Play Mini Ninjas Online For 50p Per Level

By Craig Pearson on March 28th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

Is this level worth the 50p?
Remember when Google made a big deal of running Bastion in Chrome? They made the opposite of that fuss with Mini Ninjas, Io Interactives’s cute little NinjSim. I mean, I only noticed when I was poking around the Chrome store for a browser add-on. I clicked it expecting a webbified version of the game, but as far as I can tell it’s not been fiddled with in the slightest. In less than a minute, I was playing the first level of the game, full screen, with no obvious technical issues. Oh, apart from the bizarre payment model.

The huffing and puffing is done at Coreonline, which Eidos have quietly launched. The first level is free to play, and the next three unlock if you register for the service. Further progress is purchased per level using CorePoints. They sell at £1 per 100, and each level costs either 50p with boss fights costing 15p. 14 levels and 4 boss fights is a total of £7.60.

While that’s less than Steam’s current £10, and the convenience and delivery is slick (on broadband at least), it’s not a precedent I feel comfortable with. Splitting a game into discreet little chunks, niggling over 15p for a boss fight? I know there’s a whole new world of payment options to consider, and that this is likely, hopefully, a test to see what people will pay for, but gating access to a game until you pay for each level… it’s the bastard child of the arcade and digital distribution. Just sell the whole game, Eidos. Separating out boss fights. comes across as hideously penny-pinching. At least it’s not 15p a go.

Anyway, if Eidos have such a low value of the game that they’re happy to let you play bits for change, I’m sure they won’t mind me helping you save a little bit of cash. It’s only 15p.

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52 Comments »

  1. wodin says:

    My daughter loved this, was her favourite game for a fair old while.

    She was only about 9 I think but completed it!

    She was desperate for a Mini Ninjas 2.

    That’s what’s got her into wanting to be a games developer when she is older. Though she did tell me that if all games end up being casual ones on phones and tablets etc she will be a politician instead.

    • Gusj says:

      “Though she did tell me that if all games end up being casual ones on phones and tablets etc she will be a politician instead.”

      This needs to be framed.

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        Henke says:

        Yeah, that’s cute as hell. :)

        As for MN, I played it but didn’t finish it. The mechanics felt pretty good but the game still felt hollow somehow. Really hard to care about the story I thought.

    • mentor07825 says:

      I’m bookmarking this page just because of this. There is hope for the future yet!

    • Berzee says:

      Ha! Excellent

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      your daughter is terrible

  2. pkt-zer0 says:

    Wait… How is this sort of pricing a bad thing? If you lose interest halfway through the game, you only paid half price. If you’re absolutely sure you’re going to play through the entire game, then you can still put down the full amount up-front.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah. Arguably this is worse for the publisher and better for the consumer.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Just what I was thinking. In a rather crooked industry where the consumer is denied refunds if they are not satisfied with the product this is the next best thing. This also allows developers to concentrate on the full game and not have to fuddle around with making a demo.

      I have no interest in switching to the Chrome browser though. Steam or in-app purchases, please.

      • jjujubird says:

        It’s not exactly a lot of work to download Chrome and grab a Chrome app. <5 minutes really.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Some of us are happy with the minimal amount of Google already on our systems, thank you very much.

        • djbriandamage says:

          I know how to get Chrome. I don’t care that Google makes Chrome. I just prefer Firefox and have no need for another web browser. I must admit I’ve never caught myself wishing “If only I could buy single player, non-networked games in a web browser I don’t like.”

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        How is it a crooked industry for not giving refunds for “dissatisfaction?” It’s one thing if the product is demonstrably broken, or in cases of poorly-made gifts (which is an extremely nebulous situation with a game), but when did buyer’s remorse become a valid excuse for getting your money back?

        • DrGonzo says:

          Also, how often have any of you actually asked for a refund because a game was crap? It does often work.

          • djbriandamage says:

            I don’t remember ever asking for one, now that you mention it. I’ve certainly thought it loudly though. The next time I accidentally buy a real stinker I’ll give it my best Oliver Twist “please, sir.”

            I once emailed Joel at Frozenbyte for some technical assistance (Trine used to work but after a format I couldn’t get it running anymore), and after a couple of emails he offered me a full refund. I thanked him profusely and refused since I’d successfully played previously, but when the lead dev cares that much about each individual customer it’s something I’ll not soon forget.

