Pay-to-win is a flawed concept, overused by critics of free-to-play games. It's true that to reach the top levels of many free-to-play games, you'll have to spend money. But these games are hardly a direct correlation between money spent and top players. And where do you draw the line for someone spending money on a hobby they enjoy, which is what many of these games provide?

Pay-to-win itself is a misnomer; it's more of a pay-to-play-at-high-levels factor. Clash Royale is a good example of people frightened of pay-to-win in theory. You do have to amass larger and larger quantities of cards to upgrade them to be more powerful, and to earn more XP toward getting higher-power crown towers. In theory, could someone spend a ton of money to buy their way to the top echelon? Sure. They could trounce their way through the lower levels with massively-upgraded decks and deliver the wrecking hammer to all that oppose them. That is possible, it's a feature of free-to-play games.

But like many things in life that are possible in some extreme scenario, the reality is far different. To "pay-to-win" in Clash Royale would cost immense amounts of money to buy a deck outright that would trounce everyone. We'll ignore the tournament mode restrictions here. There's few people with the money – and fewer with the desire – to buy hundreds of magical chests to create those super-decks. And the player base already is pretty large that you're likely not running into the kinds of people who are out to wreck you just as a matter of course to get into the higher ranks. The overwhelming majority of matches are with people of similar skill and power.

And even those people who do pay to get to the top ranks? They might not know how to actually play the game well. Someone who has the proper skill and practice to use the cards they've earned well enough to win are always going to have the advantage. In Clash Royale in particular, you can gain certain advantages with your cash. But even leveled up cards will give you only slight edges. There's not a card that can insta-win. Everything can be countered, and anything too powerful will be tweaked to be more fair at some point.

This is true of pretty much any other competitive free-to-play game. CCGs in particular: you can buy the cards that get you an amazing competitive deck, but if you don't know how to play the game well, then you will get trounced. Sure, you can get up to Town Hall 11 in Clash of Clans [Free] but you won't necessarily have the resources or support to help your base and clan be the best. Even something like Candy Crush Saga [Free] is getting tackled by people who otherwise aren't gamers who aren't spending.

The reality is that it's more of a "pay-to-compete" system. And that's kind of true of anything. Emily Greer, CEO of Kongregate, puts this well in presentations she does talking about free-to-play monetization. She talks about the profile of a big spender in a free-to-play game, and reveals that she's talking about her figure skating habit. The prestige is that any hobby has its expenses, whether it be figure skating or free-to-play games. Hobbies are often something you can do with a low entry cost, but a dedicated person that wants to get good at it can spend a lot to do it at a high level. And there are some people that want to get engaged in and involved with hobbies that they want to do at a high level. That doesn't diminish what more casual people are doing. And free-to-play games are just like that. People can get involved at shallow levels, but people who want to engaged at a deeper level? They'll want to buy specialized things so that they can participate at the higher level that they want to do it at.

And here's the dirty truth: even the 'good' free-to-play games do this. MOBAs that mostly t restrict the characters you have unlocked? Sure, you can enjoy them for free, but if you want to play with one hero when they're out of rotation, or want to have a cooler-looking skin? You'll want to spend money on it. And there's even secondary things that the casual user doesn't need that a person who wants to have improved will spend money on. Ever spent money on a gaming mouse, a fight stick, or mechanical keyboard? Or a better-looking monitor or sound system? That's all borne from the exact same desire that free-to-play whales spend their money on: the desire to buy things that will make their experience better. All that free-to-play developers figured out was how to make that spending by the dedicated players go toward them.

To be fair, I can understand how free-to-play and many of the pushier games can be annoying. I am sympathetic to the annoyances of downloading a cool new game and seeing how it wants to make money in an annoying way. Some social RPGs can be cool, but yeah, seeing that there might be a 6-star thing to get that's difficult to obtain can be a bit discouraging at the start. And a lot of uncreative, conservative decisions have come out of the woodwork for game releases and game design. It's hard to imagine that some of these studios want to make Clash of Clans clones, but investors might just keep saying "Hey, that game is popular, make that!" At least with CCGs, it's possible to make significant variations to build something different than Magic the Gathering or Hearthstone [Free]. Or maybe the Clash clone developers need to do more to stand out from their opposition.


