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Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Energy: Slowing Games Unnecessarily

Have you ever been bored and downloaded a random game, be it from the App Store or Google Play? I do this a lot. At the moment, I’m playing a daft game where you summon all the chickens, akin to the little girl who wants you to look at all of them. I’m also playing some castle defense game, where I just summon as many monsters as I physically can to take down the enemy. As such, I’m pretty set in that I have games to play – And I find them amusing. Sometimes though, I yearn for a new game… And I love strategy, puzzles and more. It’s also here I find the most deadly sin of all; energy systems.

Energy, Prisms, whatever you call it, it’s a feature to encourage people to pay to play.

This article isn’t about games where you run, then have to recover stamina within a short space of time – Those are perfectly fine. This is about those games where you only get to do a certain amount of actions in any given period, be it an hour, two hours, four hours or more. I’ll take a fantastic game ruined by this – Hue. This is a beautiful game if you’ve never seen it, but if you like to binge through games on your phone, then you’ll legitimately have to come off of the game for a while and come back the next day. This doesn’t make it harder or anything, nor does it make you want to come back. Au contrair, you’ll probably forget about it. This is exactly what happened to me.

I love games in all forms; I love a serious MMORPG as much as I love an FPS. I certainly can get behind a good casual game, as well as games about educating it’s audience. I feel video games have a lot of potential that’s still untapped, even though it is, without a doubt, one of the best industries out there for innovation. As such, when we end up getting games made as if they were just there for a quick buck, that infuriates me. The biggest problem is how easy it is to tack on an energy system to a game too.

Hyper Heroes was a game I enjoyed, but this game also suffered this same problem.

Oh, don’t think I’m being delusional either. I don’t believe this article would make any difference, I am just having a good vent about a common issue with the industry. The current state of mobile games are you either pay a couple of quid to get an ad-free experience (not so bad if the ads are well controlled), or you get a game which allows you to make as much progress as you want, but you can do optional adverts (again not bad) and use an energy system. This links back to the genres I mentioned earlier.

In puzzle games, especially those Hidden Object games, you typically need to have, for arguments sake, 30 energy. Doing an early room, you may have to spend 1 energy point, which will restore at about 1 energy per 15 minutes. Hey, that’s not too bad! It effectively means in a day you can do a whopping 19 rooms, assuming you are awake for 16 hours. Except, that’s the beginner rooms which are supposed to act as nothing more as a tutorial. The longer you play, the deeper you go, the more expensive a room can be – Usually capping off at between 8-10. It’s either an awkward number, to encourage people to wait, or a flat number to draw people in and make them feel compromised.

I Love Hue is not the worst game for this, but this is a small casual game – does it really need this system and not another way to make some money?

Unfortunately, the mobile game scene is full of these kind of traps. Gem systems shouldn’t be free from scrutiny either, where you can upgrade a single character merely for the price of a high quality indie title. My thoughts are simple: The industry is full of these kinds of nusiances – So why can’t we start to see more innovative ways for these companies to get a quick buck? Why does the reward for paying money to them have to be more time to play their games? So we can spend more money?

Anyway, what do you think of energy systems? Do you think they need to be tamed somewhat, or do you think energy systems give you a good excuse to get away from games? Do you think there is too much emphasis on these kinds of transactions, even ignoring microtransactions? Share your thoughts, or frustrations, in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

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4 responses

  1. Most of the time energy systems make the game 1000x grindier, especially when the game also makes you wait for other things too (e.g. crafting stuff). Its a side affect from the industry jumping from one and done good games to “live services” with the purpose of keeping players engaged by stretching everything out (despite the fact its obviously a bad thing for most people).

    A game that has something close to energy that I find alright (at the moment) is Girl’s Frontline, most things you do use up various resources and as long as you don’t play it for long times per day, play badly or waste it all on the games version of the ‘gacha’ system then its actually alright.

    Ultimately the make or break for a game that uses energy are if they are the sort you can jump in and out from and make small amounts of progress each time, too many games tend to employ multiple grindy things and I ditch them pretty fast.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 13, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    • Yup, I mentioned Hyper Heroes in the article and that juuust about worked as a game for me. But even still, being shoved out of the main content because you’ve got to wait just feels wrong (like many micro-transactions do).

      It sucks, is the long and short of it. I too ditch them fast, even when they seem to be of good quality. A pity, as they could make arguably more money by converting people as opposed to trying to make quick cash.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 13, 2019 at 8:32 pm

  2. Ghulam

    Its in MMORPGs sadly want to enjoy gathering materials like woodcutting mining only to be told you have to wait for energy to regain want to craft requires energy an so on it ruins the fun making people want to quit instead being told how to play a mmo is annoying even more so if its a sandbox open mmo that should give people fun not be ruined by such limiting features

    Liked by 1 person

    March 20, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    • And the icing on the cake is that those who play games with the intent to just play, they would pay for cosmetics etc. It’s a sad state of affairs for gaming.

      Like

      March 20, 2019 at 3:52 pm

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