One of the games we were sworn to secrecy from telling you about at GDC 2015 last week was our hands-on time with Call of Champions, Spacetime Studios' upcoming MOBA. Whenever I hear about a MOBA coming to mobile, I always kind of fret a bit, because while I know that the genre can work as a fun game on mobile, as one that's successful? I just always doubt it, because the games just don't make a lot of money. MOBAs are such a tricky genre, too – they're very complex games in terms of rules to where you can't just change one little thing in order to make the game work – there's a reason why most of these games have just one map. And since half-hour long mobile game sessions are untenable for most folks, there's really no reason to believe that the genre could work. But what I saw of Call of Champions makes me believe that if any game has a shot at being not just fun, but also successful – it might as well be this game.

Essentially, the game sessions are set to be five minutes long, with the win conditions being either to destroy the enemy base, capture more towers, or to get more kills if the tower count is tied when the five minute timer is up. The map has just two lanes, with the center containing powerups and a healing area. Each lane has a ball that can be pushed by standing near it, which goes faster if there's more folks there to push it. When it's at a tower, then the tower can be attacked, but of course it will attack the players going after it, so caution must be exercised.

From the matches I got to see and play, base capturing will be rare, only a symptom of an outmatched team. But because towers and kills count so much in this 3-v-3 game, each one feels like a monumental achievement. There's the elements of MOBA strategy, the pushing and the going for other lanes when necessary, the sacrifices in order to gain towers, but all in a super-fast game. I imagine enthusiasts will complain about the compromises, like no minions and nothing to buy during the matches, but what you have here is a game where the action starts almost instantaneously, and you get five minutes of high-intensity action to plow through.

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The game also seems super-accessible, because when you can spend just five minutes playing a match with a particular character type, it goes a long way toward feeling like, hey, maybe I can experiment instead of sticking with what I know because I have to put in such a huge time investment. Characters have permanent skill tweaks they can get, but there's ideally no pay-to-win at all here, just faster unlocks, and there's several dozen characters planned. That's still really anathema to how mobile players spend, but this game is so accessible that maybe it can be done.

And the tech behind the game is impressive. At one point, there were three of us playing a match together against presumably a team of bots, all 3 of us in the same area but communicating via a Clear 4G wi-fi hotspot, which is much slower than LTE, and in a busy hotel lobby. No issues whatsoever. Oh, and one of the devices was an Android tablet, with two iPads along as well, playing and interacting like it was no big deal. Spacetime's cross-platform technology remains impressive. Oh, and if you drop out of a game for whatever reason, a bot will pick right up for you, and you can rejoin that game as soon as you get internet back. It's impressive and solves one of the big problems of players dropping out on flaky wi-fi and cellular connections. The spectator mode, which was demoed in the hands-on video, was absurdly impressive in terms of its functionality, making it possible to watch a match from any angle. I don't know if the eSports angle will take off with this game, but they're ready for it.

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I'm definitely interested to see how fun this game is after a few hours, and with the actual online community that starts to show up as the game soft launches and goes global in the next few months. Will it be a success? I don't know. But as a game that I want to play? I can't wait to get my hands on this one again. If you're around SXSW, try to play this one.

  • sivad

    So space time is going to go all in with this and arcane legends correct? I remember seeing they were cutting ties on all others ?

    • Primoz

      Yup.

      • Spacetime

        Well, nope. We have stopped updating 5 of our games, but they are all still running. Battle Command and Arcane Legends still receive regular updates.

      • sivad

        Gotcha, thanks .

  • Primoz

    Just gonna leave this here again...

    Please, don't support this company. They do nothing but clone games (and then clone those cloned games), and change the payment model so it's more and more pay to win with every game. They abandon their old games; not because there is no player base, but because they simply stop updating them (which of course leads to fewer players playing). It's apparently more profitable for them to simply make a new game with a "better" F2P model than keep working on existing games.

    TLDR:
    Don't give money to this company, they don't care about the players and simply abandon their games

    • Spacetime

      Hi Primoz, you have apparently felt the need to post this in several places, so I'll reply. You are incorrect in your assessments. Pocket Legends was as original as it comes. We experimented with augmenting and reskinning it and reached the apex with Arcane Legends, which remains our most popular game. Our Battle games are, admittedly, utilizing a tried-and-true formula. For us it was a science project, a way to understand those mechanics, nothing more. Call of Champions is a brand new and highly innovative game, there is nothing like it on mobile or PC. Also, the payment model will not have any pay-to-win elements. As to "abandoning" our old games, we no longer update several of them, but all of them are still running. You can play them to your heart's content, without paying a dime. There are many games I wish were still running (Ultima Online, anyone?), but all games have a lifecycle. To be clear, we have not abandoned any of our games, we are just focusing our development resources on the ones that are most profitable. Because, ultimately, we are a business. If we did not do this, there would be no Spacetime games to play, because we would be out of business. Thanks.

      • Primoz

        Alright then.

      • Rip73

        Well said.
        And kudos for simply standing up and giving your side in this imagined battle players seem to think they are in with developers.
        Whatever way things turn out, I can't but support exactly what you said there.
        And thanks for giving us the true side of the story.

      • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

        This is why you guys are so great. Well said.

      • Don-Linda Matthews

        I use to play your first couple MMO's Pocket Legends and Star Legends but quit because you would release on Android long before iOS. I don't see anything wrong with it for you business but I only play on iOS and really didn't want to start way behind. If this comes out the same time between Android and iOS I will give it a try. I would love a good Moba for iOS that only takes 5 minutes to play.

    • Anova

      You left this comment on a game that is clearly original and trying new things, and is obviously not just a clone. Chill out, imaginary internet person.

  • http://adamsimmersive.com Adams Immersive

    Finding 20 minutes or 2 hours to play Vainglory on my iPad has been no more difficult for me then finding time on a desktop or console. And having never tried a mouse-based MOBA, I can't imagine rapid clicking being as natural as rapid tapping! Glad to see more MOBAs on the way, and short sessions sounds like a nice twist on the formula.

    • Ultima12

      I play on both pc and iPad. One of the reasons I feel touch works better than a mouse is the fact that sometimes I will be involved in a hectic team fight and I'll loose track of where my pointer is. That doesn't happen when it's your finger, obviously.

      • http://adamsimmersive.com Adams Immersive

        I lose my finger very rarely. But when it happens, it's terrifying!

      • Ultima12

        Lol

  • Ultima12

    Hmmm. I wasn't very interested in this game before but this article may have changed my mind. I love Mobas in general so I'm sure I'll give this a shot either way.

    • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

      I want to like MOBAs but find the barrier to entry (time, grinding) pretty intimidating. This looks great and I will watch for it.

  • Feisty

    When will this game be available on our devices ?