To be honest, would the ideal reality be one where games can be enjoyed for free and people who pay only get cosmetic advantages? Sure. But the problem is that human nature has pretty much determined that when people don't have to pay for free-to-play games, they won't. Even MOBAs with character unlocks are hardly 'optional', just fair with them. The games that get away with 100% optional models get away with low overhead and massive download numbers. Mediocre, developers of Smash Hit [Free], are one such example, and they are a tiny outfit.

But even at its worst excesses, pay-to-win ain't so bad. Sure, it looks bad if you're someone who's always been able to afford buying enough games to keep you satisfied. But not everyone has been that way. There's plenty of poor people even in first-world countries that now have access to cool games and what their friends are playing. And there's people in less-wealthy countries that now have access to gaming and culture because they don't have to pay up front. Maybe these games are making money off of high-ranking players, but that's still a significant minority of these player bases. And I still don't think that the number of paid games in the style of what people once wanted is in any danger of going away. After all, we are in the age of part-time game developers. There's still so many games and countless numbers of games for anyone who wants to enjoy them.
Photo Feb 18, 9 56 14 AM

While there are some stories of addiction and fraudulent purchases, I think any hobby can lead to fraud and poor financial decisions. At a certain point, you can't fix stupid. And I think that calling any successful game pay-to-win belittles the tastes of people. Popular stuff doesn't necessarily tend to be the absolute best (see music) but most people want something accessible with hidden depth. And I think that many of the successful free-to-play games out there do that the best. I know Clash Royale does that particularly well, and it's gonna win over some skeptics. To be honest, the top-grossing gambling games leave me uneasy because it feels like it's dealing with something that can be actually addictive and without the payouts that come from real-world gambling. Even then, it's possible for adults to enjoy gambling responsibly, and hey – we all don't live in Vegas.

Maybe you don't like this future, but I think the people who complain about pay-to-win need some perspective about just what they're complaining about. The reality of free-to-play in competitive contexts is far more benign and in touch with reality than the complainers talk about. And even if you hate any game with optional purchases, there's still a ton of paid games without IAP out there. Maybe if you want this market to excel, you'll just have to invest some money into furthering your cause. Gee, why does that concept sound familiar?

  • cabuckn

    I support this article.

    • Tallgeese

      How? It fluctuates so quickly between the "concept that Pay2Win is flawed" (meaning inextricably that Pay2Win hate-uhz be cray), and that all IAP are now fair because that's what's happening, also instead of sticking to talking about one game you flit back and forth between several like they were equatable (Candy Crush for example, is ad supported and I don't think it's there's a head-to-head mode, ergo that's a whole 'nother shipfest). It also diminishes the concept of pay-2-win [as bad] because 'there's a weak correlation that people who pay actually win' (I'm paraphrasing something that doesn't correlate with reality).
      .In any game that requires skill bringing in an outside source to artificially inflate that skill is by definition "cheating." My hobby is video games and I like video games that up front tell me how much it's going to be for me to play their game. I don't want to keep inserting tokens to keep up with others in the BASE GAME. I'll buy DLC and cosmetic items, but me beating someone because I "played" more times at the casino is a hollow victory for everyone except the casino owner (and gambling addiction isn't the same as simply bad financial decision-makers (the key word here is "decision" and also of importance is the word "addict"), just like alcoholics aren't simply bad life decision-makers (or "deciderers"), I'm not even going to address the thing you said after that, Ron White.).
      .A better example would be doping. I think we can all agree why doping is bad (I'm also looking at you, nano-augmentation).
      .Buying new things for your computer is fine, you can use those things for practically ANY game you play. Adding additional programs to your computer that give you an edge in a specific game are not and usually the devs have to do something about that.
      . If the game is really fun to play it can survive Pay2Win but it also diminishes that fun whenever you come up against someone who can invest more than you (unless you enjoy rolling over). Video games are meant often as an escape, constantly passing around the tip jar (mandatory (as in P2W) or otherwise) or stopping me for an ad is a slap in the face and as a monetization concept is flawed.

