One of the reasons that previewing free to play games is hard is because you never really get an idea of what the out of the box experience is going to be like until you actually download the game yourself. Back at GDC we got a great demo of Com2uS's GolfStar [Free] but like most of these demos we see, it was a development account with loads of IAP which essentially allowed them to play the game, well, like you'd think a golf game should be played. In actuality, when GolfStar launched yesterday, it was packed with some shockingly gross freemium elements which our forum members were (understandably) having no part of- Which really is too bad, because I was really excited for the game as it was demonstrated at GDC, without all that junk.

The good news, if there is some to be had here, is that Com2uS is listening to the player base. Similar to how Real Racing 3 [Free] saw some timer tweaks, Com2uS is changing up how quickly "hearts" regenerate. See, your hearts are used as that all-too-familiar energy mechanic to rope you into either paying or waiting to play in GolfStar. When the game launched, you'd regenerate one heart every half hour, which is just crazy considering playing a nine hole course burns up five of your hearts.

This regeneration rate is being doubled, so it'll only take fifteen minutes to regenerate a heart. That still doesn't feel great, but it's way better than two and a half hours to play another round of golf. So, if you grabbed GolfStar and deleted it because of the timers, or you just skipped the game because of the overwhelming negativity in the forum thread, it might be worth a second look.

Personally, I wish I could just pay $9.99 or whatever reasonable price Com2uS sets for this game and just play it like you'd normally play a golf game. It's too bad too, as if you stripped away all the freemium offers, ad pop-ups, timers, and other nasty stuff you'd be left with a really radical game with great multiplayer, a cool almost RPG-like feeling of progression between gear and ability unlocks, and a bunch of other neat features.

Fingers crossed for that, I suppose.

UPDATE: Oh, and if you do give the game another shot, Com2uS is doing a free item promotion where if you enter this code on the events screen in game you'll get some free stat-boosting gear:

  • Joseph West

    There are a lot of problems with this game. I gave them $3.98 because I wanted to get the starter package and not have to deal with the hearts, and in reality, that's not really that much to pay for a decent game. Especially one that looks as good as GolfStar.
    That having been said. The game's IAP model isn't just numerous, it's absolutely confusing. Every screen has some sort of IAP. You have multiple resources and it's extremely difficult trying to determine what has value and what doesn't.
    Furthermore, I haven't figured out how to play more than three holes unless you're playing online and someone will do a rematch with you to extend play. Otherwise it's only three holes at a time and I'm well into the teen levels, so if there is a way to play 9 or 18 holes, I would think I would have found it by now. Furthermore, some of the challenges are repeats of the same three holes. So you feel like you're playing the same game over and over.
    Another problem I have is the difficulty. The game is way too easy to play. It took me about 30 holes before I messed up and had my first bogey, and that was because I was messing around trying to score an eagle. I've never missed a green. They are simply too big, as are the fairways. Maybe it gets harder the further you go in the game, but by the time you get there your character is going to be so tweaked, I can't imagine it being hard to play.
    If you play online, the person who goes -3 under is going to win. I won two games this way and lost one -3 to -2. Basically, you birdie every hole you play. And that is without power-ups or any leveling.
    The challenges they throw at you force you to use some power-ups. If you use the power-ups, it makes the game laughable. Suddenly you start knocking the ball within just a couple feet.
    Overall, just not very good.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I actually totally agree with you about the F2P in this game being super confusing. My first launch was totally overwhelming between all the different popups for other Com2uS games, possibilities of getting free currency by doing random junk, and all the weird prize wheel bonus stuff. I actually found myself saying out loud, "Man, I just want to play some f*ckin' golf here."

      The sad part is, I'd have no problem writing off GolfStar as yet another piece of freemium shitware, but THERE'S A REALLY GOOD GOLF GAME hidden under all that junk! It's just too bad it's so difficult to see it.

    • http://twitter.com/Com2uS Com2uS

      Thank you very much for your constructive input; it has been noted and will be reported to our devs. This includes the difficulty, IAP, and request for premium content.

