A few gameplay observations for Mighty Party, and then some commentary on the business model.
For gameplay, our guild is finishing up our first Turf War, which is the guild-based PvP event. Basically how this works is there is a board of squares, and guild members can assign troops to those squares to take them. Rewards are based on the squares you hold, but you only get the rewards at the end of each round. During a round there are multiple phases where you can assign troops and the board will change based on who has the most troops. To prevent a guild from dominating, neutral troops can riot (attack) a square, and if you don’t use enough troops to defend, you lose that square. How many troops each player has is based on the cards you own and their levels.
This setup initially looks simple, just assign some troops and you are done. But to maximize rewards, the guild must coordinate well, and pick its battles. If you expand too quickly in the early rounds (as we did), neutral forces will end up taking your tiles, and the guild simply won’t have enough troops to both defend everything and keep expanding. Other guilds are also a factor; battling over a single square might cost both sides a lot of troops, for ultimately not much gain. On the flip side, being in a position to take a lot of squares late with few troops is incredibly beneficial.
From my initial experience with the system, I’m really liking it. It’s quick in terms of time commitment per member, but feels very open-ended from a leadership/coordination aspect.
Drifting towards the business model side, early on in Mighty Party it’s tough to fully complete events and challenges, in large part because not having access to things like Raids and the Dark Tower means you can’t collect event points around doing those activities. The game ‘helpfully’ lets you pay to gain event progress (usually indirectly), and this can feel both tempting and unfair.
At least until you take a step back and realize that the point of doing well in events and challenges is to get more loot, and you want more loot to progress forward. Progressing forward is the entire point of playing, because 99.999% of players won’t come close to competing to ‘win by being #1 on a leaderboard. You play and try to do well so you can get more stuff, and more stuff helps you do better, which in turn gets you more stuff, and on and on the circle goes.
In games like Mighty Party and other such F2P games, you go around the circle fastest at the beginning. Every reward has a legitimate chance to be an upgrade, and generally things unlock quickly for you and you really feel like you are making progress. The more you play, the longer it takes to go around and around the circle. In Mighty Party, the first chests you earn take 5 minutes to open, while for me right now the fastest chest takes 2 hours. That’s a dramatic increase, and that kind of increase is basically found in all parts of the game. A hero going from level 1 to 2 takes 25 copies, but then you need 50 to go to 3, 75 to 4, etc. Early on you are upgrading frequently, and this slows as you play more.
This is all ‘normal’ in many games. In an MMO it takes far less xp to get to level 2 than it takes to hit level 100. You find item upgrades faster as you level than you do from end-game raiding. What’s different about F2P games, because they need to make money (imagine that!) is they sell you the ability to progress faster. Some games sell less, some sell more, but there is a fine line between selling progress and selling power. Selling power is being able to buy something only money can buy that helps you. Imagine in an MMO if one non-fluff equipment slot could only be filled via the cash shop; that’s power. Selling a powerful item directly to you that also drops in a raid is selling progress; instead of raiding for that item you can just skip the ‘playing’ part and buy the reward.
To return to Mighty Party, spending money gets you heroes, often times the higher tier epic or even legendary ones. That helps you progress faster, maybe even MUCH faster because legendary heroes even at level 1 are much stronger than lower rarity cards. If you face such cards in PvP, it feels extra bad to lose to them because of how strong they seem, vs losing to higher level heroes of the same rarity you are using. The end result is the same (you lost), but seeing that legendary smash you just feels worse. And make no mistake, part of the game’s design is to elicit that emotion so you get mad and ‘fight back’ via your wallet.
What amuses me is people get mad at this AND then get mad at the game’s business model. This anger completely misses the point, which is not that they haven’t spend enough money, or that they are being ‘force to’, but the simple fact that they have not progresses far enough into the game to be at that level. It’s the very reason levels exist in the first place. We don’t complain that a level 1 MMO character can’t defeat a raid boss, but we do just that in F2P ‘pay to progress’ games.
The anger is especially misguided because paying just pushes you into the slower circles of progression. It’s like buying an RPG for the story, and then buying the ‘skip all story elements’ DLC, and then ranting about how the RPG sucks because its all grind and no story. YOU PAID TO SKIP THE GOOD PARTS DUMMY! If you like progression, and that’s what a lot of these games are all about, maybe don’t pay to skip it?