Marvel Strike Force
The AggroCast Is Out With A New Episode As the Team Dives Into Marvel Strike Force and some of the shadier sides of the mobile game
The AggroCast crew has some words to say about the mobile game Marvel Strike Force in the latest episode of the podcast. Ray and David dig into what the game is, how hard it can be for new players to get into the mix of it all, if Marvel fans should pay attention, as well as the predatory aspects that the app has built in to abuse those with gambling/gaming addiction.
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AggroCast Resurrected — Marvel Strike Force [Episode Five]
Raymond Bruels: Hi, this is the AggroCast Resurrected with Ray Bruels and David Hades Becker, and we are talking about today the mobile game Marvel Strike Force. Yeah, I know, it’s one of those that we’ve been wanting to talk about for a while, and especially me. I started writing an article about four months ago, and I just could not finish it because every week it’s something new with this game.
David Hades Becker: Right, it’s like, yeah, not even every week, it’s almost every other day.
DHB: Something changes, or they make some tweak or whatever, or they screw up on their own and completely screw over the fan base.
RB: And there are so many YouTube content creators like Frank Hartgrave and BoilOn and ValleyFly and MobileGamer are constantly talking about these screw ups, and it’s got to be just a media rich environment for them because they can just keep going back to all of these mistakes, content galore. But you and I have both been playing it pretty close to inception, if not…
DHB: Pretty much, yeah, almost like at least four or five years or so.
RB: Yeah, since it started, and I used to love this game. I agree with so many people talking about how you’re addicted to this game. And yet I think now I cannot break the habit because I’m too invested.
DHB: Well, too invested financially or just in general?
RB: In general. I try not to spend any money on mobile games. I know I have spent some money because there have been a couple of opportunities where they have screwed up and they have put out offers that were just too good to be true. And I had to jump on them. But what started off for me was simply a game of collecting has now became this strategized…
DHB: Game of hoarding.
RB: Yeah, it’s hoarding. Oh yeah, HordeForce.
RB: Every week you’re having to sit on resources waiting for somebody to tell you when you can spend them because I don’t have the time to read the blog. I don’t know if you read the blog.
DHB: I think I’ve read them maybe two or three times. That’s about it.
RB: And even those are so convoluted that it’s difficult to understand just what the hell they’re doing. All right. And to roll it back, for those who may not know what Marvel Strike Force is, it’s a game that originally was put out by Fox Next. And then it was bought by Scopely, put under the Boundless umbrella. And in 20, was it 2020? They said that they had made $300 million off this game.
DHB: Yeah, I think it was about that.
RB: But they have not posted any financial figures since then that I could find. And all of the envoys, all of these content creators on YouTube and Reddit, part of an envoys system that they get to talk to the developers that are under NDA. They get to see stuff as it’s pre-released. There’s a couple like Tana that actually do deep dives and can read the backend coding. So they kind of see what’s going on…
DHB: Get a better feel on like those random drops or yeah.
RB: Well, and what characters may potentially be next. But we just came through a massive push that they were doing for Apocalypse. Oh my gosh, Apocalypse, Apocalypse, Apocalypse. And this is something else I’ve learned is that they have different categories for people that spend. You’ve got your Whales and your Krakens and your Dolphins and all of the sea life whatsoever has some title. I am nowhere near any of that. I’m kind of a casual player for the most part.
DHB: Well, I am allergic to fish, so I’m not even in the swimming pool because I haven’t spent a single dime on this game.
RB: That would kill you. You are allergic to seafood. When you look at the game and you’re having to spend money to keep up or even to finish some of the events that they’re doing, like I didn’t get anywhere close to unlocking Apocalypse. And right after Apocalypse, this giant push, they then had Kang.
DHB: Yeah, Kang. But that I think was to work in with the Ant-Man movie more than anything.
RB: Well, the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, the new series of movies that are coming out with Kang focus, although that’s going to be interesting sidebar with what happened in the news recently with that actor.
DHB: Oh, yeah. With Jonathan Majors. Yeah.
RB: Yeah. We’re going to have to see what happens or if that’s going to be another Ezra Miller type situation.
