Command & Conquer: Legions is supposed to be the mobile revival for the dusty — no, almost decayed — RTS brand. Yet, in an interview, the developers market pay-to-win mechanics as balancing justice.
What happened? For more than eight years, Guided co-founder Kevin Willing has been working in the field of video game journalism. This includes annual visits to gaming events and interviews with developers, some of whom make questionable statements about their games. This was also the case in my interview with Level Infinite about the game “Command & Conquer: Legions”, in which the team tried to defend pay-to-win allegations with, “It’s only fair this way.”
Command & Conquer Legions: Pay-to-Win Game & Brazen Defense
Mobile games are synonymous with pay-to-win for many players. To the dismay of old fans, this also applies to the Command & Conquer series. Especially strategy games try to sell boosts and shortcuts to players with long wait times.
We were thus prepared for the interview with Level Infinite, who were to proudly present us with the latest installment of the C&C series. As you can imagine, pay-to-win is at the top of the list of must-have features for C&C: Legions. It wouldn’t be so bad if the developer admitted it. Instead, when trying to explain the mighty in-game shop, they kept glancing at the “watcher” in the room. Accordingly shaky was their defense of the shop:
That’s the Interview:
Kevin: (…) and can you shorten the long wait times for base construction with a premium currency?
Developer: Yes, you can shorten your construction times if you buy and use this currency (points to premium currency).
Kevin: Don’t I have to expect unfair advantages as a player if I don’t buy real money currency?
After a brief eye contact with the watcher, the pay-to-win mechanic was sold to us as a fantastic feature:
Developer: There are players who have a lot of time to play. But there are also players who don’t have much time. Our premium currency offers no unfair advantage because some invest their time and others their money, so it balances out.
The developer implies that all players would play Command & Conquer: Legions and either invest time or offset their time disadvantage with money. They overlook the fact: there are also players who have time and money and use both to become stronger as quickly as possible.
Apart from that, players in Legions only need a few minutes to click on “Upgrade” and “Recruit”. Lack of time for such mobile games is not a secondary, but a tertiary problem.
What does this mean? Here we are treated as journalists and players as if we were simply foolish. However, the unknown employee in the corner of the room finds this explanation convincing enough to nod shakily. That’s not enough for us, and we contacted the developers again to ask for a statement.
Where is the statement? After brief contact, it was cut off just as quickly. We have not received an official statement even two weeks after the request.
What can you buy with money in C&C Legions? In Legions, you mainly invest your money to accelerate just about all gameplay aspects:
- Faster resource production
- Faster troop training
- Faster construction speed
There is another way: The best 5 mobile games in 2023
What about past free-to-play spin-offs of Command & Conquer?
C&C Legions is unfortunately not the first reissue of Command & Conquer to shoot itself to the moon with a real money shop. Two games in advance, a browser and a mobile spin-off, died of the same disease:
- Tiberium Alliance (2012)
- C&C: Rivals (2018)
In both titles, you could buy significant advantages with real money currencies, and not cheaply either. The cheapest real money package in Rivals was priced at €10.
More mobile game developers are defending pay-to-win wrongly
Not only the team from Command & Conquer: Legions tries to defend itself, but Clash of Clans also feels obliged to do so. In a Reddit survey from 2021, about 4,000 users voted on whether Clash of Clans is pay-to-win.
The result is astonishing:
- Yes — 1,800 votes (45%)
- No — 2,200 votes (55%)
Apparently, while many players don’t consider the game pay-to-win, almost the same number of users think it is. Well, but the responses of some developers in this post sound similar to our interview:
Developer Darian (COC) writes,
The term “Pay 2 Win” has become so ingrained in the vernacular that people no longer know what it means. (…) Everyone has the same access to content; the only difference is how long someone takes to achieve something.
But is that true? Are we players just too spoiled by fair games and wrongly label balancing mechanics as pay-to-win? For that, we take a look at the definition of the term:
What is the definition of pay-to-win?
The ability and/or practice of exchanging real-world currency for an in-game benefit.
To us, the official definition of P2W reads suspiciously like the descriptions of mobile game developers and their in-game shops. It’s not about permanently barricading something behind a paywall. The term already refers to gaining advantages. Isn’t it an advantage if I build a base with money that regular players can only invade months later because their troops are too weak?
My conclusion: Command & Conquer: Legions (and other titles) are games that aim to take money out of users’ pockets using well-known brands. This is then defended with baseless statements like it’s just another form of time investment. After the interview, as likable as the team may be: Stay away from Command and Conquer: Legions.
And there are so many good mobile games that show that it can be done without pay-to-win, not only have we shown that, but YouTuber JCF also presents the banger releases of the upcoming year 2024:
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