BOOM! Tanks and iOS Pay2Win

Posted: September 15, 2013 in Gaming
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Pay2Win is a phrase that’s been floating around since the advent of free-to-play games.  Personally, there’s an oh-so-very fine line between ‘freemium’ (free to download and play but with in-app purchases) and downright pay2win.

We could sit here and debate all day and night about which games are indeed P2W and which ones aren’t.  But what I want to do right now is talking about Boom! Tanks.

This is Codemasters’ new game on mobile platform, following Colin Mcrae Rally.  First off, yes this is a free to download game with in-app purchases.  I’ve been playing this for the last couple of days since its launch and it’s actually not bad.

The IAP will get annoying after a while and the social media tie-in is there too, but what else is new? As you would expect from a free-to-play title, the cosmetic stuff is pretty much all cash only items and there are ways to speed up things such as tank upgrades with real money.

Currently, though, I haven’t found any real need to spend anything on this game.  The upgrades don’t start taking time to deliver until you’ve reached about three levels into each upgrade module (of which there a total of six, with six total levels each) and the first delivery time is a mere five minutes.  I know time is money and all that when you’re talking about mobile apps but five minutes? I don’t mind waiting, it’s actually a really short time.  The next level after that takes fifteen minutes, again, a very short time.  And, presumably the last levels take thirty minutes (haven’t reached there yet but I’ll update if this is wrong).

And then there’s the camouflage paint.  Camo is pretty much cosmetic.  You do get a bit of bonus money at the end of each match but it’s not really much and certainly not worth spending real cash on.

The gameplay isn’t anything to really rave about.  It’s on rails and you don’t control your tank’s movements.  The only thing the player actually needs to do is move the targeting reticule onto the enemy tank to fill up an “aiming bar” that will, in turn, giving you an “aiming bonus” in the form of in-game currency.  After that it’s just a matter of tapping the screen when the time is right in order to hit and damage the opponent.

The tanks have health bars similar to fighting games like Mortal Kombat and the whole timed-shooting mechanic reminds me a lot of FIFA’s penalty kick, minus any form of aiming.

Oh, and before I forget, there are premium tanks to buy too.  The actual selection of “free” tanks isn’t too bad and they do have noticeable differences, especially when you upgrade them.  Premium tanks give you a boost to your in-game currency earnings per match.  That’s about it, actually.  The currency boost isn’t much and the stats for premium tanks are somewhat similar to the rest of the “free” tanks too.

So then, what’s to conclude from this? Well, it’s free.  And it’s mobile.  It’s a little big, so you need WiFi to download it.  But, overall, it’s really not that bad.  Yes, you will have IAPs thrown at you.  Yes, there will be ads.  But, you know what?  There aren’t any IAPs that I can see would give anyone a significant advantage.  There’s no multiplayer yet, but the only difference I can see if there was multiplayer, would be that a person who spent real money on absolutely everything would end up with a tank that’s no different to free player’s (unless he uses a premium tank, in which case, it’s different, not better.).  But I like the whole tapping based controls.  Simply because games that use tilt controls annoy me.  However, good the controls are, they don’t work while sitting on the bus or train.

So, thank you, Codemasters.  You might not have made a great game, but at least it’s good for killing time on the morning commute.


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