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Solitaire is one of the most popular Windows games in existence. However, the Windows 10 version of Solitaire is surprisingly terrible.
At first, the Microsoft Solitaire Collection sounds like a slight improvement on the classic card game. It includes five variations of Solitaire along with Daily Challenges to give you a sense of progression while playing. The game also sports leaderboards and touchscreen controls.
However, there's a big problem: advertising. While Solitaire Collection is free with Windows 10, you'll be periodically subjected to full-screen video ads (via PCGamer):
If you don't want to see these advertisements, Microsoft has a terrible solution to offer you. If you pay $1.50 a month or $10 for a year for Premium membership, you won't have to watch these ads. This membership also gives you extra "coins" for completing challenges and a boost when playing TriPeaks and Pyramid variations:
Well, you have to hand it to Microsoft. Screwing up Solitaire was a near-impossible task but they pulled it off through hard work and careful planning. Asking people to pay a one-time fee to remove ads would be obnoxious. Asking people to pay every month for that privilege, though? That sounds like a business model cooked up by a brooding bald man living in a skull-shaped volcano.
The only saving grace of this subscription model is that zero people are going to use it. Who would actually pay for Solitaire, or rather, Solitaire with fewer ads and more meaningless coins? Half of the game's appeal is rooted in the fact that it's free and pre-installed with Windows. It's easy entertainment for someone bored at work or starting up their computer for the first time. Chipping away at its core strength - convenience - seems like a silly move.
In a way, though, Microsoft's freemium makeover of Solitaire isn't that surprising. Over the past few years, we've seen many developers incorporate optional cash purchases or premium subscriptions into their game. Simply paying for a game and then owning the entire product forever is rare these days. We're asked to pay for additional in-game bonuses or items. To keep playing, we have to buy expansions. On top of that, there are monthly fees for playing multiplayer on consoles.
Microsoft has included Solitaire for free with every OS since Windows 3.0 back in 1990. Expecting such a long-standing tradition not to be affected by the current "Monetize All The Things!" craze was too much to hope for, I guess.