War Robots

Pixonic and the Crisis of Credibility

What value is trust between a company and its consumers? Pixonic is finding out...

This past Summer, Pixonic pulled the sheet off of a project that caught the War Robots community almost completely by surprise. Turns out they’d been quietly working on a virtual reality version of the game. War Robots: the Skirmish put you, the player behind the cockpit of one of the mechs of the well-established mobile PVP game, and while it was of a brief duration, it certainly suggested what lay in store for the future of the franchise.

Our goals with this project have defined its scope. We see it as the first intro chapter to the whole War Robots VR installation. With this being our first take on VR ever, we didn’t go for a long full-blown game. Instead, we opted for kind of a short playable teaser. -A. Mostovoy, “War Robots VR- Yes, it’s for Real

By whatever internal metrics Pixonic uses to make these determinations, The Skirmish teaser was adjudged to be a smash hit. “We keep reading your feedback,” Pixonic posted on the game’s Steam page, “and honestly we’re floored. None of us expected the response to be that astounding. After such reception and so many ‘full game when?’ threads we thought: maybe we should actually turn The Skirmish into a full-blown game?”

For those in the community who wondered why Pixonic felt the need to crowdfund the game rather than directly produce it, Pixonic had an answer for that too.

After many years working on the mobile version of War Robots, we’re basically putting ourselves to the test. We’ve even formed an independent studio in the company to build War Robots VR based on different values.

Compared to the mobile industry, expectations are different for PC and especially VR titles. After The Skirmish, an experiment we brought to life as an independent team, we are confident that we can make the transition to a full-fledged game for bigger platforms.

Now, to get greenlit and deliver War Robots VR, our team has to prove that a project like this is something people truly want to see released. This is where we need your support most.

And so on November 13th, Pixonic launched the Kickstarter for their first foray into a “full-fledged game” backed by a number of exciting reward levels for donors. Those wanting the full picture can check out the page, but by most any yardstick it’s a fairly ripe offering lush with incentives not only for the VR game, but for the mobile one as well. New, custom backer skins for robots. Premium gear like Inquisitors, Dashes, Tempests, Shocktrains, Embers, Scourges. Piles of ingame Gold and Premium. For the big spender, there’s even the option to create their own unique skin for a bot. I mean, what do you give the gamer who’s got everything, right?

But even at its most basic, it’s a terrific value. The $25 “Sergeant” level doesn’t just get you a copy of the game, but you also get 500Au and 30 days Premium in the mobile game. Deduct the value of those, and Pixonic is essentially pre-selling War Robots VR for ten bucks.

Given all this, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the Kickstarter is taking off like a rocket. A reasonable buy-in for the game. Loads of goodies at a wide variety of pledge levels. A great-looking first-person experience from a terrific property. And- not least- an existing daily user base of 1.5 million souls. Talk about a product that can move itself!

You wouldn’t be surprised…but in fact, the data offers a different conclusion.

BY THE NUMBERS

At time of writing, in ten days the Kickstarter has raked in $16,697 from 191 backers, with only 20 days to go. It’s worth noting here that Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing policy, meaning that if Pixonic doesn’t secure its funding goal of $130,000 by the end of the campaign, the money is refunded back to the backers.

What this means is that the campaign is 33% done, but has only secured 12.84% of its funding target. If nothing changes, they will barely be one-third funded at the close, and this campaign will fail. Now in fairness, like an eBay auction much of the activity can happen as the campaign goes into the home stretch. Not only that, but VR is not yet a mainstream technological platform, though buried in the campaign page is the assurance that you can play the game in a regular, non-VR mode.

In the positives department, one might reasonably conclude that Pixonic’s package of incentives is well-put-together, as the average backing per donor is $87.42, well in excess of the “basic level” of $25. But all in all, it’s the conversion rate that seems the most alarming. Out of an active consumer base of 1.5m people per day worldwide, less than two hundred have signed on one-third of the way through?

How can this be?

Given that we’re on the outside looking in rather than at the boardroom table, we can only surmise and deduce. But it’s a bit of a conundrum, isn’t it? As mentioned above, there are some technical reasons that might keep some folks away, namely those who don’t have any access to (or possibly interest in) VR games. The fact that there will be a non-VR mode isn’t highlighted well on the page.

But with the lowest package set at only twenty-five bucks, which includes $15 worth of goodies for the mobile game…

Sometimes when you rule out the what, all that’s left is the who. When Pixonic proudly unveiled the Kickstarter on their Facebook page, it’s probably fair to say that the reception fell a touch short of their hopes.

PixoGriev
Tell us how you really feel…

There’s a longstanding adage in business that states, “it takes months to find a customer, but only seconds to lose one.” The underlying message is that a business cannot take their customers for granted, unless they simply aren’t interested in retaining them. At the very heart of this is the concept of credibility. Defective products can be replaced, poor service can be made up for, but if a company loses the trust of its customers, then that can be the hardest fence to mend.

