After many months of coverage, a soft-launch and a hands-on preview, Seabeard [Free] is finally upon us. When a game gets this much coverage and hype, it’s typically hard for it to satisfy all expectations. This seems to be even more true whenever a game relies on freemium mechanism as a way to monetize. After spending a great deal of time within the game, I’m happy to report that I don’t believe Seabeard is a victim of its own hype but I do think that its freemium system will probably alienate some of its potential player base.

Once long ago, pirates were united under the banner of the legendary pirate Seabeard. However, after a horrific monster attack, his hideout was destroyed and Seabeard himself vanished with nary a trace. Without his guidance, the pirates scattered and began to quarrel and bicker. As a descendant of Seabeard, you return to the ruined island with a goal to rebuild it to its former glory and hopefully reunite the pirates and restore order to the region. Seabeard’s  story is grandiose and full of potential and certainly sets the stage for wanting to keep playing.

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Actually playing Seabeard immediately brings to mind comparisons to Animal Crossing and in some regards its a pretty apt comparison. Both have plenty of open-ended gameplay with a lot of focus on personalization and small daily quests for rewards. However, unlike Nintendo’s casual darling, Seabeard goes a lot further in terms of goal-oriented objectives and expansion that goes beyond simply improving your home. Sure, home improvement eventually becomes an important facet, but Seabeard also charges you with building an actual economy, complete with marketplaces for selling the various items you’ll find and residences to house the traders that’ll run your markets. You can also build a storehouse, trading depot (to sell items to friends that visit your town) and a variety of upgrades to your core craftsmen.

Those craftsmen are the key to earning the game’s standard currency which is necessarily for nearly every facet of the game. For example, you first recruit an Angler, which will allow you to fish across the various islands and sell them at your fish market. Eventually, you hire a swordsman that will allow you to explore dark caves and dispatch enemies which lets you discover treasure and collect monster parts that you can sell at the parts market. Both types of activities employ mini-games in order to succeed and while neither one is offers any real strategic depth, it at least offers some kind of input activity. Seabeard also takes advantage of real time, with certain missions or items restricted to certain times of the day.

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Seabeard offers a lot more than simply monster hunting and catching fish. You can also collect various food and wood items scattered across the islands that can be sold at their respective markets. There are also crafting stations that allow you to combine the basic items you find across the land into more complicated items that can be sold for more money or are necessary for missions and constructing some buildings. Finally, a daily quest system provides random objectives and rewards that offer clothing, furniture or monetary gain and experience (a leveling system acts as a wall to unlocking some of the cooler things).

As mentioned earlier, customization is one of the other big points for Seabeard and while it isn’t too robust it still offers enough to give the impression of personalization. You can purchase and customize your character’s clothing, your craftsmen’s clothing, indoor and outdoor furniture for the entirety of your island, and even the exterior of your boat (as well as the boat itself). Considering the perpetual focus on unlocking and improving a wide variety of aspects of your island, I never felt the need or desire to spend my money on purely cosmetic items. However, for those out there that enjoy that aspect, it’s there to be taken advantage of.

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Speaking of boats, sailing mini-games are another big aspect of Seabeard and are essential to  earning the ingredients necessary to both build/upgrade your island as well as accomplish the myriad of quests that can be thrown at you. Mini-games include manuever-oriented ones such as ‘Dangerous Waters’ (lane-based pratfall avoidance) to tap-based games such as ‘Target Attack’ (tap to shoot the targets while avoiding the civilians). Players are graded on a three-tier scale and earning a gold medal awards a variety of exclusive items. Players can also earn really rare items such as dynamite, which can remove rocks from your island and can open up new areas to build. Sailing mini-games are on a timer so the earning potential isn’t unlimited (one of the few freemium elements the game incorporates). However, I never felt that it was particularly restricting.

In case you haven’t figured it out, there’s a ton to do in Seabeard. Quests reload every day and offer ways to earn experience and supplemental income and items. There are also dozens of items you can eventually learn to craft and sell, and there’s always a high level storyline quest to do which typically involves restoring your island to its former glory. In addition to the customization options and crafting upgrades, you can also eventually discover new lands offering more opportunity to earn items and discover quests. For the most part, I was never left with nothing to do but that may be due to my casual play style which lends itself well to Seabeard’s freemium mechanics.

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As we covered in our hands-on a few months ago, Seabeard’s freemium aspects were what concerned me the most. While the soft launch has seen the developers significantly tweak and improve the mechanisms to be more player-friendly, the free-to-play elements are still there and exist primarily to slow the player down. For example, every major action has a timer attached to it. Selling items in your marketplace, building/upgrading your island, crafting new items — all of them have timers that can be sped up with the game’s premium ‘Pearl’ currency. In addition, every significant main story quest requires a ton of money (among other items) in order to complete them.

I really don’t have an issue with the above, but Seabeard’s biggest fault is when it relies on its randomly awards as necessary items to progress. Let’s say you want to build a new residence for a trader you want to hire. Before you can even purchase architectural plans (which requires money) and then build the residence (which requires even more money and items), you need to clear the land for construction purposes. Clearing the land will require rare items which have a small chance of being rewarded when earning a gold on medium or hard difficulties. You can also potentially buy it from an NPC but the odds of an NPC willing to sell it to you are still rare (not to mention it requires a lot of coin in and of itself). When you combine the above with the fact that premium currency is pretty expensive for the amount bestowed (and required if you wanted to skip required construction items), Seabeard can conceivably have some pricey paywalls if you’re on the wrong side of the games randomization engine.

The most frustrating thing about the potential paywalls is the fact that I really want to progress in Seabeard. Improving my island or hiring a new ally are pretty awesome experiences but it happens few and far between. Seabeard also starts out pretty slow in terms of what you can do to earn money, which tends to push players towards purchasing currency to try and speed it up. By the way, that cool story I talked about earlier? You kinda get lost in the day-to-day drudgery of earning coins and upgrading buildings and little gets paid to the tale for quite some time. Thankfully, the developers have made some significant changes to improving the opening experience and some portions of the freemium timers. However, I feel like my concerns can never truly be addressed within the freemium system the developers have chosen to employ.

Still,  even in its current state I really like Seabeard. It’s not going to work well for players that want to play for hours on end perpetually but for casual players it hits an adequate balance for progression. It’s focus on story missions and actual goals also provide me greater motivation to continue to play than say Animal Crossing which is incredibly open-ended and relies on an almost sandbox-like experience for motivation. Also, despite it being somewhat hampered by its freemium underpinnings, there is still so much you can do in Seabeard, which speaks well of the developer’s attention to content and quality. That quality also extends to the rest of Seabeard’s non-gameplay facets, such as its great visuals, mood-setting music and intuitive controls (the sole exception being an incredibly annoying tendency for the game to freeze momentarily during the sailing mini-games). Seabeard isn’t the magically universal game that I wish it could be, but for those that can work within its system, the rewards have the potential to be truly great.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • ItouchBrett

    4 stars? I played this game for 3 days before I deleted it. No thanks traveling from island to island then waiting for more energy

    • Chris

      I read somewhere that they removed that...

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        The problem with games like Seabeard is that people don't understand the purpose of a soft launch. Folks treat it like the final version of a video game that's released early to people clever enough to create an iTunes account in a different region. In actuality, the purpose of a soft launch is to balance and tune your game with a larger audience using the analytics your game gathers and sends back.

