- Editor's Rating
By Charles P. Jefferies
WildTangent – does that sound familiar? If you bought a new HP, Dell, Toshiba, Gateway or Lenovo PC recently it might since their games and download client likely came pre-installed. We look at WildTangent’s Orb game client and see if it is worth using.
WildTangent is a global game and media distribution company. Unlike other game download services we looked at, WildTangent sells more casual-style arcade games rather than intense and involving 3D games.
WildTangent pays major PC manufacturers including HP, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, and Gateway to have their games and their WildTangent Orb game client program pre-installed on their PCs.
Navigation is handled on the left and split into four categories. Home, shown above, shows a snapshot of your games, newly-released games, and suggested games.
The My Games tab displays installed games as well as other downloadable games.
The Find Games tab is essentially the integrated store, which I will discuss later.
Lastly, the Community section has a link to Orb forums, contests, and top scores.
Overall, the program is designed for rapid consumption; WildTangent clearly wants users to click, click, and click on more games.
Purchasing and Downloading Games
WildTangent Orb has a different take on game download and consumption than other services we tested. First, the type of games offered are casual; that is, Flash-like arcade games. These games are very simple and require little thought to play. There are a lot of games to choose from, including 101 Enthusiast, 853 Casual, and 101 Family games.
Most game download services require customers to purchase the full game for a one-time fee and then they own the license to play it indefinitely. WildTangent uses an arcade-like consumption system.
WildTangent Orb Super Saver Pack
- 12-month commitment; 50 coins/month for $6.99
WildTangent Orb Fun Pack
- 6-month commitment; 50 coins/month for $7.99
WildTangent Orb Casual Pack
- 2-month commitment; 50 coins/month for $9.99
Customers can of course buy additional coins and standalone coin packs; prices vary but the subscription plans are the cheapest way to play. That is, if you do not mind having a cell phone-like contract.
WildTangent Orb games typically cost one to six WildCoins per session, where a session is the length of time between opening and closing the game. WildTangent keeps track of how many coins you put into games and will discount them should you decide to buy them; the minimum game price is $5.
Almost every game WildTangent offers has a two-session free trial period and there are some free games as well.
The games themselves are relatively small (under a few hundred megabytes) and therefore take a short amount of time to download on a broadband connection; I averaged between one and five minutes to fully download games. Games are automatically installed once downloaded.
While I dislike subscriptions and contracts, WildTangent’s distribution service is appropriate for this type of gaming. The two free trial periods provide enough time to determine whether the game is worth the money.
Social Networking Features
WildTangent does not offer much in the way of social networking but there is a reasonably active WildTangent online forum. Based on the amount of activity I saw, expect to get a question answered within a day of posting.
Parental controls are built into Orb; games can be restricted based on rating and specific games can also be blocked. The settings can also be PIN-protected. Overall, the parental controls were easy to use and a welcome feature. I would have liked game time limit controls as well, although that kind of functionality is built-in Windows Vista and 7.
Normally stored online, WildCoins can be “deposited” to your computer for offline use. Once transferred, coins cannot be returned or moved to other computers. The offline functionality is a major plus.
WildTangent is a different type of gaming service for a different type of gaming. The service is aimed at casual gamers and offers mostly Flash-like arcade games. Instead of buying games, users purchase WildCoins, much like quarters in a conventional arcade. Games are played in sessions by spending coins as opposed to simply purchasing the game outright. This setup works well for this type of gaming. Prices can vary greatly per coin depending on what service is purchased, so do the math and figure out whether it is worth the price.
Overall this service is recommendable if you are the type of gamer that likes Flash games and are willing to pay for them.
- Easy access to wide variety of games
- Simple program interface
- Parental controls
- Offline mode
- Subscription required for best pricing