During my blockchain gaming career I've been picking up and dropping many different games. Some I put away immediately after doing one of my Is It Worth Your Time?-style articles. Others I've kept playing and I report on the state of affairs in my weekly Play2Earn Report. There's one category I usually don't talk about a lot, though. Games that I picked up but dropped eventually. Those usually just fade from the Play2Earn Report and are never mentioned again.
9 days ago, I've asked for feedback in that weeks Play2Earn Report and one idea coming from @jelly13 was to change exactly this. Instead of only discussing new games, it would be cool to also look at games that I'm not playing any more and discuss why I've stopped playing them. So that's exactly what I intend to do on a regular basis from now on. The first game I want to talk about in that series is Rabona, a football manager sim on Hive. To make it perfectly clear from the very beginning: The intention of this article is not to badmouth the game. Quite the contrary actually, I still think that Rabona has a lot of potential and if certain things change, I might be back in eventually. What I want to do instead is talk about how I quit the game and take a look at the deciding factors for that decision.
So how did I quit Rabona? I had been playing in league 2 for maybe 5-6 seasons and slowly built up my stadium, trained my team on a daily basis and usually placed somewhere in the middle of the table each season. I enjoyed the game a lot initially, checking in several times each day, picking up players without a contract, selling them for a gain. Over time, my interest decreased a bit and I checked in only once or twice a day. In the end, I was away for the weekend and forgot that the season would end during that time. In consequence, almost half my players had their contract expire and were gone for good.
Picking up enough players to be somewhat competitive again cost almost all my money but in the end I still got relegated to league 3. I struggled on for some more seasons but lost interest more and more until I just decided to let it be and quit playing the game altogether. When the ingame market for RBN was introduced I logged back in to the game to sell my RBN. While I was there, I took a look around the league and found that seemingly a lot of the players in my league 3 had done the same - quitting the game for good. Right now, this is what my league looks like:
So if I read this correctly, there are only two active teams left in that league - HEROS FC and FC Hiddles. Everybody else seemingly quit playing. Now I can obviously only speculate what made the other players quit, but I have several reasons why I lost interest over time. Basically, these are the following:
- Lack of match feedback
- Pay2Win mechanics
- League structure
There are some more issues I had. One being that players are just gone if you didn't remember their contract was ending, but ultimately, those were only minor gripes and wouldn't really have been an issue on its own.
Lack of match feedback
This was my biggest issue right from the start and it's probably the main reason I lost interest in Rabona. I loved the old school German style football manager games. They didn't really have a game engine to present the matches. Instead, they gave some form of life commentary highlighting the key events of a match. This would like that:
Hannes receives the ball in midfield
He's looking around for options
Nobody is free. Hannes is charging towards the corner post
Nobody can keep up with him
He's looking for a target in front of the goal
Fritz is signaling that he's free
The ball is coming perfectly to Fritz
He tries a header and propels it towards the goal
But Otto had seen it coming all along and grabs it without any issue
Those where fun to read, engaging and gave you a good idea of what was going on. They did not tell you about what was rolled on or what your player had to do to make it work. But they gave you an idea. If headers never worked, maybe it was time to train that a bit? Ultimately, these games never told you "that's what you have to do!" but they gave you enough information to try and deduct that yourself. Sadly, Rabona didn't have a feature like that. Instead you were simply given the result and some statistics that didn't really help much.
With such little information given, it was hard to impossible to tell what actually decided the game and what I could have done better to work towards a different outcome. It seems that formation played a huge role in the results as well with certain formations being outright counters to different ones. Turns out if you used the auto line-up, you were always playing 4-3-3, so anybody doing the manual line-up had to simply counter 4-3-3 for easy wins. Again, there was no indication of that, so there was no way to deduct what was happening.
In my first seasons, I would sometimes win 5 matches in a row against the top clubs only to loose the next 5 games to seemingly inferior opponents and I just didn't know why. This both made victories less enjoyable and ultimately lead to me caring for the results less and less. A more active feedback system would fix that for me and if it ever gets implemented, I'll certainly give the game another go!
I've did an article how Pay2Win might be blockchain gaming's downfall and a lot of it applies here as well. I don't mind a bit of Pay2Win in blockchain games, it's more or less part of the genre by now. The thing is, in Rabona they were stacked in a way that I really did not appreciate. You could buy RBN for Hive from the developer and I was okay with that part. Upgrading buildings still took time and if you bought players from the market, the money at least went to other players, so that part was okay. My issue was with training. Once every 23 hours, you could do one training session with your players for free. You could always reset that couldown if you spent some money, though. This reset was not limited, so you could do it as often as you wanted.
Training had diminishing returns and training one stat would reduce other stats. That's where the second mechanic came in. Freezing players. A frozen player was not affected by training, did not grow older, and you could not interact with them in any other way until you unfroze them. So the route to go was freeze your players you don't want to change, do your training and unfreeze them again. This allowed top (spending) players to create the perfect line-up with highly specialized players for each position. In fact that made these players so good, that "normal" players could never reach these kinds of stats during their whole career, also invalidating the whole player progression system.
Rabona had that cool system where young players grow stronger every season and then slowly start to decline once they hit a certain age. This would have allowed for smaller clubs to scout young players, train them for a couple of seasons and then sell them to the big spenders. Because of the above, though, that did not really apply any more - you could just bypass the whole system by spending money on the game.
Now since I never competed for the top spots or in higher leagues any way, this didn't affect me too much, but it's nevertheless a system I really did not like as it invalidates a lot of the games mechanic and warps the economy too much in my opinion. I believe that Pay2Win mechanics should always be designed in a way that they do grant players willing to pay advantages, but there needs to be a limit to the effectiveness of what you can do and that was not the case here.
This was mainly an issue once I had been relegated to league 3. The way the leagues are set up, you have 16 teams in each league. The league's champion moves up a league while the last 4 move down a league. So obviously, for each level of league, there are 4 leagues of the level below it. That leads to a situation where it's really easy to go down but pretty hard to go up again.
This really isn't too bad as long as you are content with the league you are playing in but if you ever move down a league, it becomes really annoying, simply for how hard it is to ever move back up again. This alone wouldn't have driven me away from playing the game probably, but together with the other reasons, it ultimately was the deciding factor that made me quit trying to get up again.
Obviously, there have to be less top leagues than there are lower leagues. Yet I feel like the 4:1 ratio was too harsh. What I would have preferred to see was a classical 2:1 ratio for the lower league - so for each league 2 you'd have two league 3 and for each league 1 you'd have two league 2. This would allow for a second team to move up with 4 teams going down still. The league of champions could still have the 4:1 ratio to make it really exclusive but everything below would be a bit more dynamic that way.
I still think Rabona is a pretty cool game and it could have a lot of potential. With the issues I've described above, though, it's not for me. All it would need to get my interested again is probably a better representation of the match results. Everything else I've mentioned would still annoy me, obviously, but I'd be more willing to bear with them, at least for a while. We'll see what the future holds for the game. It still has a lot of active players in the upper leagues, so there are certainly those that don't mind the aspects of the game that bothered me.
And that's all from me for today. Thank you all for reading and see you next time!
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