W.E.L.D.E.R., the popular word-building or, rather, word-welding board game that used to be among the top 50 paid apps in the App Store, was updated just a few days ago, and avid players of the game are evidently not so keen on the new version. Dissatisfied players are posting messages on a forum thread titled “You ruined it!” on the game’s official website, letting the people responsible for the game know that they dislike the update with a passion. In a nutshell, the roots of their disappointment in W.E.L.D.E.R. version 1.2 are twofold, with both reasons citing an additional feature.

First, there’s the whole business of Gigawatts. I should point out that I use the word “business” here both loosely (as a thing of principal concern for users) and formally (as a commercial activity), and you’ll find out why soon enough. In the new and supposedly improved W.E.L.D.E.R., Gigawatts are special points that can be spent “to supercharge your game.” Notice that in addition to making Gigawatts sound really important by giving it an electrifying and enticing name, their presumed importance is further conveyed in the use of the equally enticing but nonetheless vague word “supercharge” to describe what they’re for.

Introducing Gigawatts!

Gigawatts can be used to activate certain power-ups in the game as well as to upgrade your ability to earn more Gigawatts as you play. That’s right: Gigawatts can be earned while playing, either by welding an 8-letter word or by welding a word containing at least one Gigawatt Tile. Confused already? It only gets complicated from here. Gigawatt Tiles don’t appear until after the first few levels are finished, and chances are you won’t have to use Gigawatts early on. That is, until the second additional feature starts manifesting itself.

The second area of contention between longtime players and Ayopa Games, the developing studio behind W.E.L.D.E.R., stems from the addition of Toxic Tiles. These tiles are certainly living up to their name. With them around, any word you weld is worth nothing, and more often than not they require the wrench power-up to get rid of them. And guess what you need to obtain the wrench. Gigawatts! And what’s next for you in the very likely event that you run out of Gigawatts? Purchase them in-app, of course.

It’s at this point that the “business” of Gigawatts seems to become a literal business in itself. Just take a look at the pricing scheme for the different Gigawatt packs below. The cheapest pack provides you with 250 Gigawatts for $0.99, while the most expensive one gets you 50,000 for a staggering price of $49.99. No wonder some users in the forum thread have referred to them as “Gigawatt$.” It appears that they don’t supercharge so much as overcharge.

Get Gigawatts!

To be fair to the developers of W.E.L.D.E.R., the customers’ forum posts didn’t fall on deaf ears. Members of the Ayopa Games team have posted several replies to some of the more passionate posts, promising an update that will add more Gigawatt Tiles on the board and, by extension, more chances of earning Gigawatts. But like me, user participants in the thread simply want the great game that they originally bought, loved and recommended to their friends. There’s just no use adding supposedly challenging features when the goal of the game is rendered unattainable in the process, at least without ponying up precious dollars to do what players used to be able to do in the previous version of the game.

Aside from enjoying a spot in the top paid charts in the App Store, W.E.L.D.E.R. was reviewed favorably here in AppAdvice and subsequently included in the AppAdvice Top Ten: Best Paid iPhone Apps of 2011. Its developers will certainly do well to listen to the complaints and suggestions of their loyal customers, some of whom have gone out of their way to register for the forum just to let their thoughts on the update be known. A user base of the magnitude that W.E.L.D.E.R. has managed to build ought to be attended to whenever reasonably possible, as it is now, lest the users look for other “non-Toxic” word games in the App Store.

W.E.L.D.E.R. is currently on sale in the App Store for only $0.99, down from its previous price of $1.99, and is available for both iPhone and iPad. If you haven’t downloaded the app, are you less willing to purchase it now, even for a lower price? If you’ve been playing it for quite some time and you’ve downloaded the new version, do you share the views of your fellow players in the forum thread? Ultimately, does the update spell F-A-I-L-U-R-E?

(Thanks to Brad for the tip!)