There are an awful lot of games out there that allow you to play for free these days. Microtransactions, once derided as an idea for online business, have suddenly become almost distressingly common. One need look no further than Fallen London or Lords of Ultima to see examples of fairly successful games built upon nothing but the idea of microtransactions (although tellingly Fallen London has added the option to become an “exceptional friend” and subscribe rather than submit to microtransactions). The problem is that a lot of people who are more concerned with the art of making games than the profits that can be gained by making games (like most critics, for example) regard these games, perhaps rightfully, with a deep sadness. How cynical, they say. This game severely restricts what you can do, slapping timers and a limited amount of actions per-day on things, dangling the promise of Extra Time! Extra Moves! Special Items! in front of the player, when very often it seems as if the real problem is that playing the games without these perks renders them almost unplayable—or so the thinking goes.
I’d heard about the Facebook game Dragon Age Legends through my brother, whose stubborn refusal to shut the hell up about anything remotely connected to Bioware is invaluable, and after reading Alec Meer’s review over on Rock Paper Shotgun, I decided to finally give the thing a whirl and see how it stacked up to the other two microtransaction-based games I already play on a regular basis—namely the aforementioned Lords of Ultima and Fallen London. What I’ve come away with after spending a few days of playing Legends is that it is far more aggressive in its attempts to take the player’s money, and the game is the poorer for it, especially when you look at the promotional game for the first game in the series, the excellent Dragon Age Journeys (which I have continued to play despite the unfortunate fact that the unlockable content that the game offered can no longer be accessed).