I love physics-based games, and Fish Out Of Water by Halfbrick Studios is one of the best. Well, I should say it was one of the best, and for well over a year it brought a smile to my face on a daily basis. Today, it's simply not the same game it was, and despite having paid a buck for it shortly after its App Store debut, the game is now free and absolutely littered with crap.
Let's rewind a bit to April of 2013: Fish Out Of Water launched on iOS and, having adored past Halfbrick games, I picked it up without a second thought. It's a fantastic physics game where you throw some cute little fish and attempt to amass the most distance and the highest number of skips. You can compete against other players on the leaderboard or just try to outdo yourself while completing the seemingly endless number of in-game challenges.
When I had a free moment or two to burn I'd play the game every time. A few tosses, a couple good scores, a handful of minutes of enjoyment, and back in my pocket it would go. I even spent some money on "gem" packs that gave you some in-game perks. You didn't need these perks to have fun, but it was a bit of variety that I didn't mind. All told, Halfbrick probably made about US$15 off of me -- $1 for the game and probably $20 in in-app purchases, minus Apple's cut, yada yada yada -- and I couldn't possibly have been happier with the game.
When I upgraded to the iPhone 5s in late 2013 I simply never got around to re-downloading the app and spent my spare minutes each day playing a variety of other games. Today, thanks to a random tweet that caught my eye, I remembered how much I loved that game and decided to download it once again.
To my dismay I discovered that Fish Out Of Water -- along with all of Halfbrick's apps -- has jumped between free-to-play, $1, and $2 pricing since June of this year. After over a year as a paid app, Halfbrick sacrificed the experience that paying customers had been enjoying in order to monetize the new users who downloaded the app without paying.
This is the way free-to-play games work, of course. You can't give a game away for free, so you have to try to make your money back somewhere else. You have to taint the flow of the game from one round to the next by pushing ads for other games in front of everyone's eyes:
You have to litter the gameplay itself with distracting ads that dirty the game's lighthearted nature (and actually cause the game to lag and appear choppy until they leave the screen):
And you have to beg users for reviews in order to stay competitive on the free-to-play App Store charts:
In short, you have to ruin the game, and that's just what has happened to Fish Out Of Water. Congrats, free-to-play demons, you have successfully turned a fantastic iOS game into an app that I have deleted and will never again bother with. You win.