Vainglory: Monetizing a skill-based free to play game (Part 3)

This post is part of a series about Vainglory. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Pay-to-win must be the most hated term for core gamers. Nothing is worse than a game where you can buy your way to the top - it kills any competition between players because the game is no longer about skill, but about deep pockets. Vainglory will have to avoid ever going down this alley.

Monetization in MOBAs

There are two prevalent monetization models in MOBAs: Pay to unlock heroes, and pay for cosmetics. While League of Legends implements lets players pay both for new heroes and custom skins and item models, Dota 2 gives players access to all heroes but charges for custom skins, custom HUDs and tickets to watch tournaments through the game client.

The so-called hero rotation is the corner stone of the first monetization approach: Often MOBAs have dozens to hundreds of heroes, with a subset of them being "free to play". The heroes that are free to play frequently changes, and players can unlock a hero to be able to play them at any time.

Vainglory follows this model. Currently there are 10 heroes, and 6 of them are free to play. The hero rotation changes every week, and players can spend two types of in-game currency to unlock these characters. The first currency is called Glory, which players get through playing matches. The second one is ICE — short for Incredibly Concentrated Evil — the premium currency players can buy for real money. The price for each hero varies between €2,30 and €6,75 (with additional discounts if larger packages of ICE are bought).

So far Vainglory doesn't offer any character customization, but it's probably only a matter of time until it gets introduced. As it stands Vainglory is as far away from pay-to-win as all other MOBAs, and it's likely that it will stay that way.

This concludes our series on Vainglory. If you liked this in-depth look at various aspects of a mobile game, let us know which game we should look at next in the comments!

The Vainglory Series

Christian Ress

Co-Founder of PlaytestCloud. Currently playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

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