The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn't necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable "best" thing. Instead, it's more just us picking out the single game out of the week's releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.

These picks might be controversial, and that's OK. If you disagree with what we've chosen, let's try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.

Without further ado…


Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon

This week saw the release of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon [$2.99], a mobile tie-in to the movie Guardians of the Galaxy which comes out in theaters August 1st. The game is a real-time action strategy game that features line-drawing combat similar to Battleheart. It also features 25 different characters to unlock and play as, plucked from the Guardians of the Galaxy universe, so you can mix and match different teams of characters to build on different strategies. There's a lengthy single-player campaign as well as an Arena mode to test the mettle of your various teams.

All in all, it seems like a very solid game, and that's great. But the thing that really stuck out to us about the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon is how prominently it touts not having any IAP and not requiring an internet connection to play. Being a movie tie-in game from a big publisher, it would have been very easy for The Universal Weapon to be free to play. In fact, that would have made even more sense. While it's a game first and foremost, it's also a promotional tool of sorts for an upcoming movie, so you'd think they'd want to reach as wide an audience as possible, which is much easier if there's no barrier to entry in the form of a price.


However, Marvel went in the opposite direction, and it got us thinking. The mobile market is staggering in terms of size. Apple's most recently-announced number states that more than 800 million iOS devices have been sold to date. If you add in Android and other mobile platforms, there is a pretty significant chunk of the planet that's walking around with very gaming-capable mini computers in their pockets. A lot of these people aren't traditionally gamers, but they're finding themselves playing games more and more on their mobile devices due to how easily accessible they are. I'd wager that a significant number of these "new gamers" are looking beyond their initial Candy Crush or Flappy Bird habits in search of even more interesting gaming experiences.

Previously, it felt like the traditional gamer audience was dwarfed in comparison to the casual market who doesn't mind things like free to play mechanics. If you were making a game and wanted the greatest chance of success, it made sense to go after that larger demographic with a free to play game, even at the expense of possibly alienating that core gamer audience. But free to play has been around long enough now, and there have been so many nasty free to play models (*cough* Dungeon Keeper) that I think chances are pretty good that even those newly-turned gamers have had a sour experience with a free to play game. Perhaps this audience is now looking for what those traditional gamers have been clamoring for all along: a pay-once experience where the game design isn't compromised by its business model.

This is all just me thinking out loud here, and we touch on this subject in our podcast this week, but maybe the target free to play audience is starting to tire of the whole free to play experience. A movie tie-in game with a major IP and a big publisher behind it taking a stand and highlighting the fact that there's no IAP shenanigans to deal with in its experience strikes me as kind of a big deal. Maybe the free to play market is finally starting to stabilize and games like Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon, which doesn't inherently fit the free to play model and most likely would have felt shoehorned had it gone that route, are banking on people wanting a great gaming experience first and foremost, and that those people will be willing to pay for it.

Ultimately time will tell, and of course it doesn't hurt that Guardians of the Galaxy seems like a pretty good game in the time that I've played it so far. Nobody benefits from a bad game whether it's free to play or not. But I'll be interested to see if free to play sticks more with games that make sense for that model, like casual puzzle games and city builders, while meatier games like The Universal Weapon go a pay-once route and hope that people, including the casual market, are willing to pay for a premium experience.

  • paulkane

    It will be interesting to see if the model sticks or if they flip over to freemium. August 1st, come here NOW!

    • andreabstephens

      my Aunty
      Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

      • curtisrshideler

        No she didn't.

      • Morgan01

        It will be interesting to see if and when this title goes Freemium. BTW, bogus advertisements and Jaguars are not related to this game in anyway, shape, or form.

    • curtisrshideler

      I hope they never add that crap to the app. They can knock it down to $0.99 if they want, and I'll still be happy I supported them at $5. But if they turn it to freemium, I just won't be updating the app. Ever. Then it will always be premium on my device.

  • Anotherkellydown

    I haven't played Guardians, and maybe I should just to support what they're doing with the payment model. As I was reading your article I must admit I was very excited too. The fact that mobile gaming is appealing to more and more "casual" gamers is great. And I think if more and more companies shy away from free to play like these guys did the future of iOS gaming will be looking a lot brighter. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • TheCalm1

      yeah, I'm thinking of buying just to support as well. Same reason I purchased Wayward. I applaud the pay system they chose, a dollar an update. Plus it's also actually a beautifully wonderful game, just the Pro-Swip tho, really? Why not just have "buttons" for skills? Annoyed the sh1t outta me.