DHB: Yeah, we’ve spent so much time and effort. We have to figure a way to keep this going.
RB: Yeah. So we have this game, Marvel Strike Force. And really, it was Frank Hartgrave that taught me a lot through his content about just how predatory mobile games in general are. I never paid much attention, but I was never a big mobile game player. My partner, Juliet, is more of a mobile game player, but she has that superpower. If she plays a game for like two months right after the sweet spot, after they kind of lure you in and then she jumps to a new game, because that’s the trick, right? They have this trickle where they get you in and they’re giving you stuff and they’re like, yeah, this is great.
DHB: Here’s all the free shit. Now you got to pay.
RB: Yeah. I’ve got the rush of dopamine every time I get to open something and…
DHB: Makes all the ‘chinging’ noises.
RB: Yeah. And then it starts to slowly trickle down and it’s like, oh, well, if you want to continue only for a fee of $4.99. Although with Marvel Strike Force, some of these offers $99.
DHB: Right. And not even guaranteeing that you can unlock something. It wasn’t there one recently that was like almost two grand you’d have to drop.
DHB: And you might be able to unlock something.
RB: And that’s the thing with these loot boxes that they get you with having to earn these shards and they’re like, oh, you can possibly earn up to 180 shards of a character for $4.99 or whatever. But then you open it up and it’s like, oh, I got 10.
RB: And so you have to keep grinding.
DHB: Well, that’s because they also obfuscate the actual drop rates because you can go through. But I think the other day I went there and I was like, let’s see what the drop rate is on. I think it was Dark Beast. And I saw it was like, if you open up the specific one, you could buy to get 180. It said it was like a point zero 3% or something like that, that you can get 180 shards of this one character, whereas like 90% you get two.
RB: Yeah, they have truly mastered the ability to milk people.
DHB: And they also hide it multiple layers down because I had to go through four different clicks to even see those numbers. And I don’t even think those numbers I saw were the correct ones. They’re probably rounded up from what the actual, you know, behind the scenes code gives them.
RB: Well, content creator Boilon, he recently released a video talking about he went to Scopley’s website for careers and how many jobs they have open and their internships for like code testing and things like that. And it’s like, well, that explains a lot. No wonder you’re making so many mistakes. If you’re not testing this, any of this code before you’re pushing and you’re, you’re a tech guy, you know how that works.
DHB: Definitely know how that works. But they can also just easily have a turnover as well. Because most of the time though, they’ll hire a bunch of people and they get tired of, you know, the bullshit at the work environment, let alone, you know, the actual game stuff. And they just bounce on their own.
RB: I have not talked to anyone at Scopley or even Boundless. And I wonder how much of it marketing people at Scopley pushing for all of this money and the monetization of the game?
DHB: I’m almost certain that’s probably a majority of it all. They probably have a couple of developers, a couple of programmers, a lot of stuff making it up, making everything function, but there are probably people in the background doing the whole like, how do we trick people into paying this money? How do we get, how do we put enough out there to where you’re two, two shards away. So it was like, I guess I’ll pay $5 just so I can get those two that I’m missing to unlock this character to level up this character.
RB: Well, there are so many YouTube videos about that psychology and the history behind it, because I guess there was a game that you could get a skin for your horse and that’s all it was, was a skin.
DHB: Yeah. It was horse armor.
RB: But they learned that people would pay it. And so it has just grown into this thing. And there’s an awesome video where there is a developer that talks about all of the gimmicks. He basically lays it out for other developers on how to just milk the system. And here we are, five years later, still playing this damn game and still getting frustrated every week as they pull some new crap.
DHB: They trickle out enough new stuff to keep you hooked. And at the same time, it’s deploying the same thing EA tried to do with Battlefront, where it’s like…
RB: Oh, yeah…
DHB: Which is interesting that people don’t harp on these type of games as much as they did on EA, because EA got hammered for that where they had to remove massive chunks of the game to go, “okay, it’s playable now.” And you don’t have what you pay for is what you actually get.
RB: Well, and I think it’s because I feel like the mobile game industry in terms of players may be smaller than the overall gaming world.
