Clash of Clans

Matt Bai, writing for the NYT on George Yao, who spent six months as the world’s top-ranked player in Clash of Clans:

To grasp the extent of Mr. Yao’s immersion in the game, you have to understand a little more about the strategy of Clash. In order to keep your trophy count high, a premier player has to avoid being attacked by other top contenders. You can do this either by staying constantly online or by the protection of a “shield” that usually lasts for 12 hours. You automatically get a shield when an attacker destroys 40 percent of your village or your town hall. […]

In time, he found another, simpler way to shield himself. When a member of North 44 would quit the game, Mr. Yao would take over his account. Then Mr. Yao would use one of his multiple accounts to attack himself when he needed a shield. In order to pull this off, though, he had to keep all of these other accounts highly ranked, which meant playing as many as five accounts at the same time, around the clock. Another wealthy clan member in the United Arab Emirates bought Mr. Yao three iPads to make this feasible — but even then, it was feasible only in the technical sense. At one point, he was bringing five iPads into the shower with him, each wrapped in a plastic bag, so that none of his accounts would go inactive.

Yao is obviously an extreme case, but in-app purchases are driving game design more towards addiction and less towards fun.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014