Skillville? I Liked You Better When You were Skill Addiction
Sep 26, 2011 (Updated Apr 13, 2013)
UPDATE: When I originally wrote this review, the information below was accurate. I loved playing free games at the website that occasionally earned me game credits for cash games with entry fees that were as little as 25¢.
However, in October 2011, the owners decided to make style changes to the website. The name also changed. Skill Addiction became Skillville. It didn’t seem to be as user friendly after that change, but it wasn’t a complete failure until nearly a year later when I noticed that my token balance was invisible. I checked the “help” pages only to discover that I was one of several bewildered players.
I continued to play at the website while going to the “help” page to see if the owners found out what was going on. Instead, I saw complaints from cash players. Most of them had filed requests for their winnings but received nothing. Their complaints went unanswered for weeks.
In the past, when something went wrong, I would email the owners and receive more than what I asked for. In one case, I had accidentally played game with a 12-token entry fee. I meant to play the free game listed lower down on the page. I sent the owners an email explaining what happened and requested a refund of my 12 tokens. They credited my account for $12. I emailed the owners to find out this was intentional. As I suspected, it was a mistake, but the owners credited me $3 for my honesty. All this transpired in a matter of days. Now serious signs of neglect overwhelmed the website.
Because I was convinced that this couldn’t be happening on purpose, I contacted the company that handled their website design. A representative told me that they didn’t do any maintenance but would tell the owners what was happening. I gave it several weeks, but I saw no improvements. The complaints were growing in number and intensity. Some threatened to report the owners to the Better Business Bureau, while others just bemoaned their fate as a warning to new players.
It has now been over six months since I first noticed these problems. There has been no attempt to respond to players publicly or privately (I made three unanswered attempts to contact them at various email addresses in addition to those mentioned above). About two weeks ago, I won a $5 credit in a Treasure Hunt game that never appeared. At that point, I stopped playing there on a regular basis. I check occasionally to see if the situation has improved, but it looks as though the owners abandoned the website and the automated tasks just run on their own without any oversight.
Please don’t spend any money at Skillville. If there is a change for the better, I will report it here. For now, I’m inserting corrections into the review below so that readers will know what was and is no more.
Skill Addiction, launched in 2009, is a "skill gaming" website that hosts both free and cash games. In order for any review of a game website like this one to be relevant, I need to explain the basics of participation in online game sites.
This is free. You create a profile with as much or as little personal information as you feel like sharing with "the community" (everyone registered to the website).
Playing for Free for Prizes
Free games pay out in "tokens" that you can exchange for any number of prizes. Token price tags at Skillville range from 2,000 for a $5 game credit to 120,000 for a Sony Playstation or Microsoft Xbox. However, since the breakdown of the website, no one has been able to redeem tokens for any prize.
Other online game websites call their website currency “reward points” or similar names. The currency at these websites can be redeemed for prizes, game credits to play for cash, or sweepstakes entries. The “help” pages at these websites explain what can be done and how to do it.
Playing for Cash and Prizes
There are four ways to become a cash player (Don’t do this at Skillville):
1. Upgrade your account by depositing cash into your account through PayPal. The minimum deposit is $10. Other online game websites have minimum deposits set for $5, still others set their minimums at higher amounts. Don’t play for cash at any game website until you master the games. Accomplished players referred to as “sharks” will look for “fresh meat” and soon deprive you of your bankroll (no different from the real world).
2. Win a small amount of cash in a "Free Roll," a free progressive game with cash prize pot of $20. The individual prizes for Free-Roll games range from $0-$1.50 or so. Skillville no longer offers this type of Free Roll tournament. The only one it has now is for a match-three game called Sworbs. The pot is only worth $5. Other online game websites have similar ways to introduce players to cash games at little or no risk. Some will award you a stipend of $5 as a game prize. There are other websites that offer Free-Roll games only to their cash players.
3. Win a small amount of cash in "Treasure Hunt," a free scavenger game with token and cash prizes. The cash prizes range from $0.01-$10.Other online game websites don’t offer anything like this.
4. Play token games and save enough tokens to trade for game credits. If you only enter the "0 Token Tournaments," you'll win anything from 1-3 tokens. If you feel like risking your token stash, you can risk entry fees from 10-75 tokens to win a share in 24-176 token pots. Many games also have token progressives with entry fees of 12 tokens for a share in pots ranging from 50 tokens in games that aren’t very popular to 2000 tokens in highly popular games like Solitaire. It takes 2,000 tokens for every $5 worth of game credits. Other online game websites offer point-for-cash game credit redemptions. In World Winner, for example, you can exchange 3500 reward tokens for a $5 game credit. If you can hold out, you can save up for $10 or $20 game credits. Another online game website, King, doesn’t offer any point-for-cash game credit at all. Their points, called jewels are merely brag-worthy among the other players.
Once again, don’t play for cash at Skillville. You’ll never see a penny regardless of how many cash games you “win.”
Subscription is another form of upgrading to a subscription status. For $6.99 per month or $70 per year (paid through PayPal), you will have subscribers-only free tournaments with cash prizes in each of the games. When subscriptions were first introduced about a year ago, the website advertised that the subscription would pay for itself through the prize structure. The competition must have gotten pretty tough because I can no longer find that claim. Other online game websites will have similar features. Pogo, for example, calls their subscription service a club. Club members have a better selection of games to play and don’t have to endure ads sharing the game page. King also offers ad-free games with a cash “upgrade.” The bottom line here is that you can always get more if you’re willing to pay for it. However, a fun evening with your favorite game can end up costing as much as a better evening at a casino – and the casino will give you free drinks and comp your restaurant meal for that kind of cash.
