Free games just want your money

Tomas Ahlbeck
5 min readDec 29, 2022


In AppStore and Google Pay aswell as on Facebook there are lots of games you can play on your mobile for free. At least they are free when you start playing them.

After a while you get frustrated since it takes too long for you to grow your city, character or whatever the game is about. Then it is easy to pick any of the “offers” the game company offers to you in order to develop faster.

This is a clever trick to hide the fact that your free game actually is more of a pay to play game. Ok, yes you are still stuck on level 7 after three weeks of playing, but if you buy this bucket of goodies for 4.99 Euros (or USD or GBP) you not only get automatically promoted to level 10, you also get a shiny but pointless badge that don’t improve the game in any way. And after three more weeks you realise you have spent close to 50 Euros (or USD or GBP) on a game you thought was free.

Diablo Immortal
Some of these ”free” games are actually good enough to be able to play without paying. As an example Diablo Immortal can be much fun even if you don’t buy any of their offers. Yes, it will take you longer to reach the final goal, but on the way there you still get to do quests, daily activities, play PvE and PvP dungeons. Yes, there ARE in game purchases, but they are mainly for cosmetics. You can’t “buy to win”, however if you choose to improve your Battle Pass, and thereby improving the strength of your character, you will promote your character to a higher level instantly. But the game itself is fun enough without paying, and the grinding for a bit in order to level up is what makes the game fun, together with the possibility to play across new areas of the game map.

Another example of a “free” game is Warpath. This is a ”free” PvP game set in a war zone where all current armies fight together against ”Raven” armies. You play in an alliance together with people from all over the world, which is the best part of the game. Since the game itself really is … bad, to be kind.

Yes, it is ”free”, in the aspect that if you are content with not achieving anything and always get burned and killed as soon as you step out of your safe zone in the ”Level 4" cities that open on a more or less regular basis, then of course you can play it without paying. But in reality it is impossible to enjoy the game without putting money in to it. Since most other players n the L4 cities have powers from around 80 and upwards, it is a bit pointless to play if your power is sub 15.

Another issue with this game is the extremely sloppy way the company behind the game, a Chinese company called Lilith, ”matches” alliances for the Level 4 events. There are EPIC, gold and silver levels, but they are quite easy to get around in order to end up in a lower level than you should according to your strength. Which means that huge alliances with dozens of players at a level of 1 million power or more get to fight against small alliances where the top player might have just 100K power.

Another game killer is the fact that ”some” accounts grow very fast. Lilith claims that it is not allowed to pay with stolen credit cards and other illegal means of payment. And who knows, it might just be true that one person can in a short while start seven accounts and purchase stuff for 1000 USD (or Euros or GBP) for each and every one of those accounts. It might of course be so…

So, what if you think enough is enough, and you want to leave the game instead of being forced to pay in order to improve your game experience?

Most games, like Diablo Immortal, have a button you can click on to delete your account. Warpath has not. If you click the options button, and then choose Terminate Account, you get transferred to a -unmanned — chat. So you have to write in a chat message that you want to delete your account and if you are lucky you get an answer sometime.

The answer I got was that they needed me to send receipts of purchases from App Store, if not they could not delete my account. So: if you want to leave this ”free to play” game, according to their support you have to make at least six purchases. After I mentioned that I have no such purchases they wrote that there were in fact ways for free players to delete their account, but I never found out how.

Now, of course Warpath IS possible to play for free, but since it is PvP it is not much fun when you are small since you have no chance to gain any success. And if you don’t really care about the game experience, but want to connect with people from all over the world in a sub-par game, then you can get some joy out of Warpath.

But the bottom line is: there are no free games. You pay one way or the other. Either with your personal information, which makes it possible for the game developers to personalise the ads that they make money from, or you pay in game in order to get past the first steps of the game. To me the most fair way is to do as Blizzard has done with Diablo Immortal, a game that you can play and have fun with and still enjoy even if you don’t purchase anything. That is probably as close to a free game it is possible to get.

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Tomas Ahlbeck

Swedish Standup comedian, writer & diabetic. Published a few books, done a few gigs. ‘Sweden’s own dirty uncle, brilliant writing and some very dark humour.”