General War Robots

War Robots Wall Street: Pixo’s Deals and the Competitive Landscape

If you've been waiting for an article filled with Gekkos, your wait is officially over...

In 1990, in the wake of insider trading scandals that rocked Wall Street, the weekly news magazine Newsweek opined on its cover, Is Greed Dead?

Absent the context of the era, it probably seems an odd question to ask, but it was a reference to one of the most famous (perhaps infamous) movie monologues of its decade in 1987’s Wall Street. In its most memorable scene, corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) proclaims, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” Truncated to “greed is good,” it became something of a cultural sign post for the spirit of 80’s America.

It is hard to deny the recognition of a fundamental truth in the statement, if you divorce it from the excesses it came to symbolize. Businesses are not charities. The objective of business is to perpetuate itself and prosper through the acquisition of revenue. To sell goods and services that are desirable and that can provide an income greater than outflow.

Although businesses often get pilloried for being “greedy,” the fact of the matter is that this system has provided (most of) us with a certain standard of living. (To those regarded as beneficiaries of this, that’s certainly “good.” Mileage for others may vary.)

In other words, if we want to keep playing War Robots, Pixonic must continue to be able to do business. But as the Newsweek cover referenced, it’s not hard in a capitalist system to have “too much of a good thing,” either. All businesses must find the balance that charts the right course for their goals.

One time-honored way to do that is through discount marketing, and War Robots players have recently become acquainted with this to a degree unlike anything the game has offered before.

HEDR

With the most recent update, Pixonic introduced turned up the volume of one of its marketing strategies. Most of us are familiar with the “new player incentive” offers that come at the start of the game. A lump of Silver and 30 days of Gold, or a Pinata Gepard for $4.99. These have been around awhile.

But now, Pixonic has greatly broadened the pool of available deals as all sorts of new offers are appearing ingame. Each offer is limited, both in time available as well as number of times it could be acquired, putting a hard cap on how deep any player can go on an individual deal. This presumably would allow Pixonic the latitude to offer the occasional deep discount without fear of tanking the economy.

Predictably, the usual and customary Greek Chorus of Cynicism has emerged from pockets of the community. These sales represent cash grabs. The playerbase is being exploited. They’re a sure sign of desperation. The company is floundering to stabilize the financial haemorrhage they’re suffering from players leaving the game over the matchmaker rollout. And so on.

I don’t have access to Pixonic’s books to evaluate these claims… but what I do have is my own iPhone. Let’s take a stroll and do some evaluating.

DRAT
My Singing Monsters

A superbly well-designed and unique game that revolves around making music, MSM has a constant stream of “limited-time” offers in its storefront. As with many games, these aren’t unique to spending real money (RM), but rather offer you a shortcut to something you could potentially acquire ingame. There are also frequent “sales” offering items at a discount.

Verdict: 2GEK

Two Gekkos. Everything the game sells is attainable for free with persistence (and a little luck). This tends to be a better type of revenue model, so that players can pony up for shortcuts but still have all content in the game reasonably available to them. Some of the prices of rarer monsters runs a bit high, but rare monsters aren’t functionally different than their common versions, meaning it’s all about cosmetics instead of gameplay (a positive).

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Eternium: Mage and Minions

This is a polished Diablo clone that makes up in entertaining dialogue and irreverence for what it lacks in innovation. The commercial aspect of the game is fairly linear: buy currency with RM or grind it in-game, then spend it on upgrades, but note the glowing item in the third row. There is always at least one sale item on offer, and the game also offers discounted upgrade packs early in the game for rookies to boost up their power.

Verdict: 1GEK

One Gekko. As with many games, you have the option to use ingame currency (Gold, Gems) to speed up your upgrades and unlock certain additional conveniences (more companions, extra abilities, greater storage), but the rate of return from grinding tends to put you on a solid path. There’s very little incentive to spend much real money here, as all you can buy are the premium Gems. Indeed, the devs even tacked on a very humble appeal. “Eternium is made with passion by a small band of old school RPG fans. Your support allows us to go on. Thank you.”

