Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
 
League of Angels after action report

It is rare that I write about a game that I have stopped playing. I tend to write about the things that interest me most, and of course a current game is always more interesting than a past one. But as with League of Angels I did an additional "experiment" on the life of a whale in a Free2Play game, I thought it might be interesting to give an after action report.

The first thing to say is that becoming the highest ranked player or at least a player ranked in the top 10 is neither very hard nor very expensive compared with other hobbies (or vices, e.g. a 2-pack a day smoking habit). On any given server there are only a handful of players who spend any money at all. With some planning and a strategy of spending smaller amounts regularly instead of spending big amounts in one splurge, getting to the top is rather easy. Make no mistake, this is certainly something akin to retail therapy, spending money to make yourself feel good. But compared to a Gucci handbag, League of Angels is downright cheap. Whether a top rank in a game makes you feel better or not as good as buying a Gucci handbag is a very personal decision on which I won't make any judgment.

As a game, with or without spending, League of Angels certainly has its merits. There is more variety and more need for tactical decisions than in many other Free2Play games. Unfortunately, like many other level-based games, it somewhat breaks down at higher levels. For me in this particular game that is starting somewhere after level 60, but your mileage may vary. The particular problem I have with League of Angels is that you get resources on a daily basis and those resources only allow you to level up some of your heroes; but you do get new heroes all the time, which are low level. So while theoretically it would be fun to switch out heroes you have grown bored with against a new hero, the resource system makes that exercise difficult, if not impossible. Above level 60 you'll need a huge pile of resources just to bring one new hero up to the level of your top team, and that will reduce your overall power. So you are kind of stuck with the heroes you got at low and mid-level. The higher your main level rises, the more stuck you become with the team you have, and the less options you have, and that is a pity which reduces the game's longevity.

Another disadvantage of League of Angels is the already reported strong need to keep up with the Joneses. Whether you spend money or not, you need to log in every day and do a certain range of activities to keep up. A typical guild will kick you after a few days of inactivity. So the game is not all that casual. That can quickly evolve into feeling like work.

So there you have it. My plan to play as a whale at the top of the game meant I didn't really have the option to play casually when I wanted to. And the design of the game resulted in less variety and options at the higher levels. I moved on to other games, like Shadow of Mordor and Thea : The Awakening. League of Angels was fun while it lasted, but isn't a game for the long term for me.

Comments:
@Tobold

Please explain something: Since its inception, the F2P revenue model has been touted(by you and many other bloggers) as an equalizer of sorts between the time rich gamer and the money rich gamer. Yet, more and more I am seeing posts where players(self described whales) - who actually admit to spending large amounts of money in these games, admit that their playtime actually increases(or becomes less casual as you stated) with the amount of money they spend. So I would ask, is this an issue of manipulative game design, or do these types of players have an abundance of both time and money - and value neither?
 
"you need to log in every day and do a certain range of activities to keep up."

This seems common in lots of games right now, and I think it is a big mistake by developers. I can see their thinking, trying to get you to "keep playing," and having plenty of data on how players who log in more often will stay for longer. But eventually, real life is going to get in the way. You will go on vacation, or some other reason you can't play for a while, and your progress drops off so much there seems like no point in coming back. Even before that can happen, forcing players to play every single day will cause burnout more quickly.

Maybe this is intentional with games like League of Angels, the game is designed for short term profit and not long term viability. But I see this with WoW and other games that have every incentive to keep their players around in the long term, and I think this design is downright stupid.
 
@Chris: The time a serious free player and a serious player who also uses money would spend in League of Angels is identical. Both could also, optionally, spend much less time and progress slower. My comment was just that if you spend money to advance faster, that doesn't combine well with opting to advance slower by not playing a lot.

I don't consider League of Angels typical in that respect. There are a LOT more games where for example spending money gives you double xp, so that the person spending money needs to grind less time to get to the same goal.
 
@Tobold

My comment was just that if you spend money to advance faster, that doesn't combine well with opting to advance slower by not playing a lot.

So what was it that drew you to this game? Your post makes it sound as if you just picked this game at random - only to realize the shortcomings after a period of time was already invested in the game.

LoA is but one of MANY games that use this same revenue scheme and design approach.
 
@Chris I recommended it because of the variety of tasks and the fact that you could actually get pretty far without spending a single dollar, and even further by making a one-off payment of the 'month card' which drip-feeds a pretty reasonable amount of the game's premium currency.

Funnily enough, I'm getting more mileage out of the game that Tobold recommended (Shop Heroes) purely because it's more casual friendly, with less 'keeping up with the Joneses'. If you go AFK for a week in Shop Heroes, you probably won't find yourself ditched from your guild and suddenly locked out of half the activities.
 
Your post makes it sound as if you just picked this game at random - only to realize the shortcomings after a period of time was already invested in the game.

I think that "sounds" that way to YOU, because of your prejudice against Free2Play games. To me having fun for two months with a game is a big success, not a failure. There aren't all that many game that keep me fascinated for more than a week or two.

Name me one single game that doesn't have ANY shortcomings! Sooner or later we stop playing any game we started, and we can always quote one shortcoming or another for a reason. This comment section is full of people who played World of Warcraft for THOUSANDS of hours and swear that the game sucks, without even being aware of the irony.
 
Most of the "free" mobile games are based on the same concept: lure the player to play your game, give him lots of freebies and let him advance for a while. Then, at some point when the player is hooked with your game... just start adding paywalls everywhere.

Free to play is often used as a "demo": you play for free up to a certain level. Then if you want to progress without wasting months you're supposed to pay. There are tons of similar strategic/card games which work all the same way: free for a while then you either pay or say goodbye.
 
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