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 ANDROID FEATURE

Clash Royale - Is Supercell's new multiplayer game pay to win?

I mean, sort of
Product: Clash Royale | Publisher: Supercell | Format: Android, iPhone, iPad
 
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Clash Royale is an interesting one. It's a deep strategic experience with elements of a deck builder, a MOBA, and a tower defence game thrown in. But we're pretty sure that a lot of you are going to be put off by the fact it's free to play.

That's cool, we get it. It's fair to say there's a broad range of opinions here at PG's dirt-hut in the middle of the jungle, and we've had many an argument about the efficacy of free to play as a business model from the consumer's point of view.

But love it or hate it, it's here to stay for the foreseeable future, and I'm going to be honest, Clash Royale isn't really spoiled by the fact you don't have to pay anything to download it.

Sure, it has its stumbling blocks thanks to its monetisation, but I'm still happily chugging along and I haven't spent a penny.

And I guess that's going to be the problem for a lot of people. Chugging along just isn't going to cut it. What if you want to be the best, better than all the rest? Better than anyone. You get the idea.

So is Clash Royale pay to win

Well, let's look at it this way. I've won a decent number of games and I haven't paid anything. You don't need to fork out to beat some foes into submission.

You need to play smart, and you need to take some time off the game every now and then to let your chests open, but for the casual player there's really no need to reach into your digital wallet.

But if you want to challenge the best players, well you've got a couple of options open to you. One of those options involves quitting your job and focusing solely on grinding your way to the best cards.

This will likely take your entire life. If you want to do that, that's fine, but don't blame us if you starve to death.

And the other option is paying. Again, there's a real chance that you'll end up starving to death if you head down this route.

The very best cards are incredibly rare, as you'd expect, and there's no real guarantee you're going to build an unbeatable deck with just one of the top IAPs.

This isn't sounding great

Well, no, but I want to flip the question around now, because I've just had mouth surgery and I'm feeling a little bit light-headed. Let's look at it this way - is Clash Royale pay to enjoy?

And I'm going to say that no, no it isn't. I've been loving my time with the game, and if anything the limitations on play when you don't pay make for an even more strategic experience.

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You need to build the most powerful deck with the cards that you've got, rather than trying to out-muscle your opponent with the cards that you've bought.

And it makes every chest-opening feel even more exciting. Because you know what you're looking for and you know what you need to make the adjustments to your army, pulling out cards has an extra frisson.

Then there's the communal aspect. Being able to swap cards with your clan is great, and the friendly matches are a wonderful way to hone your skills and tactics without getting laughed at or losing any trophies.

The game is pretty well balanced as well. It's rare that you'll come up against an enemy that's going to wipe you off the board, and if you do, well the games only last three minutes so it's not exactly the end of the world.

Okay, well let's wrap this up shall we?

Yes, let's Look I'm not saying that Clash Royale is going to change the way you think about free to play games. It's not going to make you buy your first £79.99 IAP and it's not going to make you solely buy premium titles from now on.

What it is is a decent amount of fun whichever way you choose to play it. There are plenty of tips and tricks on Pocket Gamer that are going to help you get the most out of the game without throwing any money down, and getting together with a group of friends and making a clan will set you in good stead as well.

Is it pay to win? I mean, probably, if you're determined to be the greatest Clash Royale player who ever walked the earth. And if that's your goal, well, good luck to you, I guess.

But do you have to pay to enjoy it? Not at all. I haven't spent a penny and I'm having a lovely old time trouncing people with my lightning spell and my stompy giant.
 

Reviewer photo
Harry Slater 10 March 2016
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