Are Your Mobile Games Actually Free? If Not, Try Amazon Underground
Android users should get excited.
Amazon already had free games for you. But now it has even more to try. A lot more.
Launched in August, Amazon Underground has tripled its selection of free games and apps.
Available exclusively for users with Android and Amazon Fire devices in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, the Underground app takes away the buzzkill of paying for a mobile game’s premium content.
Instead, it’s all free.
Amazon Underground: Your Go-to for Free Games (Really)
If you’ve never used Underground, it’s like a souped-up version of Amazon’s shopping app.
While other electronics and products on Amazon have normal price tags, the Underground games and apps are free. You’ll see an “Actually Free” banner across the app’s top left corner.
But here’s where your real savings come in: On Amazon Underground, there are no in-app purchasing requirements.
“Customers can play with unlimited lives and will receive many bonus in-app items in the Amazon Underground version of the app completely free ($31.87 value),” Amazon said of Frozen Free Fall -- a game that’s free to install, but that requires in-app purchases.
An Amazon representative confirmed that games added to Underground remain available through the app. It’s not a limited-time offer.
Underground actually replaced Amazon’s App A Day program, TechCrunch reports.
How Amazon Underground Can Be Free
“We’ve made it possible for customers to get actually free apps by working out a new business model with app and game developers: We’re paying them a certain amount on a per-minute played basis in exchange for them waiving their normal in-app fees,” Amazon staffer Lyn Hart said.
Since game developers aren’t earning money from customer downloads and in-app purchases, Amazon pays $.002 cents for each minute a customer uses their game.
“To be clear, we’re the ones picking up those per minute charges — so for customers it’s simply free,” Hart said. “And, if customers interact with us more frequently across Amazon, that’s a great outcome.”
That’s the part to watch out for: Amazon’s betting after you spend all that time playing free games, you’ll also browse -- and buy -- on the rest of the site. Don’t fall for it!
If Your Whole Family Plays Games, You Need This App
Here’s the thing that’s easy to forget about mobile games: It’s easy to spend money without thinking about it.
If you can buy in-app level upgrades, bonuses and additional characters with the click of a button, it’s too easy to turn around at the end of the month and say, “Wow, how’d I spend so much on games this month?”
And while you, savvy reader, might have self-control and and a general sense of how much you want to spend on games, think about the other people who might use your phone or Fire tablet.
If your child plays mobile games on your device, Underground is an easy way to make sure Junior doesn’t rack up a gaming bill while you’re grocery shopping.
If you share your tablet with a less tech-savvy parent, Underground’s free games prevent that moment of, “I’m not sure how I got here or how I spent this much money.”
It’s a good way to make sure everyone’s truly having free fun.
The most complicated part of Underground is downloading it. The app isn’t available in the Google Play store -- you have to visit Amazon Underground from your phone or request an emailed download link.
Your Turn: Will you download Amazon Underground?
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Lisa Rowan is a writer, editor, and podcaster based in Washington, D.C.