Machine Zone, a company we’ve all come to know. The company started small back in 2013 with their recent mobile game, Game of War: Fire Age, and got bigger in 2015 during the Super Bowl with their famous commercial for the game, featuring Kate Upton. It was a silly, over the top performance for a rather dull and below average game. Still the game managed to make a lot of cash in 2015, with over $600 million in revenues in that year alone, and as of August 3rd, 2017, it is making a little over $700,000 in daily revenues alone. This game is the one that started it all. Following the release and popularity of Game of War, we were soon greeted with Mobile Strike in 2015. Most popular, again, for it’s commercials now featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. This game, was almost the exact same as Game of War. Very similar style and gameplay, and it made $1.47 million worldwide ($873K in revenues). Both of these combined made a little over $2 million worldwide, and when you see these games, you begin to wonder how and why.
Then the day comes. On March 31st, 2017, Machine Zone releases Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, and I instantly begin to cringe. This game, once again, is extremely similar in both style and gameplay from both Mobile Strike and Game of War. This game is exceptionally insulting to the Final Fantasy Franchise. It plays absolutely nothing like the classic games we all know and love. It’s just another Game of War clone with Final Fantasy XV painted over it, because the “developers” at Machine Zone were too lazy to update or change their games over time. In today’s blog, I wish to discuss the absolute insanity of this marketing scheme that companies like Machine Zone make every day, and succeed at. Let’s have a look.
What is Game of War?
Game of War, released back in 2013, was a Real Time Strategy game that is based around building a kingdom with resources you collect, gold you earn, and armies you raise. Once you build a strong enough kingdom and army, you may have the option to go to war with other kingdoms. In an attempt to steal their resources, and even capture their hero. If you’re not one for going solo, you can make alliances with other players. This will allow to supply each other with various resources, as well as gold, to keep both of your kingdoms afloat. Sounds like a brilliant game concept, right? Well, not quite.
Though the game on paper sounds to be well put together, things begin to slowly fall apart immediately after the tutorial. The game throws you into this false sense of security, giving you free gold and resources so that it may show you how the game works. After that, it sets you on your own, and the tasks slowly begin getting harder and harder. With every objective you complete the costs start getting bigger and bigger. Pretty soon, you start to notice your resources and gold are quickly depleting, and your kingdom is slowly growing desperate. You try building and expanding new parts of your kingdom, only to be met with a time wall that lasts anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, and you don’t have that time. What do you do? Buy the micro-transactions of course.
If it isn’t the obnoxious time walls Game of War throws in your face, they do better advertising their micro-transactions at you, or in this case “bundle packs”. These lovely little packages include huge boosts in gold and resources. They’re the little things that catch your eyes, and for only $2.99, you have no choice but to buy. One way or another, you can and will fall victim to this nasty scheme. You may start the game playing for free, but soon enough, you’ll be tempted by the dark side of micro-transactions.
That is Game of War in a nutshell. A formula that has now been repeated three times.
First Kate, then Arnold, and now Final Fantasy
One of the ways Machine Zone’s games rose to such popularity was due to their commercials featuring famous people and franchises. The most notable being the recent partnership between Square Enix and Machine Zone to create Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire. One of the worst partnerships in history, but the smartest. What better way to make an extra buck than by partnering up with a company that has two of the top grossing games on iOS? It’s a genius idea by Square Enix.
Now, the reason why I’m most upset about this is not only because of the fact that it’s just the same exact game, but the fact that its Final Fantasy. A game series that’s famous for it’s amazing and unique gameplay, it’s incredibly in depth story, and it’s beautifully crafted characters. In case you’re wondering, no, there’s none of that in FFXV: A New Empire. No story, no characters, just a bland, lifeless Noctis telling you how to build your castle. It’s boring, and they could’ve done so much with this game! They could’ve added a story to, they could’ve added better gameplay with the combat, they could’ve come up with a new concept for the game, but they instead simply copy and paste their old formula from their past games, because it’s cheaper and it gives them more money. Its what Machine Zone is best at.
The best solution to this issue is to stop supporting these kind of disgusting business practices. Stop giving in to their micro-transactions, stop supporting their copy & paste method of game design, and show Machine Zone what a real video game looks like. By now, its painfully obvious that the company is simply doing this for money and nothing more. If their use of Arnold didn’t give it away, Final Fantasy certainly does. If we stop supporting groups like this, maybe we can get them to change their ways. Possibly set gaming companies on a better path for the future. Only time will tell.
We all have a choice. We can choose to download and invest money into games like these. We can choose to support these kind of games for having iconic characters advertise them to us. As long as Machine Zone continues making money off their games with their ridiculous micro-transactions, then more companies will soon follow in their footsteps. Hell, they already have. However, that is a choice we all must make. I think this quote by Froghand can sum it up pretty well.
“We’ve entered an ecosystem where games are no longer sold to players, but are instead leased to them piecemeal, where it is perfectly acceptable to create an unfinished product because the sheep just don’t fucking care about their rights as a consumer. And one of the problems that this ecosystem presents is that games have no more room for flavor text and fun, because to have too much fun would mean that there won’t be any more opportunities to sell more of the game to them later on down the line, in micro-transactions and character skins and other devious practices which have, due to the ignorance and disinterest for the disgusting and unwashed gamer masses, become the standard norm for games, paid, free, or otherwise. It is no longer enough for companies to charge eighty dollars – eighty fucking bucks, the price of two week’s worth of groceries – per game, in addition to the four to six hundred dollars for the games console itself, but it is only once they start adding in ways to continue extracting money from you even after you’ve paid this exorbitant price for a luxury product, that they will become placated until they find more ways to nickel and dime you.”
At the end of the day, we the consumer must decide if this is okay.
- DiChristopher, Tom. “Immersive Games Cashing in on Mobile Billions.” CNBC, CNBC, 3 May 2014, http://www.cnbc.com/2014/05/02/on-mobile-more-challenging-games-mean-more-money.html.
- Gilbert, Ben. “How the Abysmal ‘Game of War’ Featuring Kate Upton Makes so Much Money.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 22 May 2015, http://www.businessinsider.com/how-game-of-war-makes-money-2015-5.
- Carter ThomasDecember 8, 2015App Monetization, Blog, Case Studies 25 Comments. “13 Top Grossing Apps That Are Making Way Too Much Money.” Bluecloud Solutions – App Marketing, Bluecloud Solutions, 21 Feb. 2017, http://www.bluecloudsolutions.com/blog/13-top-grossing-apps-revenue/.
- “Machine Zone and Square Enix Announce Partnership to Develop FINAL FANTASY XV Mobile MMO Game.” Business Wire, 7 Nov. 2016, http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161107006256/en/Machine-Zone-Square-Enix-Announce-Partnership-Develop.