      • gmattergames

        Showing my age here: I used to be amazed at Arcade game high-score lists, always wondering: "how the F did they get a score that high?", but never thinking to ask: "how many tokens did they pay to get that score?" My point: PtW is nothing new, whether it's Pac-Man or Clash of Clones.

      • Tallgeese

        So that would be true if additional tries didn't mean additional attempts to hone one's skill. In today's F2P games, instead of additional tries/lives, you get additional resources like stronger cards/warriors/abilities or additional resources that are statistically unavailable without purchase to your direct opponents. It's no longer a skill game. Thus pay to win. That's an interesting addition to this topic though... I would also point out that many of today's competitive F2P games have no endgame or ultimate win scenario. There's no final boss or stage. You can't beat Clash of Clans, Game of Fire, etc., Candy Crush is unending, even the new Street Fighter has no story/arcade mode.

      • Tallgeese

        My fault tho, "inserting tokens" sounded cool to me at the time, but it's confusing because it distorts how IAPs actually work...

      • Jim Mason

        Totally different. You are showing your age, but not in the way you think. You haven't really played any of these new games, and that is pretty obvious.

        In the older games you're speaking of, skill was the most important factor. You could spend $50 in quarters and still stink at the end. Most of those folks with the high scores were just more skilled players, and likely didn't spend anywhere near what you imagine in your mind.

        In today's P2W games, skill is not relevant. It takes a back seat to spending. No matter your strategy or skill level, if you do not pay money, you will lose 100% of the time to someone who does. Period.

        It is an extremely interesting psychological manipulation by these companies, one grounded in social reward. These people gain "respect" from players on their server, on their social network, whatever for their current level's and accomplishments, the majority of which are bought. In truth, it plays on the same mechanisms that we are all familiar with in another aspect of life: "Keeping up with the Joneses".

        Their targets are folks extremely susceptible to this manipulation, and in most cases it is somewhere near a half percent of players which bring in 70% of a games income. They spend ludicrous sums, sometimes in the tens of thousands, to keep their status in these games.

        It is a horribly unethical and morally bankrupt business model, and it is one that will likely be regulated over time.

        On the bright side, it does have the potential to do a little wealth redistribution. Some of the newer games do intelligent scaling with their "boosts" package pricing. Essentially, if you wait a day or two you can receive the same package for $10 that impatience will get you for $100. Obviously those to whom money is not an issue will be spending far more over time than those who are more frugal.

        At the end of the day however, it is as insidious as a drug dealer giving you a free sample the first few visits and then once he's got you, starting to charge. That's all these "free to play" games are. The free first couple of levels are the sample, and once they hook you in, they fleece you. Period.

      • Edwin Ramirez

        Your comment is so much better and grounded in reality than this article. TA should be hiring you as a writer.

      • Tallgeese

        Haha, thanks very much! What the writers do here is a harder than what I do, as it's a lot easier for me to respond to someone else's writing than it is for me to make an article (I'm finding), but I really do appreciate the encouragement. ^_^

      • Tallgeese

        *harder job

      • Autofire

        Tallgeese, you've aided the discussion well and I enjoyed your focused argument, but don't you feel that too many games that are accused of pay-to-win are actually just pay-to-support; the additional gubbins you get for paying is just a speed-up on your time investment (e.g. Hearthstone) or a nice hat or something. I think the article highlights well that this model can be a respectable way of getting paid.

        And, gmattergames, I must point out that Pac-man is NOT pay-to-win, it's pay-to-try-again (and fair do's to that).

