469977_largerBaseball season is in full swing, and in celebration of the 2013 All-Star Game coming in July Major League Baseball has released MLB.com Home Run Derby [Free], a free-to-play game that puts you in the shoes of an actual MLB player as they try to become the winner of the Home Run Derby competition. While the core game at the center of Home Run Derby is solid, and visually it looks great, the whole thing is hampered by a stingy free-to-play model that pretty much ruins what would have been a fun little mobile game for baseball fans.

The game uses a dual-currency system, MLBucks and coins. At the onset you're given enough bucks to purchase one lower-tier player from all the players who have participated in the last three Home Run Derbys. You're then given the option to play either of the game's two modes: the Home Run Derby itself or Arcade mode. Both can be played in single player or in online multiplayer.

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The Derby follows the normal rules of the actual competition. There are three rounds with the top performers moving on to each next round. You get 10 outs per round, and anything that isn't a home run counts as an out. It will cost you one "ticket" each time you play the Derby mode, and you earn more tickets by either waiting for a timer to expire or purchasing them as IAP. You can also buy a couple of different "doubling" IAP packages which let you hold more tickets at a time and decrease the wait time between earning free tickets.

As you'd expect the ticket system kind of sucks, as it's the hard paywall you'll hit that prevents you from playing the game's main attraction, The Home Run Derby. As you unlock more players the cap for total tickets you can hold at once goes up, but earning enough bucks to unlock players seems like an effort in futility. They just cost too much. I'll be grinding away with my lower-tier Hanley Ramirez for a long, long time before I've earned enough to get even a second player.

The saving grace of sorts is the Arcade mode. Here you don't need tickets to play, and it's a timed mode that sees how many home runs you can knock out of the park, with each one adding more time to the clock. There's also bonus multipliers you can hit outside the confines of the field walls. It's fun, but there's no way to earn MLBucks playing this mode, only coins, so if you're in need of the premium currency in the game then Arcade mode isn't the place to earn some.

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There's plenty more in Home Run Derby like special power-ups you can buy for your player, and everything is pretty much intertwined with the dual-currency system like a typical freemium game. It's a shame, because Home Run Derby uses a nifty "touch-and-drag to aim, release to hit" control system that feels great for a simplistic arcade game. It's a fun game to play… when it lets you play it. It just feels like it could have been so much more.

At any rate, it's free to download and check out for yourself. If you're a baseball fan, there aren't many options for an authentic experience on the App Store, and MLB.com Home Run Derby is a great effort in that direction that's hampered by its stingy pay model.

  • lewsheff

    Is there a way to stop iap in IOS games? when I see the "offers in app purchases" under the name of an app it puts me off the game straight away. The money grabbing bastards, send them to the wall to fight the white walkers...the bastards! sorry I'm fed up.

    • SoyGreen

      I'm right there with you... I won't even download them anymore. I don't know what it is - but I'd SO much rather pay a few bucks for the game upfront than have to pay for even a .99 IAP... not sure what it exactly is - just bothers me so much!

      • themostunclean

        The problem is IAP keeps a game profitable much longer than a premium title. There are tons of non dedicated gamers on iOS with too much money to burn.

      • SoyGreen

        I really wish I could see the numbers. I can't be the only one that is so turned off by them and the methods the developers use to essentially force you into it. (There is some good psychology there...)

        But, like the new Dungeon Hunter game. I just can't bring myself to play it - knowing how much IAP there is - especially with the can't use potions for X hours crap... If they would have released 2 versions - the freemium version and a $10... heck - I'd pay $15 for a good hack-n-slash on my iPad!!! I would have snapped up the paid version no problem! I know there are a bunch of CHEAP gamers... but I have to believe there are a LOT of gamers out there that would pay a decent price for games. I'm really hoping XCOM is a huge success to prove that.

      • http://normalkid.com Arnold Kim

        http://appshopper.com/bestsellers/games/gros/?device=iphone

        Here are some numbers. Of the top 40 GROSSING games for the iPhone -- only one (1) is NOT free to play.

      • SoyGreen

        Wow... I can't believe that! It really sucks that that is the case! :)

        Now - just to ask - are those numbers pulled from Apple? Or are they based upon people who are using the the AppShopper app to get to the app store etc?

      • http://normalkid.com Arnold Kim

        These are from Apple, so they are accurate.

      • SoyGreen

        That's just crazy to me... guess it works then and I will just sit here and be annoyed!

