Being a gamer can be fun. There are lots of one-of-a-kind experiences and great games to play at any given time, no matter what console or handheld you own. However, many games nowadays are trending towards micro-transactions, or even a subscription service (basically just saying that you can’t play the game you just payed $60 for without spending even more). Even worse is when games have to be online 24/7 and can’t be played otherwise. It means that once the next thing comes around, the service goes down and the game becomes a useless piece of plastic in most cases. As such, there are several trends and things to look out for when buying new games, but mobile games are a special brand of evil. That’s what this list is for, the top things to be wary of when deciding what mobile games to download and play.

1. The game doesn’t have to be freemium.

2. Not all of these “red flags” are always bad. Most are situational, since games can take the systems WAY too far in some cases.

3. If you disagree, like any of these mechanics, or simply don’t care about them, fine. This list is based on my own personal experiences, and yours most likely will differ.

4. If you’re going to skip to the end and write a flame due to it being written by LostSoul, please don’t. Read the list and give constructive criticism. I don’t flame lists I hate, and you shouldn’t either.


Games are usually time-gated in some way to make people pay to expedite their progress. Some may work on stamina, meaning that you have to wait until your stamina replenishes to play some more rounds, or wait for something to be built. While patient gamers and those with other things to occupy their idle time may not mind this, certain timers are way too harsh. Sure, you could wait 20 hours for your weapon to be upgraded or your structure to be completed, but why not drop some coin for instant gratification? Especially if it’s required to advance. It tends to be a cheap ploy to get more money from their customers, especially since some games have no way to speed things up without cash (some games let you speed up timers with items you can earn for free).
Timers are in lots of games, but there’s no justification for restricting player enjoyment this way.

If a game asks you to give it a review, most people ignore it. What if you were told you could get some special items for giving it a five-star rating though? That’s enticing, but you need to be careful if a game does that. That means that the ratings are likely not accurate at all. They’re probably payed for, not earned by being a good game. This isn’t always the case, but bribing players to praise the game is not a good sign. It usually means that the game is terrible, but players are giving it a good rating because of the rewards alone. The other thing to watch out for is a game asking for a 5-star rating after you complete the tutorial map. Which you probably will at that point because you’re having fun and don’t notice anything wrong yet...

This is a touchy subject, so I won’t spend too much time on this, but if you’re looking for an adult VN, you wont find it on the App Store. I can’t say anything about the Android since I haven’t checked, but know that eroge doesn’t exist on iOS. Ecchi games and games with fan service are available, but if a game advertises as having adult content, you shouldn’t buy it, it’s simply lying.

Many mobile games blur the line between micro-transactions and free stuff through the ability to acquire items with a currency earned by simply playing the game (albeit earning it slowly). If the game has two types of currency though, watch out. Many games lock their most desirable stuff behind currency that is unavailable without paying. This is a cheap tactic that can really hamper enjoyment, especially if the currency is used on a gacha, since paying doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get what you want anyways.
The other thing to be wary of is games that prominetely display there IAP on the main menu. The more the store encroaches on the UI, the more they want your money.

Lots of games embrace the potential to bring people together. Hence why they are referred to as “social games”. Inviting friends to play with or against can be fun, but some games approach this in the wrong way. There are some games that make you FORCE other people to buy them and add you as a friend if you wanna keep playing. If many of the reviews say “add me <insert name here>” then you should probably just skip it and look for something else.

For those who don’t know, a paywall is where a developer deliberately makes it either insanely difficult or mind-numbingly slow to get past a certain obstacle or level in a game so that you pay for special items or buffs to get through.
This is a little difficult to look out for since you usually need to actually play a game to figure out if there’s a paywall. Nevertheless, word of mouth (and sometimes the reviews) can clue you in to this issue. Certain paywalls are not that bad. Infinity Blade III simply requires a bit of grinding or the reversal of awakenings (both of which are totally free), but most games have multiple paywalls simply to get more money at every turn...

The list of top-grossing apps may seem like a way to find good games, but it’s not. Many top-grossing apps are simply earning so much because of the micro-transactions that people are forced to use. Candy Crush has been number one on the list for almost 2 years now. While good games do occasionally make the list, the games that are usually on there are mainly just going to bleed your wallet dry.

Gacha systems (giving out random items or characters for use in the game) are super common, since they’re a sneaky way to make you pay for more draws. I myself got infected by the “one more try” syndrome when playing many times.
Certain gacha games are pretty much okay (LoveLive School Idol Festival, and Fire Emblem Heroes come to mind), but many have rigged their gacha mechanics so that pulling what you want is practically impossible.
Fate Grand/Order, is a textbook example. I hacked into it’s code and found that it has a rate of 0.5% for servants that were popular in the fan-polls! Even when there’s a rate-up event, it’s still only 1.0%! That is absolutely criminal!
Gacha is definitely here to stay, but that’s no excuse for making it into a company’s personal ATM.

I’ve experienced the login bonus fever all too much, since it can help immensely by getting some premium goodies in the game without paying. However, there are certain games that are so focused on gouging you for cash that there are no significant bonuses for simply logging on (or playing the game). This means that the game’s premium items or currency will probably be required sometime down the road, thus forcing you to pay to keep playing. Premium stuff has encroached so far into the mobile scene that it’s becoming a common practice.

Match-three is one of the most unethical mobile-gaming genres in the world today. For some reason they get away with it (just look at Candy Crush). They make games by stealing ideas from other games, suing the same games they stole from, rigging their games so that you HAVE to pay to win, and still make hundreds of dollars a day. Yet it seems that people find their apps as addictive as crystal meth. Some match-three games are fun (i.e. Pokemon Shuffle, Puzzle & Dragons, Tetris 99, ect.), but most are just out there to make some quick cash. Be careful about what you buy if you’re a serious puzzle fan...

I’m sad now. So much wasted potential ruined by greedy developers. The mobile space is always a good way for developers who actually care about asking a good game to get it into peoples hands, but the over-saturation of cash-grabs, scams and people looking to make a fast buck has made the mobile-gaming scene into a terrible place for many.


List by LostSoul (07/12/2019)

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