Why Clash Royale is Not Pay-to-Win

Clash Royale Watch Game
Supercell

Clash Royale is not pay-to-win. The game is undeniably fun and surprisingly deep, but some people still have issue with it. This complaint is made rather frequently, either in jest or seriously, and it just doesn't click with the game in practice. Like many free-to-play games, you can spend money to advance your progress, but there's so much more to the game than that.

Start From The Beginning

This issue partially stems from how the game has been simplified from a lot of collectible card games. There are only a few dozen cards, with some cards complicating the strategy only available later on. You can only have 8 at a time, so it's possible to form strategies and have a read on your opponent in short matches.

Since the game streamlines so much, there are fewer instances of RNG (random number generator) in this game as there are in games like Hearthstone because your deck is so small. Randomness only affects you at the beginning with your starter cards. This can have an effect; if your opponent doesn't have their counters available, then you can get an early edge. The odds of getting a win based solely on the early-game randomness, however, are low. It's one of those issues that exists largely in hypotheticals. 

Buy Your Way Out

Is it possible for a player who's got tons of money to just buy their way to amazing higher-level decks and win? It's not impossible, but this thought process discounts that there are not a lot of card counters that suddenly don't work because one player is very high level, and the other is not. That just doesn't happen.

There are some issues with legendary cards being tougher to get unless you're in higher level ranks, but it's not like the expert players are using all legendary and epic cards. They're using a good variety of cards, and their decks and tactics are often recognizable even to lower-level players.

Pay To Win

This game isn't pay-to-win, it's pay-to-compete, and that's a huge difference. Pay-to-compete is just the reality of life. As Emily Greer, CEO of Kongregate, explains it, real-life hobbies can have similar tiers where people who want to be serious about their passions spend money on better equipment. Youth baseball players' families have to spend money on good equipment, travel, and events to get to top-tier competition. That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy playing in the sandlot or on a club team. Even real-world collectible card games run into this issue. There isn't any kind of serious discussion around Magic the Gathering being pay-to-win.

Matchmaker

Thanks to the matchmaking, you can play this game for free if you wanted. Between opening the free chests, getting the crown chest, and unlocking the reward chests, you can easily feel like you're progressing regardless. The clans are useful for getting card upgrades thanks to card requests.