      • Tallgeese

        Thanks for adding too! I think any game you pay for (up front, in app, by watching ads in, etc.) you support (you can also support games by talking about them, making fan art you share, even reviewing them is a form of support, if you're trying to tell them why something's not working, you're also generating "buzz," this is one of the reasons why games are sometimes given away for free).
        .Pay-to-win games exist because they are effective at monetizing games but they are also a polarizing turn-off if not done correctly. Paying for cosmetics keeps the playing field even, time speed ups are usually ok too, unless unlocking the content without paying is too much of a grind for the non-payers, then they won't stay and/or they'll gripe about it. P2W creates a monetary incentive for devs to make the game harder for non-payers. An incentive they have to fight to make the game palatable for all comers if they want to keep the game alive (much like MMOs, which lately have all been going free-to-play too, just to stay alive).
        . If a game is really fun and interesting and of substance, people will want to play it, they might even pay for it and tell their friends. The way most services go nowadays is they start free and great, then when they have enough users, their owners figure out how to monetize it (something that is very hard for an indie dev to do). Hooloo, Yootub, Tweetspace, FaceNovel, etc., all did this. The difficulty is there is so much to try out there and it's all free that the market is fighting itself to offer the coolest thing for the cheapest. And I'm way off track again...
        . Sorry, not a Hearthstone player, but here's what I know of CCGs (Customizable Card Games). Most have always had an element of Pay to Win. You wouldn't want to play Magic/Pokemon/Star Wars/LOTRO/YuGiOh cards with someone who could afford to buy packs and collect ALL of the good cards and could pick from any of them, you'd want to play against people in a similar "pay ranking" as yourself. We kind of like the paying element of CCGs though because there's some excitement of opening your pack and seeing what there is and doing the best with what you have (a gambler's high married with the tactical challenge). Card City Nights does this without making you pay anything but admission, but the high is reduced because you don't actually pay real money for it, (it's also not multiplayer).
        .CCGs, perhaps because of my history with them, feel like they are the best to weather the term Pay-2-Win because they don't really lie about it, and hopefully keep the odds fair about getting some of the best cards. I have read some horror stories of people plunking down a lot of cash, very quickly, to get some of the choicer cards though (gambler's fallacy and possibly remorse).
        .I used to play a card battler I really liked called Ayakashi, the art was awesome, the story events they had were pretty good and funny for a game (it would've made a decent anime), it was more like a half card-battler, half-monster upgrader game (something I don't like, but that's how you get rid of your low-level cards so they don't feel like a total waste), half-visual novel, half-me not good with fractions. I got good at the battles but I really stayed for the story. They also allowed you to grind for some pretty powerful cards and also so you could finish the story. If you were a free to play person, that allowed you to battle payers and felt fair.
        .It's no longer playable but you can see all the cool art on a pretty crazy wiki that the fans made (it's cray because it has a lot of the mythological backstory and stuff for many of the characters), the game probably eventually fell to not being able to retain clients because they were trying out clash of clans and such. I left because as a free-to-player the grind was destroying my ability to sleep.
        . tl;dr, P2W is a slippery slope for players and devs to climb, it's not my faves but I see why it exists (the market keeps changing the "how do you make money off of something digital" game because of inside and outside market forces), and it's a subjective label, to some it's a just new pricing style to others it's insidious. I prefer my games telling me up front how much they're going to be and what I'm getting for it, but for a CCG that's not always possible.

      • Tallgeese

        Repasting the last part because it looks like I ran out of space:
        .I used to play a card battler I really liked called Ayakashi, the art was awesome, the story events they had were pretty good and funny for a game (it would've made a decent anime), it was more like a half card-battler, half-monster upgrader game (something I don't like, but that's how you get rid of your low-level cards so they don't feel like a total waste), half-visual novel, half-me not good with fractions. I got good at the battles but I really stayed for the story. They also allowed you to grind for some pretty powerful cards and also so you could finish the story. If you were a free to play person, that allowed you to battle payers and felt fair.
        .It's no longer playable but you can see all the cool art on a pretty crazy wiki that the fans made (it's cray because it has a lot of the mythological backstory and stuff for many of the characters), the game probably eventually fell to not being able to retain clients because they were trying out clash of clans and such. I left because as a free-to-player the grind was destroying my ability to sleep.
        . tl;dr, P2W is a slippery slope for players and devs to climb, it's not my faves but I see why it exists (the market keeps changing the "how do you make money off of something digital" game because of inside and outside market forces), and it's a subjective label, to some it's a just new pricing style to others it's insidious. I prefer my games telling me up front how much they're going to be and what I'm getting for it, but for a CCG that's not always possible.

  • Anova

    Yeah, think that's a fair breakdown. I don't love that you can buy power in f2p, but more and more that's just the paywall pass to play at a competitive level. Honestly it's starting to feel like a fair compromise has been reached between IAP and gameplay.

  • DavetheDave

    It's a problem at the system level... the app store can tune it by offering other reasonable paths for devs to choose, like a monthly flat which then rewards devs by time their apps were played (think Amazon Underground).

