I appreciate honesty in game design. If you are creating a casual ‘time waster’ game that doesn’t do much else, I appreciate when the devs are honest about that. Same goes for ‘hardcore’ games, with Darksouls being one of the better examples recently. Brutally hard is a feature for those looking for it, but can also be something that drives people away, so it’s nice when the devs are upfront and honest, even when it might cost them a sale (which I think they more than recover via goodwill from honesty).
Dungeon Boss, a new mobile game many of us (Clash people) are playing, is pretty honest about its grind, and I appreciate that. First a quick overview of Dungeon Boss (DB).
DB is a game about collect and level characters, use those characters in very short PvE ‘dungeons’ that feature rather simple turn-based combat, and getting a large variety of tokens and such to upgrade your characters, as well as collecting new ones. The core gameplay, running dungeons, is very simple. Each character has at most three special abilities in addition to their standard attack, and you can bring a max of 4 characters on most runs. A run takes no longer than 5 minutes, and often can be done in 1-2 minutes.
It’s a F2P game, with a very strong Pay4Power component. If you spend, you can get stronger characters and upgrade them faster. I would call this Pay2Skip, but there is also a part of the game were you can attack another player for some gold (the gold stolen is only for unclaimed chest gold, so it’s nothing like attacks in CoC/BB where you can lose a lot of resources/progress), so it technically qualifies as P4P. I also believe, but I’m not 100% sure, that there are ‘pay-only’ characters. I do know there are ‘shop only’ characters, but I’ve already got two of those without paying (collected the different shop currencies from just playing the game).
Overall it’s a fun game without the need to spend any money, and if you are looking for another mobile time waster, DB is certainly worth looking into. Right now the only multiplayer is raiding others for their chest gold and trophies (reward ladder system that resets frequently) and being friends with people, which allows you to call their strongest hero into battle for one attack in a dungeon run (I’m SynCaine, send a friend invite if you start playing).
To return to the honesty part, DB is a ‘long grind’ type of game. Collecting all of the characters is going to take a LONG time, as will fully leveling them up. You can figure this out very early, and the game doesn’t really ‘trick’ you into the pace. You don’t speed level/boost early only to have the pace slow down suddenly and push you into the cash shop. The time/numbers DO ramp up as you go, but again you can see this coming almost from the beginning, and can determine if the pace of time wasting will work for you or not.
This ties into the F2P model they use as well. It’s honest. The cash shop is very clear about what is for sale and the impact purchases will have on your game. You don’t need an excel sheet loaded with macros to figure out if one purchase is ‘worth it’ over another, and it even goes so far as having straight dollar prices for things, rather than a ‘buy gems, use gems to buy stuff’ double currency system (you can buy gold and gems, which buy you things, but those currencies are frequently earned in-game as well).
I hope games using this style of F2P do well, because it will show that you don’t need to trick people into giving you money by preying on the lowest common denominator, but instead you can make a good game that gives the option (a real option, not an ‘convenience option’) of spending. More of that please, and fewer hotbar salesmen.