By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
I did a thing a while back. In order to earn some items in a game that I play often, and enjoy quite a bit, I clicked on one of their in-game ads and installed another game.
I had no intention of playing it any longer than I needed to in order to earn my rewards. Then I planned to delete it from my phone.
But it’s actually kind of fun – if you can get past all of the annoying advertisements. And there are a bunch of them.
Advertisements are a fairly common element of the modern “free-to-play” game. Sometimes they pop-up between rounds of your puzzle or card game, hawking everything from cold medicine and nutritional supplements to potato chips and other games. Sometimes they are optional, earning you in-game rewards for voluntarily viewing the ad.
Sometimes you can skip them and continue play after watching just a portion of the ad. Sometimes you have to watch the whole thing, especially if you want to earn a reward.
But Raid: Shadow Legends, takes the in-game advertisement to another level; one that truly tests the patience of even the most dedicated gamer.
Raid doesn’t offer you free items for watching ads for other games or goods. They don’t force you to watch messages from their sponsors between battles. In fact, once you’re in the game, participating in either PVP or PVE events, you’re pretty much left to your own devices. In PVE the story progresses with no interruptions. In PVP you can continue until you run out of tokens and have to back out to your inbox to collect more that you’ve picked up in daily gifts or through quest rewards.
It’s here on the menu screen that Raid really tests the patience of their gamers. They do this by continuously prompting the gamer, via pop-ups, to drop real world money to purchase in-game items. These items could be shards that unlock more powerful characters, armor and weapon items that increase their stamina or attack, or upgrade items that help you level up your characters more quickly.
This is nothing new. This “pay to win” model has been standard in otherwise “free” mobile and PC games for a while. It’s a regular complaint of those who lose a PVP match and need a scapegoat to explain away their loss. If it isn’t their lack of skill and experience – and it never is – it must be because their opponent spent real money to purchase better items.
Raid pushes this model hard, though. The pop-ups on the menu screen – a stylized castle courtyard with a tavern for upgrading characters, a sparring ring for leveling them up outside of combat, an item and character market that uses in-game currency, a summoning portal, and more – prompt you to drop cash regularly and often. They encourage you to purchase upgrade elements, character shards (the scratch off lottery tickets of new characters), gems and other in-game currency (that can then be spent in the market for specific characters and gear), and more. These in-game purchases can be as cheap as $2.99, and run as high as $50, but they all take real cash.
Raid offers free daily “packs” too, and if you just log in to collect those, and don’t otherwise play every day, you can collect enough resources to casually drop in and play for an hour or two a couple of times a week and have a pretty good time.
The game is gorgeous, with detailed character models and a fun turn-based combat system that draws on a classic “rock-paper-scissors” three-point class system for giving some character types combat advantages over others. But you have to wade through a lot of pop-up content and the digital equivalent of the “hard sell” to get in there and enjoy it. Once you do, it’s a lot of fun, with a cohesive – if unoriginal – storyline to explain the different factions and why they fight together in PVP arenas, often against members of their own factions, despite the rivalries as described in the in-game lore.
But if you decide to check it out, be prepared to close a bunch of pop-up prompts on your way to battle. If you can hold your frustration long enough to click through them all, you’ll find a pretty little time-waster underneath the sales pitch.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org