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Shadowverse (1/2)
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Shadowverse (2/2)

Unlike many, I’m not really a fan of anime art in my games, but the core CCG element of Shadowverse stands up. Note the “daily deal” in the first image, and the capped quantity buying in the second. As with any CCG-style game, there’s no real limit on how deep you can go if you want to build up a collection.

Verdict: 1GEK

One Gekko. You get a ton of gameplay for free in the single-player mode, and it takes awhile before you begin to feel like you’ll need to get better cards to progress. I played a ton of this game  for a few weeks on less than twenty bucks, and their preconstructed decks (in the second image) are surprisingly good.

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Dungeon Boss

Limited quantity? Check. Limited-time offer? Also check. I haven’t played this game in forever, but it uses the much-maligned “energy” mechanic to oh-so-helpfully limit your game time (unless you spend more, natch).

Verdict: 2GEK

Two Gekkos, loud and proud. In addition to the “energy” mechanic, it also uses a random “treasure chest” system (called “portals”), which is essentially a virtual scratch-off lottery system. Finally, it completes the trifecta of greed by fostering a sort of “gotta catch ’em all” mentality with regards to its assortment of heroes. You can still play it a lot for a little, but just like casinos that don’t put clocks on their walls, you can feel the manipulation.

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Warhammer 40K: Freeblade (1/2)
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Warhammer 40K: Freeblade (2/2)

Bulk discounts galore! Also, a rotating inventory of different bundles and packages. For the bargain price of just $40, you too can offer up blood for the blood god!*

*skulls for the skull throne sold separately

Verdict: 2GEK

It’s always interesting to contrast the pricing models of these games. For many, they only sell you a couple things, “gold” or “crystals” or whatever currency they want to flog, but you can buy huge bundles of them. You feel like you’re getting a ton of value.

Then there are games like War Robots, or Freeblade here, where buying a new mech or hero can cost you as much or more as an entirely new game. Value being subjective, it’s not always easy to gauge if the prices are worth it, but Freeblade has both PVE and PVP options. With War Robots being entirely PVP, it’s a different spectrum.

But what better way to show your allegiance to Chaos than to wantonly dip into next month’s rent to fund your tribute?

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Elder Sign: Omens

I’m including this one for contrast. It’s pretty clear this is a game company dabbling in the mobile market, rather than a mobile company, because it offers its wares in the traditional manner without an incentive-based purchasing model. Plus, look what you get for the price- Fantasy Flight clearly isn’t looking to milk a cash cow here.

Verdict: halfGEK

A half-Gekko, and well deserved. Good on you, Fantasy Flight!

DRAT
Magic the Gathering: Puzzle Quest

Bulk discounts, sales, limited offerings, artificial urgency… this matching puzzler checks off all the boxes.

Verdict: 2GEK

The double-Gek! The game deserves some praise for giving you new packs of cards at regular intervals several times a day, but these are “basic boosters” that don’t offer a lot of value. If you want the good stuff, you’re going to have to either grind or spend.

HEDR

So clearly, if the contents of my phone will suffice as a “representative sample,” then it seems clear that we War Robots players have been a bit spoiled. Commerce is front and center in so many of these games, many of which employ psychological tactics and manipulation to induce spending.

Imagine you could only play five games of War Robots before running out of “war points,” with a new “war point” regenerating in your account every 90 minutes (unless we “replenish” our energy through premium currency).

Or that each bot had an “epic version” you could “unlock” through ages of grinding and luck (or an open wallet) which maybe had a tiny buff to speed or maximum HP.

If we’re going to sit in judgment of Pixonic, it behooves us to consider not only what Pixonic is doing to get our money, but also what it isn’t doing.

All the same, we can only kick the ball that’s in front of us, so next time we’ll be breaking down Pixonic’s raft of new deals on the Gekko scale, seeing which ones pass muster and which ones would make even ol’ Gordon blush.

