Thursday, March 2, 2017

How Kabam broke their game and enraged their fanbase #BoycottMCoC

Contest of Champions is a mobile game available on Android and iOS devices, based on Marvel characters. The game is developed and maintained by Kabam with stunning visuals and challenging gameplay. Recently the company released version 12.0 of their game which faced a lot of controversy and disappointment from the community for being a blatant attempt at exploiting more money from their customers

Contest of Champions is marketed as a free to play game, but offers in-app purchases to help players advance faster. Their system is built around chance, requiring players to collect, buy or earn crystals containing champions of various rarities. Rarer champions can be ranked to defeat harder challenges.

Over the past two years, players have worked hard at building their rosters collecting what was considered "god-tier" champions, in order to defeat hard to achieve challenges and earn rare rewards. The random reward system Kabam has put into place has brought the company great profit and success, leading to their recent acquisition by Netmarble, one of the largest and most successful F2P gaming companies in the world.

This brings us to the 12.0 update. With this update, Kabam's first step was neutralizing the top-tier champions, removing the ability players had to power through content with these champions. This was passed off as "balancing" the game, allowing players to focus on acquiring newer content, instead of looking for specific top-tier champions.

While this itself could have been considered a blatant money grab by Kabam, a huge part of the customer base continued to support this decision, hoping that the game wouldn't be badly effected by these "nerfs". Kabam promised that their developer team had properly tested their content, and assured the playerbase that everything would work as expected.

The second part of the update was the introduction of flat values to replace the existing percentage based values. Additionally the update disabled the ability to stack specific synergies by introducing diminishing values when they were stacked.

Nerfing "god-tier" champions

Three of the most popular champions in the game faced the most severe downgrade or "nerf" as it's known in the gaming community - Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange and Thor

All three of these champs were admittedly overpowered, and helped all those who owned these champions to quickly clear the hardest content in the game. Players set out to spend excessive money to obtain one of these three champions, and even bought into Kabam's holiday deals to awaken and maximize the power level of these champions.

These three champions, could easily clear almost every monthly quest, allow players to complete Alliance Quests/Alliance War with minimal expense and defeat overpowered opponents on the Realm of Legends.

The right thing for Kabam to do at this point would have been to balance these champions and align them with the rest of the diverse roster. Instead Kabam chose to reduce them down so low, that they were even weaker than their counterparts.

Outcome of the combat system

Besides the nerfing, Kabam also introduced a new combat system with the new 12.0 update, which brought a new challenger rating and diminishing returns.

What this meant was that when a player faced a challenger of higher rarity or power, they would face a bigger disadvantage. This functionality was never clearly indicated before the update went live, and players who usually test their champions against the first opponent in the Contest's Realm of Legends found themselves in for a shock.

Blocking and parrying were suddenly far less effective than they used to be, and the damage output against those overpowered opponents was greatly reduced. While one can always understand this content was meant to be challenging, it was now nearly impossible (without high cost). The fun factor of this free to play game was suddenly replaced with frustration and anger, as the profit first approach was made clear.

Kabam responded to this by saying it was due to the diminishing returns game mechanic. So what exactly is diminishing returns ? Previously the game allowed players to stack functionality like Critical Rate in a linear fashion, allowing your team to have 100% crit rate or 100% block proficiency during fights. Kabam opted to change this mechanic with diminishing returns, which reduced the rate of a specific functionality the more it was stacked... While it doesn't entirely remove a feature like critical rate or block, it would reduce its effectiveness.

The second part of this puzzle is challenger rating, which gives your champion an advantage or disadvantage based on your opponents rarity in comparison with your own. Its pretty clear that the goal here was to eliminate players using their 3-star version of Scarlet Witch to tear through "end-game" content.

Because of challenger rating, all functionality in the game favors the higher ranked (or rarer) characters. Allowing them to procure higher critical rate, higher critical damage, higher armor rating etc. This is stacked on top of existing disadvantages of fighting a champion who is several times stronger than your own.

While players wont notice these affect them fighting their alliance members and friends, they will notice the imbalance on existing features like Realm of Legends and Labryth of Legends, where opponents are several times stronger than our top champions. You will also notice these come into effect on Alliance Wars, the current Master Quest and the soon to be released Act 5.

Bugs, Bugs everywhere

On top of that, the update is riddled with bugs. Things that previously worked are now broken.. We have missing animations, champions dying without reason, abilities not working as intended.. Just part of the mess which is this update. Some of the bugs discovered by players during the first day of the update gives a clear indication of how poorly the update was tested before release
  • She-Hulk - No longer poison immune
  • Joe Fixit - No longer poison immune
  • Gambit - Instantly killed by single bleed attack
  • Ant-Man - No longer shrinks during special 1 animation
  • Crossbones - Special 2 does not inflict incinerate
  • Colossus - Special 3, revives opponent
  • Unstoppable Colossus - Special 3, revives opponent
Since there is a cost associated with nearly every aspect of the game moving forward, players in no way should become part of Kabam's quality assurance team... Kabam should strongly consider reversing this update, taking it back to their QA staff and fix these mistakes before a public release in future.

How the playerbase is boycotting the update

No one likes feeling cheated, and the Contest of Champions community is feeling cheated... Previously beatable content has now been made unbeatable, every method players had to avoid spending has been removed and new pay methods offered. Daily Content has been made unplayable..

The community has appealed to every single player to head to the Apple Store and leave 1-Star (negative) review on this update. Indicating to the game publishers that profit first, customer last strategies have no place among this playerbase

Additionally #BoycottMCOC movement is requesting all players to stop spending on the game, to hit this money hungry company where it hurts - their wallets...

How Kabam should rectify this ?

Its understandable that Kabam is in the business of making games, and they need to turn a profit.. However we are here to play a game, and we look for entertaining content. The game is already based on chance, so you could find players who have spent thousands of dollars may find themselves with smaller rosters than those who haven't spent a cent.

Expecting players to invest in their rosters and beat content over time is fair, making that content pay to play isnt.

Kabam should remember having an unhappy customer base will eventually lead to having no customers, and I don't want to see that happen...

I think the update was a step in the right direction, but Kabam lost focus when they attempted to push too hard on milking profit from a playerbase that already spends way too much on a mobile game

No comments:

Post a Comment