The Devil Pays his Due

I’m a superhero fan. Have been since I was a little kid. Fawning over the likes of Adam West and Christopher Reeve. The recent release of the Netflix series of Daredevil, my favourite hero of all time, has me chomping at the bit to get in some heroic action gaming (yet) again.

Stand alone hero games tend to be movie based cash cows with little integrity beyond the models used. There hasn’t been a decent Daredevil game ever. I am bitter even about this.

However, there are titles out there that afford us the privelage of playing as superheroes of some sort. Falling into two categories:

Type A) ones where you craft the hero yourself and play in a vanilla hero world such as City of Heroes/Villains, Champions Online or a defined world, with well known superheroes but not ones you can play, like DC Universe Online.

Type B) ones where you can actually play as the well known heroes themselves, but there are many clones of the same hero, such as Marvel Heroes.

Strangely enough, all of these games are now Free to Play, although many started out as subscription only.

Type A games usually have a character creation routine that can be massaged into producing facsimilies of your favourites, even if it seems like a cheap copyright breaking thing to do.

Theres always a disconnect between the real hero you are trying to recreate and the collection of generic powers you’re trying to assemble into something authentic enough to make you care about it.

Type B games give you exactly what you’re after, but they make you pay for your loyalty to the character. Big time.

There are a handful of characters available from the off, but every one you want needs to be paid for with spacebucks (a disconnected currency that has no real-world meaning to the purchaser), and their extra costumes – the only way you can realise some of the comic book variations of the character – cost as much as unlocking the hero (spacebucks equivalents of 10+ quid!). Then every item you loot from beating down your endlessly spawning foes, fills up your preciously scarce inventory slots. If you want to stash the good stuff away, then you can pay more spacebucks (5 quid) to increase the vaults you have access to. Or if you really want UI comfort, you can buy hero specific vaults for your goodies. Obviously the OCD persons top choice for organising a disorganised flood of voluminous loot items.

So with one single hero character, you can spend upward of 30-40 quid in equivalent meaningless spacebucks, just to get going (character unlock, one alternate costume, a hero specific vault, and an additional general vault). Now you begin to fight crime. With 5 other Daredevils, 3 Hulks, 2 Captain Americas and about 10 Venoms. Suddenly your unique hero, the one you’ve idolised for many years, is just another suit on the block. 

Even Type A games “penny and shilling” (nickle and dime) you over the long run, but it seems so much more agregious when its Type B games. Because they have an IP you love, that you can play, but you’re going to pay for the privelage.

Knowing all this, and completely despising the way free to play games, wrap their mechanics so blatantly around forking out endless streams of money to keep playing, to keep up. I still do it. Because my weak spot is that I want to play as Daredevil. I want to feel the action of the hero I love.

I like creating credible superheros in Type A games, it gives me a framework where I can practice the creativity of Stan Lee, without having to be able to draw each comic frame. I can bring my creations to life. 

Type B games are where all the money is. And they know it.


“the man without fear” (or money)


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