DHB: No, it’s the other way around. Mobile gaming is bigger than console and PC gaming, because who doesn’t have a phone in their pocket?
RB: That’s true.
DHB: And I can name tons of people who don’t have a PS5 or an Xbox Series X or a gaming PC.
RB: Is it maybe that EA got hammered more because they’re just a bigger name?
DHB: Well, that and I think at the time, they were the one who did they did it the most blatantly where the unlock you got was Darth Vader. And effectively, he just killed everybody in the game. So if you paid the $45 or whatever it was to get him, you know, just you had the best kill death ratio in the game. And gamers saw that real fast. I think it was just because it was a Star Wars IP. So you had the Star Wars fans watching, you had the hardcore gamers who were playing back because it was Battlefront 2, not Battlefront 1. So who were carried over from the original one, they saw it and all that stuff. And EA had a bunch of other things going on with loot boxes and all their other games. I think that was the one that that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
RB: Yeah, as you said, though, so there are more there are more mobile gamers out there, you would think that people would pay more attention to the fact especially like Marvel Strike Force. It’s rated T for teen. So you know the age demographic and…
DHB: What it’s supposed to be…
RB: What it’s supposed to be and all of the fans of the Marvel comics and franchise on top of all of that, then you have essentially gambling because you’re buying these loot boxes, you’re buying a pool of slot machine and living in Vegas, we know what that’s like.
DHB: And they’re using similar tactics that you would use in gambling to do that is like, Oh, just one more. I’ll definitely get it one more pull. That’s all I need. I’ll hit the jackpot.
RB: And even looking at the gold and the power that you need to run some of the challenges, I don’t know about you, but I never paid much attention to it. I would run my power and I’d be like, Oh, I have like eight left, but it takes 10 to use. So you either use what they call power cores to refresh those things, or I would just let it go. But I know having talked to Frank that there are folks that are like, No, but I got to spend those last eight. I’ve got to find a way to spend those last eight.
DHB: Well, there’s also the same people it’s like when you look at your radio dial, it’s either even odd or multiples of five. So you have people who have that mindset where I have to clear this or I have to have this thing even though I even though I can’t use five power for anything, as long as I’m there, I’m okay. But if you’re at six, you’re like, I got to figure a way to spend this.
RB: That’s so funny. You brought that up. I’m like that with my TV volume, what it used to be. I’d be like, it only could be an even number or a five.
RB: I’ve since relaxed on that. But it’s so funny. You bring that up.
DHB: But that’s how a lot of people are. And when you see those extra ones out there, that’s one of the predatory actions that can be done is well, you can spend a little more and get that extra so you can zero out or hit that even number or whatever. I even find myself because I like to have everything cleared out. Also, they’re watching the time ticker. So it gives you that one extra power to go from nine to 10. So I’d be like, yeah, I’m just going to burn it and then wait, wait until I know it’s going to be fully refreshed later on.
RB: I am so addicted that I found a way to play it on my desktop. So while I was writing an article today for Aggrogamer, I was running my dailies. And I’m just like, okay, this is because I also have to ask myself and I’m going to ask you, do you still have fun with the game?
DHB: In some aspects, I do. Mainly it’s the I enjoyed the collecting and getting you know, seeing how some of the characters build together. And even when they put out the rare times actually put more story into the thing. I enjoy that. But at the end of the day, it comes down to where I’m just going through the motions until that happens again.
RB: Yeah, because I am a collector. I have the collector bug. I was a comic book collector. I played Magic the Gathering. So I know that I have that desire to just collect it all. An achievement hunter in many ways for video games. I did that in the City of Heroes. I collected every achievement that I could. And so I love trying to unlock the new characters, but there are some characters I know I will never unlock. And it was funny with that last big push for Apocalypse. I kept hearing so many people, both content creators, as well as even people in my Alliance Discord talking about how they were going to just leave the game after they unlocked him. And now, especially because they unlocked him, he wasn’t that great.
RB: They did all of that work to push all of those characters up to be able to unlock him. And then they’re like, oh, well, you got them. But now here’s Kang. But even now, Kang’s not that great.