9 comments on “War Robots Wall Street: Pixo’s Deals and the Competitive Landscape

  1. Sandsnake

    145usd for a single butch. Ahem…

    Like

  2. John Bennett

    The last freemium game I played was “Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.” A “whale” there easily spends $500+ per month. Compared to that, I’d say Pix only gets 1 EA.

    They are wildly over-valuing WSP in relation to the “real” premium currency. The current deal for example:
    Aphid $6.99
    Zeus $9.99
    Ancile $9.99
    Hydra $44.99 (!!!!)

    *I wouldn’t recommend actually playing SWGOH by the way, it’s an addiction, not a game.

    Like

  3. Jacob Welliver

    I don’t min supporting pixo. To be honest, on this last Bday, I spent 160$. Yes, my wife thinks I’m nuts and asked what’s wrong with me. At the same time my hangar changed. I was able to pull all the gunslingers, 4 gareths, 2 galahads etc etc etc. For myself it was worth it. I work hard and do very little for myself. For the most part everything goes to the kids, spouse, bills and house. I love this game and wanted a shot at getting better bots. Now that I have them and have been playing for a while seeing some of these “deals”….well most are ridiculous. Two magnums for 50$? How is this a deal? And who would buy it? These are aimed at, I believe, the new guy who has yet to get his wsp up and running. I don’t mind deals. I do mind being given a fools offer.

    Like

    • I don’t mind spending on mobile games. The platform is great for me. Being a husband and father I don’t spend any time on console or PC games, so I’d like to see mobile game platform continue to develope.
      But, I’d also like to see more updates from Pix that they don’t make money on, like new maps and game modes. This keeps me interested when the grind for silver gets old.
      The deals are for new players and that’s great, but let’s give the older players that have spent dollars already a little attention.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Greed is Good: Are Pixo’s New Deals Worth it? (Part 2) – Gepard Diary

  5. Pingback: War Robots Wall Street: About those WSP Deals… – Gepard Diary

  6. Alexander Xue

    I just realised recently that game compagnies need funding to keep the PvP servers up, so I’m much more favorable to buying in-game stuff now. I think that special deals are a great idea, but a overflow of them, like in the current situation, may topple the economy down. I also noticed that the Workshop equipements are over priced… 2 Magnums for 100$ hahaha WTH! The funniest thing about the WsP things “sales”, is that a lvl20+ player can just buy Au with the money and get more WsP value than if he bought the sale package. My intelligence feels insulted. But other than that, WR is a pretty fun game and I’d expect an Editor’s Choice on Apple Store if PXNC added something spectacular. Like in-game chat and teammate Hull Point bar.

    Like

  7. Pingback: War Robots Wall Street: Postscript – Gepard Diary

  8. Been playing for years and and the game is just getting greedy. I do spend $10 every month for premium since Silver is still needed but earn my gold the slow way 🙂 Influence is ridiculously priced e.g. current WildWest bots (Jesse – 3,500 IP, Doc – 7,000 IP, Butch – 14,000 IP) and you “earn” a whopping 15 IP by bugging the crap out of 5 face book friends DAILY! It would only take 233 days or almost 8 months to earn enough IP to get a Jesse! Or you can just buy IP for a .85 exchange rate in GOLD. That means Jesse would ONLY cost you OVER 4,000 gold! I was lucky enough to win Jesse in the last chest event but seriously would never spend 4,000 gold on a light robot. If you wanted Doc it’s bugging your FB friends daily for 466 days or or about 15 months or fork over 8,000 GOLD! Butch bug 5 of your friends DAILY for over 2.5 years or fork over 16,000 GOLD!

    Yes I understand you get more IP for completing all the “challenges” they offer which is few and far in between but I’ll stick with the regular Silver and Gold bots or just quit all together costing Pix a lot more money in the long run.

    Like

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