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Haunted Hollow 'won't nickel and dime you,' Firaxis says

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Players who are suspicious of free-to-play monetization strategies won't have to worry about Firaxis Games' Haunted Hollow using cheap tricks to get them to spend money, according to the game's developers.

Speaking to Polygon at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, Firaxis lead designers David McDonough and Will Miller said Haunted Hollow — a competitive turn-based strategy game for mobile devices — was built from the ground up to be a Firaxis-quality game without a pay-to-win strategy.

"We looked at a lot of games on mobile that were energy-driven or microtransaction paywall-driven where you have to pay to advance or pay to succeed, and we really reacted strongly against them," McDonough said. "That's not Firaxis's way. We want our fan base to know that you don't have to be afraid of this game. It's not going to nickel and dime you."

McDonough said players should think of Haunted Hollow as a board game or card game where players get a starting set that they can play with for as long as they want. If a player wants more variety in the form of more monsters and ghosts, or if they want to personalize their experience further with items, then they can spend money to do that.

"People who are scared of the cheap way of going microtransactions don't need to be afraid of this game," he said.

"We want our fan base to know that you don't have to be afraid of this game. It's not going to nickel and dime you."

According to the developers, Haunted Hollow was made in part as a reaction to the kinds of games that were available on the iPad.

"They were all of a type — a certain kind of monetization and a certain kind of expectation," McDonough said. "We said, 'Alright, we can make a Firaxis Game for this platform that people who like Firaxis Games will like.'"

Both McDonough and Miller looked to board games for inspiration on how to create a game that was accessible and elegant enough to work on the iPad, without sacrificing depth and complexity. McDonough said the studio adopted the mantra "Easy way in, long way up" to guide development of the game. The team wanted the game to be welcoming to newcomers, but still contain the deep strategy that Firaxis is known for.

"We looked at a game like Go (the board game) — you can teach that game to a four-year-old in about 10 minutes, but it takes many lifetimes to master," Miller said. "And I think that, to me, is kind of the perfect game. I'm not saying we're anywhere close to that, but aspiring to that kind of simplicity with depth is important to us."

Haunted Hollow is coming to iOS devices this Spring.