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Disappointment In Disney Games’ Toontown

This the the story of my son, an online computer game, and a quest that ended in tears and disappointment.

My son has recnetly been spending a lot of time playing an online game called Toontown. The basic premise of this game by Disney Games, from what I can tell, is that you are a character in an animated world, and your job is to use “gags” to destroy various characters that inhabit Toontown. I think these characters are called “cogs.” The gags you use are things like throwing pieces of pie, using a selzer bottle, and other cheesy things like that. The cogs, in turn, use their gags on you as well. I’ll be honest and say that this is about the extent of my understanding of the game, mostly because my son navigates so quickly around the screen that I don’t have time to read what’s going on. As an aside…my wife has spent considerable time with him on this game, so I trust that it’s appropriate for him.

I should mention, before I continue, that my son signed up for the free account on Toontown. That becomes important later on.

One of the things you also do in Toontown is go on various missions to gain things you can use on future missions…to gain weapons, of sorts. This story is about a particular mission my son was on, and the tragic ending to it.

My son spent about three days trying to complete a mission in which he collected frames for a sound gag. I’m not quite sure what that means, but I know that the process was long and complex. His task was to collect 15 frames, each one awarded at the end of a cog killing mission (various numbers of cogs each time). It also necessitated going back to Toontown HQ, checking in, and seeing if the ability to continue the mission was available. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t. On Wednesday night, my son only needed three more frames when he went to bed. He was so excited about returning to the game on Thursday after school, that he literally could not sleep. When he awoke in the morning, he was extremely excited about the day, and the prospects of getting the last three frames of his quest.

After school and other stuff, he was finally able to resume his game. He got his first and second remaining frames after some work…it gets harder the further you go into the quest. Finally, he was ready to go after his last frame. He headed to Toontown HQ, checked for his missions, and that’s when the bombshell dropped.

Only paid subscriptions could go after the last frame.

My wife and I stared in disbelief at the screen. We explained the situation to my son, and he literally burst out in tears. This was easily one of the worst moments of his life…all that hard work wasted because nobody bothered to let us know you couldn’t complete this rather extensive mission without paying for the game.

I have no problems with content in a game being restricted to paying users. If you sign up for a free game, where subscriptions are also available, you get what you pay for. What I have a very big problem with is making it look like you get certain content for free, only to find out at the end, after considerable effort, that the final prize will cost you some money. In my opinion, Disney should not let free account holders even start this particular mission unless they are subscribers. The results of their current practice is some of the worst disappointment a six year old kid can face.

Games are about revenue. Even free games online often generate revenue through tie-ins or brand awareness. A child playing the free version of Toontown might someday persuade his parents to buy a related product in a store. There is nothing wrong with this. What Disney has done in this case, I believe, amounts to a bait-and-switch scheme. Hold a carrot out for a user, let them go after it for some time, and pull it away at the last moment. What a terrible impression to leave on a user.

How does this end? Being the trooper my son is, he realized he recently got $5 from one of his relatives, which he has not yet spent. A one month subscription to Toontown conveniently comes in at $4.95. He’s excited to come home from school today, pony up his money, and continue his adventure, finally getting the prize he’s worked so hard for. Score one for American capitalism and the Disney empire.

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  1. April 25th, 2009 at 03:06 | #1

    You can go to the shop, Post Office in loopy lane, it has a mickey mouse picture in from of it, and you can take the task there. This happens a lot to others, and myself too, I dont know why its still happening still. Sorry I told you this now, but I hope you have found out now :)

  2. A Purple Toontown Rabbit
    March 24th, 2011 at 12:11 | #2

    This is still the case, or at least with the Toon-Up gag track. I hope your son was okay after his Toontown incident. If the kids play and enjoy the game I do consider it worth the subscription rate. I had several paid accounts when my older grand-kids were younger and played, but I let them go when the kids grew out of Toontown. Now I have a 6yo granddaughter who wants to play, but, since she does not yet read (late birthday = still in K5). Rather than just sit beside her and tell her where to go and what to do I simply made a second free account so I could actually play along with her. I didn’t want to pay for 2 subscriptions yet. I would be more than willing to pay for the games “if” she were able to work tasks solo. Anyway, I decided to get the Toon-Up gag as my first optional gag training so I could heal her in cog battles. Boy was I ticked when I went to collect that last task and kept getting the pop-up telling me I needed to subscribe to gather the task. But, being rather obstinate, I headed on out to the Post Office on Loopy Lane and lo’ and behold I found I could collect it there. I am now looking for the solution to collecting tasks for Donald’s Dock, which also pop-up the “Subscribe” window.
    If anyone discovered the work around, please share!

  3. Zane
    July 30th, 2011 at 14:47 | #3

    Man that must have been a breakdowner. I have done toontown for as long as I can remember but the easiest way to pay for it is the monthly which is you pay $5.00 for your first month and $10.00 for the rest until you want to stop the subscription. I’d love to help you son in any way possible if you could give me his toon’s name and a certain time and meeting place. my toon’s name is Doctor Jake Zippenspeed and I have a western nametag and it would be my honor to help. I usually hang around Donald’s Dreamland. My favorite thing to do is help weaker toons grow and become strong and confident that they are ready to face harder things that usually they would be afraid to defeat. My email is sscaini@aol.com. I almost forgot I’m a tall blue rabbit. I have helped my best friend to become stronger than me but he still is greatful about it but I tell him that’s just what I do.

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