The come-on is compelling and simple. “Earn cash for playing games on your smart phone.” But can you really earn real money for just playing games? SideHusl.com looked into game-playing apps that promise cash to find out.
We discovered some that do pay; some promise to pay, but often don’t; and some that are really gambling apps that cost you more than you’re likely to earn.
And, even in the best of circumstances, the amount you can earn is nominal. There are some ways that you can earn real money playing games. But these smart phone game-playing apps aren’t it. They will, however, try to convince you to spend hours playing to collect rewards.
Game-playing apps that promise cash
There are literally dozens of game-playing apps that promise cash. And, generally speaking, they all have one of three goals:
- Boost usage of a new game.
- Get gamers to watch advertisements.
- Convince you to spend money on gambling, in the probably futile hope that you’ll win more than you lose.
But the deck is always stacked in favor of the game developers, who often operate with consumer-unfriendly terms. In some cases, these terms give gaming companies the ability to change payments; deny payment; or seize your account for almost any reason.
If you like playing games on your phone, a few of these sites will legitimately pay you to play through their apps. But we’re talking about $1 or $2 per hour. Here’s the real skinny on 7 game-playing apps that promise cash. The most attractive apps are listed first.
Rewarded Play is an Android app that allows you to earn gift cards for playing games, like Solitaire and Bingo, on your smart phone. The site wants you to upload at least three games from the site’s extensive collection of choices and use all three of them for at least two consecutive days.
You get points for five activities — downloading new games; playing for a set amount of time; making in-app purchases; watching advertisements; and completing tasks, such as moving up a level in a game. You can also get bonus points for using the app every day. Though you’ll get thousands of points in a short period, don’t let it go to your head. You get roughly $1 for every 9,000 Rewarded Play points. You’ll need 45,000 points to cash out with a $5 gift card. (And, yes, we consider this to be the best of the bunch.)
Mistplay is also an Android app that promises points for playing games through it. To get economic credit for playing, you’ve got to download and play games through Mistplay. And you’ve got to disable battery-saving tech on your phone, which interferes with Mistplay being able to track your game use. Since you get paid for playing — not simply having a game open — the site is always functioning in the background.
The site also asks for permission to see what other games you have on your device. Mistplay says it uses this information to match you with other games you might enjoy. This site’s point system is complex, though.
You get points for reaching certain levels in the game; for playing every day for a seven-day streak; and, potentially, for winning contests. In some cases, you also get points for buying virtual products within the games you’re playing. And you get points for referring friends. You can earn bonus points for playing certain games or for other activities that Mistplay wants to encourage.
However, you stop getting credit after two hours of solid game-playing. You also don’t get credits for playing without reaching an earnings threshold. And if you’ve reached a level 20 in any given game, you stop accumulating more points for playing that game.
Outside of having a smart phone — Apple or Android — there are no real requirements to sign up for Money Well. You simply need to download the app and then pick a few games that you want to play. The site will track your playing time and pay you by the minute.
But the amount you get paid by the minute is so small it could take hours to earn $1. This is particularly true if you happen to like the game that you’re playing through the site. That’s ultimately because Money Well gets paid to get people to try new games. So, you essentially get more “tickets” for playing something you haven’t tried before. If you get hooked on a particular game, you’ll see that the number of tickets you get for each minute declines to nearly nothing. In other words, if you’re enjoying yourself, you’ll earn less.
Users also say that the site’s customer service department is largely AWOL, so if you have trouble cashing out, you’re on your own. Worse, in some cases, your rewards will be paid in “discount” certificates for products and services you may not want. So only play here if you like the game.
Like Money Well, CashGiraffe pays more for those downloading games and who are new to playing them. And, while you get lots of points for adding this Android app, the points are worth about one-hundreth of a penny. Worse, people who play through this app say that it requires multiple forms of identification when you want to cash out. And customer service is unresponsive when you provide it, making it tough to get paid at all.
Solitaire Cash is an app that says you can win money playing classic solitaire games against other players, who have similar skill levels to you. However, you can only potentially win cash, if you pay cash to play. That makes this really a gambling app, not one that pays you to play. If you use the free version of the game, all the rewards you earn have no cash value.
And you should definitely avoid depositing money with this app to play in the cash games — no matter how skilled you are at solitaire. That’s because the developer’s terms say that the game doesn’t have to be played fairly. They can also change the value of their rewards at any time. They can also boot you off the app and take your winnings. In other words, the deck is stacked against you.
Notably, Solitaire Cash is just one of several games developed by Papaya Gaming. And all the Papaya Games are governed by the same abusive terms. Not surprisingly, players gripe about the others — Bubble Cash and Bingo Cash — too. However, because the games are a bit different, the developer has different ways of making sure you never win.
With Bubble Cash, a classic bubble popping game, users maintain they get plenty of points until they get close to the site’s $150 cash-out threshold. At that point, the number of points they get for clearing a level or playing the game trickle down to nothing. Several say they stopped earning points completely at $149.
Some players, who stubbornly continued playing, despite not getting compensated for multiple games, say the app eventually told them to get lost. They had completed all the levels.
Bingo Cash, meanwhile, runs advertisements the moment you download the app and forces you to go through a nearly endless series of “tips” telling you how to play the game. Between every tip is another ad. Those with the persistence to slog through all those tips, saw additional advertisements. Most never got past the ads to play the game.