  • WP

    I've always thought it might be a cool idea if developers could implement two types of competition or leaderboards into their games - one being for those who pay to get ahead and the other for normal progression, which might help avoid conflicting feelings amongst players.

  • Talaen

    My biggest complaint with the pay 2 win model is that in many cases you have to be competitive in PVP-style content in order to get access to resources to continue to build up in other areas of the game. In that way, being an early adopter/spender not only gives a direct advantage in the PVP content, but it yields the rewards needed to continue to be competitive in the PVE and PVP, creating a potentially endless loop that no amount of skill can overcome when the numbers are so disproportionate. In an end-game setting this becomes largely normalized, but the situation can make getting to end game a lesson in futility and frustration - which is the point by which I delete a game.

    Games that leverage ongoing ranking brackets, seasons, or comparable make this a bit easier to bear as they realign elements of their base into competitive groups, but many of the less sophisticated games (and most of your hero-unit-collecting games) do not account for this in their design or execution.

    • Modjular

      I'd argue that those types of "collecting" social RPG's are just fine because they give paying players a feeling of superiority. They definitely have a place. However, I agree that almost all of them fail to make the experience of the players equal. Which is where Royale comes in nicely.

  • Earth Vs. Me

    I've never spent money on an f2p game. You get no sense of accomplishment when you buy apower up to help you through. It's a hollow victory. And that's just the main reason I'm against f2p. I could go on.

    • David Cupples

      All mechanics are essentially hollow. Would you rather grind for hours gathering some random resource until you "unlock" a power up? All games make you spend a resource. Traditional games make you spend "time" while f2p games ask you to spend "money".

      time = money

      If you prefer to spend time then what you are really saying is that your time is not worth very much.

      If a game makes you grind for 2 hours to unlock a powerup or you can just buy the unlock for $2.99 then you need to decide how much 2 hours of your time is worth. Is it really worth less than $2.99?

      • Earth Vs. Me

        You actually just described why I never play games with paywalls. I stick to games without IAPs because those tend to be balanced in the player's favor, and have a good gameplay progression.

        Weighing time against money is the last thing I want to do when I sit down and play a video game. And with f2p or "pay to win" games, you're faced with a choice of hate-playing the game until you've scraped enough resources to continue, or spending money to circumvent the tedious, shallow bulk of the game, and being left with that empty feeling that you copped out. For me, f2p is a no win scenario.

      • Tallgeese

        Haha, well put, and I like the term "hate-playing." Also I do prefer games where I earn things, that probably also explains my love of FPS and Metroidvanias...

      • RinoaHeartily

        Believe me there are a lot of whiners of the ptw who consider grinding for 2 hours is actually a skill.

      • Tallgeese

        Do you mean farmers?

      • Edwin Ramirez

        why grind at all? Grinds are just fillers for lack of content. And paywalls are barriers for hollow victories.

    • Modjular

      You could argue that some people enjoy being able but power-ups. It really is subjective. But that type of consumable ftp model isn't anything like what carter is discussing.

  • Mr_ C_

    While I respect where you are coming from, I think you are blinded by the modern gaming paradigm. Your job is to report on modern mobile gaming, and that genre is overrun by Free-to-play games. I do appreciate your job, and this site, and I genuinely understand the resulting perspective that you would have.

    But it's NOT ideal. Clash Royale may eventually have a tournament mode and allow players to compete on skill alone (friendly games have this now, but that's pretty meaningless). The game gets away with its greedy model because it's actually a ton of fun regardless. But there are "top players" and we get to see their matches - and anyone who knows the game and sees that these top players have level 8+ epics should immediately have a jaw-drop reaction. These players must have spent THOUSANDS to buy enough epics, chests and unlocks to get the 200 cards necessary to upgrade a L7 epic to L8. That's insanity. It would take YEARS for a free player to get to that same status. The best free players would never get a chance to be #1 in the world, even if they were in fact the best player in the world by skill.

