Games that are free to play (F2P) that offer micro-transactions are colloquially known as “freemium” games. In most of these so called freemium games, the player’s time is the main currency used to stay away from using their real-life wallet, and so most, if not all, of the features that can be purchased in-game decrease the amount of time that it would normally take for a F2P account to get to the same point. Elvenar is no exception to the freemium structure that many games embrace, with Diamonds being Elvenar’s in-game currency only obtainable by spending real money. The nature of the research tree affects some of the features that are available for diamond-purchase, because better and better technology is unlocked as you progress through the tree, and better and better premium features become available as well. It should be noted that diamonds are never required to play Elvenar, they are completely optional. So which premium features are the most valuable?
The Diamond Tenet
The basic tenet for knowing which diamond purchases retain the most value is that a premium feature which does not become overshadowed as the game progresses is worth much more than those that will become “useless” the further along your game goes.
In Elvenar, each new chapter unlocks buildings that are better than those offered in previous chapters. New levels of residences, workshops, manufactories and military buildings allow the player to continue following the research tree as more and more resources become a requirement. In order to allow us to pay costs for those upgrades, we need better and better Culture Buildings. Each chapter has technology that unlocks premium culture buildings. These premium culture buildings are generally better than the non-premium buildings that are unlocked at the same time, but they become worse as the game goes on.
Diamond to Real Money Exchange Rate
The smallest transaction available is 500 diamonds for $4.99 USD ($0.00998 per diamond) and the largest transaction is 11,000 diamonds for $79.99 USD ($0.00727 per diamond). There are also occasional sales that give bonus diamonds, or other bonus resources like Knowledge Points, Relics, Event resources, etc…
The Value Scale: Worst to Best
The worst value for diamond purchases is by far any purchase that “fills in” a resource that you are missing or simply speeds up a timer. For example, if you need to do an upgrade but don’t have enough coins, supplies or goods, diamonds can be used to buy those resources and get the upgrade rolling. Or, if the upgrade is already going, the player can use diamonds to automatically finish the upgrade, bypassing the timers. These kinds of micro-transactions are the worst value in the game. They are one shot effects that a player could easily wait to gain naturally with the timer system. This category includes using diamonds to buy Knowledge Points, using diamonds to complete a technology in the research tree, using diamonds to start a production run in a factory, using diamonds to complete a building upgrade, using diamonds to replace troops lost in battle, using diamonds to gain runes for Ancient Wonders, etc… This category is applied to the largest portion of features that are purchasable with diamonds. (An exception to this would be if there is some kind of sale in the diamond store that has KP or some other resource as an added bonus.)
The best value are features that never disappear. Upgrading the Builder’s Hut to add additional builders will never go away and so the purchase will retain its value. You will have those extra builders permanently. A premium city expansion is another permanent addition, and the space that is added will continue to gain value as your game progresses. Upgrades to the Magic Academy are also permanent, allowing more spells to be queued up and decreasing the time each relic takes to render into a spell. The Magic Academy is a touchy subject, and some players feel that the spells and the space that the building takes up are not worth it, however the upgrades are permanent so they are included in this category.
Middle Ground of the Value Scale
The middle ground of value is where the premium culture buildings lie. As more research technologies are completed, the early premium culture buildings become a worse and worse value in the same manner that early F2P culture buildings become worse and worse. There isn’t complete transparency regarding the exact amounts of time for each chapter, and many factors can speed up a players game, so the exact value of a premium culture building can vary from player to player. Magic Residences and Magic Workshops are in the same boat as the premium culture buildings since you need to either use diamonds to get them upgraded to your current level or you need to use blueprints which are fairly difficult to gain, but they are an improvement on their free counterpart.
Some things to consider when using diamonds for premium culture buildings:
1. They get worse as your game goes on. A Shrine of Enar (the first premium culture building available) becomes overshadowed fairly quickly, and so, for the sake of an efficient city, a player needs to be willing to sell off the early premium culture buildings when they become obsolete.
2. It is harder to place a value on a culture building that adds both culture and population. Since a residence adds population and the much needed coins, they are generally a better bet, so do the math carefully and see if a residence and a non-population culture building are more efficient.
3. The purpose of a culture building is to help pay for culture costs of construction and upgrades, and to help with the player’s Culture bonus. Since the non-premium culture buildings only cost coins and supplies, and any culture bonus gives the player more coins and supplies than usual, the non-premium culture buildings pay for themselves. This is why we only get back half of the coins and supplies that we spent to build them when they are sold; they technically give us enough extra coins and supplies to have paid for themselves. This makes it much easier to sell ‘old’ culture buildings and replace them with newer, shinier buildings, but the “sunken cost fallacy” might hold somebody back from selling a premium culture building, even though it did what it was supposed to do and it is now taking valuable space in the city that could be used more efficiently. If you spent money on a premium culture building, that money is gone and keeping the building in your city for as long as your game goes can inadvertently cost more money in the long run if you need to then pay for city expansions and other premium features to keep the obsolete building around.
Different play styles will create a different game experience for each player. Many players like the challenge of being completely free to play; some concentrate on gaining as many ranking points as quickly as they can; some players try to concentrate on resource management and space management, enjoying the ‘puzzle’ aspect of putting the city together; some players enjoy the social aspects of the game and like helping their neighbors and/or fellow fellowship members; some players focus on the design and ‘beauty’ of their city, utilizing an aesthetic approach. These are just a few approaches to the game that a player can choose to take.
These play styles will also influence the value of certain premium features. For example, the aesthetic player may value the look of a certain premium culture building and so their play style will affect whether they want to spend diamonds on that building instead of any value derived from game mechanics.
Play style is just one example of a reason a player may take exception to these guidelines, but hopefully you have gained some insight into the ‘freemium’ aspects of Elvenar and can make informed decisions about the use of diamonds and avoid the sunken cost fallacy.