May 9, 2012
When you think of Disney, you probably think of The Magic Kingdom, Mickey Mouse, and your favorite Disney movie. At the end of the day, however, Disney, like every other publicly traded company, has one goal and that is to make money. Case in point, the “free” Hidden Objects: Gardens of Time game available in the App Store. Originally launched on Facebook, the app arrived for iOS in December. As its title suggests, the universal app tasks users with finding hidden objects. In doing so, you visit exciting locations such as the Egyptian Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, and more. Regrettably, the game isn’t so much about giving its users enjoyment, but rather an attempt to take their money and lots of it. Soon after beginning Hidden Objects, it becomes more than apparent that to move forward in the game requires making the first of many “gold bar” purchases. These bars, which can be bought through in-app purchases, cost anywhere from $0.99 for four pieces, to $99.99 for 500 pieces. And people are angry about this, especially since the game's latest update arrived in April. According to numerous comments posted on the game’s App Store page, Disney has now limited the energy level to 30. Beforehand, it was 60. To regain more energy (and continue the game), requires buying more gold bars. Geminitwinjen under the heading, “Where are your ethics?” states:
Come on! REALLY?!? Limiting energy level to 30 & taking away the ability to receive Energy as gifts is a CHEAP way to force people into buying Energy. SHAME ON YOU! I loved this game, gave you 5 stars with every update, but no longer! I can't believe you didn't fix these with this update. How many bad reviews does it take?Meanwhile, Medaddy concludes:
This game has gone from being my favorite to being deleted … Leave it to Disney to take something great and ruin it.
Not just Disney, But...For their part, Disney does offer ways for customers to earn free gold bars. For example, you’ll get gold when you join Game Center or connect to Facebook, or when inviting others to join. You can also receive free gold by doing things outside the game. For instance, signing up for Netflix gives you 63 bars, while buying a gourmet gift basket for your mother earns 43 bars. These extra bars are obtained after making a purchase from within the app. Disney isn’t the first, nor will they be the last to release iOS games that are marked free, but really aren’t. The biggest problem is that many of these games continue to target kids. Consider, what many see as the first of the freemium games, Smurf’s Village, which arrived in 2010 and included a $99 virtual barrel of Smurfberries. While Apple has in the past taken steps to eliminate accidental purchases, the goodies are still there as enticements. What’s really sad, with regards to Hidden Objects, is that the game is actually a lot of fun. It’s too bad Disney chose to use it more to as a way to make money than for our children to learn about faraway places. In doing so, Disney has joined the freemium carousel. Have you played Hidden Objects: Gardens of Time? Upset about the gold bars, or does it not matter to you?
Hidden Objects: Gardens of Time
Beeline Interactive, Inc.