In Canada, the average diet consists only of poutine, the national dish, ham, which they call bacon, and rendered whale blubber. Not only that, but the great white north also seems to get a bunch of iOS games early. Since it’s a smaller country at about 10% of the population of the US, it really does make a good test market. That’s why we like to pop in to the Canadian App Store every once in a while to see what’s new.
Earlier this week I got a chance to talk to Frederic Descamps and Jordan Maynard who came to Zynga through an acquisition of A Bit Lucky. They are showing off their new massively online battle arena (MOBA) game for mobile, Solstice Arena. It's more than the average MOBA game; it's essentially "Speed MOBA."
In a traditional MOBA there is usually some form of farming or grinding such as killing creeps. In this MOBA, the focus is on the fighting and only the fighting. Players earn gold for participating in the matches, capturing chests of gold (checkpoints), and randomly scattered gold on the play field. This gold is then used in an extensive upgrade tree. A mobile-focused feature is the auto-buy feature. If turned on, the best purchases will automatically be made with gained available gold.
The player hero selection works similar to League of Legends where there will always be free heroes to be used. Or, if purchased, the hero can be played at anytime. Leveling up a character stays with that character no matter if purchased or not. Once the hero is purchased or becomes free again, the upgrades will be there.
Take a look at this 9-ish minute match I played where I actually won. It's a good thing it was set on easy.
The main change in Solstice Arena has to do with making it a bit more friendly to mobile platforms. This entails the games being shrunk into what Frederic Descamps describes as speed MOBA: 5-10 minute games that can be played just about anytime there is a free moment. This is accomplished mainly by having fewer goals in a single match, and making the map size considerably smaller. And in the dozen or so rounds I've played, I think it works.
Solstice Arena is available in a few test countries right now, like Canada and should be launching in the US very soon. If you are a fan of League of Legends, or just a strategy game fan, it's one to watch for.