As a long-time Verizon Wireless customer (originally back with GE!), I must say I’m generally quite happy with my service. My bill is a tad high, but then again we have 2 phones with lots of minutes, a Family plan and full access in the US and Canada, thus offsetting our home phone bill (~$10/mo for a landline). During my daily busride, I like to play games on my phone (Samsung SCH-U740 – awesome). I think Verizon may have created one of the best platform potentials but laden it with one of the worst user experiences I’ve ever seen.
In my phone menu, going to Games, then Get New App gives me a fairly easy set of options. I can instantly buy one of their top 2 games/promotions, or browse through categories to find what I want. The categories are pretty self-explanatory, and that’s about where the usability ends.
Picking a game brings you to a screen with three options: Subscription price, Unlimited price, and Info. On a rare occasion there’s also the option for a Free Trial, but we’ll ignore that for now. Let’s presume that I pick an interestingly named title, for example “Stranded: A Game of Survival” ($2.99 Sub, $7.99 Unl). Clicking “info” shows me the following text:
You awake Stranded on a mysterious island with other survivors. You discover that not everyone can be trusted. Will you escape? Without a price plan that includes an unlimited data feature, you will incur either (depending on your plan) airtime charges at applicable overage rates if you exceed your minutes bundle or megabyte (“MB”) charges of $1.99/MB for downloading the application. Some applications may result in additional charges for sending/receiving data during use. [Size:479KB]
First of all, I don’t know anything about the game! This category (strategy games) includes things ranging from Command and Conquer to Triple Scoop Twist, so there’s no information about gameplay. Is it a RTS? An RPG? A puzzle? Etc. Interestingly the website has nice screenshots and much more text describing the game itself. Why isn’t this available in the game page on the phone when I’m considering a purchase? Even the website descriptions are lacking the specifics I’d want to know to make a decision.
Second, the data usage warning is terrible. I get that they want to warn me about a potential charge, but how is the text they use going to help? I don’t know if the app actually uses airtime/minutes to play, or if that’s just for the download itself! I understand it is a lot of extra work to figure out a user’s plan in real-time (well, no, I don’t *really* understand it, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt), but a simple clarification of the English would be swell.
Finally, I think a lot more free trials would sell me a lot more applications. I’ve downloaded several of the ones that give me a free level to play, or a few minutes of playtime, and have actually purchased one game as a result. I am a big believer in putting some bait on the hook, as opposed to just throwing a hook in the water and saying “here fishie fishie fishie!” Especially considering Verizon’s Get-It-Now system is a complete walled garden, I don’t think there’s a way to “steal” a game even if I wanted to!
For the record, I’ve purchased the following games: Sudoku (good version too), Diner Dash (fun, but a bit repetitive), Call of Duty 4 (I’m such a sucker, though it was simple and fun), Transformers (not much more than meets the eye), and Townsmen 3 (meh). I’d really like to have a very simple Ultima-style RPG (think Ultima 2 or 4) that can be played in short, bite-sized amounts of time. It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to figure it out even if I find one, but one can always hope…