Crossy Road is the right way to free-to-play

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crossy roadHave you played Crossy Road yet? Given it’s a free-to-play game available on both Android and iOS, it seems quite likely. Especially since it’s a fun and entertaining take on the whole Frogger formula. Why did the chicken, basket ball player, zombie, whale, or unicorn cross the road? Because if they didn’t keep crossing forever, an eagle would swoop down and eat them.

The nostalgia factor and ease of play aren’t what makes Crossy Road a great free-to-play game, however. It helps, but it isn’t the real reason why this is one of the few truly great games out there that don’t require any investiment. Look at the image to the right. Tell me if you’ve noticed anything.

I’ll give you a minute.

Time’s up. Here’s the answer. That image at the right is a screenshot of Crossy Road in action. There are no advertisements. Typically, with a free-to-play game, there are ads everywhere. Banner ads obscure your view by camping across the bottom of the screen. Pop-up ads invade between rounds. There’s a constant attempt to get you to spend money. But Crossy Road doesn’t do that. You can see everything when you play.

That doesn’t mean it never asks for cash. Every once in a while, between rounds, you’ll see an offer to pay $0.99 to get a specific character. (Or even $2.99 for the Piggy Bank character that increases earned coins and comes with 1,000 coins.) The difference is, this is unobtrusive. More important, most of these characters can also be unlocked for free. You can come across coins as you play, and every 6 hours or so more coins are doled out to players. Once you get 100, which isn’t very difficult, you get to play a gacha to see if you’ve earned a new character. I’ve found this works out to perhaps one extra avatar a day.

Not that you need more characters. Changing the avatar doesn’t alter gameplay. It may make the environment look different or change movement patterns a bit, but that’s it. Crossy Road will still play the same. As an added bonus, sometimes the “ads” that do come up won’t ask you to pay. They’ll instead let you sample a character you haven’t earned for a few playthroughs.

It’s refreshing. Honestly, it almost makes me want to spend money on Crossy Road. That is, if I wasn’t already getting content for free every day. The fact that the developer, Hipster Whale, is that considerate makes me want to support them, and more free-to-play developers should be as considerate when creating their games.

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