In 2007, a sequel to Wall Street, eventually named Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps entered pre-production. Actor Michael Douglas was keen to return to the role of Gordon Gekko, which had won him an Academy Award for Best Actor, but the original director, Oliver Stone, gave it a hard pass.
Douglas himself kept trying persuade Stone to reconsider, but Stone was having none of it. Not, that is, until the stock market crash of 2008. The original in 1987 was always meant to be a topical film, and now the issue of corporate greed was topical once again. Stone relented, and the sequel debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2010.
Original star Daryl Hannah- whose performance Stone had not liked in the first film- did not return, but Charlie Sheen did agree to a cameo reprisal of his character, Bud Fox. The film mainly centered around Gordon Gekko, his daughter, and her husband played by this now very well-known celebrity, and was considered a success at the box office.
Just like Money Never Sleeps, today’s article is a sequel to the original. If you haven’t read it, it might be a good idea to do so, for I look at other mobile games I have on my phone currently, and how they look to generate revenue. My fundamental conclusion is this: many War Robots players have no idea how good they’ve got it.
That does not, however, give carte-blanche to Pixonic, and today we’ll be reviewing a few of the earliest deals that have appeared ingame on our three-point “Gekko Greed Scale.” Not all deals are created equal, and as we’ll see there’s a huge gulf in quality and value.
Before we start looking at the individual deals, let’s lay some groundwork so we have a common frame of reference.
Our first table today- and yes, this is a numbers piece- is a breakdown of Gold purchasing. The color bar is just a visual reminder of deal efficiency. The Gold and $ fields are what you see when you click on the “Buy Gold” tab ingame.
Gold per $ is how much Au you get for each dollar spent. Naturally, this improves as you spend more- a “bulk discount.” $ per Gold just flips the division, showing you the real money value of a single Au purchased in each bundle. If that looks confusing, don’t worry- you deal with this sort of thing all the time and barely even think about it, whenever you make change for a dollar.
The important takeaway is this: at its least efficient, one Au unit is worth one penny. When you complete a task for 30 Au ingame, you just got “paid” thirty cents. When Pixonic gives you 200 Au for doing a video review for the test server, you just got “paid” two bucks. Whether you think that’s a lot or a little is beside the point. What’s important is that we get comfortable with the idea of Au and real money (RM) interchangeability. As you’ve certainly caught on, I’m using the American dollar (USD) as my standard of reference. If your ingame offers come up for a different currency, some of the details I’m presenting may not be as pertinent, but the conclusions should be about the same.
Okay, now comes the wall of math. Helmets on, people!
Okay, this one’s a little trickier because you can’t flat-out simply buy Silver with RM. If you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket, and you want to use it to top off your Silver storehouse, you first have to buy Gold with the money, then use the Gold to purchase Silver, right?
Don’t judge me, we all do it sooner or later.
So Silver and Gold are taken from the “Buy Silver” tab ingame. Again, the less you spend at once, the worse the deal is.
Next we run a pair of very simple equations, Silver per Gold and Gold per Silver, to highlight how much we’re getting on a per-unit basis. We all intuitively can observe that there’s a bulk discount, but this helps us quantify just how much of a discount Pixonic’s giving us. According to the table, a single unit of Gold can get us 2000 Silver at the low end- and just over 2700 at the high end. That’s a pretty substantial difference.
Now here’s where it might get a little funky. Remember how I mentioned above that we can’t buy Silver outright, but need to buy Gold first, and then use the Gold to buy the Silver? Well, that gets even trickier when we realize we have to take into account the rate which we paid for the Gold, because it’s dynamic rather than static. If you buy your Gold at $5 a time, you’re going to spend more RM for the same amount of Silver than the guy who just swipes the credit card for $100 in Gold.
That’s where $ Best and $ Worst come in. $ Best is how much each Silver package costs you when you’re buying at peak discount. $ Worst is if you’re scraping it together on $5 chunks. Again, the difference is worth the effort. If you’re buying Gold by $100 lots, the 50m Silver package only costs you $132. Do it in $5 Gold buy increments, and the same 50m Silver will set you back $185. With both ends of the spectrum covered, there’s not a lot of value in covering the middle ranges, so I’ll be ignoring that data going forward (it’s mainly there for reference).
Aside 1: I say “only,” but a lot of folks have very limited disposable income when it comes to utter luxuries like this. No-one should feel bad if they simply can’t- or won’t- make that sort of financial commitment to a game. When I say things like “only” or “just,” they’re not value judgments on you, but rather simple relative statements reflecting the disparity between most- and least-efficient paths.
Aside 2: Note the nice, tidy numbers in $ Worst row. Occurrences like this are something of a Rosetta Stone for getting some insight on how Pixonic develops the game.
The last two data rows, Silver per $ Best and Silver per $ Worst expound on the previous derivations. Basically, how much Silver does a buck buy you? We need to have a way to convert different currencies back and forth to be able to parse what’s coming next: the offers.
