Sometimes you just need to reach out and admit you need help. This is one of those times. I'm afraid that just memorising the opinions of TotalBiscuit and Jim Sterling, adding penis jokes to them and pretending that they are my own isn't going to cut it today.
Here's the thing. Clash Royale, the sequel slash spinoff game of Clash of Clans came out today. Is it any good? Well, here's a gameplay video for you, because I don't want to talk about whether it's actually any good here.
SPOILER: Yes, it's really, really good
Now, I've defended Supercell's policy of being upfront or non-obtrusive with their freemium mechanics ON THIS VERY BLOG. (I love it when people say "On this very blog" or "On this very website," as if they were a multimedia celebrity. That's why it should always be capitalised, to draw attention to their pomposity. Anyway.) There's something about the way in which Clash Royale monetises that just... ehhhhh. I dunno. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth. That embedded video up there that you ignored - give it a watch, will you? I'm genuinely curious to see if people think this is as weird as I do.
Now, I come from a background of paying for Clash of Clans and Boom Beach. I think they're both superb games and I am happy to reward the devs by sinking some money into the project.
In CoC and BB, all opponents are working towards the same goal. There's no pay to win element. There's a pay to win QUICKER element, but you can't actually gain a material advantage over the competition. Clash Royale, on the other hand, uses the compu-gatcha system where random rewards are doled out and progress is probability-based, and therefore necessarily linked to the amount of player engagement. You gamble more, you (probably) win more. Is it pay-to-win? It FEELS like pay-to-win.
This kind of business model is the basis of Hearthstone, and I freaking LOVE Hearthstone. But wait, that means that because a thing is a collectible card game, we're conditioned to accept the idea that paying to win and selling children on the idea of gambling is fine. Which is all kinds of fucked up. But that's OK, right, because Clash Royale is an RTS!
It wants you to think it's a card game.
It's not. And that means that Supercell who, as I've pointed out, are usually at the top of the table when it comes to ethical presentation of freemium models, have reskinned something that is not a card game into a card game so that we will be conditioned to accept the long game in terms of monetisation and in-game progress.
TL;DR: "Dear Mom, shit's fucked." Let me know what you think in the comments because I want to go to bed just from typing that.