I don’t typically play mobile games, with the exception of my favorite Andoku Sudoku app. In spring 2021, I decided to give Word Trip a try. It’s a free-to-play word puzzle game developed by PlaySimple Games. The game gives you a set of up to eight letters, and you have to figure out all the different word combinations that can be made with those letters.
At first, the game was fun and I didn’t experience any performance issues. The puzzles started off easy and gradually increased in difficulty. I usually played with airplane mode on, so I didn’t see many ads. WordTrip has mini-games, bonus puzzles, and spelling bees. It also has a spin-the-wheel feature where you can get extra coins, free hints, bonus letters, or even have the puzzle completed for you if you’re lucky. As I played more, I realized that the game actually discourages players from continuing as they progress. When you first start playing, you have to complete 20 puzzles to complete an area, but that number increases to 40 as you get further in the game. The time spent playing isn’t worth the reward you receive in the game.
I also noticed that there was inconsistency in the game’s dictionary in terms of which words were accepted. For example, the word “ass” would be accepted in some puzzles but not in others. They removed the option of getting a completed puzzle from the spin-the-wheel mini-game and replaced it with a five-minute timer to buy 50% off coins. The game encourages players to purchase coins to receive hints to help solve the puzzles, which become harder to solve without them. They put bonus puzzles behind a paywall, and the spelling bee stopped giving me coins. The few times I played with airplane mode off, the ads were excessive. I didn’t purchase the game because throwing money at it, in my case, would not make it more fun.
The final straw for me was a series of updates in February 2022 that made the game unplayable. Every time I tried to launch the app, my phone would crash. I stopped playing a few weeks later in March. As you can see from the screenshots, I had progressed to Croatia, which put me in the top .09% of players. I had earned 10,449 coins, all through gameplay (no purchases). I was far into the game where most players would have quit, which likely puts me outside their average player base. Before I uninstalled the game, I removed the data and reset it to see if it would work. It did. This made me think about what would happen if I had invested money in the game, only to have it updated and become unplayable.
Playing Word Trip reminded me of why I don’t usually like playing mobile games. They often have annoying mechanics that are designed to encourage players to pay to bypass them, such as paying a monthly fee to avoid annoying and privacy-invading ads. While there may be some good mobile games that don’t do this, it can be difficult to find them. For now, I think I’ll stick with Andoku.