As before, we’ll be using the patented Gekko scale to rate each deal. One Gekko is a very good deal, and it’s in the interests of the consumer to evaluate it. Two Gekkos are “average,” operating in the interests of the consumer and the company at about the same rate. And the dreaded three-Gekko rating means it’s a deal best avoided, because the company has skewed the balance in favor of their revenue at the expense of serving the consumer.
The Breakdown: For three bucks, you get a pair of ranged rocketry systems. The default level of both systems is 5, so you’re getting them as they’d be right off the shelf. The listed price break is 25%, which is probably a good candidate for “deal tipping point” for a lot of these.
Buying these ingame costs 725,000 Ag. Going back to our table above, we find that the cheapest you can get Silver (which, again, involves buying the most Gold at once, then buying the most Silver at once) is 378,378.38 Ag per dollar. Doing the simple division (725000 / 378378.38) means that under ideal circumstances, we could actually get this deal even more cheaply than the sale price. Like, $1.92 cheaply.
Then let’s go back to the table and do the same for the worst Silver exchange rate of 200,000 Ag per dollar (which, again, involves buying the least Gold at once, then buying the least Silver at once).
Sale Price: $2.99
Best Actual: $1.92
Worst Actual: $3.62
Our best ingame price skunks the sale price, but that’s not entirely unexpected (or unreasonable). Remember, to get the deepest discount, you have to spend a minimum of $200 on resources, since buying $100 of Gold only give you 14,000 Au, and you need 18,500 Au to buy the best-priced Silver. There’s no reason Pixonic needs to keep up with that price. Besides, people buying in that kind of bulk aren’t likely the kind to be incentivized by a sale of this magnitude.
What does make me curious is where Pixonic is getting their MSRP from. If this pair of weapons really did cost $4 to buy at ordinary prices, that would mean they’d be priced at 800,000 Ag for the pair. But they don’t. The unfortunate consequence of this is that it reduces the actual discount from a healthy 25% to a much leaner 10%.
I’m giving this one two Gekkos. One for the deal itself, and the other for the misleading discount value.
The Breakdown: A lump of Gold for cash, about as simple as it gets.
MSRP: $1.99 / $10.99 / $99.99
Sale Price: $0.99 / $7.99 / $74.99
Best Actual: $1.43 / $10.71 / $100
Worst Actual: $2.00 / $15.00 / $140.00
One Gekko, this is a great value for the consumer. If your faith in Pixonic’s accountancy took a ding with the funky pricings of the weapons package, this should go a long way to buffing that out. These sale prices easily clear the hurdle of both the MSRP and Best Actual.
Indeed, note the curious pricing of the middle package, which Pixonic assigns an MSRP just a fuzz higher than Best Actual. This isn’t a bad thing, but between this and the MSRP of the Pins/Tulumbas it does seem like some attention to detail posted missing on this assignment. But that’s an afterthought, this is a deal I hope to see in regular rotation going forward.
I’m now actually kicking myself for not nabbing the 14,000 Au deal, and it it returns again, I very likely will. There are always uses for Gold in this game, and with new bots and weapons on the horizon, it’s sure to come in handy.
The Breakdown: Newly relevant thanks to the 2.9 weapons buffs, this is a nice, simple and nearly painless transaction- at least on the surface. A Pinata comes off the shelf for 290,000 Ag and starts at level 5.
Sale Price: $1.99
Best Actual: $0.77
Worst Actual: $1.45
Whoa, what’s going on here? Even buying these the “old-fashioned way” as inefficiently as possible, you still realize a discount of over 25% off the sale price. Remember, 1 Au is- at its poorest rate of exchange- essentially an analogue of a penny. 500,000 Ag sells all day, every day in the shop for 250 Au, or $2.50. Now we’re expected to accept that a weapon that costs 290,000 Ag costs more actual money than 500,000 Ag?
When I set out to write today’s piece, I didn’t realize I’d be needing a third to get in an analysis of all the deals. Thus, I didn’t crunch every deal before writing, but just started grabbing the images I’d saved off my phone. It could be that all of the other deals I haven’t looked at yet turn my opinion one way or the other, so consider this my “evolving opinion.”
One common criticism I’ve seen in social media is that Pixo’s deals prey on the ignorant or new to the game. I don’t agree with that assessment, but the valuation of this third deal certainly arms the critics.
To be clear, I have no reason to believe that Pixonic are playing games with the numbers here. Where there are gaps or oversights, I am very comfortable attributing that to a focus on the output (the ultimate price) and not the input (the starting numbers), but do believe this is something Pixonic will want to be more careful with for future offers.
Overall, I’m delighted to see Pixonic taking this initiative. For players disinclined to spend money, they don’t have to click on the offers tab and, at worst, have to click past a single pop-up window. Meanwhile, those interested have the opportunity to save a little dosh in things they may already be in the market for.
Again credit where due, imagine if Pixo made you have to sit through watching videos to play the game (like many other games do). This is minimally intrusive, and potentially quite beneficial.
Today’s piece featured only three of the available offers, and our concluding piece will be addressing the remainder of the ones I’ve encountered- including the extraordinary minefield that is the Workshop Point items. As we’ll see, Pixonic hasn’t exactly been sitting still.