CR: You likely suck more than the chest timers do

The more I think about it, the more I think the main issue with Clash Royale’s business model is based on presentation rather than actual function. The game hits you right away with big timers, and is also misleading in how you should play and when. The actual model, where spending gets you closer to the hard end-point faster (Pay-2-Skip), isn’t really the problem, just like it isn’t in Clash of Clans or Boom Beach.

Let’s start at the beginning. Almost right away CR gives you chests with 3 or 8 hour timers, and limits you to holding only four of those at a time. Within 5 minutes or so of playing for the first time, you will fill up on chests. Then, to make this worse, the game gives you a notification/warning that playing more won’t earn you more chests, leading a player to believe that they should stop and either pay to open a chest or come back to the game in a few hours. That’s a really bad first impression, and this continues as you play, with that message coming up every time you try to queue up and already have four chests.

First and foremost, that notification should be removed, because not only is it annoying, it’s misleading. Yes, you can’t earn more than four chests at a time, but a new chest isn’t the only reward for winning matches. Unless you are Tobold-dumb, you will rather quickly realize that moving up in rank/arenas is a good thing, so playing to earn trophies is also a good thing. Depending on your deck and skill level, you will likely hit a point where it’s very difficult to progress higher, but you should always try to be at that break-point to get the most value out of your chests. Plus the more you play, the better you should get, which will naturally increase your cap.

More broadly, the model as-is isn’t bad. Imagine if instead of chests with timers you had a chance to get a card after every win. Not only would this encourage win-trading, but would also mean that progressing to the end-point of power would be even more heavily skewed towards those with more time. Today you can play for a short burst daily and ‘keep up’, under a different model that might not be the case.

This model (system limits on progression based on time) has proven very successful in both CoC and BB. In both those games you can’t simply play more to advance faster, as the games limit you with training times. In addition to this balancing the game around the business model (motivation to spend to speed up for the impatient), it also helps players not burn themselves out. CoC has now been a top mobile game for over two years, and I believe a large part of that success is the game’s pacing. (This also relates back to the success and recent failure of the MMO genre, progression is simply too fast and you can ‘finish’ a game in a short burst, which kills retention and the overall MMO model for success).

CR makes your lack of cards/levels more clear because it’s a direct PvP game. When they lose, many will instantly blame their lack of deck strength, rather than personal mistakes made during the game. Even when card levels are fairly equal, if someone is using a card you don’t have, it’s natural to blame the game or business model for not giving you that card yet, instead of again noting that you didn’t counter what the other players was doing well.

Now certainly there will be games where the opponent’s deck is so far above yours that winning is nearly impossible (although even now I’ve beaten people with cards 2-3 levels higher, so what is possible vs what people believe is possible is also an important distinction), but those instances are actually fairly rare given how the trophy system works beyond the first few arenas. The far more likely issue is one of perception; someone will look at a winner’s deck, see a card or two a level higher, and come to the conclusion that it was deck strength that was the difference. Human nature makes people more likely to deflect blame rather than accept it, and CR gives your brain a lot of ‘easy outs’ to do so.

Finally, what is important to keep in mind is that diminishing returns are in high effect in CR, while a hard-stop also exists. Moving a card from level 10 to 11 takes a huge amount of cards and gold, but the power increase is fairly minimal. At the same time, once a card is maxed, that’s it. More money can’t be spent to further increase power, and there is nothing that you can buy that a non-paying player doesn’t have access to. There is no gold ammo or shop-only stat gear in CR, just like there isn’t in CoC or BB. A CR whale that spends thousands to almost instantly get a max deck will simply play against others with high or max decks (assuming they aren’t a Tobold that loses to far weaker decks and can’t even make it that far up), and how those other players got their doesn’t matter. A free player with a max deck is the same as a whale with a max deck, and they can’t spend/play more to get more power.

The big difference between CR and CoC/BB is that CR is faster to point out your lack of player ability, and this makes it easier to shift blame from your personal lack of skill to the business model being unfair. It also gives spenders a short term ‘feel good about yourself’ boost, because for a very limited window of time after they spend, they will win more as they shift higher up in trophies. Ultimately however spending to move up won’t work, so not only can you not ‘win’ CR by spending, you can’t even come close. At best you can pay to skip to the ‘end-game’ of facing other max decks, and much like paying to skip ahead in CoC/BB, doing so more often than not leads to some hilarious results (for others, not for the spender).