      This game, however.... it just seems to ripe for the freemium taking. It'll be another year or so but I dunno... seems like it'll happen eventually. I mean, look at Rovio afterall. Bad Angry Birds, Bad!

  • hellscaretaker

    Oh I'm sure it will go free to play in about a few weeks or you buy it for 69p, once the rush of buying the game die down.

  • Bool Zero

    I remember making this very same theory a long while back and having Eli knock the mere idea that I would think this would happen with a condescending reply...

    • HelperMonkey

      Of course Hodapp lives in Moldova and has just discovered a cool new band called Bon Jovi. He is on the cutting edge, to be sure... Seriously, though, I don't know what the future looks like from his perspective, but I do appreciate his willingness to seek out the most entertaining games he can find - even if it involves wading into the sludge of the freemium world - and even when that's controversial. Bringing fun games to our attention, regardless of price or pay model, is the job of this site. And I mostly believe it is a job well done.

  • Xith

    I have been looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy since 2012, when Marvel first announced it along with Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Cap America 2. But the time is here and I've been looking at this game, and really don't see it to be worth 5 dollars, I understand the path they are taking. Ultimately I don't think it is worth it. Possibly a 2 or 3 dollar price drop would make me consider buying it. If anyone has bought it, please reply with your thoughts, because obviously you cannot completely judge a game until you have played or tester it.

    • PoloBaquerizoH

      Having a Guardians of the Galaxy game , with a Battleheart type of style gaming, makes the price of the game totally worth, I already play it, and is really fun, so hail premium games, always the premium tag is because is worth

  • PoloBaquerizoH

    Excelent, totally agree, is time to change cheap freemium games where there is no effort for making a game worth your time, lets hope more premium games will make fremium gamers change their mind, to have a more valued quality premium games, and the devs start making real quality games, and maybe this will tell much of the future

    • HelperMonkey

      You and I are thinking (or hoping) along similar lines. Most freemium gamers looking to kill time with their fancy iDevices are using those devices primarily for other purposes. But I believe that, for some of those users, dabbling with a mediocre free game can set a hook and turn their interests toward something more potent. There will likely always be freemium games and indifferent consumers. But I also believe that more gamers will lead to more demand which will eventually lead to more quality. Who knows when or if that tide will turn, but should profits move toward more premium titles, you can be sure that developers and distributors will be paying attention and will go where the money is.

  • scottbailey

    Great essay on FTP vs Premium games. So how is Guardians of the Galaxy?

    • curtisrshideler

      If you're a fan of GotG and Marvel, it's a blast. They have sweet comic cut scenes and great music. There are a ton of characters, gear to equip, ISO to find and combine, and a lot of levels set in quite a few locations. It tells a story as you play. But it is really a RTS line drawing battler and that is what you'll be doing the most. So, if you like that aspect, then you'll consider it a great game because it is all of that wrapped in a very well done package.

  • Themostunclean

    I read recently that Google has been pressured in to no longer labeling games with IAP as "free" in Europe. Since doing so is essentially false advertising I hope that them and Apple do the same in the states.

  • darkteletubbie

    Really enjoying the game. Lots of comic book strip scenes, and the humor is cheeky.

    Almost weird without IAP timers, but worth the time. Pacing feels a bit off sometimes, could have taken longer to introduce skills, but not a huge deal.

  • worldcitizen1919

    I'd go for that as I want premium games not to be influenced by IAP but rather my own skill and nouse. But even some casual games would be far richer experiences as one price models with some casual games that I really like I never play anymore because timers force me to stop and after I move on to something else I forget about them sometimes for months.

  • dmpunks

    Not a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy nor Battlehearts (except for Legacy) but I'm sold with that kind of attitude. Instabuy.

    • HelperMonkey

      I think you're a few days late and a few thoughts too far to "instabuy" this one.

  • worldcitizen1919

    I bought it with supporting it in mind although it's not really my type of game. I like the graphics and the concept it's just that it gets too crowded to fight.