Gameloft released Iron Man 3 for iOS and Android over the past 24 hours. This is a game the company has been hyping up lately through trailers. It’s an endless runner (or endless flyer) in which Iron Man has to fly, shoot and dodge for as long as he can. Failure is inevitable, but that’s something we’ve come to expect from the endless runner genre. Iron Man 3 is also free. That means in-game purchases are available, and since this is Gameloft we’re talking about, many were expecting this system to be abused. Shortly before the game’s release, we learned Gameloft sunk to a new low by introducing timers to the game. To get an idea of just how restrictive Gameloft decided to make Iron Man 3, I played the game for about an hour or so. Here’s what I found.
There are two kinds of currency in Iron Man 3. You have Stark Credits which can be acquired during each run, and there is ISO-8. ISO-8 is a premium currency that was very prominent in Avengers Initiative which came out in 2012. There are situations that call for each type of currency. For example, Iron Man’s armor gets damaged after every run. Before you can play with that armor again, you have to wait until it’s repaired. In my time with the game so far, the longest I’ve had to wait for a repair was around 22 seconds. I haven’t been able to determine what makes the timer increase. It could get higher depending on how long you’ve been playing, and/or it may be tied to your level. You can spend a single unit of ISO-8 to repair the armor instantly. Considering how Gameloft provides you with well over 100 ISO-8 from the start, this isn’t too bad. Still, at this point in the game, I question the need for a timer in the first place. Just because the timer has not yet been restrictive doesn’t mean it has a place within the game. Also, there could come a time when repairing armor could take minutes. That’s when the timer can become a real issue. This is an endless runner we’re talking about. Creating some farce about damaged armor and needing to speed up the process to stop the bad guys is pretty slimy.
The other big reason for two kinds of currency is building more Iron Man armor. This is where Gameloft is going to make its money. First of all, you’re only given enough space to use three suits at one time. If you want more space, you’ll have to spend at least 35 ISO-8. There are 18 suits total. That comes to at least 525 units of ISO-8 to purchase enough space to use them all at will. 500 units of ISO-8 costs $4.99. You can also unlock every suit for 15,000 ISO-8. Unlocking all the suits instantly will cost you $100.
That’s not even the best part. After you spend either XP or ISO-8 to unlock armor, you have to spend Stark Credits to build it. The Mark II armor requires 7,000 Stark Credits to build. By the time I unlocked this armor, I only had around 2,800 Stark Credits available. If I wanted to get more, I could grind for a long time, or buy ISO-8 and exchange it for Stark Credits. In other words, you can’t just buy Stark Credits outright. 30,000 is the lowest amount of Stark Credits you can buy for 200 ISO-8. 150 units of ISO-8 costs $1.99. The next tier is 500 ISO-8 for $4.99.
So, now you can use the armor right? Wrong! Now you have to wait for the armor to build. Spend some more ISO-8 and you can have it instantly. Oh the hoops we have to jump through just to fly around for a couple minutes in some new armor!
Based on my experience, it seems the real hangup about this game isn’t just the timers, it’s the amount of money it takes to get new suits of armor. Iron Man 3 just doesn’t give you enough Stark Credits, XP or ISO-8 to unlock armor at a reasonable pace. The basic game is fun, but the lack of progression may cause it to get stale for some players.