It is a longstanding assumption that gamers look down on free to play face book style games. Most gamers garner the snobbish conclusion the Facebook fodder aren’t real games and aim at people who don’t know better. This isn’t true. Facebook free to play games are real games, they’re just evil.
Some Free to play games aren’t free at all, in fact they take their toll beyond money. They use you to advertise their game and spread it like Cordyceps through an ant colony. This is harmless, mostly, as they give an option for casual gamers to amuse themselves for free.
However, amusement is a relative term. These evil Free to play games cheat. Regular games are simply difficult. Level design for free to play games bases its difficulty curve on those that pay to play. This sits at the core of the pay to win stigma. If a game exists to challenge and amuse, why would you find satisfaction in the game ‘letting you win’ under certain conditions.
Notice how I say the evil ones. There are some free to play games that do not do this. They are easy to spot because the pay service items are all cosmetic and promote the message: “Like our game? Please support it.” Having these cosmetic items may make your character look cooler and wave a proud message that you have supported a game you enjoy.
However, the evil side of free to play uses money as a dark stigma. People are able to use bought super-powers to have inflated scores and conditions not possible without throwing money (or inflicted advertisement on your friends) at the company that makes it.
This is the reason these ‘free’ games are corrupt at the core and the real reason gamers should protest their existence. It is no coincidence when you compare the average ‘free’ game to its purer counterparts. There are several ‘free’ Massively Multiplayer Online games out there skirting the line between shady and acceptable. Some allow you to throw money at the game for the same in-game currency others fought for. This is paying for saved time. This is an arguable middle ground to the approach of the dark overlords of fill-in-the-blank Saga.
I didn’t realize this in full until I played Candy Crush to help out a friend. I thought it harmless as I am a big fan of panel puzzle games like Tetris Attack. My short time with the game confirmed my assumptions. I’ve done near perfect puzzle crunching combo runs that have ended in failure because the game has undefined conditions of victory. Would you play Super Mario Brothers if the level said: “Run right. We’ll tell you when and if you win.” Probably not.
That said, these ‘free’ games are a service in itself. It provides social interactions and the illusion of a competitive atmosphere. But is a high score really a high score when the conditions for each player vary? No. Like the Olympics, competition needs the same track, the same conditions, and the same tools for every player.