        When it first soft launched, the energy system was terrible. If you followed the thread in our forums, you'd see that there was lots of feedback being posted, with the developer responding and implementing a lot of changes people suggested. Playing Seabeard now is vastly different from playing the game on day one of its soft launch.

        Unfortunately, people play the first version of the soft launched game for ten minutes, decided it sucked, deleted it, and now are posting things which haven't been true for weeks, maybe more. It's a weird byproduct of the games as a service model, and why we don't bother reviewing games like this until they're released worldwide, as at THAT point, that's when the developer is saying "OK, this is the game as it's meant to be played by everyone."

      • godofodd

        To be fair, it's hard for the average mobile gamer to know that it's a soft launch product that's basically a beta test, as it appears in their app store results as a full and finished game. It sucks for the developers that there isn't a more viable option for testing.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        That argument doesn't really work either as judging by Canadian iTunes reviews, the unsuspecting people of Canada who had no idea the game was soft launched by your line of reasoning seemed to love it.

      • godofodd

        My comment was a general statement about soft launches, not Seabeard specifically. I'm glad this particular launch was successful for the developers.

      • John

        There are more viable options for testing and balancing games prior to launch. It's not done because it costs the developer money.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Such as?

      • John

        Closed beta? In-house testing?

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Neither can provide as much usage data as a soft launch. Successful soft launches see tens of thousands of downloads. Closed betas, even using Apple's new Test Flight distribution methods are limited to 1,000 people.

        Soft launches happen AFTER in-house testing and closed betas when developers are at a point where they're beginning to be satisfied with moving towards a final version of their game but need larger scale analytics to see what curves need to be smoothed out.

      • armilla

        AMEN, Eli.

      • whitestatic

        I'm not one to nitpick reviews but I'm curious about the randomization engine. If you can't spend around it or earn it (grind, merit, etc) then this seems like a huge flaw--in that the game is broken. Biz mechanics aside, if you can't progress in a clear way, this is 3-stars at most, and revisit it after it's fixed. Mainly because I was with you (I would have played it in a similar manner) and ready to install until that part of the review.

      • chanandler

        I'm not one to nitpick reviews either but when a developer becomes a sponsor of a site that reviewed the game positively, despite considerable negative comments from the community in general then it makes you wonder.... Also the comment above about positive reviews in the AppStore, from personal experience I know that if I download something from the store and do not enjoy it, I'll just delete it and forget about it. The last thing I can be bothered to do is waste more time on the app.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Our entire community has been excited for this game for close to a year now. Are you suggesting this has been a long-con from day one? If so, that's pretty wild. 🙂

      • chanandler

        No of course not, but come on, the review here gives a very positive slant on the game and from my own personal experience of playing this on and off since it launched on the Canadian store has not even been close to what I've seen.

        But I am going to give it another go, if I can find a way to delete the game progress I can start again and see how close the review is based on released code this time 🙂

      • whitestatic

        I wouldn't say long-con. More like someone at Hand Circus/Backflip freaked out and is trying to recoup their investment by making it really hard for a "certain site" to write a "Seabeard Tips: How To Progress Without Spending Real Money" article. 🙂

        I would love to enjoy this game more and would pay money to have more access to the sandbox, but the game mechanics are clunky (everything you need to gather for a quest has a timer and randomization factor for it) and slightly ridiculous when coupled with all the timers. What makes Seabeard frustrating is you hit their walls so ridiculously early you don't feel like you've even had a chance to glimpse what the game is about. Honestly HC/BF could have done better simply by allowing a lot of the early stuff to happen without any timers or need to roll the dice to hope for a certain item.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        I think Eric is working on a guide like that right now. As of this writing, Seabeard is fluctuating between #11 and #12 on the top free lists. The game has already made it. As far as Backflip and Hand Circus is concerned, that chart positioning plus Apple's featuring makes this a cause for celebration... Not a mad scramble for who to bribe.

      • whitestatic

        I didn't mention anything about a bribe (in fact I said quite the opposite). Simply put, after several days of playing this I still don't agree with the 4-star review, and that's ok (it's a first). I simply can't get over the pay-to-progress mechanics that have been employed here. No matter how you slice it, the gameplay has been severely hampered by the randomization engine (which impacts EVERYTHING), the lopsided economy, and the inability for the gamer to know how to navigate progression (a combination of the first two points).

        Maybe they'll iron this out in the future, but it's way too easy to run out of things to do while waiting for some random item to drop in order to accomplish even the most basic of quests. Those quests recycle every day while you're waiting for an item for the main quest (how many monster hands can you possibly lose??). App store review average is sitting around 3.5 at this point and I suspect it will continue to drop as people play it longer (and/or BF/HC fails to address any of the balance issues).

        Side note (if this thread is still being monitored): For F2P games, it would be nice to see the opposite of "How Not to Spend Money" by exploring how much money you need to spend to enjoy a particular game (e.g. SeaBeard, "Buy 1 5.99 gold pack and 1 5.99 pearl pack" and spend it on these few things and that will get you up and running). In other words, is there an amount of money that you could give a F2P game the premium feel. Sometimes you do this by saying "buy the coin doubler" or "remove the ads"...

      • whitestatic

        I can't say that thought didn't cross my mind, but I tend to give the site the benefit of the doubt. However, now having played it, it's really difficult to rate this more than 3 stars. There's a lot to like here but like countless others have said, so many walls have been constructed and it's really unclear what to pay for or not (if one is so inclined). What's very clear is that are numerous artificial obstacles erected to prevent you from progressing at a rate you determine (paid or otherwise). I swear the game feels like they developed it from start to finish and then went back and erected an obstacle for every movement, item, and quest as if someone said "Take every piece of fun out of this and add a timer."

        The random drops are worse than I thought they would be and would be willing to overlook that if there were actually things to do besides waiting. Given that they are now being crushed by everyone trying to play it, the ability for them to tweak any of this is going to take a backseat to stabilizing servers.

        My hope is sometime early next year there's an update to address critical gameplay issues, otherwise I can't see sticking with this much longer (I'll give it at least more than the 24hours I've given it so far to see if there's any light at the end of the tunnel, but forums and reviews seem to confirm that tunnel is indeed long and dark).

      • chanandler

        I think you hit the nail on the head there, it is so unclear as to what to pay for or not why would anyone do it? I'm not averse to spending money but I like to have a clear idea as to what I am getting and whether the amount spent is going to be value for money.

        From what I have seen so far, spending any money on this game would be a complete waste and the amounts they are asking for are quite frankly, ridiculous. Of course you can just wait for the abundant timers to expire and play a little bit every now and then.

        Maybe that is the problem, the game comes across as something you could really get your teeth into, exploring and discovering and building in a great looking universe but in reality that can only happen if you want to bankrupt yourself!

      • whitestatic

        Exactly. I just want to feel like I'm creating some sense of momentum and for every step I've taken I'm confronted with the following scenario "your backpack is full; your X stall is full; you need X gold, try a sailing mission! oh wait you need a challenge token; you need a rockfish, oh wait that's only at night and there's only one, you've snagged it! oh wait you snapped your line. come back later, when you have a kennel, come back later, when you've opened up the academy, etc etc etc." Most games will let you grind your way around this stuff because they know the vast majority of casual gamers will pay up--for serious gamers (let's not debate that term for now), paying in these circumstances feels like CHEATING.

        I can't speak for everyone but if I have to pay my way around something, that feels like a cheat/exploit and that is why I'm opposed to vast majority of IAP models out there (and I've seen and played most of them).

        There's an argument about freemium vs premium but the reality is that for gamers that are use to playing a certain way, IAP feels like cheating. It's not about being cheap (I double-dipped XCOM), but about the psychology of paying and what you're paying for.

        #soapbox

      • primalxconvoy

        Actually, I played the final version, on Android, which came out much later. It's still a broken, money-grubbing waste of space and time. Just play Animal Crossing on an emulator on an Android, or somewhere else.

      • hellscaretaker

        They have you skip the mini event between the islands

    • Declan Moore

      Yeah uhm you don't actually have to spend energy in order to travel. You only need it to play the boat minigames

    • https://twitter.com/internet_bae 010010001

      add me on gamecenter please: mnstr0xxx

  • spader623

    That sounds not too bad... Except for the random rare item thing. And the Grindy aspect of it... I'll try it, but it sounds to me like this isn't my type of game. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to abandon this review because there's bound to be a ton of people just plain hating on the game.

  • theboxhead

    The game looks incredible, but I won't play games that require Internet connection at all times. They drain battery too fast and I don't have unlimited data. It's limiting and that's disappointing. I'll check it out in the future if that requirement gets removed.

  • putermcgee

    Because I have a bunch of other games to occupy my time, I think the F2P mechanics won't get in the way too much. There are times, however, when I just want to sit down and play one thing for longer periods (usually for games that have simple, short "one more" things to do). In times like those, I just wish for a premium unlock IAP.

    The problem is, I don't know what a good price for that would be, and I'm certainly in no position to demand that $5 or $10 is a fair price. I didn't spend the time developing the game, so I don't know what kind of money they'd have to make off each player to break even on that. That said, having not even loaded up the game yet, if there was a $5 IAP to get rid of timers, I'd buy it straight away.

  • worldcitizen1919

    Timers really kill a game for me as I have time on my hands and like to play for extended periods. So I found myself loving games like Real Racing and Candy Crush but ending up deleting them out of the frustration of having progress thwarted by paywalls. I'll probably love this too but end up deleting it. There's only one Freemium game that I've kept for years and that's Avengers Alliance. It allows you to bank your energy and other currencies so you end up being able to play endlessly. The best Freemium model out there.

  • Jake7905

    Ok, so maybe this is a decent freemium game. But just imagine how amazing this could have been as a premium game; without the need to bend mechanics to satisfy monetization.

    • evilelvis777

      Agreed. It's a real shame that the games full potential is not realised; I appreciate that the devs need to make a living, but this is the sort of game which I suspect would have been readily paid for up front by a large number of gamers.

    • John

      Apparently this game isn't good enough to expect a premium price from gamers.

  • lot49a

    "Both types of activities employ mini-games in order to succeed and while neither one is offers any real strategic depth, it at least offers some kind of input activity."

    Input activity!
    4 stars!

  • rewind

    I should try this out again. During the beginning of the soft launch, the game was painstakingly slow. I didn't mind many of the freemium elements of the game, and the energy thing was actually fine for me. It was just that it took so long to save up for anything. This game has huge potential, and now that things were adjusted, I hope the game is better.

  • bnagel1976

    I started a game and want to start the game from the beginning with my 8 year old. I cannot figure out how to start over. I removed from game center, uninstalled reinstalled etc but it keeps starting from where I left off. I used up pearls by accident switching tasks on the boat etc and want to start over. Please help.

  • hellscaretaker

    If the developers are aiming this at younger generation (but nothing wrong in us adults playing it) I say the timer for fuel for boat will not help it grab that market at over 11mins for a drop of fuel that needs to be adjusted.

  • Rebrahimy

    Only about 30 min in and the game is amazing. Responsive touch controls, Beautiful and simple graphics, and a lot to do!

  • John

    The problem with games like Seabeard is the inherent trickery and ickyness that these developers try to employ. Take a freemium game like Seabeard and compare it to something with a monthly model for instance. The devs of WoW give you a game and charge a hefty sum for the game out of the box, then a $15 a month fee to continue playing it. If you play it for 1 hour a week or are on every minute of every day, it's $15. You know what you're getting into, and what you're getting for it. In a very direct way, this is honest transacting.

    The reason people despise freemium models is because it always feels like it exists to prey on 1. Unintelligent people 2. Young kids who jack their parents accounts and run up the IAP without knowing better 3. People who are easily addicted to things. The models purposefully confuse gamers as much as possible (currency exchanges instead of cash purchases, and with that, force you to over pay (also purposefully). For example instead of having you walk up to a vendor in-game and have a window saying $14.99 please, it says this will cost you 20000 super gems. You go to the IAP section and you have to pay $19.99 for 30000 super gems, and then get stuck with 10000 super gems you didn't want or need. The idea behind timers is to prey on people's natural impatience obviously, and the more impatient you are, the more it costs you. Why does this make people feel annoyed Eli? Who wants to be charged money for being impatient? Once again this is just purposeful and intentional trickery meant to prove you can be outsmarted out of your cash by a clever dev. It feels completely icky, because it is.

    I'd appreciate if you guys at TA would stop cozying up to developers by making people with sensible arguments out to be tinfoil hatters or 'a contingent'. You seem like you've come down with 'if you can beat them, might as well join them'.

    • brantov

      true true true, absolutely true. damn man, i love you for this supermegablaster comment.

    • armilla

      John, have you played this game? For a long enough period of time to assess how exploitative this particular game's model is? Yes, I hear what you're saying, but developers seem to be earnestly attempting to find a nice balance between offering enough gameplay without being exploitative. Yes, some developers may be more conniving (see the recent South Park episode), but when can we hold people accountable for their own purchases (as you mentioned, the mega gems)? I mean come on, people encounter thousands of advertisements daily, how can we not expect it to manifest in mobile gaming, a cutthroat market?

      • John

        Armilla, The earnest attempt being made by developers to 'balance' freemium models is to scrape the iap system to the absolute maximum exploitation the market will bear without becoming so obtrusive that it drives paying customers away. These 'soft launches' we are too daft to understand are used to fine tune the exploitation to its maximum cash grabbing potential in smaller markets before a full release. Have you ever once heard of a game having its iap tweaked upwards instead of dialed back during soft launch? Going back to the WoW model, when blizzard does a beta, they concentrate on balancing battles, refining gameplay, tweaking the minutiae of the experience, by exposing the game to players and assessing data.

        All most freemium devs do is listen to forums and try to decide the threshold for dodgy impatience based timers and over-complicated cash exchange schemes, or how much time to elapse tring to make you like something before slamming up the paywall.

        There are exceptions, I'll admit it. Vain Glory seems to have had an exceptional amount of effort placed on balancing before iap. But here again is the ridiculous cash exchange trick, you can't just buy what you want in a fair exchange, you must buy a random number of gems to exchange for what is never an equally matched purchase. Imagine if a retailer like Target made you buy tokens worth 50, 100, or 200 dollars to buy anything in the store, you could only use them for currency, and you couldn't exchange leftovers for cash. You'd laugh and walk out.

