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Crossy Road has invented the 'endless Frogger,' and it's brilliant

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Download Crossy Road if you have an iOS device. It's free. The game has been stuck in my mind like a thorn ever since I downloaded a pre-release version a few days ago.

It's an "endless Frogger," where you swipe up, left, right or down to move your character and avoid cars, trains and drowning. If you move too slowly a bird grabs you and eats you, so you must always be moving forward. That's it. The further you get, the higher your score and of course you can share your score on social media. Things become very competitive, very quickly.

You can find coins to buy chances at unlocking other characters, and you can also earn coins by watching ads. Or you can skip the ads and just use the stock character. Or you can pay actual money for the characters. It's all up to you.

"I've done mainly premium experiences since I started on the App Store but have dabbled with free versions, and price drops," Matt Hall, one third of the developer Hipster Whale, told Polygon.

"I personally get a great feeling knowing that millions of people have played my games. (Note: I have had three number one games on the App Store previously). The reality of the situation is that, in order to capture the attention of the greater mobile gaming public, you need a free title."

"So we approached this game with that in mind," he explained. "Most of the features outside of the game (the characters in the gacha machine) are driven not from a money-making perspective, but to ensure that people will play the game over a longer period of time and want to bring their friends along for the ride."

What's interesting about the monetization is the fact you can ignore it completely. You never need to buy a character. You can avoid looking at ads altogether. It's all an experiment to see if the game can find a wide audience, and perhaps make money.

"I took inspiration from free-to-play titles on PC such as Dota 2, which handles monetization really well. It gives no advantages to players who spend money, only cosmetic changes," Andrew Sum, another third of Hipster Whale, told Polygon.

"We applied this same idea to Crossy Road so that if someone has played for five minutes then they have the exact same opportunity to get a highscore as someone who has played for 50 hours."

The extra characters won't make the game easier. They can, in fact, make it harder. There are no cool-down mechanics and no energy. Just pure love and frustration, in equal doses.