Australian Council on Children and the Media

Skylanders Battlecast - Activision Publishing Inc

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Short takes

Skylanders Battlecast is a card based battle game base around the Skylanders franchise.

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Simulated casino style gambling

This review of Skylanders Battlecast was completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 4 June 2016.

About the app

This section contains details about the app provided by an ACCM Reviewer.

Name of app: Skylanders Battlecast
Developed by: Activision Publishing Inc
Platform reviewed: Apple App Store, Google Play
Cost: Free
Developer’s suggested age: iTunes Store: 9+, Google Play Store: Parental Guidance.
ACCM suggested age: 18+ Simulated Gambling content, simulated violence, in-app purchasing, online content and advertising.
Gambling content advice: Simulated casino style gambling. Player is risking money or something of value on an outcome of an event involving chance when the probability of winning or losing is less than certain. Refer to the gambling section of this review for further details

ACCM review

This review of Skylanders Battlecast contains the following information:

The level to which the game was reviewed

This app was reviewed for approximately 2 hours.

App description

Skylanders Battlecast is a virtual card battling app based on the Skylanders video game franchise. The objective is to build a deck of virtual cards and battle other players and non-player characters. The skills required to play the app include strategy, critical thinking, and motor skills to utilise the central functions.

Reviewers comments

When the app is first opened, the player is asked to sign in via a Google Play account - there is no option to bypass this. Once the game has finished downloading,  a menu screen appears. There is a ‘Play’ icon in the centre of the screen, a Settings menu in the top left hand corner, and a Friends menu in the bottom left hand corner.

The Settings menu contains the terms of service for the app, the privacy policy, the website, the game credits, and a list of the unlockable in-game achievements.

The Friends menu, when first accessed, allows the player to choose a name to represent them within the game. The app does not allow players to use inappropriate words in their usernames. Once an account is created, players can add friends using their in-game name.

Users are given a tutorial screen where the rules of the game are explained – players must drag cards onto a board to initiate attacks and defeat enemies. Enemies are then shown as being hit and/or injured.  When players have succeeded in causing the enemy enough damage, the enemy faints and the player is shown a large “Victory!” message in the centre of the screen. Players are subsequently rewarded with coins post-battle. Within the app, there are also team battles where players are able to control and switch between using multiple characters.

After the tutorial is completed, players are taken to a menu where there are several new options. One of these options is called ‘Cards to Life’. Players can purchase real packs of battlecast cards at a variety of retailers, and scan them into this portion of the game using the device camera. This allows players to utilise a wider variety of cards within their battles.

At random times during gameplay, the player is shown a full screen popup offering a ‘Daily Spin’. Players get more free spins based on the number of consecutive days they have played. When players press ‘Free Spin’, they are taken to a roulette style wheel and encouraged to push the ‘Spin’ button in the centre. The wheel spins, and where it lands dictates which random prize the player is given. Once the player has used their free spins, they are able to spend in-game currency to purchase additional spins of the wheel. Spins of the wheel cost 50 in game coins. Players can purchase packs of coins for money, in packages of $6.99 for 500, $13.99 for 1100, $27.99 for 2300, $69.99 for 6000, and $139.99 for 13000. Players can also purchase 50 coins per day for 30 days, costing $4.19. When spinning the wheel, players can potentially win 75+ coins, with 50 being required to spin the wheel. Players have a timer counting down on the main screen until the next permitted spin on the wheel.

Once the advanced tutorial is completed, players can enter matches against other human players. The player’s in-game names are shared, but no other details can be viewed, and no communication is possible. These battles involve a similar technique of combat. The violence is animated and characters that ‘die’ merely faint and disappear.

In App purchasing

Yes: Packs of coins cost $6.99 for 500, $13.99 for 1100, $27.99 for 2300, $69.99 for 6000, and $139.99 for 13000. Players can also purchase 50 coins per day for 30 days, costing $4.19.

Online information

Players can enter matches against other human players. The player’s in-game names are shared, but no other details can be viewed, and no communication is possible.

Gambling

At random times during gameplay, the player is shown a full screen popup offering a ‘Daily Spin’. Players get more free spins based on the number of consecutive days they have played. When players press to ‘Free Spin’, they are taken to a roulette style wheel and encouraged to push the ‘Spin’ button in the centre. The wheel spins, and where it lands dictates which random prize the player is given. Once the player has used their free spins, they are able to spend in-game currency to purchase additional spins of the wheel. Spins of the wheel cost 50 in game coins. Players can purchase packs of coins for money, in packages of $6.99 for 500, $13.99 for 1100, $27.99 for 2300, $69.99 for 6000, and $139.99 for 13000. Players can also purchase 50 coins per day for 30 days, costing $4.19. When spinning the wheel, players can potentially win 75+ coins, with 50 being required to spin the wheel. Players have a timer counting down on the main screen until the next permitted spin on the wheel.

Advertising and product placement

Advertisement for the Skylanders Battlecast card packs is seen within this app. The game also functions as advertising for the Skylanders franchise itself.

Game playing behaviour which may be of concern to some parents

This app is a combat game. The violence is animated howeer, and the characters that 'die' merely faint and disappear. The 'Daily Spin" feature is simulated gambling and may be of concern to parents.

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About our colour guide

Content is age appropriate for children this age

Some content may not be appropriate for children this age. Parental guidance recommended

Content is not age appropriate for children this age

Gambling content advice

Simulated casino style gambling. Not suitable for minors

Contains some elements of gambling. Some content is not recommended for minors. Parental guidance recommended

No gambling content found in the levels played

About games and gambling

Most games contain elements of risk, chance and knowledge, that is why they are fun to play. There is growing concern about the impacts of simulated gambling games on the health and wellbeing of children. That's why we are identifying games that contain gambling elements on our site.

The State Government of South Australia's web site http://nogame.com.au/ contains information about these concerns.