There are two ways to assess credibility. The first is, does a company do what it says? This one’s pretty straightforward to measure. You look at the promises a company makes, then look at their track record of follow-through and fulfillment. You can always underpromise and overdeliver, but do the opposite and you will erode the trust of your consumers.

The other is, does a company mean what it says? This one can be a little tricker, because as consumers we work with imperfect information. We’re not present in the boardroom, so we have to rely upon what the company wants to share with us regarding aims, ambitions- and ethics.

It’s important to distinguish how these two overlap, as well as how they don’t. Consider the following cartoon from The New Yorker.

NY1

Sometimes what a company says it will do isn’t in the consumer’s best interests. We’ll be diving more into that aspect of the game in our next piece, but today we just want to look at word and deed. The is, not the should.

What’s in a Phrase?

Let’s start with one of the more sardonic catchphrases in the community.

Fans of Blizzard’s stable of games will almost certainly be familiar with a meme whose origin likely predated 1994’s Warcraft: Orcs & Humans by at least a decade. Encapsulating the perfect intersection of sarcastic cynicism and weary resignation, “soon ™” is a common response to any question of timelines for new features, bug fixes, or anything else that isn’t right-this-very-minute.

SoonTM

While soon(tm) hasn’t taken hold in the War Robots community, thanks to Pixonic we do have a local equivalent:

SoonTM

“We hear you.” So how did a statement intended to be an encouraging affirmation become a much-derided mantra of perceived obliviousness? How did we arrive at a place where even the comments section on a simple Facebook charity plea becomes a lightning rod for invective and aggrievement?

In short, how did something like this happen:

SoonTM
Moscow, we have a problem…

To understand Pixonic’s current situation, we need only to go back to the start of this year. As we’ll see, Pixonic’s fall from grace didn’t simply happen overnight in a massive breach of trust, but rather was steadily eroded over the course of time.

Oh, you…

Before the implementation of the current matchmaker system, pairing in War Robots was hangar-based, with unofficial “tiers” of Bronze, Silver, and Gold being determined by the levels of your bots and weapons. Because gamers are- by their nature- min/maxers, it didn’t take long for many to find the lines and abuse them. Low-level Gepards with high-level Magnums became emblematic of the practice of “seal clubbing,” and the War Robots community was in distress (albeit a distress that seems positively quaint compared to the present).

To fix this, Pixonic elected to use the opportunity to implement a root-and-branch overhaul rather than fine-tune the pairing system. And in a piece posted at the end of January on their official site, Pixonic explained that there were three primary objectives guiding the change.

  • Transparency
  • Better balancing
  • Better rewards

It’s important to remember that comparatively speaking, these were still the Halcyon days of Pixo’s credibility. Statements like, “you may expect some wonky matches in the upcoming week or two, but it all should settle down once players spread across their respective skill tiers” were still (more or less) taken at face value.

But one week became two. Two weeks became four, and still for many, the matchmaker was a complete mess. Despite promises of transparency, Pixonic could offer few assurances to calm the community. “Better balancing” was a complete canard, as horror stories of shambolic mismatches abounded on community outlets. And the rewards were a mere pittance, offering little incentive for players to upgear and upleague.

Cynicism began to proliferate. Perhaps this wasn’t a game enhancement after all, the mutterings went, but rather an attempt to force players into upgrade cycles rather than letting them play at the same level to their heart’s content.

In hindsight, a strong case could be made that this was perhaps less cynicism and more foresight, but Pixonic continued to enjoy the benefit of the doubt. By April, with little sign of resolution or abatement, Pixonic was in damage-control mode. They called for a community summit to give voice time to a number of the game’s more influential or prominent voices, and on 25 April the two-hour conference call (which I was part of) highlighted the near-unanimity of the community’s frustrations.

We heard you was the subtext of the next official article on the War Robots site, where Pixonic conceded the following points.

  1. The matchmaking system failed to deliver the desired transparency
  2. The new system robbed veterans of being able to effectively squad with newer players
  3. The rewards system was inadequate
  4. The league system introduced an element of “grindiness” where one did not before exist
  5. The metagame greatly narrowed in terms of build viability

In fairness, Pixonic didn’t promise fixes for everything in a matter of days. For instance, they hinted that a custom game mode was in the works and would be available in the Summer, which would address #2 above. And if it took a little longer (custom matches dropped in the Autumn), they’d try to keep us updated.

But it wasn’t enough. Many have pointed to the community roundtable as the moment when their faith that Pixonic had a genuine and sincere regard for the feelings of its players came to an end. Much was discussed, the observation went, but little was done. Not every promise would be easy to fulfill, but how hard would it be to simply double league rewards as an interim measure of good faith?

Pixonic had noted that if it went well, there might be more community roundtables forthcoming.

SoonTM.png
Narrator: There weren’t 

As Summer approached, there still remained a solid amount of goodwill for Pixonic despite the bungled matchmaker rollout and general lack of responsiveness or transparency. As many of the game’s problems could be explained away by incompetence rather than malfeasance, it wasn’t automatically seen as a full betrayal or a bankruptcy of trust.

That would come soon enough.

Rise of the Fall

The matchmaking changeover dented Pixonic’s credibility, but it it didn’t break it. I mentioned above that there are two ways to lose credibility, and these were sins of the more benign sort. Pixonic might not be doing what it said, but for many of us in the community we still felt at the time that they meant what they said. That sincerity went a long way, and “give us time to fix it” didn’t then seem too much to ask.

At the same time, the seeds were being sown for a much more rapid break of faith.

phx

The Halloween Event of 2016 had seen the introduction of the prize chest, which would be brought back for occasional Events including Christmas, the Lunar New Year, and the Third Anniversary celebration this past May.

From the outset, Pixonic employed some of the psychologically manipulative tactics mobile game developers use to bait their playerbase into increasing their spending, not unlike casinos. Sure mobile developers can’t hide clocks, build maze-like interior layouts, and offer free drinks served up by attractively-clad staff (pity, that), but there’s plenty they can do.

One example employed from the outset is the “spinner.” When opening a chest, a player is greeted with the animation of a row of prizes zipping past. As if on cue, you’d often see the prize wheel slow to a crawl, juuuuuust missing out on a premium prize like a Lancelot, and landing instead on some chump’s prize like a Noricum. Like some carnival sucker, the hope was that you’d cry out, so close! Lemme try one more time…

Meanwhile, names of winners would flash at the bottom of the screen, listing what exciting prize they’d won. Speculation was widespread as to whether or not the winners were real people or just fake names designed to stoke prize fever. Even after a few folks validated having won, skepticism remained. The writing was on the wall for Pixonic, but they plowed ahead with the monetization initiative, while core game elements went unaddressed. All the while, the faith the community once had in the company has dwindled.

Slowly, War Robots players were waking up to the feeling that they were no longer seen as a valued player community, but rather as marks to be squeezed for every last bit of disposable income. Wallets with legs. And the hits kept coming.

Dashing to Disaster

Nothing cemented the divorce more concretely for many than the way Pixonic rolled out the Dash bots. They did a commendable job whetting the appetite for the Kumiho, Haechi, and Bulgasari well before release, and the community was suitably excited by the time they arrived. And then the sticker shock hit.

With the Dashes– and the InquisitorPixonic abandoned any pretense of “boiling the frog” with more gradual price increases. With the advent of the Brit Bots in August of 2016, the pricetag of $50 seemed to be the ceiling for what a single premium bot would cost. The Wild Bunch, released a few months later, moved the needle up a bit. The Medium bot, the Doc, would cost around $50, while the heavier Butch weighed in at $100.

Any hope that the new releases would be in line with the past group of “super-premium” content went right out the window. The Dash bots- nominally Medium bots (though Pixonic has said that the weight-class system is somewhat archaic), were more than double the Butch, and you could get an entire video gaming console for what the Inquisitor was listed as.

And that’s to say nothing of the new weapons, the Tempest, the Scourge, and the Shocktrain, which individually could go for around $100. Then came the rollout of the “Mark II upgrade system,” which would let you re-upgrade your top-level gear to become 20% stronger, as well as the “component system” of accumulating bot tokens to assemble a complete “super-premium” bot.

Here’s where credibility matters most. Pixonic was introducing massive changes to the game at a greatly accelerated pace, and many of these could be called “50/50 decisions.” 50/50 as in, that there were both positives and negatives, and what the community would choose to focus on would largely be driven by their existing predisposition. And what did they choose to focus on?

Nothing good.

With a good-faith relationship, Pixonic would have had some wiggle room here, considering they stated their intentions from the outset.

We do this to ease Dash integration into the game as much as possible. This ability by itself might cause a huge shift in which robots are in favor and which aren’t, so we are giving them sort of a test run. Spreading these through Black Market initially will give us enough data to work with in terms of balancing without disrupting the gameplay too much. Thanks for your understanding and patience!

From end to end, the Dashes were emblematic of the frustrations the community had fostered. Their absurdly-high price tag was seen as clear proof not only that Pixonic put greed ahead of the community, but also that the company was pivoting to provide fan service to the high-spending “whales.” The game was in a mature state, where “whales” and long-term grinders had comparable levels of gear. That feeling of being able to spend your way into a safari-like experience of killing the local wildlife at-will was diminished as a result.

But with overpowered bots at overpowered prices, the whale community would be given another chance to feel like gods. If some of the community felt that that concern was perhaps a touch overblown, the immediate rollout of the mark II upgrade program only seemed to provide further evidence of the shift in the developers’ priorities. Once upon a time, this might have been viewed as simply granting new endgame content to a mature community, a positive, but this point was well in the rearview.

That the Dashes were themselves overpowered offered another sign of shifting priorities. The community had already piloted them plenty on the test server, and despite a number of adjustments on Pixo’s part (as part of the normal test server iterative development process), the consensus was that they were too pushed, too strong. The ability to use a second “dash” instead of one was particularly troublesome, since it gave the bots near-impunity. One could dash in, unload on an enemy, and then dash out of retributive danger before the dust had settled. One dash seemed much more balanced: you could ambush or escape- but not both.

As part of the test server process, testers are encouraged to submit feedback on their assessment. Many did. And while we don’t have access to what Pixonic sees, given Pixonic’s need to release what was effectively a disclaimer (quoted above) makes it likely that the general mood of the community was fairly representative of what Pixo was advised. “We told them they were too strong, and they released them that way anyway. Why?”

With little benefit of the doubt remaining, the answer appeared to be obvious. Pixonic would reap a windfall by selling overpowered bots to the whales. Then when either the whale market started to plateau, or the community outrage hit a tipping point (or some action-triggering combination thereof), they could point to their disclaimer as they dialed back the power of the Dashes.

Cynical? Of course it is. But that’s what happens when the reserve of consumer goodwill has run dry. Here’s another example: shortly after the release of the Dashes (and right as the “Boycott Pixonic” campaign was hitting its stride), some returning players who had been absent for awhile noticed that not only did they get a lump sum of Gold upon logging in for the first time, but they had special offers on the Dash bots for around 50% off.

While the case can be fairly made that not all players are entitled to all deals, just as I don’t expect my supermarket loyalty card to give me every possible promotion, this just added fuel to the fire. “Wait, so some guy who hasn’t played in a year gets the Dashes at half off, but those of us who play every day continue to be screwed?”

One more? Why not. Pixonic released another random generator for prizes, with a name that is either hilariously tone-deaf or a glorious example of chutzpah.

Royale
“Is it me, or is rap music just getting lazier…” 

The “Royale” is another variation on the “random goodies” design, with a catch: you’re able to influence the outcome by “removing” up to four undesirable prizes from the available prize pool before spinning the roulette wheel. And like so much Pixonic does these days, the Royale is presented as positive (moar loots!), seen as unrepentantly negative (rigged cash grab!), with a reality that likely lies somewhere in between. In that sense, we’ll hold up the Royale as a symbol of the state of the relationship between Pixonic and their community, with the sincere hope that things can improve.

The Good. 

Ultimately, the Royale is free stuff. You exclude up to four items you don’t want, then get to “spin” the roulette for a prize. The first spin costs 0Au, so if all you ever did with these was spin the free spin, then you’d be up. You might not get a lot in return, but who cares, right? ALl you had to invest was about two minutes of your time, and in a game that’s nominally free-to-play, shouldn’t we be excited at opportunities to get something for nothing? (The answer is yes.)

And if you fancy pushing your luck on a given table? The cost for the second spin is 7Au, or USD $0.07 by our standard conversion. A nickel and two pennies. The third is 21Au. Then 56Au. It does start to get to real money after awhile, but you’re getting a decent amount of ingame resources for next to nothing. What’s the problem?

The Bad

The presentation. The presentation is the problem. The game is coded to appeal to irrationality rather than reason. If it was a straightforward value proposition- pay X, get Y- that’s one thing. But it’s not.

Every item is presented as an equally-sized box, which suggests that the odds of winning each item are equal. This is a lie- they are not. Just like the chests, the greater the value of the reward, the less your odds of winning it.

It is widely held that the winnings list is fixed. In other words, you’ll win the least valuable prize first. The next-least-valuable prize second. And so on. This is actually false- I have occasionally won a “more valuable” prize ahead of a less-valuable one (and I mean value on the objective dollar sale, not a subjective “personal value” one). That indicates a fairly standard reality: just like the chests, each box has a percentage chance of “hitting,” with the best prizes having the lowest odds.

But just like the chests, the structure of the game seeks to conceal that.

The Ugly

Here’s the part that’s not popular: it’s probably a mixture of both. Yes, the Royale is free (or cheap) random winnings. Nobody is holding a gun to one’s head to keep going, and ejecting at any point is always an option.

But… on the other side of the coin, Pixonic clearly used manipulative methods to try and entice players to “roll the dice” one more time.

As someone who has literally known the value of a customer as the owner of a brick and mortar comic/gaming store, let me tell you that I would never treat my customers so disposably.

If anything, “the ugly” represents a sort of muddle, moreso than any middle ground. We see that on Pixonic’s part as well, with the new hangar system. This much-requested feature has finally landed, giving players an option for a second hangar. On the one had, the sticker price of this is $75 (7500Au), which is high but not all that unreasonable when you consider the fifth slot has always been 5000Au.

And how has Pixonic rolled this out? By giving thousands of them away.

Thousands.

Here’s the bottom line.

You don’t vastly underperform with a generous Kickstarter for a new product unless there’s a problem.

You don’t give away thousands of $75 features to the community unless you’re aware there’s a problem, and are trying to buy goodwill.

Pixonic is in a difficult position. Where do we go from here?

You tell me.

26 comments on “Pixonic and the Crisis of Credibility

  1. Oh god, this isn’t even the beginning of the end, is it? We’re smack-dab in the middle.
    Frankly I’m scared, Dredd. Not just because I love War Robots as a game, but because I’ve made purchases, and hefty ones at that. I’ve invested in a company that looks to be on the verge of collapse, and maybe I’d feel sorrier for myself if it wasn’t all my fault for not reading the writing on the wall.
    Pixonic is doomed, and maybe you’ll call that cynicism, but I think it’s just pragmatism at this point. Their greed is astonishing, and their brazen idiocy in exerting that greed, even more so. I’ll be surprised if I wake up after New Year’s Eve and don’t find myself short an app.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here, really hope that pixonic can stop baiting players to cash in. The matchmaking system is still screwed up, once got paired with 2 mkii haechis on my team, I actually felt the rage the enemy team had— we won in just over a minute by DOMINATION!
      The Royale thing and the chest are indeed bs, I once cashed some bucks and got to spin the ultimate chest, but it , along with many other chests, usually ended up giving me tempest components if they did give components as the prize. Note-tempest is quite probably the most “crappy” of the premium weapons.
      Oh, and they usually gave components in a more “equal” fashion, meaning that they would give you first haechi, then ember, them inquisitor, then scourge, and in the end, you realize that you have about the same amount of components for everything, and you are tempted to cash more to get all of them (luckily I didn’t)
      Hopefully pixonic can fix this madness. I really liked war robots as a game but now it’s pretty screwed up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just to add on, pixonic can also make components purchasable by Ag, if not, why do they give you Ag when u are discarding unwanted components?
        Maybe Pixonic can learn from Digital Legends Entertainment a skill or two in making the community happy by making even the most op stuff in the game obtainable F2P. There’s a reason why Respawnables is still standing after all these years.

        Like

    • William Sabato

      I don’t understand how War Robots continues to function given how hostile yhe community is. I am beginning to suspect that there is a rather large silent majority which isn’t as critical of the game as the hordes of Facebook users which curse the game and its developers in every comment.

      I don’t know if the new cost for component vehicles is a good sign; storm costs 13$ and hover is about 50$, which makes me think they might be making a turn for the better. The component system, while being hated significantly, seems to be far superior to the older system. It needs a little more avenues to gain components, but the dashes are accessible to all now, even if it takes forever. I am halfway to a Haechi and have been grinding for it for about 5 weeks.

      Like

  2. Pix needs to can the royale game completely. Get rid of the spinner on the crates. Publish % chance of recieving any goven item from a chest on there reddit page. The next big thing is to kill either IP and components or kill IP and WSP. If second option, then you should be able to spend silver on components like now, it’ll just be slow unless you pump it up with Au. Both options require Pix to seriously evaluate the cost of all the premium bots. Should Gepard be buffed or made available with silver? Same for Fury and the spider bots. Make the costs and attainabilty equal the value of the bot and weapon on the battlefield. Keep the Ads, they are fine. Black Market is fine, kinda take it or leave it. Daily deals, maybe a little less often. These would go a loooooong way towards stabilizing the game. Next would be a willingness to tackle the matchmaking and game play balances.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is a quality comment

      Like

    • Piter Reitsma

      Noooo!! Dont kill royale, how do I get my free premiums???

      Like

      • Ashe Sterling

        True that. Ever since Royale landed, there’s free preemium for everyone, at the point that it’s not premium anymore. That’s one of the only parts of the new spinner chest thing that makes me happy.

        Like

  3. I should not be allowed to type on my phone during a graveyard shift.
    TL:DR version-
    Get rid of all “Vegas” style animations and publish % chances of getting items from BM crates.
    Choose 3 currencies and get rid of the rest. For example: Classic- Silver, Gold and Workshop Points. All IP and Component cost Items converted to one of these three.
    Secondary Option- Silver, Gold and Components. Components will work like WSP were silver and a set amount of time will be converted to specific Item components of your choice. This can be accelerated by spending Au.

    Both Options require Pixonic to change pricing to reflect items actual effect on gameplay.

    Then fix gameplay and matchmaking.

    Like

    • William Sabato

      I think that Black Market is nice. Its free stuff. To make it cater more to players, instead of a single superchest, make 5 tiers of chest on the progress bar. Each time you open a chest, you fill the progress as before, but their isnt so much pressure to make it all the way; filling the bar 1/3 of the way will still net great prizes.
      Next, remove wsp. Instead, it gives you some rebalanced number of components every 4 hrs. When you collect the finished research, you can select which components you would like it to be for.
      Levels: Levels are useless. Why are they capped so low. Re introduce levels, and max them at 100. The only way to climb levels is to play, not to pay. Then give cool rewards at the end of each level, like 100 gold, a new vehicle, free components, etc.

      Like

  4. Ivanomicarelli

    The round table was plain and simple damage control.The “We here You “was the same.The general view is that game is in a downward turn and that they “Pixonic “are trying to squeeze every last dime before the game goes under.Giving thousands of hangars is the old too little too late adage.It is impossible from any gaming company to recover from months of bad press,mistrust and downright name calling from its own player base when the underlying problems from said base were never addressed.Now we have OP bots(dashes) mindless no skill weapons (shocktrain) and a player base that’s leaving in droves.As for the VR.Mail.ru last year posted a 17% profit.Thats where the money should come from for R&D.

    Like

  5. snakeplisken

    I could not agree more with both you Dredd77 and SGT DOOM. You too have said what needs to be said. Big big question here is will Pixo listen as I am sure you have, or at least you Dredd77 some sort of contact with pixonic, and extend the life of the game with stead cash flow and price reduction across all purchasable bots? I think not…Pixnoic is hell bend on making as much as possible praying on peoples addiction for gambling (which I don’t agree with) rigged spinning wheels if you will and whales who want the best all the time (people with money to burn and in all honesty it is their choice), investing heavily in upgrades and purchase of new bots. This company would have gone a long way if they kept their pricing model modest and affordable to all walks of life, but we know this is not the case and it never will be. Influence points are nothing but free marketing of war robots to facebook friend and I for one was not prepared to spam my friends and give pixo free advertising for next to nothing of a payment of some sort.

    Pixo needs to look at EA and their loot boxes…EA is back paddling now. Problem with this is there are no regulation to mobile gaming and mobile gambling in Russia and even harder to enforce these in countries who do have them as mail.ru operates in Russia

    First and most important is for pixo to change their frame of mind and think of longevity of the company, unless they plan to kill it in next 24-36 months or less

    Like

  6. A well observed piece, which tries hard to offer a balanced view, but can’t help show the very real shortcomings players experience. Make a mistake once and a company can be accused of incompetence. Make it many times over, across a lengthy period, and.. well lets just say the company is acutely aware of its strategy and the outcomes of its actions and willing to repeat.

    Like

  7. To me, the tipping point came with mk2 and the shocktrain roll out. With the extreme shortsightedness of how this would affect the meta and force the “middle class”, if you will, to spend is what will finally kill the game. Even the reasonable spending gamer cannot keep competitive within the game. Compound this with a match making system that promotes incredibly uneven matches to get you to spend, and the writing is on the wall. My clan alone has been decimated by the dash clubbing squads, because they’re tired of matches that last 3 minutes, fighting from the home spawn. The chum for the whales are fleeing.

    So how to fix the game? Nerf the Haechi & Bulg to 1 dash with the same cool down. Nerfing the Haechi shield and speed is not enough. Nerf the hell out of the anti team playing weapon the shocktrain. As mentioned above, remove the multiples of currency, and focus on a way to purchase new content within a reasonable price. Keep the black market style, but with more ways to remove unwanted items – like the royal, but based on removing the chance of receiving weapons and bots you already have. But most important off all, go back to weighting your hanger strength for match making., but with a caveat of league level and intergration as a fail safe for the people who would tank to farm. If they could bring back and level the competitive landscape than the need for op bots are diminished, but still enticing.

    However this all may be too late. The player base has been depleated, especially in champions league. They have to keep the whales happy, and prolonging their wait time for a match is also a non starter. With a declining player base and tactical game play being removed, I don’t see how the game corrects itself and survives. My .02, from a daily championship player with 1 dash bot, no mk2 and someone who is no longer willing to spend money on WR.

    Like

  8. A very well researched and written article Dredd.

    As a newer player (April 2016) I have come on board just in time for the degradation of a once awesome game. I have been trounced by Pay 2 Win players since the beginning and it has only gotten worse. While I’m not 100% okay being dominated by a squad of MK2 Dash bots running Shocktrains, I understand that I could be one of them if I skip a mortgage payment or two. As a reminder that I am underpowered and my kids could probably squeeze their feet into their old sneakers a little while longer, I find myself in battles with high-level Champions about 50% of the time even though I am Ranked Expert 3 (and have been stuck there for months). With two more levels of Expert and 3 levels of Master between me and Champion league, why do I often find myself in rounds with the likes of Rice Patty Daddy, Pilot Palo & Adriannnnnn? In fact, I am placed in matches with Champions far more often than with Master level players. It’s just Pixonic’s subtle way of saying, “Wouldn’t you like to trade in that old, beat up DB Griffin for a shiny new Haechi with Shocktrains? Your daughter’s braces can wait.” Similarly ranked clan mates confirm that their experience in-game is identical to mine. MatchMaking is not screwed up. It’s doing precisely what it was meant to do.

    If you understood any of that rambling text, ask me about Tankers and my thoughts on the Low Priority Queue for more.

    As for the free hangar giveaway… This is not Pixonic being nice and trying to appease its players with “free gifts”. This is Pixonic saying, “You have a solid hangar of bots and weapons that work well on many maps. Wouldn’t you like to have one hangar that does great on short range maps AND another hangar that does great on long range maps? Here’s a free 2nd hangar for you. All you need are 5 more MK2 bots and MK2 weapons to go on them. Then you’ll be unstoppable.” The 2nd hangar is a gift in the same way the first vial of crack from your local drug dealer is a gift. Smoke up!

    I’m done for now. I think I’ll grab myself a coffee, plop myself down on the couch, close my eyes and listen to my dog snore for a while. That usually puts life back into perspective.

    Cheers!

    Like

  9. In all fairness, I don’t begrudge Pixonic from trying to make money, and I don’t begrudge the whales from spending. The two things that irritate me the most is how shady Pixonic goes about doing all of this, and how poorly the matchmaker functions (I’m not even going to say it’s broken… it’s not, they just don’t care to even out the odds better), particularly when it comes to squadding. I have my share of ups and downs when I play solo, but even in a squad of gold to expert league players only, we still get matched against full champion squads, some with MK2 hangars. I don’t understand how they are making any money off of an unfair matchmaking system. If they would even just improve matchmaking, it would go a long way towards placating a lot of players.

    Like

  10. One point I think you kind of missed on. The Wild West bunch pricing wasn’t unreasonable because while expensive, they were luxury items, not prerequisites to fielding a competitive hangar. Dash bots cost even more and a required to be competitive especially in top tier play.

    Like

  11. Well written, thank you. Hopefully Pixonic fixes this mess.

    Like

  12. Pingback: Altro che Battlefront: il vero problema delle microtransazioni è su Android - Tecnologio | AppElmo - Le App di Guglielmo

  13. Pixonic simply backed the wrong horse with their “leagues” combined with their matchmaking algorithm. It created a system where it actually promotes tanking on a scale I assume is as bad or worse than the Gepard seal clubbing days(I wasn’t around for those much). And instead of dropping off the ride they have just kept whipping the horse onward in their race towards monetization.

    In fact it actually appears that Pixonic is endorsing the tanking. Especily since they’ve known of the problem since the “leagues” were implemented. And despite a lot of vague promises they have made not one millimeter of progress in all this time to alleviate the situation. Many in the playing community think this is actually a Pixonic tactic of sending out beaters into the jungle(matches) to flush their prey(our wallets) out into the open.
    And the “Leavers Queue”, a place to punish those players who do not play by the spirit of “fair gameplay”? Come on. Does it get anymore obvious than the name itself? Not one mention of “tankers”, just “leavers”. Talk about trust issues between Pixonic and its players. They said they would do something about “certain issues” created by certain players but failed to do anything at all to address tanking.
    I spent way too long in that “separate queue”(6 full months) trying to get out and I can tell you from experience that I never once saw a dedicated tanker in the “Leavers Queue”. Just map leavers and skippers.
    This Leavers Queue was aptly named because Pixonic was only punishing players for having the unmitigated gall to turn their noses up at the maps that Pixonic decided for them they should be playing on. How dare they insult Pixonic by leaving/skipping maps to find the maps that they wanted to play on instead. This despite an earlier claim by a Pixonic rep that if we left/skipped matches before the countdown finished the matchmaking algorithm would simply replace the leaving/skipping player with another and no repercussions wouls ensue. That turned out to be a big fat lie. Without warning players doing as they would by not playing on maps they didn’t like found themselves in a “separate queue”. I’ve worked in customer service jobs for many years and I know for a fact that if a customer isn’t happy and satisfied they almost never become repeat customers.
    And from all the evidence I’ve seen thus far the super tankers still have full access to every level from Bronze on up. Despite their very obviousness in both actions and inactions and being reported as inappropriate player types by other players the same rank tanking players just keep playing on day after day after day without fail.

    I’m not a super smart fellow and I’m not at all ashamed to admit that. But even I can see the glaring flaws that make tanking possible in the game and I know it can be fixed quite easily. And so does Pixonic’s programming crew. They have too otherwise I call into question their competency. But they keep telling us, “it is a complicated problem and not so easily fixed”. As someone who’s dabbled in creating mods for a few games I know that is utter cat skat.

    So yeah, my trust in what Pixonic has its reps spout is completely gone. I stopped supporting their efforts after it became apparent that the community’s pleas for fixes and changes were just falling on deaf ears. But I don’t advocate tanking as a way of boycotting or protest. If you’re unhappy with a game the best way to affect change with it is to just stop playing it. Pixonic’s own actions/inaction will determine the fortunes of the game and their company’s bottom line.

    Like

  14. Ashe Sterling

    Thanks for your article! The player-customized paintjob sounds absolutely amazing, but I’m not sure that I would want to invest a lot of credits into WR anymore, seeing the mess with the MM and the playerbase.

    Funnily, I recall having classified the Inquisitor, the Haechi and the Shocktrain as « too overpowered » in the TS survey. Most of the wiki’s community seemed to agree on it, and yet I see them every game now. I still remember a particular match where my whole team was mown down by a squad of MkII Haechi and Shocktrains on Moon. We didn’t even get to capture our second home beacon, and the whole match lasted 2:30 minutes with a 28-3 destruction rate. Even the Ancilots didn’t last more than 30 seconds under the concentrated fire of that 6-member Champion squad.

    I was fresh in Expert III at that time. 🤔

    Like

  15. There are many problems with this game. The one major problem to me is that it takes a long time to buy new bots with wsp. Buying the new bots with wsp is rigged so that after you got more than 50% of the components needed for that bot, the appearance of that bot on the daily deals list drops to once every few days. The better deals also disappear completely forcing you to spend say 1500 wsp for 120 components of that bot. Ive had over 5000 Haechi components for about two or three weeks now and it looks like it may take another week or two to get to 6000. What makes matters worse is that every update since release the Haechi has been nerfed, so when I actually unlock it, and level it up, it might not be worthwhile to get anymore.

    There is also the problem of the mere value of these bots, at 120 components per 1500 wsp, that bot is valued at a whopping 125,000 wsp. That is truly absurd. Make it valued more reasonably like 30,000 wsp, not much more than the previous most expensive wsp bot.

    Another problem I will mention is that you cant even buy only one type of component at a time, you are literally forced as a f2p player to buy two types at once, often times making you buy components for a bot or weapon you do not want. Easy solution-offer every item every day by itself, with a reasonable deal-300 wsp for lights( like hover) 400 wsp for the mediums, and 500 wsp for heavies.

    The last problem I will mention is that shocktrain is way overpowered. With one hit it does something like 60,000 damage to the first player when maxed out (not sure exactly). That alone is ridiculous, because it undercuts the zeus quite heavily, making it basically useless considerif zeus needs some time to deal damage, where shocktrain deals damage instantly. Thats not even taking into consideratiom the fact that it ricochets between bots that are close doing even more damage. This weapon, is extremely unbalanced, and personally I think it should be heavily nerfed so its max damage is more like half of that of a maxed zeus.

    All of these updates are to give huge advantages to players to the point where it is now a pay to win game. Its following the classic cash grab tactics that these sneaky mobile game debelopers do. Release overpowered items that cost lots of real money, make it incredibly difficult for f2p players, and then nerf all the overpowered items once everyone has them. Basically trading some of the fun for all the f2p, for money from the p2p.

    Like

    • I think you are trying too hard to make it easier to get the haechi. The dash bots are MEANT to be hard to get. 30,000 is an absurdly LOW price. You’ll get wsp fast if you have patience. The dash bots are OP and thats why its hard to get them.
      I agree that 125,000 wsp is a little too much, but 30,000 is way to low. Make it in between, like 70,500 wsp.

      Like

      • Well i respectfully disagree with everything you said. If a bot is too op, then it just shouldnt be in the game.

        Like

  16. Everyone here has said everything needed to be said.
    My only addition is how the game is starting to lean towards pay-to-win.
    My evidence is me facing off against masters and champions with MK2 Dash full squads with shock trains.
    I hope this game will last long because it is a good game.
    the direction it is going in, however, is not seeming…..good

    Like

  17. Aussie-dude

    The developer’s failings began long ago…

    The game began with just guns and rockets. It was about skill and if you don’t want to grind, you paid to progress faster on upgrades. Things drastically changed when they introduced energy weapons. This is because they changed the fundamental dynamic of the game as the energy weapons were overpowered. (They tinkered by nerfing them, while eventually buffing up the original weapons over a year later.)

    Ever since then, it has been about better weapons and robots. No longer was it about skill vs skill, it was about who can pay for the best weapon or robot. The one with the bigger wallet wins the battle even before it started. No skill. No strategy. No teamwork.

    Everything else you talked about happened after the developer brought in energy weapons.

    The other major issue was the faulty match making. I played this game during 2015 until early-2017…They never could get it right. I was level 9 in weapons and robots, and it would throw me against maxed out players. (I even got thrown up against well-known youtube player; Adriannnnnn of the VOX clan. Managed to cripple him, despite my lower level; forced him into dumping his slow/long-range bot for a Rhino, which he clobbered me with.)

    I gave up on the game after the Halloween 2017 event. One eventually figures out the spinning chest thing was a bit of a joke; like a poker machine.

    Overall, I spent $30 Aussie dollars on the game. (And that was just to buy the 5th hanger slot).

    On a side note:

    Did you guys know the original programming team of War Robots began developing their own robot game! Search for “Battle of Titans”. They use Unreal engine instead of Unity engine. Maybe this game will get the play dynamic right.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: