I think Trials Frontier was the only game I played in 2014 with a daily login bonus. But as free-to-play design continues to seep into console games it was only inevitable that even I — the type who avoids MMOs and Multiplayer Modes — would get sucked in by their promise of free junk. I know the idea is to get me hooked on a boost or a bonus and for me to then spend a bunch of money chasing the high, like they’re some kind of e-Pusher. But I can play the long con too and I’m content to load up a game every day to eek my way towards upgrades and bonus currency. Here are the ones I ran into most frequently.
Nintendo Badge Arcade (Nintendo 3DS)
The winner for the most addictive, most elaborately designed Daily has to be Nintendo Badge Arcade. It’s a whole experience designed around playing claw/catcher games to win badges to decorate your 3DS Home screen. I don’t even do anything on my 3DS anymore in order to see my Home screen but I’m still hooked on taking a shot at the free Daily Play.
You don’t just go straight at it either; you play a practice catcher once a day and if you nab enough wooden practice badges the shopkeeper gives you a free play for keeps. It’s definitely the most satisfying Daily because the entire thing exists just to suck a few dollars out of your eShop wallet. I’ve collected over 100 badges and even had some mysteriously topple out of the machine without spending a single e-Penny. It’s the virtual equivalent of banging on a vending machine or running up the Skee-Ball lane when no one’s looking and it feels just as great here. So to that end Nintendo deserves credit for creating a realistic and devious arcade experience… but not my credits.
Guitar Hero Live (PlayStation 4)
One of the reasons I was interested in the new Guitar Hero was for the always-on streaming music video mode. It should have been no surprise to see them doling out increasing amounts of daily coins with each login but it did make me pause the first time it popped up. The surprise that continues to linger is that I can never get it to progress passed the first daily login bonus. Loading it up every day for a week, the game still thinks I’m on Day 1.
Spelunker World/Minna de Spelunker Z (PlayStation 4)
Forget what I said about Nintendo Badge Arcade, Spelunker’s daily login bonuses were downright crucial to helping me understand the game. With only the busted engrish of Google Translate, it took a long time to figure out how the various upgrade/synthesis systems worked in the game. Each Daily would reward me with another freebie to experiment with. At the time I had no way to put real American dollars into this Japanese game to buy upgrades or currency so the free daily bonuses felt especially useful.
As I continued to play, and with the release of Spelunker World in English, I would realize the Dailies were just like any other Free-to-Play game; hooks. It’s totally possible, even fun, to play the game without paying for big chance draws of gear, using the daily bonuses to slowly fuel your upgrades.
Metal Gear Solid V (PlayStation 4)
This one was just a bonus as I fully expected to be online and playing Metal Gear every day for weeks anyways. I didn’t expect to be hit with so many news messages and event notices before I even got to the title screen but none of the F2P hooks so much as grazed me. It’s also memorable for having some of the weirdest daily bonuses like handfuls of flowers, Rare Earth Elements and free Men.
Four Kings Casino & Slots (PlayStation 4)
Very, very last minute was Four Kings which we discovered shortly after Christmas. It’s a Free-to-Play virtual casino world that’s almost a replacement for PlayStation Home. It’s full of ugly 3D models, terribly overpriced costumes, and it would love to take all your real world money in exchange for chips. Along with a daily spin of the fortune wheel, every 15 minutes you’re logged in the game dishes out a few hundred chips and even hides some around the casino to hunt down. There are also daily/weekly lists of objectives and free games that all reward you with free chips and currencies. It’s almost overwhelming how many ways you can get free stuff in the game; it’s been surprisingly captivating even for a gambling hater like myself, and we’ve stopped back a few times over the last week of 2015.
Total Real World Dollars Spent on Free-To-Play Games in 2015: $0.00