I've been a pretty vocal supporter of them as well, recommending it to anyone who would listen at one point, touting all the free updates that included free levels upon free levels as proof that the dollar spent on each game was well worth it, and went far beyond the initial purchase price of the game.
Unfortunately, I think the Angry Birds franchise has finally jumped the shark, as it seems far more important to them to make money than to continue it's reputation of rewarding their fans and supporters with not just good games, but making them feel like their money was well spent. Maybe this transition for them happened a while ago and I was just too jaded or naive to notice, but thanks to the newly released Angry Birds Go! game, their current state of business is crystal clear.
A while ago I wrote about Plants vs. Zombies 2, and how PopCap did micro-transactions as well as could possibly be. They allowed you to play and complete the entire game for free, as all it took was some grinding and skill to acquire and unlock everything needed in the game to fully finish it. Of course, the option was always there to throw some real-life currency at the game to make it easier or shorter of a game if you so choose, but it was never forced. There was never a pay wall completely blocking your path, and there was never timed cool-down periods where you simply couldn't play without waiting a designated amount of time, unless you wanted to pay for your impatience. It was a totally free, 100% complete game, and I hoped at the time that all future big-name micro-transaction games would follow suit in how they did business.
Angry Birds Go! is a karting game set in the Angry Birds universe, featuring all your favorite characters from the series (both birds and pigs) as kart racers. There are a few different race modes, different tracks and customizable karts, which is all pretty much exactly what you want from a karting game. The controls are nice and tight, as you can choose between touch-based or tilt controls. For my iPad, tilt controls work great for me, which was surprising because of the usual lag tendencies with those controls. The game is great looking too, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has played any of the other Angry Birds games.
So why did I have a problem with, you ask? The micro-transactions, obviously.
The game starts out okay, but quickly starts hitting you with micro-transaction options. It stalls pretty quickly, as you have to decide whether or not to give the developers money just to shut them up and let you play the game. There is a cool-down period, where you literally cannot play without spending cash or hard-earned crystals you collected in the game, which if you go that route, means you are going to be replaying the same levels over and over again to grind for the crystals.
Simply put, the game is pretty much unplayable, enjoyable and frustrating if you don't spend money on it, in which case, you probably won't be feeling very good about the game anyway at that point. The thing is, the game does so many different things right as a karting game and an addition to the Angry Birds franchise, I would have gladly spent a dollar or two to straight up buy this game as a whole package and never have to even consider micro-transactions as part of the experience. But instead, they decided they could make a lot more money with this method and way of business, and that's disappointing.
I guess I expected more from them as a company. Or maybe I took for granted all they did for the years leading up to this game. Either way, I'm sad as an Angry Birds fan, but I'm also relieved that I don't have to waste much more time with their games.