I’ve long been a fan of the game Uno. It’s fun, addictive, and very satisfying when you win.
I discovered the Uno game in the iOS App Store, but it was standalone, crashed often, and was very tedious to play. When I saw that Uno and Friends came out and that it was free, I jumped on it. I loved the multiplayer play, the boosts, the overall gameplay, and the competitiveness.
One of my friends who I hang around often asked me what I was playing all the time. I told her it was Uno & Friends. She wanted to join in on the fun and downloaded the game for her Android phone.
She became as addicted to the game as I did. Then surpassed me. She became beyond addicted.
I have since vowed never to play the game again. The game is evil. Here’s why.
The Game Isn’t Really Free
The Uno & Friends game advertises itself as free. And to an extent, the game is free.
When you first load the game up, you’re given some coins, a handful of tokens, and an easy way to join games.
This is about when you realize it takes 2 tokens to create a new game and that sooner or later you will run out.
When joining a game, you’re suddenly introduced to boosts.
The boosts require coins in order to purchase and are good for only one game.
As of this writing, here are the boosts and how many coins it takes to purchase them.
- Reshuffle Hand (50 coins): Allows you to exchange your crappy hand for an even crappier one.
- 50% Point Bonus (75 coins): Get 50% more points, but honestly you have no idea if it’s working.
- Dampener (350 coins): The best boost. Draw half as many cards when someone plays a Draw 2 or Draw 4 on you.
- Spy (400 coins): You can see others’ cards. It’s an evil boost, but it helps you win a lot.
- Mirror (750 coins): When someone plays a special card against you, you can make them feel the pain and draw the same amount of cards.
- Overdraw (1200 coins): The stupidest and most evil boost. When someone draws, they draw 2 cards instead of one. This boost pisses EVERYONE off and typically makes a game take way longer to finish.
You don’t need an accounting degree to realize you will run out of coins fast. And what’s the best way to earn coins? Well, you have to join games and develop a win streak. But to join games, you need tokens. And to get tokens, you either have to buy more or wait for a free scratcher so you can earn some free tokens (or watch ads until you have enough tokens to play).
So yeah, you will run out of coins and tokens pretty fast. And while you’re waiting for a new scratcher, you can’t play the game. At least, not for free.
Now what if you want to play, but are out of the coveted tokens that it takes to play a game? As stated before, you can wait for a new scratcher to show up. Or, you can spend real money and buy some tokens. And if you want more coins, yeah, you can pay real money for those too. Uno & Friends calls them Coin and Token packs. They start as low as $1.99 (USD) for a handful or as much as $39.99 for quite some more.
Granted, the Token Pack is what you want to purchase if you want to play games or tournaments. You can’t play without tokens. But, if you want a better chance of winning, you need to buy boosts (especially in tournament mode). To buy boosts, you need coins. Want more coins? Buy a Coin Pack.
So is Uno & Friends really free? Kinda. But for those who really want to play, they are shelling out real cash for the chance to beat you into submission.
VIP is a Ripoff, but Totally Necessary
We’ve already established that Uno & Friends is free. It’s not quite bait and switch as you can really play Uno & Friends for free if you really want to and you have quite a bit of patience.
When first playing, the game quickly tries to encourage you to pay for VIP. So what exactly is VIP?
Uno & Friends makes money from the purchase of Token Packs, Coin Packs, and (gasp) ads. Without purchasing VIP, you will be subjected to watching ads between games. To get rid of these pesky ads? Buy VIP.
Back when I purchased VIP, it cost $3.99 (USD). I expected heaven and earth to move, but no, the only thing I got was an annoying VIP sticker when I played and the removal of ads. You get one or more tokens extra when you do a scratcher, but that is the extent of the benefits. You don’t get more tokens when leveling up. You don’t get extra coins.
There’s really nothing gained by buying VIP. But if you want to get rid of those pesky ads, it’s a must-purchase item.
Uno and Friends Encourages You to Cheat
Let’s call boosts what they really are: the ability to cheat.
I’ve already mentioned several of the boosts available, but there are even more to purchase in tournament mode.
The boosts give you an unfair advantage over others playing who haven’t purchased boosts themselves.
Typically the players who haven’t had a chance to purchase boosts are at lower levels (likely level 20 or below). Uno & Friends allows you to play with people of all levels when playing (which is kind of unfair in itself if you are at a rather high level).
A player with boosts will trounce these players. We at higher levels have already amassed a large amount of tokens and coins, so we can basically purchase any boost at whim. Those on lower levels have just started and typically can’t get any boosts unless they purchase a Coin Pack.
So yeah, I love playing against players at lower levels. I can see their cards. I will mirror the crap out of them. I will even turn on the evil overdraw if they piss me off.
Am I cheating? Hell, yes. But the game allows me to do it, so I do.
The Game Crashes. A Lot!
If the game crashes and you lose tokens or coins, that’s just too bad. If you try e-mailing Gameloft, all you will get is stupid excuses like quitting all apps on your Android or iOS device and/or restarting your device. The game is absurdly slow on my iPhone 4S, and is also really slow on my friend’s iPad 3 and Android device.
The game typically crashes in the last round of a tournament (especially if you are winning). It crashes randomly during regular games. The game just crashes. A lot.
Uno & Friends
Yet the Game is Addictive
The game makes use of psychology to keep you hooked. The closest term I can think of is that of Classical Conditioning, in which behavior is strengthened or weakened, depending on its consequences. You might as well throw in Gambler’s Fallacy in there too.
So when you lose, you’re frustrated and think you’re destined for a win (which may or may not come). If you win a lot in a row, you might as well play some more to boost up your win streak.
The geniuses of Uno & Friends have made the game so addictive that the more you lose, the more you play. The more you win, the more you play. And the more you play, you suck up valuable tokens and coins (which you must purchase when they run out).
Remember, purchasing Coin and Token Packs costs real money. If I were to guess, the guys behind Uno & Friends are sitting on a gold mine.
I Refuse to Play Anymore
I’ve invested about as much money as I can stand towards Uno & Friends. Yes, the game is fun, but I don’t want to pay any more money towards the damn game.
I can’t stand the “cheating”, even if I partake if I have enough coins. I really fucking hate the overdraw boost, and it seems that every other game has some bastard who has it on.
I can’t stand the constant crashes.
And personally, I don’t find it fun anymore. I’d rather just go to the store, buy the actual cards (which I have done), and find two or three deserving souls to play the “old school” game with. It’s much funner when you beat someone’s ass in person.
So Yes, Uno & Friends is Evil
The fact that the game requires real money to play in order to have a good chance of winning is enough to call it evil. Add in the constant crashes, the poor support from Gameloft, the blatant cheating, and unfairness of playing different levels together, then you have a truly evil game.
I personally won’t play the game anymore. If you read the reviews on the respective app stores for the game, you will see many agree with me. Many are just fed up with it.
So goodbye Uno & Friends. I doubt anyone will miss me.
My friend who got addicted to Uno & Friends after I introduced her to it is still very much playing the game. She’ll probably write an article later detailing all the ways to get tokens and coins aplenty without paying.
If you have your own tips, please share them below and they’ll make it in the article.
If you have your own grievances, please share them below as well.