the crowds in its 3D environments for your targets and take them down. Seems simple enough, but it wouldn't be a freemium game without some sort of catch. Each time you take a shot, whether you hit your target or not, you lose ammo and either have to wait for it to refill or purchase replacement packs. You also cant just take as many contracts as you want, so youll need to wait a while before new ones are available. Of course, dish out some cash and all of these problems just go away.
In-app purchases eliminate the need to wait, and you can even buy contracts if you want to play right away. Guns, however, are the best investment you could make as they increase your accuracy and reduce the need to get more bullets. The games best weaponthe Nanotech Snipercomes with unlimited clips and provides you with the perfect shot every time. This contract killers best friend can be yours for just 2,300 in-game credits (thats about $100 right there). Patience is a virtue and it can save you a whole lot of money too.
2. Real Racing 3
Real Racing games used to cost you money to download, but the third installment in the series decided to go freemium. For absolutely nothing, you get a game that looks amazing and plays just as well. Featuring plenty of race modes and challenges, your objective essentially is to make money to upgrade your car enough to use in all the tracks you unlock. Youll also need to purchase better cars with all your winnings, so if you aren't good enough to place first in every race, you might have to do some grinding if you want to afford all those shiny Class S sports cars.
Races net you in-game currency and you also get gold coins as you progress through the game and unlock more tracks. Some cars can only be purchased using gold coins, such as the Koenigsegg Agera R, which will set you back about $100. Its actually not so bad if you consider how much this luxury car costs in real life ($2 million), but I guess it is a bit pricey since you dont actually get to drive it
1. Gun Bros
Gun Bros looks like any other innocent twin-stick shooter, innocent because its free and pretty straightforward and not because of all the shooting and killing youll be doing. The game has you taking down waves of enemies from all sides, so youll need to prepare yourself before each mission and purchase guns or armor needed to withstand the toughest abuse. Of course, the best guns in the game arent cheap, and you can either replay missions or harvest rare elements for premium War Bucks, or you can whip out your wallet and pay.
Whats the ultimate weapon in the game, you may ask? Well, that would be the Apathy Bear, which deals enough damage to always keep you protected from anything coming at you. Not only does it look ridiculous (its a stuffed bear attached to a gun) but its price tag is also pretty out there. How much does 3,999 War Bucks translate to in cash? Oh, just $600. You know, the cost of new computer, Xbox One and accessories, tangible real-world item.
Not so free, are they?
Not all in-app purchases are required to enjoy a freemium game. Most of the games on this list are casual in nature, so if you don't mind waiting for your energy bar to reload or for more coins to refresh, you don't really need to spend a dime. Just imagine if console games were mostly free and had you coughing up $600 for in-game items. Actually, let's not imagine that. Don't want to jinx it...
What's the most money you've spent on a free mobile game? Let us know below. And if you like playing free games, here are some of 2013's best free mobile games. They don't have pricey IAPs. We promise. Kinda.