DHB: But you said there is it was all push for you to spend all of your resources building up other characters in the idea you’re going to get some amazing character. And now that people are sitting there without their stuff, now they got to go buy more. Or they have to sit there and grind out more.
RB: And they still, there’s so many people that still play the game. They just refuse to leave. And what’s funny is if you get on Facebook or Reddit, how many people defend this game? And I’m like, are you purposely being obtuse about what’s going on? Or are you somehow seeing something that I and all of the other people that I know that are not seeing? Because gosh, there are so many defenders of this game.
DHB: Well, I’m almost certain a lot of the defenders, it’s because they spent so much time, they’ve put so much money into it. They don’t want to feel like they’ve wasted that. So they’re going to defend it no matter what going, no, no, I didn’t waste five years of my life and thousands of dollars. This game is still good, even though it’s not or they don’t want to recognize the fact that they got swindled.
RB: Sunk cost fallacy. It happens with every game you spend money on, especially for a long period of time. We’ve seen it in tabletop games, we’ve seen it in LARPs. And so yeah, I really think that’s the issue with Marvel Strike Force is it’s sunk cost fallacy. Yeah, so Marvel Strike Force. And the thing is they can keep it going.
DHB: Yeah, as long as they have new characters. I mean, they’re even making new characters just for the game. And yeah, so they have three that they made originally for the game in a branched out sense in the other stuff. But I have a feeling as long as they get that license, they’re going to keep doing that. And when they run out of original content from the Marvel universe, we’ll just slap somebody together like Deathpool. Easy one to put together. Deadpool and Death had a kid.
RB: Well, and one of the best characters in the game was one they created.
RB: Yeah, she’s supposed to be getting a new costume.
DHB: I actually unlocked that one yesterday.
RB: Oh, I have not. See, and this is the thing. This is how they get you. Because your buddies, you’re like, oh, did you get this thing? I totally got this thing. God, now I want that thing. And even the scrolling thing at the bottom of the game where you’re like, oh, your buddy in the Alliance just pulled 2 million gold from a gold orb. Well, I want to pull 2 million gold.
DHB: Why don’t I ever get to pull 2 million? But I’m going to do it now.
RB: And I swear they throttle stuff back because there have been a couple of instances after they’ve screwed up and they’ve given us rewards that suddenly I no longer get the same level of rewards that was getting opening things. So the new player experience. When I started looking to write that article, I created a brand new account because I have a problem. I’m still playing that account. But if you’re a brand new player, don’t ever come near this game because you are never going to be able to catch up. A lot of the current events I can’t touch with my new account, even though the accounts like level 65 now.
DHB: Yeah, I mean, I’ve been playing almost since inception. I couldn’t even do the Apocalypse one because I was missing a couple of shards for one character. And because I got locked out, not even a new player. So I can’t even imagine a new player coming in. Like, I’d like to even just try some of these.
RB: Well, you need millions and millions of gold to level them up to a point where you can actually participate. Like this newest event, because they introduced the Invaders and they’ve got a multiversal World War II Captain America, which one of his animations is summoning like a Sherman tank. And to basically play through some of that content, you have to have gotten the Rebirth, Rebirth teams, team members to a certain point that you can then use them for his and I’m like, oh my God, are you kidding me?
DHB: Exactly. Even with that, when that one started up, I had to grind some of those characters just to get it, get it so I can run those, run those little missions and play out, even just play out the story sort of it all, not the difficult version that gets you even more stuff to unlock.
RB: Well. And then they had the St. Patrick’s Day event and specific…
DHB: Really, because I didn’t get anything from that.
RB: Well, so they had the currency at least. And so in the store, they had the little shamrock, but everything in there was crap for the most part. And they’re about to turn it over to Easter. So we’re going to we’re going to earn like Easter eggs or something.
DHB: Well, yeah, but also they had the special Thor: Ragnarok or whatever Hulk costume. And that was the only thing that felt worthwhile at all. And I don’t know anybody who got it outside of people who paid money because I was looking at there was no way to grind it out as a free player.
RB: I have seen people in Crucible, which is one of the aspects of the game where you fight against other player’s teams. I’ve seen somebody that had it there, but I couldn’t get enough costume shards. There are times where I get this message, which perhaps I should be paying more attention, but my costume credits expire and they turn them into something else. And I’m like, what the hell is this? I don’t even understand how some of that works.
