Like most people who play games, I took a few months of isolation indoors as an opportunity to play them a lot more. I went through great things: Cyberpunk, Doom Eternal, a highly regarded computer edition Horizon: Zero Dawn. But they all eventually came to their end, either at the end of the game or at a point where the glow simply disappeared.
The games I kept coming back to during the gloomy, stressful period of closure were the ones I had been playing for years. And to my surprise, they were “free.” Striking quotes exist because, as most of us know by now, games designed to be free to play always cost either a huge amount of time because the player goes through a slow lane of play, or money, while paying for skips.
But I found strange consolation in three such games during a pandemic. I especially found myself looking forward to fulfilling their daily challenges and bonuses, despite knowing that these are another key in the freemium toolbox, designed to inspire addictive behavior and regular returns.
Let’s examine first Brawlhalla, free access to platform fights like Smash Bros. it is available on almost every console and operating system. BrawlhallaWIRED developers told WIRED that they measured a significant increase in daily players during the pandemic and attributed the jump to more people at home who want to play with friends.
The game offers a variety of competitive modes and an absolute combination of cosmetic accessories to buy, but I decided to focus on unlocking all the fighters. There are currently a shocking 53 of them, not counting the countless crossovers that cover a crumb of pop culture from WWE wrestling stars to Steven Universe. Each can be purchased with free currency, coins, while the premium currency is reserved for fancy cosmetics. Alternatively, you can spend about $ 20 to open them – my goal was to avoid this pretty reasonable fee.
While some fighters are discounted, at the average rate of coins earned per fight, you would have to play about 10 hours straight to unlock just one of the more expensive characters. Several of them are open for use at any time and rotate every few days, but their simple and easy presentation is a great grind.
Here’s where the daily challenges come from. In addition to the bonus of 50 to 250 coins for logging into the game once a day (bonuses accumulate for simultaneous days), you can earn 250 coins for solving certain challenges – say, winning three rounds or knocking out eight opponents with a fighter spear. Since you also collect gold after each fight, this is quickly added if you play strategically. And not counting the frequent in-game events that offer even more in-game currencies.
“Daily missions are a great way to earn gold, and players pay attention to whether they want to unlock a new favorite Legend or save for a particular color scheme,” says Joshua Kenneth, international project manager at Brawlhalla.
Daily bonuses and missions are a common component of freemium games, encouraging players to sign up often and follow the latest promotions. But small adjustments to the formula make the grind tastier and that’s why I kept coming back. In Brawlhalla you can process up to three of these daily challenges at the same time, and assuming they overlap, it is possible to complete them simultaneously. On top of that, you can rewind one challenge a day, trying something easier, more enjoyable, or something that fits another challenge. “We try to make sure that the missions strike a good balance between variety and style of play, so that there is something interesting for everyone,” says Kenneth.