Cash game entry fees start at 25¢ and go up as high as $7.50 with prizes that range from 43¢ to $12.74. When you place in any cash game with a 72¢ prize or higher, you'll also win tokens. The pot for the 72¢ prize is 6 tokens going up to 225 tokens for the $12.74 prize. Remember that with the current condition of Skillville, paying anything more than 60¢ is throwing your money away. If you continue to play for free, the only thing you lose a stash of who-knows-how-many tokens. You can also play Sworbs, a match-3 game that seems to be stuck in 48-hour free-roll status. If you play that game, you will win a share of a $5 pot. I have never won more than 9 or 10¢ a tournament. If you want to play for cash without losing any, you can rack up enough for a 25¢ game in less than a week. This is the only way I feel comfortable playing there now. It’s not really money, I can’t cash it out – no matter how much it might grow – it’s just pretend gambling.
I went the easy route. I won $3 in a Treasure Hunt game before I had really learned game strategy and quickly lost it 10 cents at a time (that was the minimum entrée fee 2 years ago). My advice then for fledgling cash players is to look at your stats (located at the top of each game's tournament list). With a calculator, figure out your true skill (number of wins/number of times played=winning percentage -- true skill). In one of the puzzle games, I've only won less than 1% of the time. I'm not risking a penny on that game. My reaction time is just too slow, thanks to MS. My advice now? Don’t bother unless you think of this as a way to learn how to play a particular game without having to risk money at a working online game website. You can do this at any of them, but I admit that a dollar sign adds a little interest to the exercise. If you’re not using real money, you’re not risking anything. Just know that you are on your own. Any pretense of customer assistance at Skillville is merely a mirage.
On to the review
Now that you have the basics and a little advice if you choose to play for cash, it's time for what I really think of playing at Skill Addiction vs. other game sites.
In addition to Skill Addiction, I also play at World Winner another cash/point skill gaming website. I used to play at Pogo, a point/subscription skill gaming website affiliated with World Winner. I play at King more than I used to since the decay at Skillville, another skill gaming website. The first skill game website I played at was Gamesville. All of them have their pluses and minuses. Ads proliferate Pogo unless you subscribe, but it's possible to win cash and real prizes by playing free games there. King isn’t as much fun as Skillville used to be, but it offers more to cash players (which I refuse to do until I play well enough to win at least half the time). World Winner is a mixed bag, but the games hold my interest while I save points for cash play. My opinion comes from my history of playing at all of the above over the last several years.
Skill Addiction's playing system used to allow you to feel competitive without risking your hard-earned cash. That was its big attraction to me. I like the fact that there wasn’ta hard sell to force you to deposit funds. At least my addiction to playing online games only costs me tokens, electricity, and time (the most valuable commodity).
The games fall into categories of Strategy, Action, Puzzles and Cards, and Arcade. There is also the daily extra of Treasure Hunt with 25 free clicks (another 25 clicks can be bought with 25 tokens).
My favorite Strategy games were Poxxle (match 3 game), Arctic Quest (timed mosaic puzzle game), and Rise of Atlantis (another match 3 game). Poxxle and Arctic Quest disappeared with the change from Skill Addiction to Skillville. They were challenging and strategy games give those of us who are speed-impaired a level playing field.
The only Action game I used toplay is Pockits, a billiards game. This is also one of those games where skill can trump speed even though speed is a factor. Pockits was eliminated when Skill Addiction became Skillville but returned as a subscriber-only game.
The lion's share of my playtime goes to the Puzzle and Card categories. Skill will always trump speed -- up to a point -- in these games. Solitaire favorites are 3-card, 1-card, 1-suit Spider (no longer available), and 2-suit Spider. I also enjoyed Letter Blocks (a multi-level word-forming game) and Qrossfire (the only reason I haven’t left Skillville altogether).
The only Arcade game I used toplay with any frequency is RockBlox, another match 3 game. Now that I've put it in writing, I realize that I play many games like this. I wonder if it's the artist in me -- seeing clumps of colors and like shapes that are difficult for others to see.
Despite everything I've said, if you are not a game player, I would be surprised if you're still reading this review. If you are, this is probably old news to you. That would put the audience of this review in the on-the-fence group; people who would love to play on a skill game website but are afraid of losing their shirts. They've heard the recent news stories about online poker sites that use players' cash accounts as their personal ATMs. They don't want to get involved in something that looks like fun but ends up bad, or worse yet, illegal. It looks like legitimate online casinos will soon be on a server near you. Nevada and New Jersey are jumping in with both feet.
Skill Addiction was innocent, time-wasting fun. You don't have to pay a dime to play there. If you're lucky enough to win game credits and skilled enough to win cash games, great. If not, you're just as welcome. There are plenty of people who have the money to play cash tournaments. You don't have to be one of them to have fun with pretend cash. If you are willing to sacrifice customer service for mindless fun, this is still true. However, I’ve already mentioned several other online game websites where you can do the same thing. You just need a little more sales resistance for them.
One more caveat to remember
Some states forbid all forms of cash play. Others just prohibit card games. International rules seem to be even fuzzier. I’ve seen many complaints on the bulletin boards of World Winner about not being able to play their favorite games when they’re overseas. If you travel a lot and play on your laptop, you will not be able to play cash tournaments while you're in one of these statesor foreign countries. Be aware that you play by the laws of the city/state/country where you sit while playing. It doesn’t matter that you live in Los Angeles if you happen to be sitting in a hotel in Cairo