    You dismiss MOBAs, but League of Legends is probably the best example of a Free-to-Play game that is fair to players. The initial leveling stage gives players time to learn the game. You will easily earn enough IP to unlock some strong champions. The rest can be unlocked with patience. By the time you've thoroughly learned the game, you have also probably earned enough to get most of the unlocks you need. Of course, you can speed it up with money, but money will never help you win a match.

    People do spend money on their hobbies, and sometimes they spend a lot. But the value you get from IAPs is terrible. I remember game I briefly played called KingsRoad. It was a decent action RPG but it was constantly barraging me with ads to buy IAPs. And they weren't just a couple of $, either. Many of them were $20, $30, $50 even $99... For $99 I could get some in-game unlocks, epics, etc... When you consider the two AAA games I could buy on Steam for the same price, it becomes evident just how little I'd be getting for $99. It was even greedier than that, though. Half of the loot within the levels was in chests and you have to pay real money - as much as $5 - to unlock a single chest! So, you've earned some loot - want it ?? That'll be $5. What a disgrace!

    Ultimately I deleted the game after a couple of weeks because I was tired of having to close multiple windows each time I logged on about things I could spend real money on.

    Clash of Clans provides a more positive model, which is perhaps one of the reasons for its runaway success. You can get a really good start into the game (or, in fact, play forever) without ever spending any money. Content is released slowly enough that players who spend a lot of time on the game can stay pretty close to players who open their wallets, especially given reasonable skill. Clan Wars match clans against similarly equipped clans, and spending money won't help you at all. You can spend money at your leisure to "oil the machine" and keep your base upgrading at a brisk pace or to have some profitable 1-hour raiding sessions, but you don't have to go all out and spend thousands to be near the top if you're dedicated and good. IAPs are never advertised, never pushed on you, and just sit there in the background for when you want them.

    Contrast that to Clash Royale where the paywall stops you from playing more or better to get things faster with the ridiculous chest-unlock fee. You CANNOT level up your deck faster by playing more. Or better. What is the point of gaming, then? I will keep playing it because it's ridiculously fun, and I've even dropped $20 to get my deck off the ground, but they won't get another penny out of me unless they create a new game mode where SKILL MATTERS MORE THAN $$$ SPENT!

    These game companies are trying to get people to spend real money on completely fictional items. While it's not all terrible, it is in NO WAY trying to set up a level play field where players can compete on skill. It's the opposite of what we, as gamers, should be demanding from these companies.

    • chanandler

      Yep I think you pretty much summed up my thoughts on the matter too. I play these games too and am always annoyed that I will never be able to compete at the top levels unless I drop piles of cash into them.

      Galaxy Heroes is my current F2P game of choice where I have played religiously every day for three months and only have one 7 star character with level 9 gear, not even the top level gear as well! One. I need 6 lol to compete properly and have a chance.

  • jin choung

    "The reality is that it's more of a "pay-to-compete" system. And that's kind of true of anything." --- no it's not. you buy starcraft and you can compete without any further purchase. i've said it before, i'll say it again, in traditional gaming you play the game. in f2p systems, the games play you. the games are not primarily designed to be a good game, they are primarily designed to bilk you for money constantly. you may not have a problem with that but don't retcon the entire field to justify it. it's the difference between a genuine girlfriend and a hooker - the hooker's primary purpose is to get paid and whatever pleasure you get out of it is more or less incidental.

    • Andrew Fretz

      You just haven't met the right hooker

      • jin choung

        ahhhh... dare to dream.

      • Tallgeese

        "'Call girl!'"
        "No, Cyril, when they're dead they're just 'hookers!'"
        .Also, don't fall for it, Jin! Fretz'll leave you the second he gets your money!!! But then a few plays later he'll reappear asking you for more, cuz he's, "in deep this time and he needs some cash, baby!!!" And then a few plays later it's, "just one last score for old times sake!" And then that's when you buy the farm. BAM! Only 2 days from retirement!

  • Adams Immersive

    I'm not sure what terminology is best, but there is a distinction between paying for cosmetic stuff alone, vs paying for levels/content, vs paying for actual game abilities/strength in a way that affects other players who have been grinding the same amount you have.

    • Tallgeese

      Pay4See, DLC, Pay2Win.

      • Tallgeese

        Yes, I did just invent the P4C term AND I THINKz IT'Z BRILLIANNNNTTTTTTT!!! (I don't mean to toot my own horn but this may be my only meaningful contribution to society here...)

