Days of Wonder has launched an online version of their best-selling casual war game, Memoir ’44. Like many DOW games, Memoir ’44 gets a heavy workout here at Casa McD, so this is welcome news. So far, I’ve just taken the solo mode for a spin, but it’s a straight-up computer conversion of the tabletop game. It plays on a single screen, with your cards aligned at the bottom and the board dominating the center of the layout. Mouse click responses seem a little odd: if you double click too fast, it doesn’t register the move. Other than that, it’s looking good so far.
Right now it’s in “open beta,” and people who sign up get 50 free “gold ingots.” The game uses a pay-to-play model in which you pay ingots to play solo and online games. Ingots can be purchased at a rate of 200 for $8. For $30, you get 1,000 ingots plus the Expert Mode, which allows you to create and upload custom scenarios. For $60, you 2,400 ingots, plus expert mode, plus $30 off any Memoir ’44 product. Sessions cost 2-3 ingots each.
It’s an interesting model, and I’m not sure how it will work out. It avoids the problems of a subscription-based system, but it’s hard, at this point, to determine whether the value-versus-cost balance is quite right. If we calculate about 90 games for 200 ingots, with anywhere from 30-45 minutes for each game, you’re looking at maybe 200 hours of gameplay for $8. That doesn’t seem unreasonable.