How it was.
Infinity Wars is a trading card game which was released in 2014, after a prolonged beta and a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/elphie/infinity-wars-animated-trading-card-game
Back then, they had grand plans of bringing the game to Android, expanding the universe, evolving the story and lore, introducing new factions and new cards and generally giving the playerbase what they wanted if it, naturally, had merit. It had a lot going for it back then - they advertised themselves as an animated trading card game, which was true, as all the cards were animated gifs and, for the most part, looked really good. Some amateurish illustrations were made here and there, sure, but overall, it had a very distinct art style which complemented the overall tone and different factions very well.
Another selling point was that the game featured simultaneous turns, meaning that each player would plan out their turn separately and, once both players clicked on the “end turn” button, those actions would play out. After that, all those actions took place in a certain order depending on priority and various card effects. This made for some truly intense gameplay, where predicting your opponent’s next action was crucial to winning the game. Add to that the different factions, all with their separate themes and play styles, as well as the truly large number of complex card effects and interactions, and you’ve got what is probably one of the best and deepest card games ever made.
It also had a very approachable free to play model, wherein you earned in-game points which could be exchanged for card packs and vanity items, which never felt tedious or pointless as is the case with many such games. A beautiful aspect of the f2p model was also the fact that players were able to trade cards among themselves, resulting in new players getting into the game very easily as far as actual card count was concerned. All of this also contributed to a fantastic in-game community which, however small, was always ready to help new players with pointers, detailed instructions and free cards which would more often than not complete some new player’s lackluster deck, easing them into the game even more.
All in all, the concept was simply fantastic. Players organized tournaments among themselves, discussed various tactics on Lightmare Studios’ online forum and there was a sense of community I’ve rarely seen before and have not seen since. All of us did our part to help with the game’s marketing, to help new players get into the game, to make Infinity Wars something bigger than it was. All of us spent various sums (some to the extreme) of money on card packs, preorders, and vanity items. All to help Lightmare make the game as great as it deserved to be, and none of us did so grudgingly. We did it because we wanted to and because we truly cared.Where it got stuck.
All the effort from the players in the world cannot save a game from selfish, incompetent developers, however. They had a great concept, which made for a great game. With time, however, it seemed as if they got in over their heads. At multiple points did the game almost die off before being revived again by a new expansion pack, a new tournament or something of the sort.
Every new expansion, though, brought in a new set of bugs and other issues the dev team had trouble keeping up with. A bug was fixed only for three new, sometimes even worse, bugs to be introduced. Any outcry from the playerbase was mostly stonewalled, with several community managers taking their turn in trying to stay in touch with us. It became apparent, however, that not even they always knew what they were talking about. So not only was the playerbase constantly being stonewalled by the devs, but it seemed as if their own community managers were going through the same ordeal.
Promise upon promise was made, but only when the devs themselves were ready to make them, and never when they were needed. These promises wound up being broken and our hopes collectively shattered time and time again. In time, the only burst of communication we’d get with the devs was when new cards were about to be released. So we could buy them, preorder them - so we could keep hoping.
Most of us stayed, however. Because we loved the game, we had hope, we wanted it to succeed. We kept asking the devs on their forums how we could help, but were met time and time again with silence and unnecessary, vapid updates. But most of us still stayed, we wanted Infinity Wars the way it could be, and we kept hoping and trying our best to keep things alive where the devs kept failing.
The game started to die off some time around the end of 2016, where any and all communication with the devs stopped - due to their own choice. We kept hoping, but soon realized it was in vain. Lightmare had abandoned the game, their players, their expensive card collections and just faded away. With our money in their pockets, naturally.What’s new.
Fast forward a few years to a few months ago, and suddenly, the Infinity Wars facebook page is active again. I nearly puffy myself with joy, only to find out it’s a brand new IP called Infinity Heroes. It’s a simplified version of the previous game, designed with a mobile market cash grab in mind as most mobile games are. The backlash from players was, as expected, very loud. Some greeted the game with careful optimism, while some outright denounced the studio and new game, and personally, I’m not sure which camp is in the right here.
Bastardizing a beloved IP is nothing new in the gaming industry, especially when it’s a very small IP with not much value anymore apart from sentimental. These things happen and the IW community was and is mature enough to understand this. What is unforgivable, however, is the devs’ attitude and practices this time around, which is why I’m writing this in such detail.
They opened a new kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/elphie/infinity-heroes-competitive-card-game-for-mobile-p
It was successful again, in spite of all the backlash and negativity that permeated their Facebook page. They raised their asking amount and almost immediately, without skipping a beat, started an Indiegogo campaign, suddenly calling this “phase 2”. Naturally, with no prior announcement, all in a very transparent attempt to get as much funding as possible.https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/infinity-heroes--2?fbclid=IwAR0SNdPvf1b_O3fNmI8k3s3NREkKESknXPWcn-o-JZhiuDXep18_e8Fpw_c#/
If you look at the attached screenshots (IHcomments), you’ll see the community’s reaction in short. Go over to their facebook page for more of this - there’s a lot more. https://www.facebook.com/infinitywarsgame/
Again, the devs are completely silent (aside from a singular reply) and are going back to their old practices reminiscent of, well, dictators in ivory towers who only address their populace when they feel comfortable doing so, all the while staying deaf and mute to the outrcy. In the meantime, their marketing is based on uplifting, optimistic propaganda videos which make them seem enthusiastic, fresh, eager. Competent. Approachable. While making money in the gaming industry is, and should be, a given, their smugness in combination with their previous behaviour just makes all of this seem slimy at best, and deplorable at worst.
Their silence also extends to their youtube channel and the comments on their videos, mind you. https://www.youtube.com/user/LightmareStudiosAus/featured
where they have even gone on to delete a video that had, apparently, just too many negative comments for their liking.The cherry on top of the puffy cake.
They’re buying facebook likes. Not sure about other platform, but facebook is definitely a culprit. Just look at the attached screenshots (IHlikes). The Indiegogo announcement has 3.9k reactions and only 10 comments. This is typically a sure sign of buying said reactions. For comparison, look at the attached screenshot from a Fallout 76 announcement, which boasts 4k reactions and 1.6k comments, which is a normal ratio between the two.
As additional proof, though I’m unsure as to how admissible it is, look at just some of the names of the people reacting to the post (IHlikes). They’re either names originating from countries infamous for having “like farms” or are simply made up.In conclusion.
While ragging on small indie devs can seem like a scummy move when EA is a thing that exists, being said small indie dev cannot excuse scummy, shady practices. Their track record up until now has been marred at best, and behaving the way they are is only making things worse.
Moreover, seeing as how Lightmare are indeed a small, indie dev studio, the word of this is not likely to get out. Which is why you’re reading this right now.
The reason I am writing this is also that I don’t want to see more people waste their time and money with money-hungry incompetent game developers who treat their playerbase like a herd of mindless sheep and have been doing so for years. I refuse to sit by and watch while they pull the wool over the eyes of a new generation of suckers, only to abandon the project once they realize they’re not up to it, and flee with all the money they got, meanwhile considering their new crowdfunding campaign.
I am also writing this because I feel hurt, as silly as that may sound. I don’t want Lightmare to keep doing this and I don’t want others to feel like this.
P.S. I have also posted this on the Lightmare forums, mostly out of curiosity on whether my post will be deleted or simply ignored.
-Pixelei, former Infinity Wars community player and community member.
The link to the album containing the screenshots is here: https://imgur.com/a/tLpmd1R