        • djbriandamage says:

          If I can return shirts or chairs or headphones for a refund if I am not satisfied, why not games? If I feel the product didn’t live up to its advertised promises and I have no intention of using it and would rather give it back then, in my opinion, to deny me a refund is crooked.

          • Chris D says:

            Because those objects would have objective defects in the manufacture, and if a game doesn’t run or is extremely buggy then you should get your refund, fair enough. But if it’s just a case of not liking it then that’s a subjective judgement and as such is pretty much impossible to adjudicate.

            It’s also not how any other creative industry works or ever has done, mainly because if you could ask for your money back just because you didn’t like the end of a movie there’d be a lot of people who’d be there every day with no intention of ever paying anything. It’s not necessarily an ideal system but it’s the one we have.

          • djbriandamage says:

            I gotta disagree with you here. I’ve bought perfectly good clothes only to discover that they make me look like a flabby whale when I tried them on at home and got a full refund. Furthermore, I’ve walked out of crappy movies (long before they end) and been granted a refund. I think it’s fair to claim that most people know whether they like a 10-hour game within the first 60 minutes. To finish a game is to “consume the product” and by then it would be unreasonable to request a refund, but if after an hour you decide it’s a stinker then what’s the harm of telling the manufacturer that their product doesn’t meet your needs?

          • Chris D says:

            No harm in trying. I think there’s perhaps a difference between what you could negotiate as a good will gesture and what it would be possible to enforce as a general consumer right but maybe I’m just being too British about this.

          • psyk says:

            You take the labels off and wear them out and about for a couple of days, then return them?

          • driftwoodsound says:

            EB Games in Australia had a great policy for returning games.
            Bring the game back within 7 days and they will exchange it or refund your money.
            Things got a little dicey when PC games started to require online registration but overall it worked well.
            Not sure if they still have this policy. Its been a few years since I’ve brought a game from them.

    • wodin says:

      Can you go back and replay the levels you paid for and start again etc, even after a few months? Just checking otherwise you’d end up paying for the same levels again. Many time s I ditch a game only to get an urge to play it again sometimes a year or more along the line.

    • Chibithor says:

      It’s great in this case, but it’s easy to see this model done way wrong. Also geez way to spoil the end boss.

    • Shivoa says:

      I think the pricing (pay for what you use) isn’t a bad thing and possibly the easier access and lower cost of entry creates more customers so you don’t even end up paying more for the compete product as these are zero duplication cost items so it’s only making back initial cost of crafting the experience – (stating the obvious but it makes for odd maths where) you don’t have to charge more to the people who play the entire game to offset only getting partial payment from those who only pay some if you draw in more customers.

      Unfortunately it does lead to the temptation to churn out more content for those willing to buy and slowly ratchet up the total cost to silly prices with small bite-sized payments. But we’re already seeing that in fixed price DLC (poster boy: ME2 on sale for £5 is still going to cost £35 if you buy all the story DLC, not even counting the cheat code / bonus item DLC or those making the mistake of buying used and being asked for a code to unlock the ‘free’ DLC) so I don’t see that as an issue unique to this piecemeal sale strategy (and if you have no ethical concerns with ‘whales’ as F2P calls them and think people are responsible for their own payments when offered something designed to be moreish then it’s not even a problem).

      I like the choice of Unity plugin or Unity Chrome NaCl version (although maybe not auto-redirecting any Chome user to the web store as Unity NaCl is something like 150MB larger to send you the required engine code from my limited experience so there is a reason why someone might want to get the smaller version via an already installed plugin support).

      Edit: just to make clear, in the last paragraph I wasn’t implying this game is Unity, just that that is an option that offers both NaCl and web plugin (even Flash) options to reach lots of users. Something I’d love more of these premium webgames to focus on.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Jup, thought so too. The only scenario (that I can think of) in which this is a bad thing is, if the prices for the indivual levels add up to significantly more than the price of a comparable game that is sold using a conventional pricing system. But that does not seem to be the case here.

  3. Delusibeta says:

    Nice idea, pity about the business model. And admittedly I dislike paying for games I can’t download.

  4. trjp says:

    Given that MN is available for <£3 from various places, it's not great value for money if you complete it!!

    I do actually like the payment model tho – because it rewards a developer who makes a solid game which holds your attention and punishes developers who frontload their content or simply fail to capture people's attention.

