Australian Council on Children and the Media

The Hobbit: Kingdom of Middle-Earth - Kabam

app image

Short takes

A combat strategy game.

Age
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Contains some elements of gambling

This review of The Hobbit: Kingdom of Middle-Earth was completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 March 2014.

About the app

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

Name of app: The Hobbit: Kingdom of Middle-Earth
Developed by: Kabam
Platform reviewed: Apple App Store, Google Play
Cost: Free
Developer’s suggested age: iTunes: 12+ Google Play Store: Medium maturity
ACCM suggested age: Not recommended for children, due to unmonitored online chat
Gambling content advice: Contains some elements of gambling. This game may contain devices which mimic those found in a casino; but the player is not risking something of value to play. Refer to the gambling section of this review for further details

ACCM review

This review of The Hobbit: Kingdom of Middle-Earth contains the following information:

The level to which the game was reviewed

1 – 9 (in Elf mode)

App description

In this combat strategy game, the player builds an empire, researches technologies, trains   troops, joins an alliance and battles enemies. This requires strategy, planning, time management and resource management skills. The player must consider the most beneficial way to use their gold and Mithril, as well as their resources.

Reviewers comments

The player begins this game by choosing their race - elves or dwarves. They begin with an allocation of gold and the premium currency called Mithril. They must construct a variety of buildings like homes, farms, quarries, watch towers and barracks. They must continue to add and upgrade these buildings. The player is guided by a list of Quests – rewards of resources and sometimes gold are awarded as quests are completed.  Building uses resources and time, which may be considerable as higher levels are reached. Players must also train troops at the Barracks and conduct research at the Academy. These activities also require resources and time. Mithril can be used to speed up game activities and buy resources and gold. Mithril are difficult to obtain and can be bought with real money. Periodically, the player can view Moon Runes which contain useful resources and speed ups to claim.

When players attack, there is no on screen violence. It is recommended to first scout to report on the proposed target. Then the selected troops, under the appointed hero, march to the chosen location. The game advises “Fighting”. This all takes place on a map. A battle report is produced which outlines the casualties on both sides and any winnings. The troops can be recalled and march back to the player’s city. The player’s city can be vulnerable to attack from other players and may lose gold and resources when attacked.

Players may join or create an alliance. Players may have to have reached a certain level and/or might before they are allowed to join their chosen alliance. Players can request help from alliance members in the way of resources and troops, and may also be requested to help other alliance members by providing resources.

There is a constant chat stream amongst players, of which a couple of lines appears on the screen. It can be expanded to show more of the conversation. This can be a Global chat which includes players from all around the world and from other alliances; or it can be only with players in the same alliance. This chat appears to be completely unmonitored - the content is wide ranging and sometimes inappropriate for children (see Other section below).   

This game can become complex and has many levels. It appears from the chat conversations and forums that many players are at a very high level and possess extensive resources which have been either purchased or taken considerable time to achieve.

This game requires the player to plan ahead, consider the best use of resources, invest considerable time, monitor multiple activities and be patient.

In App purchasing

Mithril can be purchased for real money for $5.49 to $109.99 for a pack. Special deals are periodically offered, which may include Mithril, resources and other useful items.

Online information

Players can connect to Google+ to play against friends on Leaderboards- the game receives the player’s basic profile information, people in their circles and may make game activity visible on the web (this can be edited). The player receives mail within the game. These messages are mostly from the game, advising of tournaments and special deals, but may be from other players (who can be blocked, if the player chooses). The players can send messages to other players. There is a Leaderboard, which displays the player’s chosen game nickname, their alliance name and their might. Players can connect to Facebook in Settings to receive a free Mithril – the game receives the player’s public profile and friend list. Players can invite friends to play via Fecebook or email.

Gambling

Players are given the opportunity to play a game of chance, Galadriel’s Gift, which requires one Galadriel’s token to play. Player’s receive one Galadriel’s token per day or can spend Mithril to buy one. Players select one chest from nine, each of which contains game items, such as troops or other useful items.  A Premium Chance game is unlocked at level 10, which increases the odds of winning the most valuable items and troops. Players can earn free Mithril by downloading and playing other games, including simulated gambling apps.

Advertising and product placement

Players can earn free Mithril by completing surveys, purchasing certain items or by downloading and playing other games, including simulated gambling apps. Players can access more free games from the same developer in Settings.

Gender stereo types and sexual references

please see Other section below

Coarse language

please see Other section below

Game playing behaviour which may be of concern to some parents

Players may attack and steal from other players.

Other

Parents should be aware that there is a constant live chat stream visible. On the main game screen, only two lines are visible however players can expand this. Conversations appear to be unmonitored. Players can view other players’ basic game information, have private chat, send a message or block that player. Many of the conversations are about game details and tips. However, fairly frequently, the chat content is inappropriate for children – this may be due to the language used (some players code profanities but others do not) or the nature of the conversations, which sometimes may be about alcohol or sexual in nature.

Public Reviews

ACCM Admin

22/5/2014

ACCAN (Australian Communications Consumer Action Network) has called on the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Association) to "take action on apps that advertise as free but aggressively encourage or require in-app purchases to keep playing." This app was mentioned in their media release on 16th May 2014.

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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.