      • http://erikveland.com ErikVeland

        Well they do. That's the whole model (scam) behind gift cards.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I'm actually working on an interview with the video game research company EEDAR based on actual usage and purchase data that they've gathered which indicates it's not idiots, children or addicts that are powering free to play games, it's gamers. Cliffsnotes essentially amounts to the gamers who play the most PC/console games spend more than any other demographic on mobile. Because of the free to play skew on the App Store, the majority of that is going to freemium titles.

      This is backed by actual data and real studies a company whose entire purpose is to gather information on video games. We're not cozying up to developers, we're cozying up to facts and reality. Keep an eye out for it, it'll probably be published during the iTunes freeze.

      People love making these sweeping comments about how everyone feels this way and are vehemently against free to play when every other data point that exists that isn't internet comment threads says otherwise.

      • audiotaku

        Freemium games are intended to be played with IAP. If we all played them for free, the model would be a bust. I spend real money on fake money because I want to buy into the experience.

        It adds something to the game, even if only for a short while or to gain a particular advantage. Like a red bull. It gives you a kick for a while, gets you through the morning, and then it's gone. Nothing to show for it, but you got through the morning, didn't you?

        I refer back to my previous comment. How would reviews of freemium games differ if they were played with 40 bucks of iTunes currency?

        20 gamers reviewing one game. Half have $20 to spend, think all 20 have it. Half have nothing to spend, think none of the 20 do either. How do you see the review scores split? I smell science...

      • PureRumble

        "Cliffsnotes essentially amounts to the gamers who play the most PC/console games spend more than any other demographic on mobile. Because of the free to play skew on the App Store, the majority of that is going to freemium titles."

        Assumption. U really ought to wait for the studys results to arrive, and then the scientific reputation of its publisher should first be verified. U should establish that they use peer-review and are held in high regard by SCImagos Journal Ranking System.

        But basically u are synthesizing your assumption out of two separate fact. One fact says most of the users of mobile games are actually from the pc/console world. Another fact says free to play is very popular on the app store. But these facts need not to overlap much in regard to user samples.

        Might still be that people from pcs and consoles have a strong dislike for free to play because its *coughing coughing* game mechanics are so unlike anything they have learned to love, while at the same time the success of free to play is made of the smaller minority that fuel it by pouring in money.

      • Lickzy

        If you assume that someone is assuming, who's the bigger ass?

        My guess is the guy who can't spell the word "you".

      • PureRumble

        Do not expect a reply from me except for this one.

      • PureRumble

        Also even if pc/console people are playing lots of freemium game that still doesnt say that they are the ones fueling it with money. Freemium mechanics have been compared to other forms of "entertainment" that prey on the weakness of addiction. Theoretically it is possible that this "genre" is fueled by a 1-2% of their user base. But again, it needs to be statistically verified.

        If freemium however stimulates in the same manner as say gambling, then there is one reason to why it is socially acceptable; it hasnt been around for sufficiently long time to be noted as a problem. It hasnt been around long enough to ruin as many lives - financially speaking - as say gambling or alcohol has. In such case this rapid growth of freemium games might come to a halt and even decline given time.

        But again its just a theory; time and/or research will tell.

      • John

        I'll be looking forward to reading your interview.

        There are lots of things that people will do and will pay for that are not good or ethical. Cigarettes, and gambling come to mind. You know you'll probably lose, but the tiny spark of hope in your mind tricks you into buying in. You do lose, and you sort of hate yourself for being a sucker, but you do it again. Finally when you convince yourself to stop before you're out of money, someone beside you wins big and you lose your resolve to quit. Repeat until you're broke.

        Gaming is something awesome and developers who pour their creativity and soul into the art should be rewarded, and it bothers me to see them reduced to this ugly type of competition on such a large scale. It's ruinous to this high form of art.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        It's really all a matter of perspective. I don't really buy the "addiction" angle as anything substantial beyond the most extreme fringe cases of people with highly addictive personalities that can become addicted to ANYTHING. The reason addiction is brought up so often is because of the baffling choice to advertise mobile games as "totally addicting" despite the incredibly negative connotation in literally any other setting.

        People just enjoy playing these games, which few people are willing to accept because the anti-free to play crowd has dug in so hard to the idea that anyone who plays these games is a sucker, the developers making them are scam artists, and they're not "real" games... When in actuality, they're just delivering products people want. Candy Crush wouldn't make millions of dollars if the people playing it didn't enjoy it- Especially in the entertainment realm, with NO scarcity of choice.

        People spend money on all sorts of things they enjoy that other people think is dumb. But, if you're having a good time doing it, who cares. If your goal in life is to collect exotic and expensive jigsaw puzzles, and that's what you love doing... As someone who doesn't particular enjoy or see the appeal of jigsaw puzzles, who am I to say that passion is wrong?

        The same can be said about free to play stuff.

      • John

        I believe addiction is brought up because the monetization schemes are so thoughfully crafted to prey on this type of personality flaw. Impatience, a desire to 'cheat' and get ahead of someone else, pulling on heart-strings (pay or your cute bunny you've worked on for weeks and love will run away or starve), the list of attempted exploitations is long.

        Contrasted once again to non freemium models, the idea behind a huge Oceanhorn graphics update and game improvements isn't to scheme anything whatsoever, but rather to improve the experience for the gamer without asking for more money. If the quality of the game itself is adequate enough, people will pay to buy it, and will spread the word. Another example is Five Nights at Freddy's, word of mouth was huge because of the uniqueness of the experience, the clever style of the game, etc.
        Games can can and do still get high in the charts without scheming, without exploiting people's weaknesses, by being artistic, unique, and great.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        ...But games with transparently abusive free to play models don't do well on the App Store. Look at the top grossing charts and play any of those games. They're all balanced in a way that is totally fair to players, and even without paying a cent still provides a great experience that keeps people coming back. I haven't spent a cent on Candy Crush, and I've both played (and enjoyed it) far more than $60 full-priced console games I've bought recently. Are there games with abusive free to play mechanics? Sure, but people vote with their attention and their wallets and developers are forced to adapt.

        Additionally, adding new levels to games like Candy Crush, new units to Clash of Clans, and similar are doing the exact same thing you're saying the Oceanhorn update does. For Clash of Clans players, they're stoked to build the new units, just like Oceanhorn players are stoked to try out the new graphics on their iPhone 6. Neither are a scheme, they're accomplishing the same goal.

        I still don't understand how you can try to argue that popular free games aren't great. You're making sweeping generalizations based on your own personal biases, ignoring the vast amounts of statistical data that say otherwise. It's just like summer blockbuster movies. Film snobs turn their nose up at them, but they consistently break sales records year after year because the vast majority of people just want to see shit exploding.

      • John

        Yeah I don't believe I'm painting it quite so broadly (at least intentionally). I have listed some games that have IAP that I believe are honest and fair.

        Sure I have personal biases, I'm a lifelong gamer, I believe the art is underappreciated and undervalued by the mass public, and I love playing computer games dearly. I hate that IOS has this element threatening to deligitimize something great.

        I also love music. But just because the charts and statistics and 'vast majorities' tell me that I should like One Direction more than Mastodon, I'm not buying it, because its corporate crap exploiting market tested and verified premade business models rather than art.

      • rewind

        Interesting research, I'm excited to hear more!

