Seeing as I’m a gamer and carry my iPhone with me everywhere I go, I play a lot of games on it. Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy is a modern flight sim-lite title available on the App Store for $5 that I’ve been playing for a while now and I’ve quite enjoyed it. If I were feeling particularly lazy, I’d probably end this post here, but since I’m not…read on to read the rest of my thoughts on this game, some of which are a bit controversial.
It goes without saying that, for a mobile game, Sky Gamblers looks amazing. Namco-Bandai claims this game is up there with console games and I wouldn’t go that far but it’s astonishingly close. I remember seeing screenshots and thinking it wasn’t too impressive but in motion, it’s fantastic. Definitely one of the benchmark titles available on the iOS platform.
There is a campaign mode and some quick challenges to keep you occupied when away from an internet connection but I didn’t spend much time with either of them, although that’s the best way to unlock the better planes for use in multiplayer. That’s not to say they weren’t entertaining, because they were, the multiplayer was just that much better and is probably what’s going to keep you coming back to this game.
But there’s something troubling about this game that I have to address. I looked at a couple of reader reviews following the most recent 1.2 update and found an interesting commonality. Many are upset because of the injection of microtransactions. Normally, I wouldn’t take much notice, I don’t think DLC or microtransactions are inherently bad and in most cases, they don’t make a game worse. Except in this case, apparently. Once the game was updated, everyone who earned planes and other content like color schemes by simply playing the game lost that content and were required to pay for it if they wanted it back.
This is not okay. These are the kinds of microtransactions that only cheapen the whole of the experience. I’m not personally affected by this because I didn’t get into the campaign before the update and thus didn’t unlock anything to have stripped away from me but I can’t say this is something I’m not worried about because if I find that I can’t simply unlock things as I go, I’m not going to want to really get into this game. I don’t like the idea of having an inherent disadvantage to players who coughed up $3 for the RF26 (one of the best planes) if I can’t simply earn it by playing the game especially when I consider that I could have earned it before. I can go along with a developer allowing people to immediately jump to the head of the class if they’re willing to pay extra but I don’t agree if that’s the only option and it’s even worse, as the case may be here, if content people had already unlocked was taken away under the guise of making a quick buck off of it.
Consider this. What if you worked hard to earn a cheeseburger (or some other food that you particularly like) and had it snatched away from you right after you took that first bite? What then, if the people who took it from you told you that you had now had to pay to get it back, completely invalidating all of the work you did to earn it in the first place? How would you feel about that?
My initial impressions of an otherwise great game are tainted by Namco-Bandai’s shady policies. However, those stupid cash-grabbing policies don’t make this game stop being fun and I’m not going to stop playing it because of them. I already bought the game so all I can do at this point is vote with my wallet and not pay for the DLC. If you can see past the silliness on the part of the developers and like flight sims, go for it and if not, stay away. It’s really that simple. Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy is a genuinely fun game and if I weren’t so principled, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, but since I am I’ll let you decide whether or not this is worth its five dollar price.