    • Phenomen

      Vainglory is competitive F2P game done right. Cash Royale (pun intended) is not.

  • Serenityinaz12

    You know, the endless articles Touch Arcade posts about how mobile is the end of consoles and the future of gaming is annoying, but this one truly takes the cake. Thanks though guys, you finally gave me a good enough reason to stop coming to this site. An entire article to try and rationalize and defend the garbage practices of mobile gaming and why the entire gaming world outside of the people on this site ignore it and look at it as a cancer. Wonder how much EA bribed you guys with to post something like this. There is a reason there are no youtubers with any amount of subscribers who focus on mobile. There is a reason no major gaming sites do. There is a reason no one does mobile on twitch. Because it's utter shit because of the exact thing you're trying to endorse in the article

    • Tallgeese

      When you die they fetter your soul to the forums. So, see you in a 9 days, 6 hours, and 53 seconds, I guess...

      • Tallgeese

        For reelz tho, I get whatcha mean! Use your time wisely! Oh, and as a personal favor to me, please don't die around the time I said because then it's going look like I had something to do with it. In fact it would probably be best for me if you were to not to die at all. I hate paperwork.

      • Tallgeese

        Live, dammit! LIVE!!!

  • Maelwolf

    The thing about Clash Royale is that you need to get and stay in higher arenas to be able to obtain new, and sometimes better cards. It's not like most collectable card-type games, such as Hearthstone, in which everyone has a chance at every card, and some people simply can increase those chances. Thus Coash Royale can actually lock some players out from getting varying ranges of cards. If they don't get lucky with their draws or pay money, they may never be able to make it to higher arenas regardless of their skill. Even the card levelling mechanic plays against free players, and vastly favours those that plunk down the cash for a notice advantage.

    Clash is a fun game, but trying to claim it isn't pay 2 win seems silly. Sure it works in the short term, but the game is relatively new. The huge flaws in its pay model will become more and more apparent the longer it is out.

    • Tallgeese

      But what is time really (puts briefcase on counter)? I mean that's fun to think about, right (hurriedly begins filling it with cash)? If it had a taste it would probably taste like snozzberries (closes case and quickly flees out the door)!

  • JudasKain

    This article says nothing about how f2p games (especially and more specifically competitive ones) practice psychological warfare on gamers to belittle their achievements and promise greater rewards on the opening of a wallet. And let's not even get into the shady practices of questionable drop rates/chances for success to gain desired outcome/item/card/whatever.

    The argument on how much you gamble/play to have fun or be competitive is largely dependent on the player, whitewashes and hides the despicable designs set inside games to make you feel "less than" paying customers and throw you into the gambling cycle- A despicable practice.

    But even more troubling is that a kongregate speaker was cited to forward this whitewashing agenda that p2w ain't so bad. If TA would desire a more credible and balanced opinion on the matter, then it would be only fair to cite actual studies on f2p/p2w elements instead of quoting p2w-mongers like kongregate and everything else on personal opinion.

    I believe the TA audience all want something "more" out of the general garbage in the AppStore. We rely on TA to shine a light on the gems under the refuse pile and talk about things we actually care about. The grounds used to defend the article's general position is rather insulting to the readers.

    • JudasKain

      Is it impossible to set paragraphs on posts? Sigh..

      • Tallgeese

        I do it like this (return)
        . (period, probably any allowable symbol will do)
        . (period + next paragraph)
        apparently, usual spacing attempts will show up properly on the actual website but when using the app it no worky like dat...

        oh and it looks like this.
        . so ya, it's not ideal... Also sometimes it won't keep your comments, so copy and paste might be good...

      • JudasKain

        I'm not sure if you're trolling me here but that is way too much work for a paragraph so I wouldn't even try. Attempted copy paste but didn't work... Your posts are insightful and always entertaining. No sarcasm there.

      • JudasKain

        Face palmed myself when I actually saw your paragraph Hahahaha! Needed that.

