So there’s this thing called Clash of Clans that makes zillions of dollars a day but I’ve never touched it. It seemed like a dumb pay-to-win mobile MOBA or something (I’m still not sure) and I never gave it the time of day. A new game that looked really similar popped up on the App Store called Clash Royale, and I downloaded it after hearing some positive buzz. There’s a part of me that wishes I hadn’t.
Clash Royale is by the same developer of Clans and uses the same world and characters, but plays like a multiplayer tower defense game. Each player has three towers, and you build a team of characters to deploy to stop the opposing team from taking your towers down. It’s fun to learn tactics and figure out how to shut an opponent down right before they deliver a game winning finisher. You’ll summon dragons that have area-of-effect damage to take out smaller squads of creatures, hordes of skeletons to focus attacks on larger enemies, and more. Everything you can deploy has a solid counter against it, and building your “deck” relies on you learning these counters and planning one step ahead of the other player.
But building these decks is where the money-grubbing comes in. You’ll unlock a few new cards and be able to upgrade a few every day, but if you’re wanting a full crew you’ll almost certainly have to spend some real-world dough. Each victory nets you a chest with a cooldown timer until it opens, usually between 3 and 24 hours, and each has varying levels of loot. If you’re desperate for a certain strong card and the odds just aren’t in your favor, it’s easy to shell out some cash and open a bunch of chests quickly to cheat the system. Each character also has a level attached to it, which raises depending on how many cards you have. So you can play someone with level 7 characters while yours are just level 4, and the only difference is that the other guy spent $15 out of pocket to get them there. It’s pretty gross.
The actual action of the game itself is so fun, I can’t stop myself from coming back. Each time I load up the game I’m closer and closer to dropping ten bucks just to get some new options, but it just feels weird to me that that’s how I’m meant to progress. Soon those cards may become obsolete and I’ll just feel like I need to shell out more cash to be competitive. I’ve yet to spend any money on the game yet, and I’ve had a lot more fun with Clash Royale than some games I’ve spent $20, $40, or $60 on at retail. But knowing that the main reason I could steamroll newer players is because I’ve paid just doesn’t feel right. It’s weird, right?
If you’re up for an entertaining phone game with a morally nebulous pricing model, check out Clash Royale here.
JULY 2016 UPDATE: I finally deleted this awful game and feel so much better for it. This thing was the worst. Pretty fun, but also the worst.