      • bigrand1

        Thank you for considering our input! I think we all know you make great games, but a lot of us are disappointed by the direction some devs have chosen to take with this whole freemium thing. Yes, there's money to be made there, but one of the things is, some may go with that flow and buy into it, but others are so mad about it that they will never buy another game from those devs ever again! That's some animosity you're building there and for the future projects later as well. I agree, though, that the best way to vote is with your wallet. And that, indeed, in the end will dictate which direction things go. And let's face it. We all know you're never gonna please everybody anyway, right?

  • Stichz

    Appstore should provide the markings "Offers original unlockables" these days rather than the "Offers IAP".

  • lanights

    I agree, just let me pay for it, if I like it. It's like they're afraid no one will like it. They lack confidence in their product. Too bad. Considering the file size, I have to pass. Someone convince me that this is decent & maybe I'll bite.

    • http://twitter.com/RubiconDevelop Rubicon Development

      If they're afraid no-one would like it, they wouldn't offer the ability to play it for free for a bit without paying "sight unseen".

      Just saying.

      • bigrand1

        Believe me, they don't make it this way because they're afraid nobody will like it! You obviously just don't understand the 'freemium' model, or you wouldn't have made that ignorant comment.

      • http://twitter.com/RubiconDevelop Rubicon Development

        No, they do it because lots of people do like these sorts of games, they're not masochists.

        But the point I was making is that freemium games have to give a good impression immediately as they can be trialled for free. If a game is a bit shit, the pay upfront model is the obvious choice for a cynical developer - "get their money now as we'll never see a penny after they run it"

  • JJE McManus

    Another vote for ending this freemium mess. Let us buy the game and be done with it. The only reason you have hearts is because every other Dev has something like that. Is your company just like every other Dev? Lead or just follow the crowd.

    • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

      Free to play is a salesman's "foot in the door." If you don't like them, don't play them. There's surely some paid alternative in the App Store, though they might not be as good.

      • JJE McManus

        Indeed there are. But fewer every day. Freemium is a lazy habit by devs intent on cashing in on their (sometimes totally deritivive) games. It is like they do not believe in their product and need a trick to maximize profit.
        If I buy a new car I expect to be inundated with offers to upgrade. I don't expect the steering wheel to disappear only to be told I need to buy them in a consumable six-pack.
        If I purchase a quart of milk at the store I don't expect to have to purchase it again at home in order to get at the contents inside.
        GolfStar is quite a nice game but it is hampered by all the silly timers and iap offers. I just hit level 11 and already I can see the pay wall ahead of me. Why should I invite friends or play online when there is no way to tell if my opponent is skilled or merely a rank amateur who has no qualms about dropping $50+ to become elite?

      • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

        Pay-to-win is the most shameful thing ever. That's the one IAP that I cannot stand.

        On the plus side, at least this one is free. Homerun Battle 2 is a paid app (also by Com2uS) that has the same pay-to-win monetization.

  • bigrand1

    Fugetaboutit! I won't buy another Com2us game ever! What do you think, people? Total boycott! Maybe they'll hear THAT!

    • http://twitter.com/RubiconDevelop Rubicon Development

      I'd much prefer to stop hearing all the complaints about free games not being free enough tbh. It's getting to be like a stuck record.

      • Stichz

        They're complaining with full right, as every customer can and should do in cases like these. And the funny thing is that this DLC/IAP era which started years ago isn't just striking free games, as of your argument, because games you pay full price on have been using pay-to-win systems for ages. And the worst part is when developers add items/levels/heroes which isn't even possible to unlock with orignal playing, even though you've payed the full price for the game in the first place.

      • http://twitter.com/RubiconDevelop Rubicon Development

        We often get asked for a pay to win iap in our war game. (I can supply a forum link if needed). We did add one and made some money out of it, but kept this to the single player game only and left the multiplayer as a purer challenge.

        Short version, a lot of people actually like this stuff, so developers need to listen to them also, especially when profit margins are shrinking and game development on mobile is becoming less financially viable.

        The reason I spoke out about getting a little bored of seeing these same complaints over and over is that it's even better to vote with the wallet instead of vocally, as the original poster suggested. All devs (should) listen to the jungle drums on forums, but the biggest feedback on "good or bad move" (and the most important from their pov) is the sales curve. Whether something adds sales or takes them away is the truest test and also the best motivator to fix something bad.

        Well, that vote has been cast between freemium and premium, and freemium won it hands down. It wasn't even a close race.

        The original poster said he'd pay $8 for the outright game. If everyone thought that way, the result probably would've gone differently to the benefit of all.

      • Stichz

        Trust me, I've voted with my wallet for years, and this problem with pay-to-win issues started long before this freemium and IOS gaming was born. I've been a hardcore gamer my whole life, and the things that I worry for is the DLC trend on PC gaming, like most of us old-school gamers saw this trend coming early. I've never bought a DLC yet, or anything near it, and I barely never attend in these discussions. But sometimes I just get tired of prople crticizing a person who actually bothers to work against it, because it's obvious of what most gamers think. It reminds me of EA, the absolute most disliked company in the gaming industry, and it isn't a coincidence why they are within the gaming community. Thankfully, EA last years sale numbers are dropping to the floor, and hopefully people start to vote with their wallets, I totally agree with you on that point. I miss the old school gaming industry, when games were about gaming and the love for it, not about paying with your time and money.

      • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

        I've been defending Real Racing 3 for quite some time for the same reason. It's free and people are down on the timers, but the fact is that more people played it than Real Racing and Real Racing 2 combined.

        Mobile gamers feel entitled to these disposable games. Angry Birds doesn't make its money off people playing the game. It makes money off of the merchandising and name value.

        Square Enix has made premium pricing work, but look at all the people who constantly complain about how much their games cost.

        Good luck with your CCG.

      • IpadGamer

        "Angry Birds doesn't make its money off people playing the game. It makes money off of the merchandising and name value."

        This just isn't true. Millions has been made off of Angry Birds, and that's outside of merchandising. Millions. Sure, most developers won't have that kind of success, but introducing Freemium in everything isn't the answer either. As in the real world, those who create a stand-out product are most likely to find success. Sadly, Real Racing 3, Let's Golf 3, Golfstar, and others are "standout" games in that they stand out so much the 5-minute fixer crowd feels satisfied while average/hardcore gamers feel slighted. We simply want to play a game, not when the car repairs, and not when we have enough hearts...but when we have enough time!

        If the devs would offer a retail price of the same game for a price (even $9.99 or more) for the gaming crowd and a Freemium version for the 5-minute fix "I'm willing to shell out 99 cents now and then," crowd I wouldn't care so much. But the continual push for Freemium in everything is ridiculous. And it doesn't just prevent me from downloading THAT game, but anything else the dev touches. I've been avoiding EA, and others like the plague...and Com2uS is now on my do-not-buy list as well.

      • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

        You weren't playing Com2uS games, anyhow, or you'd already would have had them on the do-not-buy list after Homerun Battle 3D or countless other games that milk users for cash. At least this one is free.

        Those millions off Angry Birds could have been much more, though. I'm not saying go free-to-play, but there's actually too much value in that 99 cent app.

        Avoid them as much as you want, but they aren't going away. There's just too many people who don't agree with you, but the Internet can trick people into thinking they are right. I'm pretty certain the millions of people playing and enjoying Real Racing 3 and other free-to-play games targeted towards hardcore gamers are going to be just fine. I guarantee most of the people who bought Real Racing 2 waited until it was 99 cents. No one wants to pay full price for an app.

      • IpadGamer

        We will have to agree to disagree. I don't believe RR3 is targeted toward hardcore gamers, as hardcore gamers are willing to pay a premium price for a premium game. Again, if a premium (non-IAP / timer) version of RR3 and the like were offered at $9.99 (or even more) hard-core gamers would buy it. Keep the pay-to-play model for those willing to get their gaming fix every now and then, but offer premium games at a premium price, and hardcore/average gamers will pay for it. I know I would...

      • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

        I know you're not, sir, but I feel like there were tons of people who overreacted based upon those two insanely-priced cars. Today, I play as much as I want to and have only spent $1.99 on the game for the Starter's Pack early on. It made things SO much smoother. I don't know how much of a sense of accomplishment came with unlocking cars in the previous game, but I know I love it every time I open up a new tier.

        Mind you, I was one of the people who didn't buy Real Racing or Real Racing 2 because of the price point. I suppose ignorance is bliss here, but I hardly think this is as invasive as people seem to think.

        The only IAP I have a problem with is limited time exclusive content that preys on impulsive gamers, random gachapon-style gambling, and pay-to-win. GolfStar has the latter two monetization methods, though, so I do believe I'll be quitting it almost instantly.

      • IpadGamer

        At least we agree on something. :)
        That said, some of my 'overreaction' comes from EA offering a $99 IAP...even offering that is shameful. I'll keep my eye on EA, but or now, I'm not supporting anything they touch. Not for PS3, ipad...nothing. If the incoming CEO makes good changes, perhaps I'll reconsider in the future. Time will tell...

      • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

        Shameful, yes, but more power to the people who are covering the other five dollars I didn't pay for the privilege to play this beautiful game.

        By the way, yours isn't the overreaction. I'm more looking at the post Ben Kuchera made at Penny Arcade Reports or the 30/100 it got over on Eurogamer. Personally, I posted a 95/100 on Delta Attack. I've played just over 48 hours of the game, now. I think that's pretty good for two bucks.

      • http://twitter.com/RubiconDevelop Rubicon Development

        We often get asked for a pay to win iap in our war game. (I can supply a forum link if needed). We did add one and made some money out of it, but kept this to the single player game only and left the multiplayer as a purer challenge.

        Short version, a lot of people actually like this stuff, so developers need to listen to them also, especially when profit margins are shrinking and game development on mobile is becoming less financially viable.

        The reason I spoke out about getting a little bored of seeing these same complaints over and over is that it's even better to vote with the wallet instead of vocally, as the original poster suggested. All devs (should) listen to the jungle drums on forums, but the biggest feedback on "good or bad move" (and the most important from their pov) is the sales curve. Whether something adds sales or takes them away is the truest test and also the best motivator to fix something bad.

        Well, that vote has been cast between freemium and premium, and freemium won it hands down. It wasn't even a close race.

        The original poster said he'd pay $8 for the outright game. If everyone thought that way, the result probably would've gone differently to the benefit of all.

      • bigrand1

        Not complaining that it's not free, would rather pay eight bucks up front instead of being jerked around waiting to play, or having to keep paying to keep playing. Too bad if you don't like to keep hearing it! Pay for the game and be done with it. If you've played one of these type games, I think most people agree we don't like it this way. It's a bunch of crap! It's important to complain so devs learn to stop making this model. And after all, bud, this IS a forum, so if you can't deal with what people say, quit reading it! And if you'll notice, they have heard us and say they will change the things we addressed! YES! That's the point, and that's what matters.

      • http://twitter.com/RubiconDevelop Rubicon Development

        I don't like them either tbh. Artficial crippling via timers etc. is a pita and I totally get that customers hate that. But, these sentiments are kinda taking over and /some/ games actually do this stuff well.

        We tried our current game at a significantly higher price like you mentioned but it just doesn't work - not enough people give it a go. The sad truth is that 1-3 dollars isn't enough for games with lots of content and at a higher price they don't sell at all. Freemium /can/ work financially though, so it's here to stay until customers start paying more realistic prices en masse.

        (We're doing a ccg next which is in the freemium mould, but we're looking at things as a free demo plus optional expansions).

  • Bone16

    I can't find the item promo screen in the game. Where do I put that code?

  • Zeldaniac

    Devs should have the option to pick between these options to display their app on the App Store, and get it validated by Apple.

    1) Utterly free with no IAP
    2) Free with some totally optional IAP
    3) Free with a bit of grinding, and optional currency IAP
    4) Two-currency scam
    5) Crappy town builder (or equivalent of)

    • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

      The quickest fix would be if Apple broke down their app categories into Paid, Free, and No In-App Purchases. People who are against IAP could then go to the NO IAP section.

      It's not like the regular user cares about the Top Grossing games, except when they want to know what games to stay the hell away from entirely.

  • Steven Melton

    I was super excited about this game but have yet to play a full round. It keeps force closing on both my iPad Mini, iPad2 and iPhone 5... Whats worse is I can't find a forum to see if others are having the same issue.