I am an influencer’s dream. I am the target market. If you show me something enough, I will want it. Also, as paranoid as I am about the Internet spying on me, I don’t really do anything to stop it; I don’t clear my cookies, I don’t really have a look at my privacy settings and I let all my apps talk to each other – so the Internet has a pretty good idea about what I will like and what I won’t like. In fact, the Internet probably knows better than I do. I’d been watching a lot of YouTube videos where people buy the first five things advertised to them on social media (another example of the Internet knowing what I’d like, with Youtube suggesting so many to me again and again), and I quite fancied giving the Internet a proper test to see how well it knew me! My problem was, I was skint, and alone in London, so I decided to let the Internet suggest things for me that were free, and that let me down the app game route. I decided to have a play of the first five games the Internet advertised to me, regardless of what I thought of the advert. I’d accept influence from general adverts, adverts in other games that give your free game currency in return for watching and, if I was struggling, from the Google Play store. I was running out of space on both my phone and iPad, so the game had to impress me to be kept, and I struggled to get good Internet in my digs, and in work, so the game also couldn’t be too heavy on the data usage, though I knew downloading five games would be a bit of a big hit anyway.
So many things told me to play this game, I can’t remember what the first one was. Merge Dragons is a cutesy cartoon game, that requires you to match things in groups of three or larger to form new, upgraded things. You can do this within quest levels to earn things for your main dragon camp, where you can hatch dragons to keep and upgrade as well as create Dragon wonders by merging. It’s clearly made to push you into micro transactions; with your energy replenishing incredibly slowly, and the game regularly rewarding you with exciting chests that require gems to open – however you can by absolutely fine without gems, things will just take a bit longer to appear. Occasionally, they run events were you’re placed on a new, mainly locked island and have two days to merge and unlock as many squares of land as possible, which are really enjoyable. Though I couldn’t tell you what exactly it is I enjoyed about Merge Dragons, I did find myself enjoying it a lot, and it became my commute time game.
I used to play a Dr House game on Facebook, where you were given a case and you had to solve clues to find out how to treat the patient. Criminal Case is very similar to that game, but without the appeal of Hugh Laurie. You’re presented with an image, and you have to find certain items within the image. One of these will be a super duper clue, and you will have to take it to the lab to analyse. You analyse it by doing another little puzzle – like a jigsaw, or a pair matching game, to gather more information on the case. After doing this sequence a few times, you can narrow the case down and solve the crime! Despite having invested so many hours into the Dr House game, I found Criminal Case to be extremely frustrating and off-putting. The issue I found with the game is that there is more than one kind of energy – and some get drain very quickly. You might have full energy to carry on solving the case, but you’ll be out of analysing energy which slows the game down considerably. I deleted it shortly after downloading because I couldn’t see myself playing it regularly with the energy times being so inconsistent, however the Dr House game has been deleted, so if I ever get an urge to play that kind of game again, I know where to turn.
This game came up as a five second YouTube advert while I was watching Gen Doukeshi’s League of Legends guide. From the first time I opened it, I could tell it wasn’t going to be a keeper, but out of all the games I deleted, this was the game I played for the longest. It started with an AR level, where you had to jump into a helicopter and shoot some zombies, which sounds fun but in reality it didn’t quite work. After completing this, I got taken to the bog standard RTS layout – much like my Viking game – presented with an empty city filled with blank tiles to allow me to train units, research new skills and build more buildings. Like most RTS games, you’re forced into building things in a specific place and in a specific order, so it leads you into running out of certain resources sooner to force you to pay to win. It’s not really any different in gameplay than any other RTS game you get on the app store, and compared to my Viking game, I found the UI really ugly. You also can’t play for more than 5 minutes without getting bombarded by Alliance invitations, which aren’t subtle at all. It’s not a bad game, but it’s nothing amazing, and if you have any other RTS game on your phone, this one doesn’t do anything differently enough to make it worthwhile.
What an example of targeted advertising! This game had everything I wanted, it had dragons, it let you build a city to house your dragons, it let you battle your dragons, it was bold and colourful….but there was so much going on! Although the game features a tutorial, it’s more rigid than most, so when you were left alone, things got a bit confusing. I’d also joined midway through an Easter event, so a lot was going on that I couldn’t get my head around at all. Though I enjoyed the game, I felt I needed to look at it on a bigger screen, so I planned to install it on my iPad but I never got around to it.
Stack Jump – Instagram
I’d never seen Instagram recommend a game to me before, and I don’t use the app much, so I didn’t have high hopes when it recommended Stack Jump to me. Objects fly at you from the left and the right, and you have to jump in time to make the objects stack and to clear them, so you don’t get pushed to your death. I knew I’d be off to a bad start when the game asked for permission to do everything – including make phone calls. I blocked all permissions and gave the game a go, but it was so bogged down with ads that it became tedious to play. The idea was a nice simple one, but even if the game hadn’t been super suspicious, I wouldn’t have kept it because it just wasn’t challenging. I deleted it, though there’s a paranoid part of me that doesn’t believe it’s fully cleared out.
I haven’t linked this image deliberately, because I just don’t trust this app!
Out of the five games I downloaded, Merge Dragons is the only one I still play, with that and Dragon Mania Legends being the only two I really enjoyed. I think I imagined that Google, being in control of the Google Play store that I download apps from, would have had a better idea of what to suggest to me but I was actually quite surprised at how vague they were, particularly Instagram. It’s made me understand a little bit more about the privacy on my phone, which is always good, and it’s made me a bit more wary of apps too.
Do you have any good app game suggestions?