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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15 Responses to CR: You likely suck more than the chest timers do

  1. trego says:

    Ha. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell people, but the comparison of the three hour long timers to the already extant shorter and much much longer timers in CoC (attacking and training) perfectly explains it.

    when you think about it, I end up attacking only about six times a day in CoC these days. Even if I only played to get chests in CR, which I by no means do, it would still be equivalent to SC’s already extant market dominating game. But in CR you can play extra matches for crown chests and trophies. I totally agree with you. The problem is the popup message.

  2. Polynices says:

    Yeah, what you said. That nagging popup definitely needs to go.

    The randomness of what cards you get from your deck and variability of what cards your opponent has (even aside from their level, just how well or poorly they counter yours) adds a random element over the top of the skill requirement that makes it especially hard to appreciate that you’re just playing poorly rather than being outspent. I have to fight the tendency to think that I lose games because the other guy has great cards and I win games because I got lucky. No, probably some people just play better than me, and I play better than some others.

    Plus, baby dragons are evil (the definition of an evil card: one you don’t have yet).

  3. Azuriel says:

    What I’d like to see is the ability to vendor Chests. Something like 10g for silver, 25g for gold, etc. Or hell, I’d settle for just being able to trash them. As it stands, I’m stuck with multiple 12-hour chests from an Arena beneath the one I’m playing in and no way to get rid of them other than eating that time with inferior chests.

    • Caldazar says:

      the reason this is unlikely, is that chests are in a fixed rotation, so being able to trash em allows you to just keep going till a big one comes.
      PS: Low arena chests are not too horrid when wanting to get prince upgrades, since it’s a smaller pool

      • trego says:

        What difference whether chests are in a fixed rotation, or a random %, when it comes to trashing chests you don’t want as a possible option? Either way you trash unwanted chests and therefore only open the ones you want–same difference. Either Supercell wants to allow that, or they don’t.

        • SynCaine says:

          Allowing you to delete chests would be an idiot trap, as no one would ever not delete at least silver chests, while the truly dedicated would only open 12hr chests. It would basically break the whole system…

        • Caldazar says:

          Deleting chests in a random rotation would eliminate RNG from a system, so it would go from a luck based chest drop system to an effort based chest drop system
          When chests are fixed it goes from an everyone is equal in chest quality system to an effort based system.

          So sure, end result is obviously the same, but the start isn’t, which is very relevant in supercell deciding if they want to change a system or not

      • trego says:

        What I’m talking about is looking at the situation from the viewpoint of “is this important enough to change my behavior?” . In the long run, the RNG equals out. In the short run, there’s still a ton of RNG in either option which you didn’t mention, from which rares you get enough of to upgrade, to which epics you get lucky and proc on from the crown/daily chests. There’s definitely a difference between RNG and rotation chest systems, in the technical sense, but it doesn’t change my behavior in the slightest. I don’t even track where I am in the rotation at any point. If it changes your behavior, then I suppose the question is : “why?”

    • SynCaine says:

      Hey Tobold, the 12hr chests are the best in the game dummy, open em.

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  5. Shandren says:

    Aside from all the tobold hate… Which I am sort of getting used to at this point (or well several points ago)… This is (in my oppinion) one of the better posts you have written in a while. Very nice read with some good observations. I think for example that your conclusion that the representation of the system is far more predatory than the actual system is spot on(those pop-ups are annoying for sure, even though they really dont mean much).

    Whether or not it would be the right move economically to change them is a bit trickier though. I think they might well serve the intended purpose well enough. To get people to pay money, to buy gems, to open chests, to “progress” faster. Whether or not they make more “quick” money from that than they loose “slow” money from those that quit because of them, is an open question

  6. Eph says:

    I find CR’s chest system to be a step back from CoC’s training timers for two reasons.

    Firstly, the new player experience. A newbie clasher can whip up a barbarian swarm, attack and get loot in under 10 minutes total. Meanwhile, CR hits new players with 3+ hour timers from the outset.

    Secondly, CoC gave players at higher TH levels a measure of control over their training timers. Yes, you can invest multiple hours into a Gowipe or dragons… or you can make a barch, BAM or gobswarm in a sliver of that time. And either way, you can further choose to drop less than 100% of your forces in a given raid. All of these can be valid strategies. Giving players these interesting choices was a great design decision, and I am disappointed that Supercell decided to use a plain energy system in CR.

    • SynCaine says:

      Agree on the first. CR really gives off a bad first impression outside of the actual battles.

      On the second I’m not so sure. In CoC even under barch you can’t sit down and play for 30 min straight, while in CR if I want to battle for 30 minutes, I can. I might not earn cards or chests, but I can practice strats and gain trophies. In that regard I like it more, but mentally it is hard to get away from “no chest, no battle”, especially because SuperCell has that dumb message reminding you that you won’t earn a chest EVERY SINGLE TIME, FOREVER (until they patch it out).

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