UPDATE: Zynga has updated their pricing for Word-O-Meter, please check out this update!
I previously reviewed the Words With Friends Tile Pile last week.
This week, I’ll go into the Words With Friends Word-O-Meter.
First off, the cost of the Word-O-Meter is 32 “coins”. Like I ranted and raved last week, the way the coins and the “features” are priced are a complete RIP OFF. The Word-O-Meter is 32 “coins”, but the least amount of coins you can buy is 7 for $0.99. The minimum you must spend to get Word-O-Meter is 40 tokens for $4.99. This leaves you with 8 tokens. Obviously they want these extra tokens hanging around so that you feel the urge to buy more tokens otherwise these are a “waste”.
Even if you bought the 23 token package for $2.99 and the 7 token package for $0.99, you still can’t get the Word-O-Meter!! The pricing alone makes me strongly NOT RECOMMEND any of these features. Okay, okay, no more ranting, otherwise I’ll need to take a double dose of blood pressure meds.
Once you purchase the Word-O-Meter, it’s a bit confusing to figure out how to use it. In the middle of a game, you can press on the Word-O-Meter, and then it turns green. I guess this means that it’s “activated”, and then you need to exit by clicking on “less”.
Then, every time you place your words on the board, you’ll see a green + sign where you place your letters to give you some additional info.
When you click on the + and the word isn’t valid, then it will tell you that. I guess from the perspective of the gameplay, this isn’t really any additional information, since you’ll get the same message anyway if you play an invalid word. The real question is, why is the meter not at 0?
When you play a “good” word and click on the + sign, then the “Calculating” screen comes up, and then it shows you a meter, telling you how good the word is. This is the interesting part, because it doesn’t give you any additional information besides the meter score. You don’t know in what relation this is to, whether it’s the maximum for that letter, or the most you could possibly play on the board. My guess is that it’s relative to the maximum score on the board, but who knows.
Every time you use it on a valid word, it will take 1 use from you. You start with 99 uses, and it goes quickly, depending on how often you use it. Even if you do it on the same valid word, each time you use it, it will take 1 unit.
You can see from the images that when I play KI, it gives me a mediocre in the red/yellow range, about 1/3 of the way to the top. Seeing as though it’s a 6 point word, and doing a little bit of math, that makes me think that maybe there’s a 20-ish point word out there.
I look around and try the Two-Way Word Double Word with DUP and AD. From there you can see that the Word-O-Meter is registering near the top. So I play that word, and it gives me 22 pts.
Is Word-O-Meter cheating?
In my opinion, yes, kind of, but they do a good job in making the Word-O-Meter pretty useless, so that they can defend themselves against charges that they are monetizing and incentivizing cheating in the game.
As a cheat, it’s terrible. It doesn’t tell you very much: it doesn’t tell you where to place the letters, and it only gives you a vague idea of “umm, ya there’s probably a better word out there”. If you really want to cheat, there are cheating web sites out there that do a much better job than this FOR FREE. There is no reason for anyone to spend $5 for something that tells you almost no information. Paying $5 for 99 uses, basically 5 cents per use, for something this useless is really dumb. I guess they are trying to profit from lazy and rich people (or desperate bloggers). A feature like this won’t help anyone who is even remotely familiar with the game.
It does give you an idea of how much better words are out there, which to me is kind of cheating. But, if you are already at the top of your game, you already know that always playing the highest point word isn’t necessarily the better play. Getting a 22 pt word vs an 18 pt word likely isn’t going to make a difference to the score, but in terms of strategy, it could make a huge difference. So, even though it’s cheating, it’s relatively harmless, and more of a distraction than anything else.
My only fear is that if this is even remotely successful, then it will embolden Zynga to add more intrusive cheating feature that will simply ruin the game. They managed to barely tow the line so that they can avoid outright accusations of cheating, kind of like sticking their toe across the line to see what people said and then quickly retracted their toe. But if no one says anything, they might start crossing the line in a big way, because they want money. Not that there’s anything wrong with capitalism, but if they ruin the game that millions of people love, it’s ultimately self-defeating.
So there you go, the overall recommendation is “DO NOT BUY“. It’s a complete waste of money, and even for beginners it’s not much of a help, and at $5, it’s way too expensive. Instead go get yourself a Starbucks coffee, a couple of oranges, a Subway sandwich, 5 mp3s from iTunes, 1/2 a share of ZNGA, or my best suggestion, 5 lottery tickets.