Flight Control Rocket is everything bad about “pay to win” schemes
Flight Control Rocket
Developers that release a well-timed and high-quality game for new hardware tend to find success. Flight Control was one of the few games in the early days of the iOS platform that understood how to use the touch screen well, and the simple mechanic of drawing a line on the screen to guide planes to their respective runways was both easy to understand and hard to master. The longer you played, the more planes and helicopters the game asked you to guide to safety. The scoring system was brilliant; you simply told friends how many planes you had landed. The higher the number, the better your play. Flight Control Rocket is the sequel to Flight Control, and it’s been released to take advantage of the buzz around the latest model of iPad. Everything good and simple has been replaced with a monetization scheme that’s almost breathtaking in its boldness. Every inch of the game seems to be designed to entice the player to pay money to get ahead. A high score is only a few microtransactions away. Many developers and publishers are gun-shy about so-called “pay to win” schemes, but Flight Control Rocket embraces the idea that the players who pay for certain items should be higher on the leaderboards. Your skill is secondary since anyone can simply buy their way into a higher score. Let’s go down the list of how the game tries to get money out of the players. You’re given three lives in the initial game mode, and if you crash three rockets—remember the game takes place in space now—you are given the option to spend coins to continue your game. I died on purpose with zero points, and the game asked for 150 gold coins to continue. I scored 3,200 points in my next game and again died on purpose, only to find out it would cost me 350 coins to continue. It goes up from there. The more you have to gain by continuing the game, the more you will have to pay. The game also offers you robot friends to help get you that elusive high score by offering certain buffs, or advantages. Each bot is given a set amount of energy, and that energy recharges every so often. But if you want to play a ton of games at once and you run out of energy, you’re going to have to buy batteries to recharge your robot. Guess what? Batteries are sold in the in-game store! You can add the ability to use more than one bot at once. That will cost you 1,000 to 5,000 coins. You can buy more bots to give you more advantages, such as a bot that gives you extra lives for the low, low price of 100,000 coins. If you want to spend 35,000 coins, the cost to continue your game is lowered with a bot. So you can pay for the ability to make the ability to pay to continue your game less painful. You can buy jewels that give you other bonuses, and just like a drug dealer, the first jewel is free. The rest you’ll have to buy. All these items are bought using the in-game currency of gold coins. You can get 750 gold coins for free by liking the game on Facebook. After that, 2,000 gold coins are $1, 5,000 gold coins are $2, and it goes up from there. You can buy one million gold coins for $50, if you’d like. You can also earn coins by playing the game, but that turns each round into a joyless grind. If you don’t spend a significant amount of gold coins for bonuses, buffs, and game play modifiers, you’re going to get slaughtered by people who do. There is no attempt to be fair: if you pay more, you will get a higher score. Each level of complexity doesn’t make the game better, it simply opens the door to something else EA and Firemint can sell you. There is a special hell for the people who create monetization schemes this evil. The basic mechanic of drawing flight paths on the screen remains fun, and the game looks wonderful on the iPad 3’s retina display. After playing for quite a while I had a high score of around 20,000 points. That was after a series of intense play sessions, and was well above my average. I admit I’m pretty crap at Flight Control, so just for fun I spent about $6 to unlock some extra slots and I bought the best bots. My first attempt put me at 31,000 points. Whoever said cheating doesn’t pay is a sucker! Look at the score EA let me buy! The game offered me a continue for 700 coins if I’d like to take that score higher. I declined.