How much does 4TheWords cost?
Answer in a hurry: While the official line is that it costs “only $4 a month,” the actual cost per month for 4TheWords varies. The game is filled with micro-transactions that cost in game core or c-crystals that you purchase with real money, meaning the maximum cost per month has no limit to how high it can go. On the other hand, purchasing c-crystals in bulk or by using coupon codes (such as the excellent annual NaNoWriMo ones that give participants 25% off, winners 50%) can lower the cost per month significantly.
What is 4TheWords?
4TW (4thewords.com) is an online writing game designed to gamify writing, keeping you motivated and sustaining a writing habit by making the process fun. It’s a cutesy fantasy world where you play your way through a magical story by battling monsters with your writing and completing streaks.
I’ve heard it called a writing app but it’s not really an app you can download on your smartphone or grab from iTunes or Android or whatever. It’s just a web based game. But the site does work on mobile platforms… mostly. Sort of. (Apparently they are working on it.)
How much does 4TheWords cost?
Here’s where it gets complicated… Let’s talk about 4TheWords pricing.
After the free 30 day trial, 4TheWords costs 44 core (usually called c-crystals) per month. That never changes (even if you purchase multiple months at a time, there’s no savings there). The base cost of 44 c-crystals is $4 which is where the “just $4 a month!” advertising comes in. But the price per c-crystal changes depending on which package you purchase and that changes the cost per month.
Also the only method of accepted payment is PayPal.
Here are the base cost of c-crystals on the site:
This translates to…
4TheWords and NaNoWriMo
Are you a NaNoWriMo member? Of course you are, NaNoWriMo is awesome! Well, 4TheWords is a sponsor for NaNoWriMo so they give out two discount codes every year. The first, for 25% off, is for all participants and expires at the end of the year. (You can find that code on this page. Look for the word discount if you want to just jump down to the relevant part.) The second is only for NaNoWriMo winners. That unique code can only be found in your NaNoWriMo account after you win on the Winner’s Goodies page and is only good through the start of the summer.
With those awesome NaNoWriMo discounts, 4TheWords prices go down as follows…
Is it a savings if you buy a 4TheWord gift card?
Depends. While some Gift Card levels do bring the price per month down, some weirdly increase it…
Wait, what’s with the leftover c-crystals thing?
I’m glad you asked. See, after the base cost of 44 c-crystals a month there are micro-transactions that also require c-crystals. These are things like purchasing customizations for your avatar, buying Stempos (which are a handy little cheat that lets you extend your streak even through days you didn’t actually write), and speeding up “load screens” when traveling between levels in the game.
My chart above assumes you’re only spending the minimum 44 c-crystals a month on your membership and nothing else. If you’re doing lots of these micro-transactions, each batch of c-crystals will last you less months than listed above. Depending on how many c-crystals you spend a month on the extras, the cost per month can go up almost infinitely!
A monthly fee AND micro-transactions? Ugh. Get off my lawn!
I know. I know. BUT these are almost all optional. Almost everything you can buy with c-crystals you can also win in game in one form or another and things like travel you can simply exercise some patience and wait the allotted time instead of using c-crystals to skip.
Why do you keep calling them c-crystals?
Because there are two kinds of crystals in the game. There are purple crystals that you win in game that the site just calls “crystals.” The other are these blue core crystals (c-crystals) that you can (mostly) only get by paying your real life money… that the site also sometimes calls only crystals? It’s needlessly confusing, in my humble opinion.
But I want a 4TheWords membership for free! Can you get c-crystals without paying for them?
There are a few ways to get c-crystals without having to hand over your hard earned cash. The first is, if you give a referral code when you sign up, such as AOZSY71632 (which is mine), you’ll get 20 free c-crystals just for being a pal to your buddy Hillary & using her referral code to thank her for taking the time to write this big ole blog post up. *bats eyelashes*
Once you’re a paying member yourself, every member you refer will earn you 44 crystals (so, a month’s worth!) once they start as a paying member.
You can also win c-crystals in-game as a prize for certain quests and milestone streaks. In my experience, these are only a couple here and there so you’d have to win an awful lot of these before you earned a whole month but, when added to the leftover ones from the bigger crystal packages, they can start to add up. And they are handy for the micro-transactions.
As for using the site for free, unless you are a badass referral MACHINE and can refer a new person every single month… I think it’s almost impossible. But, you know, reach for the stars I guess.
ARGH, this is so confusing! Can’t I just pay money and not have to think about crystals ever again?
Alas, no. 4TheWords ONLY accepts payment for membership in c-crystals. You literally cannot give them money… except to buy c-crystals… with which to pay them.
Look, I’m not claiming it makes any sense.
So, what’s the absolute cheapest way to join?
Win NaNoWriMo and use that 50% off coupon to purchase the largest batch of c-crystals you can! And if winning NaNo is out of the question, post the forums after the event and see if someone who did win but isn’t going to use their winner’s discount is willing to give it to you.
Is 4TheWords worth it?
Well, golly, that’s kinda objective, isn’t it? Me, when I first heard about the site, I balked at the $4 a month price tag. My web hosting doesn’t even cost that for 6 freaking websites! But when I realized that the price wasn’t quite as cut and dry as that and the writing game itself helped me motivate myself through a patch when I was really struggling to get words down, I started to change my mind. Now I jump into the game for a month whenever I need a kick in the pants to get some extra writing done.
In the end, if it motivates you to keep writing when you feel like quitting and to write more when you otherwise wouldn’t, it’s worth it, no? But I highly recommend taking the free trial month for a spin first to see if you like it.