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The IAP Inspector's Top 5 player-friendly F2P mobile games of 2015

2015's best from the players' perspective
The IAP Inspector's Top 5 player-friendly F2P mobile games of 2015

Since reviving the format in January 2015, we've been regularly making additions to our IAP Inspector series.

Now 25 entries strong, the aim of this feature is to examine F2P games from the players' perspective, getting a feel for how the player is pressured to pay (or, now, watch ads) and whether it's conducive to a good experience.

Here, as 2015 draws to a close, we're reflecting upon the best examples of thoughtful and player-friendly monetisation we've encountered throughout the year.

If you missed any of these when they came out, now would be a great time to go back and see why we hold them in such high regard.

Click through below to see the top 5.

#1: KingsRoad


The IAP Inspector looked at KingsRoad way back in February, making it the oldest in this list. But it's a testament to the game's quality that it still sticks in the mind as we approach 2016.

Rumble Entertainment's action RPG has been around as a browser game since 2013, but our introduction to the game was through the 2015 mobile version.

We were impressed by the lack of paywalled content in KingsRoad, and the "refreshing readiness" with which hard currency is given away.

Paved with gold

A wealth of retailing options and flash sales - including a 90% off starter gem pack - also mean that the player has ample opportunity to save money.

Furthermore, the implementation of F2P monetisation within the action RPG framework - particularly, the decision to sell additional inventory slots - is entirely sensible and well-executed.

"[Rumble] has created a great mobile approximation of the Diablo and Torchlight formula which just happens to be free-to-play," we wrote.

"No energy system, and an economy which tempts you rather than pressures you."

#2: Stormblades


Stormblades' pared-back approach to monetisation led to us questioning its long-term sustainability when we gave it the IAP Inspector treatment back in April.

"While Stormblades features IAPs and in-game ads, neither are put upon the player with any level of aggression," we wrote.

"No wait timers, no energy system, no video ads."

However, while the Kiloo-published and Emerald City-developed game's ability to drive revenues may be questionable, it does make for a great and pressure-free playing experience.

Put simply, it's Infinity Blade-style combat in bitesized chunks and short levels for on-the-go mobile play.

Slashing prices

Reliance on infrequent interstitials (rather than the more lucrative video ads) means there's little interruption to the gameplay.


Essence (the game's 'hard' currency) is given out regularly and in large quantities, while even a $4.99 in-app purchase will make you feel like a billionaire.

"Stormblades combines good value IAPs and minimal in-game advertising to create a pleasant and generous F2P experience," we wrote, heartily slapping an 'Approved' stamp on it.

#3: Storm Casters Ultra

Storm Casters Ultra

With Storm Casters Ultra being the free-to-play revival of the 2014 premium title Storm Casters (a transition explained fully in our making-of feature), developer Get Set Games was always going to tread carefully.

It's essentially a lightning-paced dungeon crawler, with the twist being that you use cards to add certain variables to the randomised levels - additional firepower, a better chance of high value drops, etc.

This is the only area in which IAPs come into play, allowing you to pay (through the hard curency Warp Stones) for card packs which can enhance your game.

We were impressed that these IAPs are purely optional extras, as well as with the watch-ad-to-revive implementation of incentivised video ads, calling it "a considered and well-executed premium-to-F2P conversion."

#4: COLOPL Rune Story

COLOPL Rune Story

The localised version of Japanese mega-hit White Cat Project, COLOPL Rune Story charmed us with its vibrant JRPG feel and earned itself an 'Approved' rating in the process.

In a world full of automatic combat in F2P games, it manages to wring excitement out of its action-heavy, hands-on quests for a long period.

Most impressive, however, is the way in which it treats hard currency, doling it out regularly and in significant quantity - to the extent that we never ran out.


It also boasts an inexpensive 'Monthly Jewel Bundle', offering something broadly akin to a subscription service for dedicated players.

We called it "a staggeringly generous JRPG which offers players hours of gameplay, as well as tempting them with a number of neat, experimental monetisation methods."

#5: Rival Kingdoms

Rival Kingdoms

In June, July, and August respectively, The IAP Inspector took on Rival Kingdoms, Siegefall, and Age of Empires: Castle Siege.

These are all very much from the same school of mobile strategy, and all have a lot in common.

However, only Space Ape's effort earned itself an 'Approved rating, with Siegefall getting 'Passed' and Castle Siege facing rejection.

Ring the change

So, what is it that sets Rival Kingdoms apart from its competitors? Well, besides knocking the rest into a cocked hat visually, it's the immediate generosity that stands out.

Automatically refilling your Battle Stones (the game's energy system) for the first 10 times you run out, a starting stash of 1,200 diamonds (worth $4.99), and generous quest rewards all contribute to a reciprocal relationship between player and developer.

We called Rival Kingdoms "a game that wants you as a fan first and foremost, and a spender second.

You can view all previous entires in the IAP Inspector series here.