I don’t criticize freemium games because I want them to suffer. On the contrary, much like my pal Jason, I believe that it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to play games without taking any immediate financial risks. I love the very existence of freemium games because of reasons only they can replicate, which is why I’m willing to call them out for pulling unethical bullcrap. The concept of free-to-play deserves to be better than that, but unfortunately, there’s a sea of such games that definitely don’t deserve it. At their best, they’re literally free entertainment better than some $60 games. At their worst, they’re the biggest wastes of time and money around the gaming market.
In all of my years of hacking and slashing through the thickets of the gacha jungles, raiding the temples of MMOs, and weathering the storms of idle games, I’ve developed a keener sense of what makes these games tick. If there's one good thing about so many freemium games having the same problems, it's that it's easier to see them. These are the notes of my many travels across the freemium space. Healthy gaming habits to resist arbitrary addiction, omens of good and bad games, and warnings against common hazards. It’s my hope this guide will help at least one person avoid making a purchase they’ll regret, or help that same person dive deeper into a game that’s worth it.
Oh, and every image in this article is from the official Fate/GO gag manga by Riyo. Yes, this is actual promotional material for a gacha game. Yes, it is that honest about the vices of gacha games. And yes, I mostly have gacha games in mind for these tips, though they should be applicable to other F2P mutations as well.