March of War
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 July 2013, 3:58 am
March of War, a cross-platform, turn-based, online strategy game is now on Steam Early Access, and I've been playing it for a few days. Now there are a lot of things to like about this game. It revives the tired World War II setting by turning it into an alternative history "dieselpunk" setting. Its core gameplay is tactical and turn-based. The sum of all players' tactical battles gives an outcome on a strategic multiplayer map. So, what's not to like? Answer: The horrible business model!

Tactical gameplay of March of War starts you out with point in three categories: infantry, vehicles, and command points. In assault missions your goal is it to capture locations on the map that give you more of those points. And as you need those points to deploy units on the map, you get a mad rush for resources. So far, so good. But what units you can deploy depends on what units you previously bought. You only get the most basic, bad infantry in unlimited numbers. If you want better infantry, bazookas, jeeps, artillery, tanks, and the like, you need to buy those first. And this is where the payment part of the game ruins an otherwise nice game.

You can earn money and research points by playing, but even from the start that is an excruciatingly slow process. Once you have enough research points to discover new units, you can buy them with money. And you have them available for all your battles. So if you own let's say 4 jeeps, you can deploy 4 jeeps in every battle. If you gain more vehicle points in the battle, but don't have any more jeeps or other vehicles bought, you simply can't use those points, which is obviously a big disadvantage. So the game allows you to buy gems with real money, and buy all sorts of vehicles for those gems. Including daily deals in which you can buy units you haven't even researched yet. And you can't just buy those units before the battle, you can even buy units DURING the battle. So if you think during a battle that you'd just need one more tank to win this, and you have the vehicle points, you can simply pull out your wallet and buy yourself another tank.

Now while there is a lot of disagreement of what exactly "Pay2Win" is, I would say that March to War definitely is Pay2Win. You can win a pitched battle not only against the AI but also against another player by paying more money on the spot. Even if I haven't seen any units yet that are available *only* for cash and not through playing, the slow pace of resource gains through playing suggests that most of the time you will not have enough units for use all your deployment points, and thus spending money will always be an advantage over playing for free. You can also advance faster by buying research for real money.

I enjoyed playing a few tactical battles of March of War. And I tried out the payment model by spending $10 on gems. But seeing how much those $10 contributed to my overall progress, and how little the battles won contributed in comparison really turned me off. There is no way to play this game casually and for free, you either need to invest a lot of hours, or a lot of money to get anywhere. Worst of all are the "siege battles", where you need to hold a position for a certain time: Even on easy difficulty your feeble starting army is assaulted by lots of tanks, and even if these are quite winnable you end up somewhat annoyed not having access to similar units. Unless you pull out your wallet and buy yourself some tanks. Sorry, there are a lot of good Free2Play business models out there, but March of War hasn't got one of them.
Tobold's Blog

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