    Of course, like all things, it's a double-edged sword in that such a system would influence how a game was designed to keep dragging you into the next bit – possibly at the expense of things like a difficulty curve etc. etc.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Actually, I can see me liking this model for something like Asura’s Wrath (not going to happen, but likewise I’m not going to pay £40 box price for what amounts to the lovechild of God of War and Dragonball Z, with half the gameplay. 50p a level? I can dig that).

  5. ZIGS says:

    You can’t control the camera with the mouse, only the arrow keys? LOL

    Thanks but no thanks

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      Henke says:

      Controlling the camera with the mouse worked just fine for me. Though I did manage to alt-tab out of it and couldn’t get back in. Guess all the bugs aren’t ironed out yet. :/

  6. Cooper says:

    I can see this working only for certain games.

    SpaceChem would have been perfect. Though probably made less money, because most people who play it will reach the limit of their abilities to solve it’s bloody difficult later puzzles.

  7. Sarlix says:

    Gosh, what balmy weather eh? It has been scorching down in the southern isles today. I know this has nothing to do with the topic in hand, but still, these things must be commented about!

    Rock, Paper, Sunshine!

  8. delialli says:

    It’s “discrete”, as in individually separate and distinct, not “discreet”, like hidden. The levels are discrete, and the ninjas are discreet.

  9. Caiman says:

    15p for a boss fight? I think I’d rather pay 15p to skip the boss fight!

    • povu says:

      Yeah I would pay 15p for that in Deus Ex HR.

      • lordcooper says:

        Same.

      • grundus says:

        I would pay DLC prices (not DXHR DLC prices, mind) for the ability to skip DXHR’s bosses, as long as I got some kind of cutscene in their place. Oh yes.

  10. Premium User Badge

    jezcentral says:

    I don’t mind the payment model, unless they are nickel-and-dime-ing you, which is what this sounds like. You put 8×100 points for $8 end up with 40 core-points going spare that you can’t spend on any more of the game, and can’t get back.

  11. Premium User Badge

    phlebas says:

    Hmm. Can you opt not to pay for the boss fight and go straight for the next level? This pricing plan could work really well for one or two well-known games in the Eidos catalogue…

  12. Skusey says:

    Can you just buy the later levels if you want to?

  13. SanguineAngel says:

    Man, the [not so] slow creep of micro transactions, in game payment and dlc content really rankle with me. They highlight games as commodities rather than an enjoyable passtime. I would love to buy a game then play it never once having to think about money again.

    The real world is obsessed enough with money as it is, I play games to get away from that jazz in the first place.

    I don’t mind the idea of these models in isolation but they are becoming more and more prevalent and they put me right off.

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      Devenger says:

      Echoing this: I actually get rather anxious about spending money, and I often play games to escape from the anxiety-inducing situations that are prevalent in the rest of my life. This sort of piecemeal gaming would just make me worry constantly about whether I was getting my money’s worth, or whether I would continue to get value for money on future level purchases… and I don’t want to deal with that. I want to settle down, get dragged into a game, and leave the real world behind.

      • Berzee says:

        *ping* And for 1500 MegaPoints, you can leave the real world even further behind (click here to buy MegaPoints from the cash shop with one easy click)

  14. Skabooga says:

    Nothing against the pricing model in principle, but I tend to only buy games I know I’ll play the whole way through. My Steam library is currently making a liar out of me, but at least, that’s the intention I have at the point of purchase.

  15. Moraven says:

    Microsoft did this with Fable II on Xbox. Neat idea really. You get to play more than what a demo would allow and not full price to be sure you enjoy the game. Or do not have time yet to complete it all, but would not mind paying a few bills to get your first step in the door.

  16. Nintyuk says:

    I just wish my steam copy would run on my PC. I’ve had 1 full play-through though so I’m happy I got my moneys worth.

  17. psyk says:

    So what fable did just in a browser.

  18. Tams80 says:

    Mini Ninjas is my favourite game.

    While cheap though, the DVD is £3.25 on Amazon. Sure it’s not instant, but you do get a box and it’s well, obviously cheaper. I got it for less than £10 a while ago and Steam is a ripoff for it, even in the sales (they wanted about £20 when I got it). The boss fights probably aren’t worth 15p either if the levels are worth 50p. They’re not bad (unless you don’t like QTEs) and are slightly funny.

    I hope this leads to a new Mini Ninjas game though. There are rumours that a “Mini Ninjas: Hiro’s Adventure” is going to be released.