At this point, you'd think free-to-play developers like NetEase would have run out of brands to slap on top of the typical free-to-play genres we're all familiar with, and then a new disappointing announcement comes rolling in. It would appear that NetEase is working on a licensed The Lord of the Rings game, which just popped up on the Play Store for pre-registration. It's called The Lord of the Rings: Rise to War, and even though neither the Play Store trailer nor the screenshots show a lick of gameplay, we already know this title will land as a typical free-to-play kingdom builder.
In August, we learned that Pokémon Unite would be making its way from the Nintendo Switch to Android and iOS on September 22nd, which is today. After a brief pre-load period yesterday, Unite's mobile servers are now officially live. This is a free-to-play 5v5 MOBA that offers a slick Pokémon theme, but it's also a Tencent title, and so it's packed with in-app purchases, some of which can be used to gain an advantage over non-paying players, ensuring Pokémon Unite is pay-to-win. Luckily this is a casual MOBA, so the competitive scene is nothing like Dota 2 or League of Legends, dulling the edge of the pay-to-win monetization.
IGN has just revealed that Rogue Games plans to publish a new Wipeout racing game for mobile called Wipeout Rush, but it's not a typical futuristic racer. Nope, it's a card game disguised as a racer, and early screens have already revealed that there are multiple currencies as well as a stamina system, and so fans are rightfully upset. Wipeout Rush should is slated for release sometime in 2022, and there's a trailer available if you'd like to take an early look.
During a recent Nintendo Direct, Zynga has revealed that it's working on a free-to-play Star Wars game for the Nintendo Switch as well as mobile platforms like Android and iOS. The game is called Star Wars: Hunters, and it's coming to mobile this year. It's described as a competitive arena combat game that should offer real-time cross-play squad battles, though Zynga hasn't actually shown off any gameplay despite releasing a teaser trailer. Still, it seems clear Zynga is creating a Fortnite clone with a Star Wars skin, which is difficult to get excited about.
At the end of last month, it was revealed that Marvel Future Revolution would land on mobile on August 25th. That day is today, and so Marvel's latest free-to-play RPG is finally available on both Android and iOS. Much like how Genshin Impact, NieR Re[in]carnation, and Sky: Children of the Light raised the bar for the quality of mobile games, Marvel Future Revolution is a highly polished release, at least as far as the presentation goes. At its core, Future Revolution is a brawler, though RPG mechanics are included, which is where all those pesky free-to-play mechanics rear their ugly heads.
The last we heard about the mobile version of Pokémon UNITE was back in June when The Pokémon Company and TiMi Studio Group announced the MOBA would land sometime in September but failed to provide an actual date. This left both companies open to execute another announcement, which was made today during the latest Pokémon Presents. As of this morning, we now know Pokémon UNITE will be released on Android and iOS on September 22nd, and better yet, pre-registration is finally open on the Play Store, clearly illustrating the ramp-up to next month's launch.
Contra is a classic run and gun shooter from Konami that has seen many followups since its debut in 1987 as an arcade game. It would seem Konami saw fit to lend the license to Tencent, so TiMi Studio developed a free-to-play interpretation of the classic sidescrolling shooter. It's called Contra Returns, and it's now available on the Play Store. As you can guess, this is a gacha game that's packed with in-app purchases, as well as a VIP system, and worse yet, user reviews are pretty negative thanks to the game's aggressive permissions.
Well, this hardly comes as a surprise, but Ubisoft has announced that its free-to-play action RPG Tom Clancy's Elite Squad is shutting down. Today marks the last update for the title, and its servers will be shuttered on October 4th. Ubisoft says the game is no longer sustainable, which basically means it wasn't making any money. Perhaps this has to do with the heavy pay-to-win mechanics shoved into the title, or maybe it's because of the gacha that didn't offer any waifus? Either way, the game is dead less than a year from its release, which is why it's never a good idea to invest in free-to-play cash-grabs from Ubisoft.
Konami has just announced that the developers behind Pro Evolution Soccer and Winning Eleven will soon be launching a new soccer simulation game called eFootball. It would seem this new series will replace PES across all platforms, and it will be free-to-play, which also means it will be digital-only. The thing is, Konami already offers a F2P soccer game on mobile called eFootball, though it's easy enough to assume it will be replaced by the new cross-platform eFootball whenever it lands.