      • Funem

        I read an article on this elsewhere, the data would be invalidated and only based on assumptions. You cant see who is holding a device when the purchases are made so assuming that its is or it isn't a kid or the parent or person of xxx background becomes impossible to distinguish. For the same reason where accounts are shared over multiple devices the data becomes even more muddied. If they are saying the data is accurate then they are misleading. I deal with a number of market research companies as part of my job and they will agree with the statements I have just made. You can see where the money goes, but you cant tell who made the purchases. My Son and daughter share my Apple and Android accounts, but the purchases would be attributed to me for al the games they want, this would skew the profile that market research are gathering to attribute the sales to me. A lot of app accounts are used in this way, so the data is far from accurate.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        I realize that people who hate free to play will always find a way to discredit anything to do with people enjoying these games on any level. All I can go off of is data provided by actual developers and market research companies, if people want to refute that because of what their gut or personal biases say, there's not much I can do about that at all.

      • Funem

        I don't personally "hate" anything I have probably downloaded more free and paid games than most on these sites. The fact is still that the data you are going on about is flawed on so many levels, but its not worth me trying to explain it again to you as you more than anyone else are the most biased in your comments and try to pass others comments that contradict your own as wrong. Developers feedback, researchers and any data catching techniques, do not give accurate measures unless in controlled conditions they an only generalise. The app store and app purchases are not controlled conditions and therefore are not accurate. You only hold this up as accurate as it reflects your opinions. As I said I deal with market researchers on a regular basis and they will tell you this if you ask the right questions. Using the word actual to refer to their job does not increase their accuracy.

      • John

        Seabeard isn't on any of the App Store Top Charts lists any longer. Which is a shame because I'm sure a huge amount of effort was put into this game by decent people.

        With your industry experience, does this probably mean the game has officially tanked, or is it possible for a high-end production value game to still be profitable and not exist on the top 150?

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        It's fluctuating between 300 and 400 top grossing in the US. Seabeard is making more money than the 1,308,064 (as of this writing) other apps below it on the App Store. It's doing fine.

    • rewind

      Wow, how have I missed this all day? This is my favorite gaming topic!... Honestly, I can't express all of my opinions on freemium without writing a 10 page essay. But what I will say here is that Apple is working toward fixing the issue of uneducated and unwary customers blowing out their wallets. Most games take many steps to inform the player about IAPs. However, there are some deceiving games. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but a few games I've played have had In App Purchases that don't tell you the cost of what you're buying. That's not right. But most games do a good job of making it clear that you are spending x amount of dollars on a certain item. Also, there are multiple ways to prevent children from being able to spend their parents' money. The main barrier is the Apple ID Password, which the young child should not know. If the child does have access to the password, there are restrictions that you can turn on for purchases and IAP. So I feel that this isn't a huge issue right now, and Apple is working toward educating customers to avoid the lawsuits that they are currently dealing with.

    • Yasas Nirmana

      [center][hdyoutube]OZ473LtHDK8[/hdyoutube][/center]

  • Brendan Charles

    It's hilarious that this freemium crap got four stars whereas Game of Thrones only got 3. I deleted this game aft 20 minutes of play after realizing selling a basic fish incurs a 5 minute wait timer. I can only imagine what the timers are like later on in the game. I wasn't keen to find out.

    • Lickzy

      The difference is that Seabeard is a decent game, with annoying timers. Game of Thrones is junk and you have to pay 5 bucks for its.

      Even if Seabeard were junk, you wouldn't have to spend any money to discover that it was junk.

      • John

        So lets say you don't spend money to discover if you like that game, and you decide that you do like it. You could then purchase the full version of the game for one fair price (fair because you decided it was fitting to the enjoyment you were experiencing) and enjoy yourself. One example of this would be the now outmoded "lite" system we had a few years ago, you get a watered down version you can play, and if you want to upgrade to the full version, you buy it.

        But this requires the game to have a good level of quality and confidence from the devs that the game will interest people into buying it. This is the model that games like Kingdom Rush still use to some extent while avoiding the 'icky' tactics. You buy the game, you get the full game. If you want to buy some customized heroes, you can pay a direct price, $.99, 1.99 etc for the hero, and you can enhance the experience or not depending on what motivates you. But, based on the high level of quality the game and the developer have generated over the years, you'll still pay the premium price upfront to get buy-in to the game, and people do this willingly because the game is that good.

        Another point, the most icky of freemium schemers are typically clone games of one sort or the other. It seems the online battle games like CoC and cutesy animal crossing type games, as well as farmtype builders are the most successful at generating impatience and addiction qualities which can be monetized successfully, so we'll all be seeing devs focusing their efforts on nothing but crappy clones of these for a very long time.

      • Brendan Charles

        The difference is Game of Thrones offers you choice of how you move the story along in an engaging and fun world.

        Seabeard offers you the choice of waiting for timers to expire so you can do menial tasks or dropping $$$ in order to be allowed to play the game for another 10 minutes.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I feel like you aren't reading the reviews as much as you're focusing on specifically beefing on the score. As I mentioned in the Game of Thrones review, it didn't seem right to score it much higher than that as it's hard to say where it's going to go yet. If I rated it five stars and then the second episode sucked, where do we go from there?

      On the other hand, Seabeard is a really fun, complete game. Both reviews argue these points well, and I'm really curious which specific parts you disagree with short of just not liking the score.

  • nonstickron

    I dunno...to me it just feels childish (maybe as intended) and so TEDIOUS.

  • divincenzoo

    It's really sad because I am extremely far in this game, and it actually gets so in depth and actually enjoyable once you pass a certain part in the game (unlocking the 3 islands after the initial 7) but I know 90% of the people will stop playing before this because of the payment needed. I've been playing for 2 months because of the soft launch but really disappointing no one will get to enjoy the best part of this game

    • armilla

      Their loss. And besides, the people who won't enjoy it are the vocal majority, and not necessarily people who are actually playing it.

      • John

        Not really the gamers loss but the game developers actually. Fewer people playing or buying IAP means less cash for the developer. Those 'vocal majority' of gamers are probably playing amazing premium games such as the Dragon Quest series, Kingdom Rush, XCom, etc where their intelligence and patience isn't continuously being probed for pennies.

      • armilla

        Just out of curiosity, and since I asked this earlier: have you played this game? Also, what do you think of the IAP in Kingdom Rush? Yes you don't need them to play the game, they're completely inessential. But how do you respond to a $5 OP dragon? My personal take is I'd love to have an option to buy packs of heroes, but otherwise they're too overpriced to consider individually. Which is a shame, because i would like to see how the heroes vary.
        And yes, you mention strong non-IAP releases, but they have strong brands. XCOM is a an exceptionally executed remake of a cult classic, which originated on PCs and consoles. Look at Lucky Frame for example: three or four well received games, but Nightmare Cooperative only sold 7,000 units. Anything to do with being standalone titles? Surely it's nothing to do with the quality. And it's easy for consumers to say have another stab at it, but there's no mistaking that a non-iterative new property is quite a gamble. If my game only sold 7,000 copies after working on it for a year, I'd be demoralized to say the least. John, you bring up thoughtful points, and I definitely agree in most cases, but it's quite a generalization that all devs are singlemindedly exploitative. And the addiction bit: when can people be responsible for themselves? Like you said, you don't want to be peddled schlock for music, so you make a decision to listen to something more legit.

        PS: Mastodon have been on a major label for a while now, and have become increasingly poppier: coincidence?

      • John

        Hi Armilla, no I won't download or try games with shady currency exchanges.

