I'm no stranger to the freemium app market. As soon as I got a smartphone I had several town builder freemium apps to rotate in a way that let me continuously play without feeling the effects of the timers. After a while I realized that the games weren't worth the trouble, and let the towns perish from negligence. All before unceremoniously deleting them off my phone. In the years since then I rarely attempted to play freemium apps. Occasionally I would see a license I enjoy, such as Star Wars, unveil a new free-to-play app and check it out. These apps routinely failed to impress, because they were always the same town builder or endless runner games with a new coat of paint. It is very easy to see that freemium apps have not evolved in any significant way in years. However it wasn't until 2016, when the app Pocket Morty's released, that I was able to fully realize freemium games are unable to evolve past where they started.
In Pocket Morty's you are tasked with collecting and training multi-dimensional Mortys, much like Pokemon. This is all in order to have a team strong enough to battle the Council of Ricks that keep you from going back home. This game structure is a huge departure from the standard freemium game types and on the surface it sounds like a legitimately fun experience. Its selling point is on the premise that it will play exactly like games that are insanely popular. In fact, Pocket Morty's would be a fantastic little game, but it is so bogged down in freemium philosophy that it becomes horrible.
All of the in-game items in Pocket Morty's are very overpriced and the payout from battles is incredibly low. This is because you can use your real money to buy the fake money to get the items you need. This makes going through the game without paying a lot of real world dollars a long and boring slog. You battle the dimension leader Rick's to get a badge, then once you have enough badges you battle one of the 6 members of the Council of Ricks. The kicker here is that the number of badges required increases exponentially. It went with simply 1 badge to get to the first battle, then asked for 5 more badges, and I tapped out when it wanted me to collect 9 more badges. The game does not offer nearly enough content to warrant that much play time. That is unless you consistently offer cash to liven things up.
Pocket Morty's was a depressing reminder that shows us that freemium apps have nowhere to go. Where they were established is where they die. The developers of these apps have no interest in making an enjoyable game. Pocket Morty's shows us that when a freemium app finally tries to break from the mold of its predecessors, it ends up being awful for all new reasons. This is entirely because the freemium philosophy is a drain on player enjoyment and is in no way beneficial to gameplay. As long as these apps are willing to sacrifice enjoyment for micro-transactions, the genre will never evolve.