Like most people who play games, I took advantage of several months of isolation indoors to play a lot more. I went through the big ones: Cyberpunk, Eternal Doom, the popular PC version of Horizon: Zero Dawn. But all of them eventually came to an end, either at the end of the game or when the shine simply wore off.
The games I kept coming back to during the dreary and stressful lockdown were the ones I had been playing for years. And to my surprise, they were the ones who were “free”. The obvious quotes are there because, as most of us now know, games designed as free-to-play always cost either a lot of time, as the player walks the slow lane of the game, or money. because they pay to jump.
But I found strange solace in three of these games during the pandemic. In particular, I found myself eager to take on their daily challenges and bonuses, knowing that this is another key in the freemium toolkit, designed to inspire addictive behavior and regular feedback.
Let’s take a look at Brawlhalla, a freemium version of platform fighters like Smash Bros. which is available on just about all consoles and operating systems. BrawlhallaThe developers of WIRED told WIRED they had measured a huge increase in the number of daily gamers during the pandemic and attributed the jump to more people at home wanting to play with friends.
The game has a variety of competitive modes and an absolute assortment of cosmetic additions to buy, but I chose to focus on unlocking all of the fighters. Right now, there are a shocking 53, not counting a myriad of crossovers spanning a handful of pop culture wrestling stars from WWE to Steven Universe. Each can be purchased with free currency, coins, while premium currency is reserved for the most sophisticated cosmetics. Alternatively, you can spend around $ 20 to open them all – my goal was to avoid this rather reasonable fee.
While some fighters get a discount, at the average rate of coins earned per fight, you’ll need to play around 10 hours straight to unlock just one of the more expensive characters. A handle can be used at any time, and they rotate every few days, but getting them all in an easy way is a huge chore.
This is where the daily challenges come in. In addition to a 50-250 coin bonus for logging into the game once per day (bonuses stack for concurrent days), you can earn 250 coins to complete specific challenges, for example, winning three rounds or knocking out eight opponents with a spear hunter. Since you also accumulate gold after each fight, it adds up quickly if you play strategically. And that’s without counting the frequent in-game events that offer even more in-game currency.
“Daily Missions are a great way to earn gold, and players pay attention to them whether they’re looking to unlock a new favorite Legend or saving for a particular color scheme,” says Joshua Kenneth, the international project manager on Brawlhalla.
Daily bonuses and missions are a common element of freemium games, encouraging the player to log in frequently and keep up to date with the latest promotions. But it’s the little tweaks to the formula that make the grind more palatable and keep me coming back. In Brawlhalla you can bank up to three of these Daily Challenges at a time, and assuming they overlap, you can complete them simultaneously. On top of that, you can re-roll one challenge per day, trying something easier, more enjoyable, or that matches another challenge. “We try to make sure that the missions strike a good balance between variety and styles of play so that there is something interesting for everyone,” says Kenneth.