        I used to amuse myself with downloading them and playing them up to the predictable paywall/timer/no more potions etc level so I could laugh at the devs as I delete the game, but they are so ridiculously formulaic and predictable now even that holds no joy.

        From the App Store interface I can tell all I need to know, firstly that this game began it's concept as a blatant clone of other people's hard work, that tells me the dev never considered creating something original. Which leads me to the second conclusion, the game was built by the devs not as a creative and enjoyable game, but as a business proposition.

        Step one, decide which popular game to ripoff, step two, clone the artwork, concepts, musical stylings, color schemes, cuteness, questing system etc. Step three, decide how best to milk the gamers for every possible cent (should we go with confusing currency systems, addiction exploitation tactics, impatience taxes, timers, paywall, or hell, lets just use all of these, sinister laugh). Step four, soft launch with highest possible ripoff freemium system and watch review and forum sites to decide how much to dial it back just to the point of not alienating the dumb ones. Step five, profit.

        I realize I forgot the Steal Underpants step, but there you have it.

        P.S. thanks for the metal tip, I will definitely check it out!

      • armilla

        Point taken. One more thing, if you don't mind: what do you think of the Kingdom Rush IAP? Nice chatting with you!

      • John

        I really like the model of Kingdom Rush. The gem buying is not very intrusive because you earn gems continuously while playing anyway, and the powerups you buy with them are really not necessary to the game play. The reason for this is that you can go through the entire game in Casual mode and see all it has to offer without needing powerups or hero enhancements. And its still good fun! Once you've finished that, if you're still interested in the game you can run through it in an elevated skill level mode, which could possibly require you to purchase powerups or heroes with upgraded skill sets, but it hasn't diminished the experience of the game you originally paid for one bit. When I bought Kingdom Rush, my son was so in love with it (six years old) and he was used to getting rewards for good behaviors in school etc., so one day I told him I'd buy him a hero upgrade for each week he didn't get in trouble in school. Then for a few weeks, he stayed out of trouble, and I bought him a new hero as promised and we both really enjoyed the experience. He in his profile never even got through the story half way, but he loved toying around with the heroes. All in all I believe I bought 8-10 of them one week at a time and never regretted it.

        Why no beef with this? First and foremost, the game is exceptional. Second, the IAP is a direct and fair transaction, you pay 1.99, you get hero, case closed. Third, time spent with the game was always spent enjoying play time, not wait or pay time, not jump ahead for cash time. I WANTED the game to take a long time to play, because it was great fun.

        I do feel that some of the heroes were too expensive, and I didn't buy those. But, they also had a sale event at some point, and I did buy a few extras then.

        As I have said several times, the type of freemium models I despise are the exploitative types. I don't hate all F2P or IAP systems when they aren't schemecheese.

      • armilla

        Sounds good to me. Thanks for your thoughtful replies, much obliged!

  • audiotaku

    Spot on reviewing. Interesting that you should bring up my two biggest gripes. The games randomisation engine flung me an explosive barrel fairly early on, before I really appreciated the rarity or importance of the item. By the time I was grinding my teeth for another a couple of weeks later, my girlfriend still hadn't a whiff of one, but had won 5 dynamite. A week later I had three barrels and she's about to fling her phone against the wall with rage she still hasn't got one. After a month of soft launch, she finally got one tonight.
    The other point you mention is the freezing in the sailing challenges. This drive me crazy for weeks and weeks but since last week's update it's been fine all of a sudden.
    I picked up the game from my Canadian account as soon as it was released on soft launch. I played it every day without fail, perhaps 3 hours a day. I didn't / couldn't spend a penny of real world money and I don't feel like I missed out or was slowed down.
    I agree to a certain extent on your take on the freemium system. I wonder, would we have the same gripes if you couldn't spend premium currency to shortcut and speed up selling/building, just upgrade? No buyouts - you'd just have to wait. Seabeard is an Economy adventure, sure, but the freemium element also makes it the evolution of time management games like Diner Dash.
    Pricing seems random for certain upgrades though. 50 pearls for double the warehouse storage or 50 pearls for 5 more bag slots.
    50 pearls for upgrading stalls and craft station slots is insanely cheap given the scarcity of the pearl currency.
    The potential for seabeard to redefine the way we see freemium models is inspiring. The natural thing to write about when a free to play title gets released is how to breeze through it spending as little money as possible. But if you invested the same money you'd spend on a Vita or a 3DS game into Seabeard, and you spent it wisely over a period of time (no sunglasses for YOU), imagine the completely different experience you would have.
    I'm really enjoying Seabeard. I'm going to keep playing. Once you've built the fourth trader house the game opens up even more and there's now more to do than I could do in a day.

  • hellscaretaker

    Has anyone taken in account pirating for freedium model? You agree we all seen people complain about games that had a price tag with them. I even saw one recently comment "oh just jailbreak your phone then you can download it for free". So a developer is damned if they do and damned if they don't.

    • Brendan Charles

      I feel like this comment is over simplistic. I jailbroke my phone, yet buy all of my games from the app store. Are there those people who pirate? Yes- but it's definitely not the majority, nor the general point of jailbreaking.

      In fact, since jailbroken phones have their own store- people are often are dropping even more cash on their iPhone then most- buying tweaks and apps outside the app store.

      If developers create a quality game with depth people will always be willing to pay. I'd gladly spend 15-20 bucks for games as deep as XCom, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite or KOTOR (and have already)

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      It's not significant. The proliferation of the iPhone and the popularity of the App Store has made casual gamers the core customer base for basically anything released on iOS. When you're talking about games that get downloaded millions of times, jailbreaking pirates are basically a rounding error. Moms playing Candy Crush only know Jailbreak as a crappy FOX TV show.

  • Funem

    Maybe they should do an option that fully removes the wait timers and reduces the in game cost of items for £5 - £10 and see how well t sells. I would buy the full unlock but will not buy IAP's for consumable items in games, so they would make money out of me where they had no chance of that happening before. I imagine there are a number of other people who would be the same as me in this respect. I'm also vey picky about online playing as I do most of my playing when I am mobile and a network connection isn't always available, Mobile devices by their very nature are mobile and network connections are not always available and not all mobile devices are phone with data connections.

    • hellscaretaker

      Bit like the pay to remove adverts, I always blamed Facebook for IAP when it come to consumable game items. During the peak games like FarmVille IAP's was bringing in the money and seeing that everyone else wanted a slice of the action. Of course back then consumable game items was a new thing and people wrongly thought that once they brought it be there's to,keep forever. It's only when games closed down or items that they brought was removed did it dawn on people that there items where worthless and had no claim to them.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      The reason this game exists is because it has spending potential beyond £5 to £10. These days, releasing a mobile game with a price tag is a pretty good way to set yourself up for failure. Hell, just check out today's news with Lucky Frame going under. There's a developer who makes absolutely phenomenal premium mobile games who couldn't make it work. 7,000 people bought The Nightmare Cooperative. It wouldn't surprise me if 7,000 people downloaded Seabeard inside of its first hour on the App Store.