DHB: To clarify for that, it’s what happens is when those ones, it’s the specific ones for those characters of that event, then they turn into the generic ones, which gets you the they have the 12 that are always just sitting in there. But after you get those, they just sit there and keep accumulating until into perpetuity.
RB: But, you know, even with the expiration of those credits, I still don’t have enough to buy another costume. Like, I think maybe four of my characters have alternate costumes. Like Shang-Chi, I wanted the movie version as opposed to his comic version. It’s convoluted, it’s frustrating, and they get you.
DHB: To get the value of it, playing as a free player, I fully get the value out of it. I don’t understand how anybody would get a value spending any money on it.
RB: Well, especially thousands and thousands of dollars, because I understand they’ve got the leaderboards and people want to be on top and there’s like one guy, he must spend thousands of dollars to be on top of the leaderboards like he is. But at the end of the day, when they decide to pull this game and pull the servers down, what do you have for it?
DHB: You have nothing. Because it’s pretty much you have to delete the app anyways because it’s going to just sit there and taking up space on your…
RB: Are you going to put it on a resume? If you’ve got that much disposable income and it’s bringing you that much enjoyment, I guess, that reaches a point where if you spent thousands of dollars, you could have bought a convertible and had your midlife crisis.
DHB: Yeah, exactly. I think it was something you mentioned earlier on the predatory and gambling aspects of it all. And it comes down to that’s kind of the bigger focus of all of that is you have people who think they’re getting value out of it when they’re not. And they’re using these deceptive practices to give you that dopamine so you feel it, you’re like, oh yeah, I feel great. But there’s characters on there that I guarantee people paid money for. They probably haven’t even looked at even though they paid hundreds of dollars on it because they got their quick fix and now they’re moving on to the next thing.
RB: Well, and every character that comes out today, there’s a better character tomorrow.
RB: There are so many characters that have been unlocked. They force you eventually to have to use them for some bullshit event. But for the most part, there’s so much bloat in terms of the characters and there’s the power bloat. Like I saw it with card games and especially Magic where, well, okay, we’ve got this tricky mechanic, but now we have to escalate to a new tricky mechanic and a new deck build. And now we have all of these teams that are just escalations of escalations. So how do you even balance this kind of thing?
DHB: I haven’t seen a single way to do that because in the arena, we’re playing against another team and all that stuff just one on one. Almost all of the ones, because I’m at like the number 200 rank or whatever. Everybody’s running the exact same team I have. It’s just different power levels for each of the characters. And it’s either the Infinity Watch, the Darkhold team, or my personal favorite one, which is the Eternals and the New Warriors. I don’t see anything else in there except for that because that’s where the current power bloat is. As soon as somebody figures out the next one, that’s all that’s going to be in the top 200 places. There’s going to be variations of who spent more money or spent more time grinding out these levels and all that stuff.
RB: Yeah, because even Gamma, which was the Red Hulk, Incredible Hulk, She-Hulk, Brawn, and… Abomination… They were really great. And now they’re kind of middling.
DHB: Well, even when you put them up against the Uncanny X-Men, the one where we were introducing Rogue and Gambit for the first time, that one’s even more like way more powerful than that one. That one came out way before the Gamma team. And it’s just they don’t do any balancing, which I guess is why they need the testers and developers. Because I think they just put everything in like, it works, let’s let it go. People aren’t complaining. Or when people complain, they just over-correct the other way and things become unusable.
RB: That over-correction, it’s a knee-jerk reaction. And often it goes completely too far.
DHB: Because one of my favorite teams early on was the Guardians. And they worked out amazing. Now I laugh at them every time I see somebody put that team up against me because I was like, I could probably beat you with one of my characters because of how stupidly they reduced everything down.
RB: The only character that is really worth a damn on that team is Gamora.
DHB: I throw her over on Infinity Watch.
RB: Yeah, oh yeah.
DHB: And that’s the thing is she’s not really the Guardians anymore. She’s on a different team.
RB: Yeah, well, and they’ve done that with a bunch of characters. And me being the purist that I am for Marvel Universe, I was trying to build the teams as they were in the comics. And I’m just like, okay, great. So Magneto really isn’t part of the Brotherhood anymore. He’s a Death Seed. But to then add a positive of the game, as we’re about to wrap up, I love the art. Whoever they have as their art director or their art team does a great job in rendering.
DHB: Oh yeah, I would love to have, even to the current background they have for the fifth anniversary, where they have every character they’ve released, I’d love to just be able to see that outside of the loading screen that comes in. You could see where they took the time to actually draw each of the characters. We’ll just copy and paste everything in and call it a day.
RB: Well, I don’t know if you saw when they first released that, it was before they had announced the Invaders. And I saw Union Jack in there. I’m like, ha, ha, ha, okay. But yeah, whoever’s doing it.
DHB: Well, yeah, because it was that, there’s the Agent Venom one that comes splashing every now and then.
RB: Well, and that one you could actually get off their Twitter.
RB: Because I pulled that down because I was like, I love Agent Venom. Flash Thompson was awesome as Venom. And they did a great job with that. And occasionally on Facebook, they would post up the art. I really feel bad for their customer service and their social media marketers because of how much they get hammered because of the mistakes that are made.
DHB: Oh, easily. Yeah, they’re guaranteed they’re having to field… Or they’re just drunk all the time.
RB: Well, it’s funny. I once thought perhaps they were making some of these mistakes on purpose, like they were planned. But now, they legitimately make these mistakes and then they’re having to overcorrect or they get these bullshit responses like Cerebro, one of the community managers put out recently, really frustrated a lot of people. It’s like, you’re not giving us anything. This is the fifth anniversary event for this game. And we really, up to last week, we hadn’t really gotten anything out of them. And then they tried to backpedal on a mistake they made that would have given us something. And then ultimately they gave it to us anyway.
DHB: Yeah, exactly.
RB: I’m like, you know, if you were a little more generous and proactive about things, you wouldn’t have to constantly eat so much crow.
DHB: Their fan base wouldn’t complain. They could probably get more people who are willing to spend the $5 or $10 here and there instead of only having to rely on Whales and Kraken and all the other massive, you know, Cthulhus out there.
RB: Yeah, yeah. Well, and if they actually offered value in the store, the online store, even the app store, it would be worth it. But yeah, $99, I don’t think so.
DHB: Yeah, I don’t even think so for like the $2.99 ones.
RB: Yeah. So yeah, Marvel Strike Force sunk cost fallacy. This has been Ray and David and we will catch you next week.
RB: Little did Ray and David know how right they were regarding the frequency of issues and problems with Marvel Strike Force. These are just some of the issues since the recording of the Marvel Strike Force episode, creation of a new in-game currency, Ultracores. A login calendar, which provides bonus items for players logging in, went live creating issues with items that were meant for the end of the month’s Angel’s Army Milestone, requiring deactivation and promise of compensation. Issue with the rule, Britannia event node causing game crashes. Quarter Blitz event failed to launch as expected. Marvel Strike Force player voice Discord movement grows amongst the community and gain support from Twitch and YouTube content creators. This is a movement in hopes to save the Marvel Strike Force game due to the various issues and problems that have come up over the years. In a stroke of insensitivity towards its Japanese uber-Kraken in the Dano Mac, they release an April Fool’s offer that has the appearance being written in broken English. Blog Post comes out introducing the next legendary character coming to the game, Nova. All the while, players are actively expending resources to acquire the Invader’s characters. Same Blog Post introduces a new game level, Dark Dimension 6 with a new character Super Skrull. Again, same Blog Post introduces the coming gear tier 18 when gear for tier 17 is not farmable. News of Scopely, the parent company of Boundless Entertainment, announced that they were being acquired by Savvy Games which is part of the Saudi Arabian government’s public investment fund. Uber-Kraken in player to Dano Mac quits. Reports of issues with the villain’s hard chapter 7 necessitate a post regarding the soon coming corrections. Incursion Invaders event suffers delays and I am sure that with the coming days there will be more issues with Marvel Strike Force.
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