Hot off the heels of Bethesda trashing their own reputation with idiocy, we have Supercell releasing a straight-up terrible update to Clash Royale, and then doubling down on that with this horrid Reddit post.
Short summary of the major point of contention with the update: Trade tokens were somewhat recently added to the game. The way they originally worked is if you had a token, you could request a trade, and anyone with the cards you were requesting could accept and the trade was completed. For example, if I had a legendary token and an extra bandit, I could put up a trade giving up my bandit and request a graveyard. Anyone with a spare graveyard could then accept the trade and get the bandit.
This recent patch changed how trades work, where now both parties need a token. The result is a clan chat log full of unfulfilled trades, and basically everyone being pissed.
The big and you’d think obvious impact of this change is that now accepting a trade is also costing you a token, so you can’t fill trades you don’t really care about either way in terms of cards, because people don’t have enough tokens to throw around. Supercell doubled the amount of tokens players get, but it wasn’t nearly enough, and it still feels like they are a rare commodity, especially for epic and legendary tokens.
Here is a part of the response that is really infuriating:
With the new system, people are still putting out Trades that they want, but not what other people want. We believe that with a bit more communication, alongside the increased chance of getting Trade Tokens, this will resolve those issues.
Communicating about trades is a nightmare. CR works great because its mostly asynchronous. You make a request and you can log off, and when someone else logs on they can fill the request. Asking people to communicate a trade before you do it won’t work most of the time. Or at best, will delay the actual completion of the trade for a while as people go back and forth on what they want. Multiple this by the fact that a clan has up to 50 players (as ours does), and that many people trying to coordinate trades in a simplified chat channel is just not going to work.
One justification given for this trade change was that bots were abusing the old system. That’s a “canvas is too expensive” level justification for making your game worse. You hurt your actual players because you can’t get bots under control. Maybe, I don’t know, put in better tools to actually solve the bot problem, rather than making it just a little harder for them to be successful?
There are other dumb changes in this update as well, with equally bad justifications. Large-scale tournaments are back, this time with no entry fee. Nice right? Only the majority of the rewards you earn have to be paid for if you want them. Now the benefit is that if you do poorly, you don’t pay and feel bad ‘wasting’ an entry fee, and if you do well, you can pay and then feel good about the reward. The actual experience? You know you won’t be paying 500 gems, so you don’t play the tourney to begin with, because the free rewards are extremely weak. Sure, you can ‘play for fun’, but in a game that rewards playing, ‘playing for fun’ doesn’t really fit nearly as well.
The issue is mostly around price point; 500 gems is a lot, both for free players who slowly collect gems and also those who occasionally buy gems. Even if you do well in a tourney and the rewards are ‘worth’ the 500 gems, spending that much simply isn’t sustainable, so now one of the big new additions is a feature you ignore most of the time. Not great. With a lower price-point it’s a good addition, but the first impression is very negative.
Another addition is a progression system after you max a card; fluff skins. The way this works is when you acquire cards you have already maxed, they convert into star points, and you can spend star points to ‘skin’ that card. Overall the system is fine as a progression mechanic, especially because the alternative of increasing card levels/power would suck. The execution of this new progression however is lacking.
First, you only get star points for cards you have actually upgraded to level 13. This is difficult for a large number of cards because the final upgrade costs 100k gold, and gold is the most limited currency in the game. I have enough cards to max every single common in the game, but only enough gold to max a few of them, and I’ve been playing consistently for over two years at a high level (higher ranking = more rewards). This means I don’t get star points for all those commons I have maxed in terms of card count, but haven’t paid to upgrade, which is just annoying.
The bigger issue is that, so far, all of the skins are pretty lame, with the majority of the changes being to simply add a bit of gold trim to everything. It looks low-budget and lacks impact, which is inexcusable from a studio as profitable as Supercell. On its own this whole system would be a minor grumble, but when combined with the above, it just adds to the garbage pile.
This entire fiasco reeks of a company either losing control of what is best for their game, or of upper management forcing changes to drive more short-term revenue at the expense of long-term health. The second is especially crazy because right now CR is a goldmine, and would continue if simply updated in a logical manner. Aggressively pushing people away, or into the cash shop, is not a good direction for the game. Hopefully the very strong and vocal pushback from fans will course-correct Supercell, and get them back to being a top-quality developer. We shall see.