      • Funem

        The game would still be free and I am advocating an IAP to basically fully unlock the game and remove or reduce the timers etc. The same number of people would initially download it within the first hour because of it remaining free. The model this game currently has, is that it will only satisfy people who will not pay to play and those who will buy IAP's. Add a full unlock and you open an extra revenue stream, those who buy premium of which I am one of those. This game has the added benefit of being on the front page of the app store so unlike a lot of developers games that fail to make money, they are in one of the best positions to be in for advertising and consumer awareness. It may have the potential to make more than £5-£10 but that is only potential, per person of a particular type, those who pay to play. Those who dont pay or those who would buy premuim only are lost revenues per game, of those who do pay to play a portion of those will stop at some point as they feel they have sunk to much money into it, the number of people paying anything reduces again.

        For every positive case you put forward for IAP's an alternative example can be given for the opposite. Example, The makers of bombcats made more money from the game after it was made premium than when it was free with IAP's. The developer blogged about it being the best thing he done to convert free to premium, some other devs commented and agreed. Its not as cut and dried as it is made out, basically it comes down to the game and word of mouth or reviews. Some game are pay only and yet they are the best sellers, OceanHorn, Modern Combat 5 (which is online only), Monument Valley, Leos Fortune, Final Fantasy games etc. I purchase an awful lot of games both Android and iOS there are a lot of people like me, to the developers of this game, I am a lost sale, potentially of more worth than someone who will buy 3 IAP's and then dump the game at a later date.

      • John

        Funem makes a very valid point here. Why don't devs make these games with both a scammed out freemium version and a premium price buyout option?

        From your usual market-drive and metrics argument, the reason they avoid this could only be that they make more profit with exploitative schemes than they do with premium pricing.

        Let's take Seabeard for example, you would still see the game on the App Store for the price of "Get". You download the game, and as in-app purchases, you have all the gems/nonsense/whatever purchases available in their usual micro transaction pricing, or you could unlock all features and remove all timers for $19.99. There would be no pressure whatsoever to unlock, other than avoiding annoyance. And the argument that people would be put off by the price is now moot.

        Once again, the big dev players don't choose this option. They make more profit by confusing and exploiting than they can by honestly transacting. This really is the crux of this entire debate.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        There's really not much point in continuing this discussion as you have such an incredible chip on your shoulder over free to play stuff it's unreal. How is anyone supposed to continue any kind of discussion when it's a debate between whether or not developers who release these sorts of games (Which again, the market has very much voted with both its downloads and its wallet.) are made by scam artist thieves?

        Game development isn't a charity, of course game developers are interested in turning a profit. People who have tried this whole pay once unlocked everything approach have failed miserably. Hell, the developers of Gasketball straight up went homeless developing a fantastic game with a pay model exactly as you describe.

        I think you should add the Gamasutra developer blogs to your daily read cycle, you'd learn a lot about why things are the way they are.

      • John

        What part of having a choice to pay a one time fee of $19.99 or paying over time in micro transactions says 'charity' to you? No one thus far in this debate has ever mentioned 'not supporting devs' or 'they should entertain us for free'.

        Those of us like-minded want an honest price for an honest product, thats not a chip on anyone's shoulder! I just happily paid $2.99 for Bean Dreams (largely based on Dotson's as-usual high quality review) and am glad to support this excellent and clever developer.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        If it was possible to sustain a profitable full-sized studio focused on mobile game development by selling games for a one time fee, free to play wouldn't exist. Full stop.

      • John

        But you avoided the question, I'm actually very curious to know your in-the-industry opinion of why more devs don't offer a buy-out-of-iap option to appease those of us who don't like freemium models?

        I understand you had one example of a company that attempted this with Gasketball. But use Seabeard as the example, its a game which is already released, has many downloads, and I'm assuming an existing economy of micro transactions already. How would it hurt this dev to offer a buyout option? Lets say they set the price at $29.99 for removal of all timers and currency exchanges. I paid $39.99 for animal crossing, so it's not outlandish. You're saying they'd go belly up? Why?

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Because the immense historical precedent of developers who have tried this sort of thing has resulted in more depressing Gamasutra postmortem blog posts than I could even count. People don't want to pay for anything on the App Store. You get people in the door with a free game, then offer them the ability to buy things once they're sure they're going to enjoy it. Again, people are spending money on free to play games because they personally feel it's a good value and it's on an entertainment product they enjoy. It's no more complicated than that.

        It's the same argument as people who are like "I hate ads, just give me an option to remove ads and I'll pay for it." The conversion of that sort of thing is typically below 1%. So, you're in charge of a studio, you've got a dozen guys with families to feed, retirements to pay into, and benefits to provide. You've worked on a game for years and need to recoup your development budget. Do you take the proven road of free to play, or laugh at the Gamasutra postmortems that have shown time and time again single unlocks don't work and decide to market your game as a free download with a one time $29.99 unlock?

        It's an easy thing to decide as an armchair expert debating this in the comments section of a game review, not so much when you're the guy responsible for making sure your business stays afloat and your employees can continue clothing their children.

        Regardless, there are no shortage of premium games on the App Store and it wouldn't surprise me if you have an entire folder full of games on your phone which you haven't even launched yet. Without any kind of scarcity, everyone has too many games to play regardless of what specific niche interests them. I'm not sure why people choose to get so upset over free to play when you could play literally tens of thousands of other games instead.

      • John

        Oh thats an easy answer. Because of the prevalence of F2P, some of the great games you'd really like to play are freemium only. An example for me would be Dungeon Hunter 4. It's in my opinion the best of its class, and I really want to play it. But the potion timer was just so heinously overbearing I was unable to play it. I would have gladly paid a premium unlock price, but none was offered. This leads to frustration for some of us, particularly I think those of us whom you call armchair experts, but I prefer to consider myself an 'informed customer'. Informed because I read your site every day and try to stay current with the gaming world, customer because I spend a huge amount of money on games each year. While I know this doesn't qualify me to your level of industry experience, I do feel qualified to complain rationally about this subject.

        Now, I realize that you believe us to be a fringe minority, but I would argue that both you as an website author/manager and industry expert and the Game Developers who read your site could be well served by not insisting on marginalizing our points of view as irrelevant or biased beyond reason. There should be gravity to the title Paying Customer to any successful business person.

      • Andrew Fretz

        "There should be gravity to the title Paying Customer to any successful business person."

        Yeah that title is actually "whale." From a purely business standpoint, why on earth would you prevent someone from spending $100 or even $1000 if they are willingly doing it?

        I definitely consider myself to be in favor of what you are suggesting. In an ideal world I could pay X dollars and just have the entire game. Thats not up to me, its not up to Eli, and its not really even up to the developer. If you doubt it, go educate yourself on The Nightmare Cooperative and Lucky Frame.

        Its time to wake up and realize that being willing to pay $20 no longer entitles you to full access to some games.

        Part of why Freemium works is BECAUSE there is no cap. Do you think games like Clash of Clans or Puzzle and Dragon would make as much money with a pay cap?

        It's time to realize that the media and developer are not the ones pushing the F2P business model, it's the market.

      • John

        I have been following the Lucky Frame story.

        Ironic that the very position me and the other 'nutters' take against F2P would have been the saving grace of devs like Lucky Frame, not their downfall.

        If more people (or perhaps opinion leading gamer websites) would support our position on this, perhaps the threads in Gamasutra could be less tragic.

      • Funem

        If people didn't want to pay for anything and want free games, whos paying for the IAP's and micro transactions that are so profitable ?

      • Funem

        Really, firstly I would take a long hard look in the mirror, the only person with a chip on their shoulder is you. You sit there from the moderators chair and assume that makes your opinion (and I repeat, opinion) correct. It doesn't. I'm advocating free to play and paid, you are just so caught up in your opinions that you cant see the argument in front of you, you see one word of contradiction to you own views and you dismiss the comment in some offhand derogatory manor which is not befitting of a moderator. I read a lot of blogs and articles regarding the industry, I also work in a part that crosses over into it. There is no one correct pay/free model for all games, its dependant on the game and the audience and the market. Companies fall by the wayside because the try and use models that do not fit their audience or game try and go with the ones they have seen thinking its the right one. For all the companies that fall by the wayside you describe, many succeed, some use different pay models for each of their games, again you fail to mention this. If premium games did not work then the full priced, Xbox, Playsataion, market wouldn't exist, Premium games on the app stores that have been mentioned a million times would not exist, games like OceanHorn, Monument Valley would not exist, lite versions of games with a buy the full game model would not exist. If there is any reason to stop continuing this discussion is because you are already set in your opinion and refuse to believe anyone else should have a contradictionary one. I'm done feeding the troll.

  • Chuck Finley

    Wow- I have to disagree with you Eli. Picked up the game last night and put in three hours. Repeatedly ran into pay walls. Need 300 gold to get a wood shack. How much to sell a shell fish? 4 gold. If you can find them and if the fish store doesn't time out.

    Wait, I'll kill time doing the between island mini-games! Nope. Can't do it. Because those have timed out.

    Based on three hours of my time (which has some value- thus the hidden cost of freemium games), I think the game is beautifully designed and I would have easily paid for a full version without the timers.

    I'll look one more time today after work but this is on my "delete soon" list.

    two stars at best, and then only if you had a rich uncle die and leave you plenty of $ to squander.

    • John

      "only if you had a rich uncle die and leave you plenty of $ to squander"

      What the freemium apologists aren't understanding about this argument is that it's not about the measly few bucks it would take to hit the leaderboards in these games. I make plenty of salary at my age and don't mind one little bit paying through the nose for something honest and creative. I shudder to think how much I spend in a year on gaming, its definitely in the near a grand range.

      Its about the ridiculous inconvenience and annoyance at having my intelligence insulted over and over and over again for the duration of play time that makes this truly suck.

    • DoctorMalcom

      Totally agree. Finally got a chance to play (after the game repeatedly failed to phone home) and the ship energy time restriction is too much. Really unfair model when the game expects you to island hop as much, even removing that might make this more palatable.

      Joining the chorus of people who would quickly buy this game if there was a premium upgrade that removed the freemium model.

  • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

    I only ask because it seems like the vast majority of the time the people who are upset about the score seem to be solely upset because of the score and mention absolutely nothing else about the review, game, or any other relevant points. We try very hard to argue why a game is good if we score it highly, or why a game is bad if we score it low. This is an example of a fabulous comment that specifically details points in the review you disagree with. That's awesome, and something I wish we'd see more of around here. It cultivates a discussion, instead of just accusing us of being wrong or whatever with nothing else backing up that statement.

    This type of comment is night and day from your original comment. Hopefully you can see the difference.

    • Brendan Charles

      Usually after reading a review I'm almost at the end of a bus ride, or lunch break, etc. and don't always have the time to write an analytical comment citing specific phrases I disagree with- but I definitely understand how the short reactionary comments can get annoying.

      That being said I'll try be less knee-jerk and more detailed in the future.

  • DoctorMalcom

    I really wanted to give this game a fair shot, but since downloading it I've spent more time staring at the loading screen and connectivity errors than actually playing (including several that immediately stopped me while playing the game). A game that needs to phone home that often might just not be for me.

    Sure looks like it's well made, just wish I'd have been able to buy it outright and play offline.

  • chanandler

    Anyone know how to reset your progress in the game (I've been playing the Canadian version for a while)? I want to start again from scratch and see if the review here is even close to the actual experience.

  • Anova

    With a really heavy heart I just deleted this. So much love went into it, and it's exactly the type of game people have been calling for, but it's just not the game anyone wanted. Every step of the way, for every mundane upgrade its "spend coins, gather materials, wait, spend coins, wait" OR "spend pearls and get it now." I found myself asking, if every step is forcing me ask if I want to skip ahead with pearls, why am I even playing?

  • Richard Liu

    This could be the worst freemium game I've ever played. It could be the Animal Crossing on mobile, but the greedy IAP had ruined it.

    This game follows real world clock and all resources will re-spawn after 4 to 6 hours in real time. You have only 20 item slots in the beginning (it would take weeks of works to build a storage) so it's impossible to stack resources whenever they re-spawn. Since you can only stack necessary resources for your current mission, you'll soon find yourself having nothing to do after playing for 20 minutes. And that makes the overall gaming-pace extremely slow.

    It's not that bad so far, but the tedious workflow and the requirements of rare drops turned this game from bad to terrible -- if you are unable to collect some rare loots from the resource spots, you can only wait for next re-spawn and prey for better luck. Some resources will spawn only during daytime or nighttime in real world clock, and that means you'd probably able to get one item per day if you're lucky, and that item will stay in your backpack and occupy one precious item slot, until you've collected all necessary resource for turning in.

    The worst of all the bad designs is the Sailing challenge. Some resources can only be obtained through "Sailing challenges", or mini-games. You'll need timer-based "Energy" to play mini-game, just like other freemium games. However, beating mini-game is one thing, waiting for the a mini-game to pop-up is another. Playable mini-games are random based everytime you set sail from place to place. Some mini-games are quite rare, and to beat mini-game you have zero tolerance for mistakes, chances are you'll lose in medium to hard level. If it's not enough to piss one off: the reward of mini-game is also random-based.

    All these horrible, unbalanced game play are designed for one single purpose: IAP. The game company had clearly delivered these messages to all play: pay up like there ain't no tomorrow. Pay for the beginner pack or you'll be plagued for the f**king tiny backpack. Pay for extra or you can't find the rare loot for main story lines. Pay even more or you'll need to reload sailing map hundreds of times to get a chance for playing a rare mini-game and beat a not-so-easy challenge to get a chance for some random rare loots.

    The conclusion: if you're serious gamers and think paying is cheating, this game is not for you. If you're parents of young kids and you've loaded this game on your phone, be sure to lock the IAP, or you'll soon get bills with shocking numbers from your bank.

  • Ultima12

    So far I'm enjoying this game. Tons of stuff to do.

  • jamieS

    Timers, paywalls and IAP, Oh my!

    This game is boring and too much work. You would need to spend a couple hundred bucks to get the game rolling and do anything. It's a travesty that this got a positive review here. This game is #poop.

  • derpymcflurry

    - Too much water

  • Levi Ackerman

    How can you start over in SEABEARD?

  • primalxconvoy

    I stopped playing ths rancid little turd after it demanded money to put items that I found on the floor in my bag, near the start of the game. I only had a few shells, I believe. The whole, DOA mess is what people are worried will happen to Nintendo, when they release games for mobile. It's like Animal Crossing and Wind Walker were both bought out by Electronic Arts and given to ruin by the same team behind "Dungeon Keeper".

    Just let this die, quickly.

  • xspiralx

    I'm enjoying this game a lot. I've been playing countless hours for the last month and I never get bored. I wish developers would continue working on it. It's relaxing and charming. Thanks for this awesome game.

Seabeard Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4