      • nicydunegev

        мy co-worĸer'ѕ αυɴт мαĸeѕ $75/нoυr oɴ тнe coмpυтer. ѕнe нαѕ вeeɴ wιтнoυт α joв ғor 7 мoɴтнѕ вυт lαѕт мoɴтн нer pαyмeɴт wαѕ $1З6З0 jυѕт worĸιɴɢ oɴ тнe coмpυтer ғor α ғew нoυrѕ. ɢo тo тнιѕ weв ѕιтe αɴd reαd мore Zap2­2­.c­o&shym&shy

      • visualplayer

        You don't need to see numbers. Go on facebook and count the morons playing stupid games-

  • curtneedsaride

    Why the heck is MLB putting out freemium baseball games?! A couple years back they were on the right path with a baseball game with full licenses that allowed for season, playoffs, and homeruns. This is a HUGE step backwards. I'll download it... JUST to give it a one star. Thanks again for nothing MLB. Can't even buy a good game from you for iOS. $10-20 of my money that you won't be getting.

    • pauldavidmerritt

      Why? Because they can. It's kinda hard to get off that money train once your on.

      • curtneedsaride

        Where can I buy a ticket on THAT train?! That's what I want to spend my money on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Micah-Neveu/1160696016 Micah Neveu

    Freemium happened because 99 cent games don't pay the bills. They only paid the bills when there were less choices. Now, we have a store inundated with games - many of them absolute garbage.

    As a developer, I have no idea how I'll market my game - free with IAP unlocks for more content? 1.99 without IAPs? I don't know. With so many of these big companies abusing the crap out of what could have been a nice try-before-you-buy model, I really am stuck.
    Without being free, the game gets lost. Make it free with IAP, and many people thing the developer is a money grubber.

    • iarepan

      I know nothing about development, forgive my ignorance. Is it possible to make a Freemium, with a $3 unlock (IAP)? It only gets frustrating to me when one must keep purchasing IAP over time.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Micah-Neveu/1160696016 Micah Neveu

        Yes, you can make single unlock IAPs that don't require being purchased multiple times (consumables). The problem is the negative view people have of ANY IAPs... however judging from a post above, A LOT of people buy that junk and propagate the freemium model. Sucks.

      • pauldavidmerritt

        Micah, music producer, not a game dev here: Is it feasible to create an iAP version alongside releasing a full version at a premium price--for those that don't want the bother, but would love to spend $2.99-6.99 on a game they enjoy/are proud to own?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Micah-Neveu/1160696016 Micah Neveu

        I suppose, but you'd have to make game mechanics to support both, or basically make multiple versions of a game...
        If I understood you correctly, that is. :P

      • SoyGreen

        I personally just wish developers would create a model that supports both types of people.

        Figure out what you hope to make off each copy - for your plan and budget. Then make a freemium way to play - but have a full online IAP... Dungeon Hunters 4 might likely have gotten money out of me if they would have done it with a "full unlock" option for like $5-10... I gladly would pay to support the developers - but I just can't stand the feeling of being nickeled and dimed to death in a game. :)

  • lewsheff

    Maybe it's the App Store that needs to change?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Micah-Neveu/1160696016 Micah Neveu

      The app store is a result of the current culture. For some strange reason, people pick up a freemium game with paywalls in it, shell out a giant amount of money playing (and repurchasing the IAPs) instead of buying games that are "complete".
      It is disconcerting to say the least.

      • lewsheff

        They're fools for doing so

      • visualplayer

        Most people are.

  • bigrand1

    Screw 'em! Down with timers, waiting, IAP freemium games! I won't buy any of these type of games. EVER! The only way to stop this crap is to fight with your wallet. In other words, don't give them any of your money! Period.

    • lewsheff

      If enough people voiced their opinions and stood up and said something about this surely we can make a change! (Without sounding cheesy) haahha we all need to create some sort if petition and the people who buy into this crap need to change their ways!

      • pauldavidmerritt

        Agreed. A part of the issue is: Gamers will claim that iAP traps are good because 1. they fell for it and like the game AND 2. They don't understand the adverse effect of changes the gaming industry goes through when Freemium games are greatly supported by downloads.

        It's not their job to "care", so they don't! It's sad, but it is absolutely weak-sauce.

  • http://profiles.google.com/pritchettdavid David Sheldon Pritchett

    A real shame this is free.. it looks nice.

  • worldcitizen1919

    The advantage you're getting is a free trial or demo and if you don't like it no $$$ lost. All games cost money to make. Time and labor cost money. People have families to feed. The thing is you have to work out how much $ you have to pay to get a good deal that's all.

    With this game I think it's worth a few $ and I've been playing with it for a while and im finding I can get my good deal fairly cheap.

  • jaslakers08@live.com

    i have the normal bat in one of my slots..and it wont let me change it out to put somthing better in it..anyone know how?