Reluctant Hands-On: Deer Hunter Slots Has A $200 In-App Purchase, Is Your Dystopian Fun-Hating Free-To-Play Future

At some point in our near future, I think free-to-play gaming will jump the proverbial shark. I’m not sure if that moment is right now, but it could well be close. Or rather, I hope it’s close, because Deer Hunter Slots is now a real, actual thing that real, actual people will play on their Smartphones And Tablets – Available On The App Store And Google Play Today!

And it features, wait for it, a $ 199.99 in-app purchase. I knew, at that point, I had to go deeper. I downloaded Deer Hunter Slots.

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After a short while, the game was installed, and I opened the app. A reassuring loading bar let me know that I would soon be on my way to sweet, sweet sport-hunting themed goodness, tapping away at a virtual button that would virtually screw me out of my virtual currency.

Log in to Facebook for 5,000 free coins? Absolutely. I will give you my Face Book, Deer Hunter. The app isn’t allowed to post on your wall, so that’s good.

Immediately, I am ambushed by a New User Special: 10,000 coins for just two bucks! Wow, that’s like, two $ 0.99 McDoubles. I decide to pass on this once in a lifetime offer that then proceeds to pop up eight more times in the next half hour.

The main UI greets me. I notice a “BONUS” button in the bottom right corner of the app. I tap it. A spinning toast notification circa Android 2.2 pops up briefly (a fine vintage, sir), and then I am gifted 300 coins. A 4-hour countdown timer appears in place of the BONUS button. This is my drip. This is how they keep the edge off between the bi-weekly $ 20 Play Store gift cards I get for $ 18 from a guy down at the pier.

I submit to three 30-second video ads and earn 4,500 coins. Based on a valuation of $ 1 per 5,000 coins, Glu values my time at around $ 0.60 a minute. But I know this isn’t the real truth – that 10,000 coin for $ 2 deal is just a New Customer Special. Because 200,000 coins cost $ 100 in the IAP store, which is 2,000 coins per dollar. Upping the price of the goods after giving the customer a taste? Glu, you big tease.

I watch 7 more commercials. I am told I can watch no more. I decide to actually play the game.

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I have no idea what is happening. Five columns are spinning. I have two wolves. This apparently nets me 60 coins on my 90 coin bet. I spin again. Three cougars screech simultaneously. I win 221 coins and reach level three.

I spin again. I get three bears. Three free spins! And now I am choosing a gun, apparently. I choose a gun. It is a bad gun – it has a 57 under it, and I am “out of ammo.” A cutscene plays – I am attempting to shoot a bear in the heart at point blank range with a high-powered rifle. The bear wrestles me to the ground and claws at me. Presumably, I am dead. I spin again, 400 coins.

My HTC One M9 test device is getting quite hot.

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FOUR BEARS. I choose my gun again. Nice shot! This time, the cutscene plays, and I shoot the bear. The bear is dead. This gets me 321 coins. You’ve reached level four! <guitar solo plays>

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Ten minutes pass. I have killed (and been killed by) more bears than I believe is legally permissible under any state’s current hunting tag scheme. I am up 10,000 coins over where I started. The free ride must end soon. Level 5: the North Africa machine is now available. A virtual saunter through the lobby later, and I am ready to begin slaying gazelle ad nauseam.

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Five minutes pass and I have not yet gotten a triple gazelle. I am beginning to lose faith. Suddenly: it happens – a triple gazelle lines up. They all die. I am then requested to pick a gazelle, which gives me a multiplier. My gazelle is an x2. A compass appears and spins. 900 coins. I turn the sound effects off out of concern for my own mental health.

The North Africa machine goes south on me, and I lose 3,000 coins. Eventually, I strike it rich again with two 2,500 coin wins. I still have essentially no idea what is happening, though it is clear that “level” advancement is essentially dependent upon the number of times you spin the machine. I am now at level 8. I am uncertain if the canine-like creature on one of the slots is a badly-drawn hyena, or some kind of endangered wild African dog that would be wholly and deeply inappropriate for a hunting-themed free-to-play slot game. It probably doesn’t matter.

I up to the maximum amount of money I can bet per spin. I keep winning. A 15,000 coin spin rolls in. I do not believe this is how slot machines work. Level 10: British Columbia now available. “Today’s Secret Deal” pops up as I return to the lobby. What is secret about this deal? Why? Is $ 5.99 for 37,500 coins sensitive information? I do not understand this world of whispered in-app discounts. I decline this offer.

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British Columbia awaits. After a great many spins, I somehow stumble upon another 5,000 coin win, and 5 free spins, and suddenly a psychedelic mish-mash of polarized, animated grizzly bears flies across the machine, flashing intensely with (automated) every free spin. I am just a bystander in this world – completely unable to interfere, only able to spin the machine once more and watch as events unfold. I raise my bet to 500 coins per turn and hope for the madness to end. It does not.

A triple moose! Five free spins: the psychedelic bears return. Once I emerge from the grizzly disco, I am 15,000 coins richer. I have no idea how or why. A new Today’s Secret Deal appears: 75,000 coins for $ 5.99. I can see why now these deals are a secret – because they are wildly inconsistent.

The one thing I did hunt in Deer Hunter Slots was that elusive $ 200 IAP – and I couldn’t find it. While the Play Store shows a $ 200 purchase is in there somewhere, perhaps it is reserved until you’re of a particular level or in possession of enough coins. The most expensive one I was able to locate was for $ 99.99 for 200,000 coins, so perhaps a $ 199.99 for 500,000 coin option is lurking somewhere in the bowels of this app, just waiting to be exposed. It doesn’t change much, though.

For the record, this is what a Deer Hunter video game looked like 10 years ago.

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And this is what it has become.

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Deer Hunter Slots is available on the Play Store now. It is free to “play,” and I use that word in the most generous sense.


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