I have an addiction. It has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol or sex.
It’s this game.
I’ve been with this game since near the start when it appeared on iTunes. As one of the early adapters, I was there when heaps of bugs were in the game – and I mean heaps. After EA Games realised their errors, they re-launched months later with healthier servers.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out is a SIMS based game on iPhone and Android where our hero Homer Simpson accidentally blows up Springfield, spreading every single person and building around the area. Your duty is to build up XP (experience) and $pringfield currency to buy blocks of land, houses, landmarks and other tid-bits. However, it’s all done in real time. You can change the time on your phone, but it won’t speed up the game. The only way you could speed up the processes is to use the premium currency – donuts. With these donuts, you can buy other buildings, people, objects at a decent donut count, or higher. It all depends on the value of the character or item you need to carry on with the game.
Now, donuts aren’t free. At the start of the game you get a few free donuts to show you how they’re used, and once in a blue moon you get the odd free donut during gameplay, but you pay real coin from your iTunes account to pay for this stuff.
$1.99 = dozen
$5.49 = 60 donuts
$10.49 = 132 donuts
$20.99 = 300 donuts
$51.99 = 900 donuts
$109.99 = 2400 donuts
Now if you’re not wealthy, you would Google for cheats or free donuts. There’s plenty of sites and forums which offer ‘hacks’ for the game. Some for free, some for a small fee. People spam the Tapped Out page on Facebook offering their delightful services. But with everything, you take a risk. I, for one, don’t have a hacked iPhone and play by Apple’s rules, so it is all legit for me payment wise.
In March 2012, I decided to buy a dozen donuts to get the ball rolling. I can spare $2 church change, so I parted with a virtual gold coin and I received my donuts.
I sat in the Premium shop wondering how I should wisely use my dozen donuts. I bought something that was worth 10 pink round deep-fried goo and placed it on the grid. It did nothing. It sat there, looking pretty. All I got from it was some extra XP which got me closer to a goal of earning up to 3 free donuts if I chose the right prize box. But I was addicted to collecting the $pringfield coin and XP so on I played, earning more houses, buildings and characters every time there was an upgrade by EA. Every once in a while when I got my pay from work, I’d go the 60 donuts for $5.49. I considered it one less McDonald’s meal a month.
It wasn’t until about a year later, I found out my best mate was on the game too. When he visited, we were on our electronic doo-hickeys, comparing our own “Springfields”. He had a lot more premium items than me. I was a little stunned at first, but was a bit more shocked when he said that some of his workmates spend up to $100 a month on donuts to speed up some of the missions. That encouraged me to take the next step up and start purchasing 132 – 300 donuts a month. I was in premium paradise. He then explained that I should start building ‘farms’ – place many houses that earn more $ and XP in one area and collect when ready.
The virtual money started to flow in. I was buying the expensive items like the Escalator To Nowhere, the Popscicle Stick Skyscraper, and the Giant Magnifying Glass – all in the 7 figure mark.
Hell, I did grow “Corn – Actual Corn” – which took 3 months to ‘grow’… twice. Without using donuts to speed it up.
Fast forward to today and many levels and characters unlocked later, I faced a reality check. While some of my friends were addicted to Candy Crush – another ‘in-app purchase’ game, one said that they deleted the game as they spent money on items that didn’t exist, playing with candy that didn’t exist. Fair point. I laughed at my friends who whinged about Candy Crush. Then I realised that Tapped Out was MY Candy Crush.
So today, I went through my e-mail and tallied up my receipts from iTunes with my purchases of donuts. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Sure, $263.29 is not much. It’s the price of a utilities bill for 2 people. But FUCK ME! I could not believe how many purchases I made over 1 & 3/4 years. Each purchase was individual, usually after pay-day. Tapped Out is a ‘free’ game to download and play. But damn, it sucks you in. This is how the game felt to me after the realisation I was spending real money on making EA richer than shit.
So, what is my solution? I’m not asking for my money back. I brought this on myself. There was no forcing to purchase the donuts. There are free options to earn the donuts (but are very slow progression). But I knew there was one way out after playing with this game for 1 & 3/4 years…
I deleted the game from my phone.
The account is still there and I have it stored on my iPad and will occasionally play the free missions without donut purchases. Though, it’s time to wean myself off the system that’s virtually raped my wallet slowly over a period of time. I could have used the money I spent on this game to buy a few Simpsons DVD boxsets, or some physical figurines that would make my office look pretty. But no – I spent it on something that doesn’t exist.
Time to go into rehab. Remember when you could play Snakes on the Nokia 5110 – for free?
To quoth The Raven: