Tobold's Blog
Monday, December 30, 2013
I don't get Clash of Clans

There are games I play because I am personally interested in them. And there are other games I try just because I want to know what the fuzz is about. So since it is Free2Play and one of the most profitable games on the iPad, I decided to try out Clash of Clans. Only problem is, I still don't understand what the fuzz is about. I don't remember ever having played a game with so few available actions per session. I log on, collect my gold and elixir, build or upgrade two buildings, and that's it most of the time. Once in a while I have an army ready for a short attack, but there I just place my units around the enemy village and the battle then runs on automatic. But that seems to be awfully little gameplay compared to hours of waiting for your next building to be ready.

I can only imagine that the people who like the game are not in it for the gameplay, but for the meta-game: Joining clans, inter-clan politics, clan warfare and the like. A bit like the board game Diplomacy or the MMORPG EVE Online, where the political interaction between real humans is a lot more interesting than the observable gameplay. But even if I had the time to invest in a long, political game, I would want that game to be a little more complicated than Clash of Clans appears to be. And in consequence I would want gameplay sessions to be longer between waiting periods.

But then, I'm not likely to ever find a "multiplayer strategy" game I like. I tend to get annoyed at the sheer randomness of whether I am or I am not being attacked by others. And in games like Clash of Clans I am not happy about the rather blatant Pay2Win aspects: For example the reason I can only build or upgrade 2 buildings at a time is because I didn't spend $5 on a third builder, $10 for a fourth, or $20 for a fifth. Put enough money in the game and you don't ever have to wait for things to get built or upgraded, and you can get all the resources you need. While there is apparently some skill involved in designing the layout of your defenses (if you don't copy them from somewhere) and placing your attackers, Clash of Clans appears mostly to be about gathering resources. So if you buy those resources you win easily.

So I can't really understand why Clash of Clans has 4.5 million daily players. Supercell's other big hit game, Hay Day, is equally profitable, but as it is a more elaborate and less annoying version of Farmville, I can understand that more easily. But I can't understand the guy spending $7,000 a month of Clash of Clans. The fact that you *can* win the game by using money makes winning the game unattractive to me. I would like to play a strategy game, and not Clash of Bank Statements.

Omfg tobold you sound as if you have no understanding of the f2p games and their liking... I would be almost certain you were sarcastic in your post but the general feeling does not "sound" sarcastic.

At the time being there is absolutely no commonly sold f2p feature that is recurring (so to keep the game going) and not regarded as f2p done wrong. The only things that are typically called f2p done right are one-off transactions that inevitably have to be reinvented by each developer over and over so he can stay afloat and not-go-bankrupt. There can only be so many inventions though and after a while the only profitable option is the recurring options (rng boxes, boosts, OverPowered items being replaced by even better ones at each new tier, etc...).
At the time being there is absolutely no commonly sold f2p feature that is recurring (so to keep the game going) and not regarded as f2p done wrong.

I disagree, there are plenty of examples for Free2Play done right and having recurring sales: League of Legends, World of Tanks, Hearthstone, and many others.

People generally accept Free2Play purchases when they are in non-competitive games, or when in a competitive game you can only buy the tools (champions, tanks, trading cards), but the tools don't automatically win you the game.

If all f2p was "f2p done wrong", as you say, then how did that business model get the overwhelming market share it has today? How many successful subscription games launched in 2013?
Path of Exile also doesn't have any pay to win features in it and is a free to play game and doing quite well as far as I can tell.
Tobold asked:
"How many successful subscription game launched in 2013".

The set of all games that are not f2p is larger than just subscription games. Remember when we bought games and played them?
"How many successful subscription games launched in 2013?"

-How do you Define success?
-Why the "best" f2p games are f2p AFTER they failed on subscription model because there were not good enough?
-Which f2p game is even 10% successful as wow is?
-Name me 1 f2p game that changed to subscription model because it failed as f2p

"People generally accept Free2Play purchases when..."

some people will even accept shit on their face because it is free, does this makes shit successful? Also, League of Legends and Healthstone are not MMOs...
I liked the Ultima F2P MMO Strategy game though it had some issues. The F2P worked well enough, the only things at the time worth paying money for where things you'd buy on a monthly recurring basis and amounted to something like $7 a month. I knew players that were in our alliance for the first few months that hadn't even spent that. The only really big flaw to the game so far as I saw it was that if you started late in the game, more than a month after the world opened, you didn't stand much of a chance of becoming a major player. It wasn't out of the realm of possibility but you really had to be a standout player and or in a key position and so worth bringing into the alliance, since alliance membership roles were limited to 100 players. The Alliance I was in started on the first day of our world and retained about half our founding members through to our win several months later.
Re Giannis: SWTOR has about a million players a month, say perhaps half of those are subs. WoW has 3-4 million subs in the West. So that is a f2p game that is 15-25% of WoW's revenue in the west.

Angry Birds did $195 million in 2012
A player spent $100,000 on EVE which is perhaps less understandable than $7,000 on CoC. The impressive marketing is how few EVE players consider it p2w.

The only reason why CoC is a pay2win game is because when building, researching, training and creating spells, you can finish them right away in exchange to $. Other than that, its quite good. Highly addictive.
"Why the "best" f2p games are f2p AFTER they failed on subscription model because there were not good enough?"

You limit f2p to RPG'S which is a pretty narrow view. There are hundreds of f2p online games which were never subscription games.

"Which f2p game is even 10% successful as wow is?""

What do you mean as successful? Users? Many, just look at Asia, there are games making more money that WoW AND having more users.

WoT, LoL = more users, just as exmaples you know. If you look into Asia you'll find even more.

You see MMO = MKO RPG which is not enough.
Tobold: Yes, CoC is successful because of PvP. But you need ot leanr a few things about CoC:

First the matchmaker matches people by trophies, NOT by level or upgrades.

Second: you make more resources later on by attacking other players than you produce -> this leads players into PvP

Third: PvP in CoC feels more like PvE

Fourth: you can't be attacked when you are logged in.

It sounds like a more sophisticated version of eRepublik. That's also a 'political' game that is free to play but allows players to spend money for power.
I've been reading your blogs ever since 2007 and I'm amazed that you're still active. Keep up the good work!
If you want to try a f2p game with quite a lot of action available try Knights and Dragons.

Do harder content to progress and your knights will die easily so you'll have to wait. But if you want a little more action just farm easier dungeons for crafting materials.
Which f2p game is even 10% successful as wow is?

Which subscription game is even 10% successful as wow is?
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