Hurray, it’s War Robots Anniversary Event time! A time of good cheer and enjoyment of the game we all love, thanks to a rain of free Gold from above and the chance to test Lady Luck for some amazing prizes. And all of it at no additional cost, what could be better?
Why, I imagine there must be jubilation everywhere I go! Off to the Wiki Forum!
Oh… well, not to worry, let’s check out Facebook!
Oh dear…. Reddit?
Uh… surely I can find some safe haven in the clan Discord server?
If this is your first event, better get used to it. If some are to be believed, there’s no greater sign of the company’s greed than this free event. Now, to be sure, there are plenty of folks enjoying themselves, having fun with the free loot, grinding for the Anarchy Rogatka, and throwing a few bucks at the treasure chests to see what they come up with. But today, we’re not going to worry about them. They’re already happy.
Instead, we’re going to assess some of the most common or concerning complaints and conspiracies about Pixonic during this event, and see where they fall. Is Pixonic full of sinister intentions, or are they simply misunderstood?
The Claim: Pixonic is offering players an Anarchy-skinned Rogatka for completing five tasks.
The Truth: Five tasks? Try sixty. To even get to the five Rogatka tasks, you have to complete 55 preceding tasks, so getting the Rogatka is is a serious grind.
My Take: The “five tasks” misconception arose from the teaser trailer Pixonic dropped on their Facebook page on the 21st. As a teaser trailer would, this showed an abbreviated glimpse into the things that were coming for the Event. More than a few members were encouraged to see a Rogatka that seemed a very doable challenge.
In reality, it’s a bit of bait and switch, since “five tasks” sounds a lot easier than sixty. But anyone who’s ever played an MMO surely knows how a single quest can take you ten different places. The King tells you to recover a stolen magic chalice from the Goblin’s lair. You fight your way through the Goblins, only to find that the Goblet is a fake, swapped out by Norbuster the Menacing in the dead of night. D’oh, off to Norbuster’s Tower it is! But upon arriving, Norbuster’s dead, and the Goblet is gone! Inhuman tracks lead to the treeline, and then… well, you get the idea.
War Robots, as a game, lacks the narrative resources to hide “extended quests” the way so many other games can, so in that sense they’re only employing an industry standard. And besides, it’s not all-or-nothing. Rather, there’s a bunch of actually good prizes you can pick up along the way, such as a Magnum or Taran.
And in fairness to Pixonic, they dropped an “Anniversary Event Guide” video six days later that held little back. It was clear that this was a “chain quest,” and that the Rogatka would take a significantly deeper time investment than initially assumed. And by now many players are far enough in they have figured it out.
I’m personally delighted to see Pixonic break out of the fairly mundane formula of previous events and try something new. And if they shoot a little high out of fear of flooding the market with free bots, that’s not difficult to understand. Besides, a Rogatka is 2500Au; expectations that they’d be falling from your phone right into your lap are certainly unrealistic.
The Claim: Pixonic gives a false impression of how much people are winning by highlighting fake “winners”
The Truth: This one gets discussed on the forum every event. Let’s start with the fact that at least some of the winners are legitimate. We’ve had members of the community confirm winning/being featured, so if Pixo is “fluffing” the appearance to incentivize participation, it’s not a fabrication spun from whole cloth.
The concern that’s been raised before is that folks who have lost internet connection while playing or are not connected have reported still seeing the scroll of names. While some have seized on that as proof that the flashing names are unconnected to actually winning, Occam’s razor tells us that it’s simply more likely that the names get loaded in batches during periods of connectivity. This approach does dispel the assumption that the notifications are of winners in real time.
My Take: Much ado about nothing. They’re clearly there to generate hype and hope, and Pixonic is well within good faith to try and get people excited about a bonus event. We’re far more likely to hear from the person who felt they got “sucked in” to a lottery and lost than the one who got sucked in and walked away better for it. And while there are certainly less of the latter than the former, people are winning.
When I owned my comic and game store, we’d do loads of planning for estimated prize payouts based on projected attendance so we wouldn’t be giving too much away. Because we were giving out actual physical things rather than digital ones (which are effectively unlimited with zero cost), our margin of error was tighter, but it’s difficult to believe Pixo doesn’t have sufficient data to generate an approximate estimation of awards based on historical participation of a game that recently trumpeted 40m downloads. A game that has a million players a day worldwide playing it.
In other words, it’s unlikely they’re faking it, because they don’t have to fake it.
The Claim: In an effort to get you to spend, Pixonic makes the progress bar fill up quickly at first, then slow down the closer you get to your goal.
The Truth: The community appeared to verify this in the last event, appears to be present in the current event
My Take: There’s honest manipulation, and then there’s dishonest manipulation. Honest manipulation sounds sinister, but if you pass a billboard or listen to the radio or watch broadcast television, you’re exposed to it every day. Commercials! All commercials are is an attempt to manipulate your behavior towards a certain end, and while we may find them unpleasant, we generally don’t see them as unethical.
Dishonest manipulation would be, say, an ad promising that Faygo cures herps. That’s a blatant example, but advertising regulatory bodies are always on the hunt for even untruthful suggestions. Look on a bottle of products like Airborne, and you’ll see it spelled out in black and white that it is a “dietary supplement” and “not clinically proven to do jack diddle.” They certainly didn’t put those there voluntarily.
So, back to War Robots, we’ve got a progress bar showing how close you are to a superchest, and the rate it fills up is not consistent. It’s a good-faith assumption that if I buy one chest and it fills up X, if I buy ten chests then it fills up 10X. In no way is it made clear otherwise, which makes this particular practice sneaky and- in my estimation- dishonest manipulation. It’s trying to impel a choice that a person in full possession of the facts would not necessarily make through an illusion.
So what’s the difference between this and the five-task Rogatka? Aren’t they the same? I don’t see it that way, because the five-task Rogatka impression comes from an actual game screenshot. Does it suggest only five tasks? Sure, but the truth becomes evident the moment you begin, and you’re not spending Gold to participate in the Rogatka quest chain. In other words, you realize almost immediately that the Rog is further away than you might have thought. With the superchest bar, you might not realize it for quite awhile- if ever.
The Claim: the prize wheel you spin when opening a chest often will show you “juuuust missing” a premium prize like a Fury, usually landing instead on a much less-desirable prize. This conveys the image of a narrow miss, and that if you only play again you might just get a little luckier!
The Truth: Yup, anecdotally confirmed by a substantial number of players, myself included.
My Take: This one’s something of a grey area for me. It’s a pretty common tactic to make people want to press their luck, but it’s not the full-on bullshit of the superchest bar. Common sense dictates that the odds of winning a premium prize are low. Statistics tells us that your odds of winning an eleventh coin flip after losing ten in a row are still 50/50. If this is a trap, it’s like the bear trap in the cartoons that they camouflage by laying a single leaf overtop of it. Unlike the superchest, there’s no implied success on the next spin. Still, it’s deliberately misleading. No thanks.
The Claim: The chests are a sucker’s bet. Pixonic is trying to fleece its playerbase out of its resources.
The Truth: Gold chests offer a +20% expected value (EV), meaning that you’ll realize on average 1,200Au worth of return off of every 1,000Au spent. And that’s before factoring in the “free money” in the superchests.
My Take: Pixonic has been slagged in past events for chests that were, indeed, felt to be a sucker’s bet. That might have been true previously, but there seems to be a substantial portion of the community who feel this event is a noticeable improvement. I covered this in a post the other day, where I established that the chests appear to offer +EV. That’s hardly a sucker’s bet, though getting a superchest seems to make a big difference overall as well.
The Claim: Pixonic uses sockpuppet accounts on War Robots communities to spread propaganda
The Truth: Uhhh…
My take: If I’d heard this a week ago, I’d have rolled my eyes and moved on with my evening. But a member of my clan leveled the accusation, so I thought I’d go check it out for myself. According to him, a couple of obvious shill accounts were working a popular War Robots Discord server, acting essentially as hype men for the chests.
Now, I’ve heard this before and always dismissed it, so I was deeply skeptical when I headed over to look for myself. And here’s a sampling of what I found from one specific account.
Here was this guy who was in there much of the day, acting like Flavva Flav for treasure chests. Believe me, it bears repeating that the above is just a sample of what he was saying, and you could be forgiven for wondering if the guy worked on commission.
The more I read, the creepier it felt. A couple things in particular stood out, like the repeated comments that if folks didn’t “hurry,” Pixonic might make the event less lucrative. That seems a strange concern to have, and sounded for all the world like it was instilling a sense of artificial urgency.
Then the “68% chance of getting something for less or equal value.” I was probably reading into it too much, but by that point the whole exchange just felt off. “Who lumps together losing and breaking even?” I wondered to myself. It sounded like a sales rep, not a fellow gamer.
I have no idea what to make of it. The rabbit hole isn’t all that deep, either- this member registered there only somewhat recently. And- interestingly- during a previous Event.
The Claim: The Wild Bunch bots are exorbitantly priced.
The Truth: They’re certainly not cheap, topping out an an unprecedented 14,000Au
My Take: Covered this week, but worth reiterating. We play a luxury game. Luxury games cater to people who consume luxury, and some have higher rates of disposable income than others. There’s certainly a value to be placed on the feeling of owning something that’s difficult for others to come by, and that people are willing to pay multiples more- even for a comparable product- has been well-demonstrated.
By the standards of luxury goods pricing- and there’s as much science as there is art to it- the Butch isn’t even all that egregiously priced, being less than three times the cost of a the top-end “common-market” bots, like the Lancelot and Fury. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not saying I love these prices, but I have paid them.
The good news here is that the Jesse, Doc, and Butch are all narrow-niche bots that were so underwhelming on release that Pixonic had to actually buff them later. And even still, they’re not crushing the metagame. Aphid Jesse is too squishy, Tulumbas Doc is respectable but hardly overwhelming, Hydra Doc takes a lot of skill. Trebuchet Butch seems to be on the radar of some, but four Trebs is quite an investment in itself.
It would be a very different issue of the bots were overpowered, which would lend justification to any accusations of “pay to play.” But the Wild Bunch are leagues from that class, and that was certainly a good decision from Pixonic.
In the end, there is no compelling gameplay reason that necessitates possessing them, and so for that reason frustrations about their lack of general availability fall more into the Pokemon-style “gotta catch em all” collectorism than any real competitive advantage.
So long as there’s no disadvantage for not getting them….
The intention of this piece was not to minimize the concerns of the community, but I think when we assess grievance we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t at least try to parse what the cause of the complaint is. Not all complaints are equal, and I hope if nothing else I’ve highlighted some of that distinction.
Awhile back, Pixonic noted the lack of transparency between themselves and their player base as a cause of a lot of frustrations and issues. It’s telling to see how many of the concerns identified here might be ameliorated though added transparency.
- Add a note on the next event video, or make a post on Facebook explaining how the pop-up winners are generated.
- Be transparent about the progress needed to open a superchest instead of playing games with the consumers through fill-up bar shenanigans
- Stow the roulette-wheel theatrics which make the game feel rigged, and just make a legit prize wheel instead of the “almost won, try again” carnival game
- Show us the odds of winning the different prizes. Sure, we lose some mystery, but my Gold Chest post has been directly attributed by a number of players as causing them to have a go.
And as for us players, we need to give a little ground here, too.
- Don’t cynically assume the chests are “crap” when data’s been out there in your face. Do a little research instead of falling into groupthink. Anybody could have done what I did with the data before drawing a conclusion.
- Be understanding that a company needs to make money. If selling a set of bots at luxury prices helps that objective, and those bots don’t convey an unfair advantage over others who do not have them, remember that we are not entitled to have every thing in every game we play. I’ve enjoyed plenty of games thus far without having done every sidequest or gotten “preorder special” suits of armor, mounts, quests, or whatever. The question should be more, “do I enjoy what I have,” rather than “why can’t I have everything?”
But really, at the end of the day, it’s a free event. Let’s have some fun and blow some Reds up, eh?