If you’ve been here for a while, you might have seen me complain about Episode gem choices and how they throw them into every single story until they’re no longer enjoyable. They hide all of the fun or story-altering choices behind gems, forcing you to pay to not be humiliated by the “bad boy” or something which would be soul-crushing in real life. I’ve seen a premium choice in a game (I can’t remember if it was Episode or another app like it) where you have to walk home naked if you don’t fork out the money to buy an outfit with the gem choices. Often, it’s like you get punished for not being able to afford gem choices, which is disgusting to me!
The Hogwarts Mystery game got in some trouble when it first came out for making people pay to escape Devil’s Snare. It made it seem like players were being punished with strangulation for not forking out money on their supposedly “free” game.
That’s why it’s so important that the main game without gem choices is still enjoyable. The existence of gems or any other premium choices should enhance an already great game. Otherwise, it makes it seem like you’re shaming the loyal fans who can’t afford to give the money they would like to. That’s just despicable to me.
The best way to do this, in my opinion, takes the most work. It goes something like this:
Give the reader ways that they can earn points through free choices. For example, relationship points with their favourite love interest. This will force readers to really engage with your story (which you should want) and learn enough about the love interest they want.
Use these points to contribute to the big choices. The free choices should add up to a great epic reveal. This makes all the best choices feel earned and shows that choices matter in your story. It will also increase the replay value of your story, as people may want to start all over again to get all of the possible outcomes they want.
Use gems for the lazy people or the people who haven’t paid enough attention. If the reader hasn’t got enough points, they can buy the outcome they want using premium choices. That way, the only people who are being punished are the ones who didn’t pay attention! They have to pay money if they still want the same ending.
In this way, premium choices are kinda like damage control and it makes everyone happy.
The love interest takes you on a date if you get 15 relationship points. If you don’t get 15 relationship points, you can pay to make a grand gesture that makes him want to date you. You can either put the time and effort into building the relationship and get rewarded with this choice for free, or you can buy it if you didn’t pay attention or you accidentally made the wrong choices. Awesome!
Those are my views, anyway. Does anyone else have ideas for what they think good gem choices look like? Obviously, I understand that there are many authors out there who want to make sure that they get as many gem choices as they can so that they can unlock writer’s payments. However, that doesn’t mean you need to lose your integrity!