Six mobile games that don't demand a salary

Mobile and tablet owners young and old perfectly understand the concept of a video game. It begins with a compelling story of conflict; a particularly addictive kind of choose-your-own-adventure tale about a person – not unlike you or I – who struggles to overcome various flavours of adversity by repeatedly pressing the 'get more gems' button.

Gems can be purchased by toiling in a similar albeit somewhat more immersive game we fondly call 'human life', which typically takes the form of an 18-year tutorial followed by a steep and unforgiving learning curve, monotonous repetitive tasks and annual performance reviews. The moral is: succeed at the game of life (or steal your mother's credit card) and video gaming success will soon follow, skyrocketing you onto a local, national or global podium of (digital) champagne and (improbable) actual physical intimacy.

It's called 'free-to-play', obviously, and this will all be very familiar to anyone who's anyone who's enjoyed Candy Crush, Temple Run, Plants vs Zombies, Jelly Jump, Weasel Wank or EA's Phoneowner Walletectomy 2014 while travelling to the building where they complete mindless tasks in order to earn the funds to continue their quest.

Candy Crush sponsored by Saga

What you may not know is there's a sharp new business model muscling in on the classic freemium mobile gaming action that we know and love and trust and which owns 95% of the houses we live in.

It's a novel idea, offering you the opportunity to exchange a fixed sum of currency for a complete, self-contained game, which you are permitted to play in its entirety. Although this is a totally alien concept, it could be likened to the way we purchased cinema tickets before the MPAA introduced that 'happy ending surcharge', or the way we presently purchase pastries.

One downside to this 'pre-pay' model is that it removes the need for the developer to incentivise you to play the game every day. This could leave you uncomfortably unobligated, and may result in periods of time when you look up from your mobile device and experience your surroundings. This can be particularly unpleasant, especially if you are on a bus, or have family and friends who might seize the opportunity to demand acknowledgement.

Nonetheless, analysts are tipping 'pay-to-purchase' as the hot new gaming trend of 2014. Here are six such entertainment experiences you are sure to enjoy, if you can bear to part with more than 69p in a single transaction.



A sweet, playful platform puzzle adventure

You'll love it if... you have a soul. You do have a soul, don't you?

Play time: about 4 hours. Then there's the sequel.



A dark, disturbing platform puzzle adventure

You'll love it if ... Lostwinds gave you diabetes and you need to experience more dying-suddenly-on-a-spike.

Play time: about 4 hours.



This dark, one-button puzzler can only be the result of a romantic rendezvous between Limbo and Flappy Bird.

You'll love it if ... you wished the boy in Limbo could fly. And inflate. And multiply. And bounce around uncontrollably.

Play time: about 6 hours, with plenty of replayability, and more levels still to come.

Final Fantasy 3

Final Fantasy 3

A 23-year-old RPG revamped with 7-year-old 3D graphics. Still as adorable and addictive as ever.

You'll love it if ... you have a vague recollection of having played Final Fantasy 7 at some point.

Play time: 30-40 hours. This is incredible value for money so long as you're not easily tired of the turn-based battles.

Plague Inc.

Plague Inc

Polly Pocket's evil mastermind command centre play set

You'll love it if ... global thermonuclear war sounds like a walk in the park

Play time: You'll have a love/hate relationship with this game for a few days. Conveniently that's the incubation period of the influenza virus.

Watch out ... Plague Inc does offer in-app purchases, but all the main levels are accessible without opening your purse.

Small World 2

Small World 2

Like playing a board game, but without all the inconvenient social interaction and OCD.

You'll love it if ... you enjoyed Risk but didn't like tidying up afterwards.

Small World 2 is only available on tablets, and offers a number of fun expansion packs. Play with up to 5 players (or bots) online, or challenge an actual physical friend to a head-to-head.

Have you ever purchased a new mobile game and managed to feed yourself that same month? Tell me about it on Twitter.


Joel Overton

Joel Overton is a holistic web development therapist. If you know what that means, he asks that you let him know, quickly please.