A First Among Free Online Games

War of Conquest first went online in April of 2002. It brought with it quite a few innovations: it was among the first massively multiplayer strategy games, and one of the first free-to-play games to utilize microtransactions and in-game currency.

The following excerpt is from an article published in the early days of War of Conquest.

War of Conquest is now being rebuilt from the ground up, better than ever. It’s currently in testing, and is slated for release in 2017. You can download the game and play it now at warofconquest.com.

The new massively multiplayer strategy game War of Conquest, developed by IronZog of Providence, RI, takes a unique approach to the problem of making money in today’s challenging internet climate. Most free online games are either single player or involve no more than a few players in the same game at the same time. And most also bombard the player with banners and pop-up advertisements.

War of Conquest takes a different approach. The game is free to play, and brings together thousands of players in the same game world. Players compete to take and hold special areas in the game world called “orbs” that award in-game currency. And there isn’t an advertisement of any kind to be found within the game. Instead, money is brought in by charging players for “game credits” that can be used to purchase special advantages within the game — advantages that give the buyer a palpable competitive edge against other players, making it faster and easier to achieve an advantage. However, these purchases are not necessary in order to play the game or to succeed.

“The idea is to draw players in, to get them playing the game, meeting other players, forming a team and having a good time,” says Michael Ferrier, Lead Developer of War of Conquest. “Then they can decide whether it’s worth it for them to put some money into the game, to make their team more effective and give them a better shot at capturing orbs.”

Another area where War of Conquest differs from other free online games that offer some kind of in-game reward is in how these rewards are won. “A while back I got hooked on a free online game that played just like the tabletop game Battleship, and would award a prize if you could sink all the ships with a limited number of shots,” recalls Ferrier. “After improving my game over a few hours of playing, I became suspicious, and started to analyse the game statistically. Sure enough, if the ships had been placed randomly, I should have already won some prizes. I realized that the last ship was being placed only when the game was over, to keep players from winning. Sure the game might let the occasional player win, but it was like pulling the handle of a slot machine; the odds were set by the house and there was nothing a player could do about it.” According to Ferrier War of Conquest takes a different tack, placing the odds of winning a reward squarely in the hands of the players. “War of Conquest is a strategy game, pure and simple. If you’ve got winning tactics, if you can pull together a good team, and if you know how to make your team’s nation as effective as possible, you’ll win. On a moment by moment basis there’s an element of chance, a roll of the dice. But in the long run it’s these factors that will determine a team’s success.”