      • Tallgeese

        Haha, thanks! ^_^ I thought your comment was great (I can't seem to do the +1/upvote thing tho)! Obvi, long comments sometimes get glazed over though when they are walls of text (has happened to mine as I've been told and I have been guilty of :[] and unfortunately TA can't update that app so...). Copy and paste is just in case you lose your comment after posting it due to the sometimes overzealous thread-protecting spambot.

  • Ty-Ty2020

    This is why in my opinion Vainglory is the best done free to play game. You can access EVERYTHING in the game without a cent. And if you pay, it's not like it helps you in any way. It just makes you look cool or get heroes faster.

    • Tallgeese

      Impossible! The game would make no money and the company would fold immediately!

      • JudasKain

        Your scathing humor cracks me up! Hahaha

      • Tallgeese


      • Ty-Ty2020

        You are probably my fav person on TA. You always crack me up.

      • Tallgeese

        ^_______-________^ haha thankszyouztoo! Compared to the people of Dtoid my comments are normal, but they don't talk about mobile games, so here it's like I'm a foreigner @_-_@

      • Eli Hodapp

        You smell like Kraft Mac and Cheese. Delicious.

      • Tallgeese

        Not like Top Ramen and human sadness? SUCCESS!!!

      • Tallgeese

        Also the smell repels velociraptors so I can temporarily move about the island freely if I'm careful...

  • DemoEvolved

    I think the argument that we will never know the best natural player of Clash Royale because that player is probably never going to spend the $$$ to have high level epics is very interesting.

  • Montanx HS

    I do find it amusing that while I have paid games on my device, I largely ignore them for new f2p addictions and hamster wheel grind fests routinely. Iv grown out of the "any game that's f2p is p2w and sucks." phase and moved on to acceptance and conformity. Im way out of the "what? Online only? This game sucks!" phase as well. It's simply how most games are. People love to say "I want to play games that are all skill!" Oh do you? Go casually play street fighter 5, a game that is 100% skill, the better player wins...and tell me how fun that is for you. Your not a ninja and won't be the best. If a game is all skill you will be fodder for Asian prodigys and basement dwellers and cry about it. I don't mind f2p if the gameplay is addicting and fun. If I like a game I'll put some money into it.

  • baldeagle86

    I was in a beta for one of those squad hero battle games. They gave us free IAP to use, so I "spent" enough and pulled a few hundred times until I was able to have a maxed out, fully starred, highest tier ranked team. Want to know how much money I "spent"? Ten thousand plus, maybe twenty. I would press the $139 option dozens of times, pull a few, repeat. This took up an entire evening, maybe 3-4 hours of straight spending/pulling gacha. Like you said, it's not like anyone is even going to pay the amounts it would take to "win". Loved the article, I'm curious what you think of the VIP systems in most of those squad games? They reward you with better incentives the more IAP you buy, I have yet to invest in one but it seems like an interesting concept. Basically short term subscriptions to a F2P game, until you check out and move on to the next one. Cheers!

  • Mike Walko

    My main issue with iap is the return on investment. I'm no stranger to real life 'iap' as I've been a magic player for over 20 years. I've paid a hundred dollars for a single card before. I've spent thousands of dollars on the game over the year.

    But to me, the difference is value and ownership. When I spend $4 on a pack of cards, I get 15 cards. Most of these mobile games, a 'pack' is one card, for $4~$5. Not until hearthstone did a 'pack' open up to 5 cards, whooo.

    Next, I can do what I want with my magic cards. Get some good cards I don't need from a pack, I can trade them, or sell them. Mobile games handcuff you to your cards.

    Lastly, there's consistency in their 'random.' When I get a pack of magic cars, I know i'm getting 11 commons, 2 uncommons and 1 rare. Most of these mobile games, it's always random. I've probably used 100's of glory keys in gems of war, and never seen a legendary drop.

    On a side note, I feel like her ice skating hobby is a false comparison to pay-to-win. Most of these pay to win games are pitting you against other players. Skating in your spare time doesn't inspire the same level of competition as fighting against someone else.

  • Aaron Seaberry

    No no NO do NOT justify P2W in any way. It's nothing but wrong to offer ANY mechanical advantage only to players who can pay for it.

    It's become a cancerous trend where F2P devs constantly throw new, more powerful content at the wall like sugar water to draw players in like flies, *instead of focusing on polish and sound function*.