Brawl Stars

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Brawl Stars
Logo of Brawl Stars
Developer(s)Supercell
Publisher(s)Supercell
Platform(s)Android, iOS, iPadOS
Release
  • Beta: June 14, 2017
  • WW: December 12, 2018
Genre(s)MOBA, Hero shooter
Mode(s)Multiplayer

Brawl Stars is a multiplayer online battle arena[1] and third-person hero shooter[2] video game developed and published by the Finnish video game company Supercell.[3] The game was released worldwide on December 12, 2018, on iOS and Android platforms.[4] The game features a variety of game modes, each with a distinctive objective. Players are able to choose from a selection of 'Brawlers', i.e., characters able to be controlled with on-screen joysticks inside of an in-game match.[5]

Gameplay

Screenshot of gameplay in the "Bounty" mode

In Brawl Stars, players battle against other players or AI opponents in multiple game modes. Players can choose between different Brawlers that they have unlocked through the Starr Road, the Brawl Pass, the Trophy Road, or purchased through the Shop to use in battles.[6] In December 2022, Boxes were removed, and all previous methods to get them were replaced with credits and chroma credits, which are used to unlock Brawlers, who are now mostly placed on the "Starr Road".[7]

In addition, it is possible to purchase skins with Gems, Bling, and Coins, or unlock them through the Brawl Pass, which will alter the appearance, animations, effects, and/or sounds of Brawlers.[6][8]

Game Modes

Brawl Stars has a variety of different game modes that players can choose from, each one having a different objective. Players can invite friends to play with them up to the maximum team size of a game mode.[9][10]

Trio Modes

  • Gem Grab: In Gem Grab, two teams of three players each strive to collect the highest number of Gems possible. Once a team accumulates more than ten Gems, a countdown of 15 seconds begins. If the team maintains their ten-plus Gem count throughout the 15 seconds, they clinch victory. However, if the Gem count dips below ten, the countdown halts. If both teams exceed ten gems simultaneously, the timer activates for the team with the highest number of gems. A Gem spawns at the map's center every seven seconds. Players can carry an unlimited number of Gems. However, being eliminated results in the loss of all Gems in possession, which enemies and/or teammates are able to collect.
  • Bounty: In Bounty, two teams of three have the objective to collect as many starts as possible. The team with the most starts by the end of the timer will win the match. At the beginning of every match, all brawlers start with a two star bounty. For each elimination they get, a new start is added to their bounty. If they are killed, they will automatically respawn with the two start bounty. In each match there is a blue star present at the center of the map, essentially made as a tiebreaker if the teams have the same amount of stars.
  • Heist: In Heist, two teams of three brawlers have the objective to destroy the opponent's high-HP safe located near their spawn camp. The first team to do so wins the match.
  • Brawl Ball: In Brawl Ball, two teams of three brawlers try score goals by shooting the ball into your opposing team's net. The first to score two goals wins the match. The ball will spawn at the center of the map. Once a Brawler picks up the ball, it will not be able to use your regular attacks, Super, or Gadgets. The shoot button will instead shoot the ball in the preferred direction and using the Super will deliver a more powerful shot of the ball. A key thing to note is that if the ball carrier is knocked back, defeated, or stunned, they will drop the ball on the spot. If the timer ends and both teams are still tied on the same score, the game will enter a sudden death mode where all obstacles and decor are removed from the map. In this case, the first team to score wins the match.
  • Hot Zone: In Hot Zone, two teams of three brawlers each have to capture all of the Hot Zone(s). Brawlers can capture Hot Zones by standing within the Zones' radius. A capture percentage bar will be shown above in the corner of the screen to show each team's overall progress in capturing the Zones. Only Brawlers are able to capture zones, so pets, turrets, or any non-brawler item won't be able to capture the zone for them If no team fully captures all the Hot Zones by the end of the match timer, the team with the highest capture percentage wins the game.
  • Knockout: In Knockout, two teams of three brawlers each try to eliminate the enemy team in two-three rounds. The objective is to win two rounds to win the match. There is no respawning in Knockout. Once a Brawler are eliminated, they cannot participate in the round any further until the next one begins.

Solo and Duo Modes

  • Solo/Duo Showdown: In Showdown, ten players will go face-to-face against one another in a battle-royale style match. Only one single round is present, and there is no respawning, so once a Brawler is eliminated, it is over. Power Cube boxes are scattered across the map. Destroying them will drop Power Cubes, giving them health, damage and regen boosts. In Solo Showdown, the last brawler standing wins the match. In Duo Showdown, the ten brawlers are split into five duos, with the last team standing winning the match. If a team member is eliminated, they can respawn after twenty seconds only if the other teammate stays alive. If the remaining teammate is eliminated, then the team loses the match. Picking up a Power Cube will contribute to both teammates' overral Power Cube count.
  • Duels: Duels is a game mode where two players battle it out in a best-of-three match. Each player assembles a team of three brawlers which they want to use in the match. The first person to win two rounds will ultimately win the match.

Brawlers

Brawlers are the characters that players can control in the game of Brawl Stars.

Players can control their normal attack, their super (special type of attack that charges up when you hit an opponent. Additionally some brawlers can automatically charge their super or use another ability to charge it up), their gadgets (special abilities that can be used several times) and their hypercharge (special attack that temporarily increases that brawler's statistics and adds an extra ability to their super).

Every brawler can be influenced by Star Powers, with each brawler having their own two unique ones which can affect their attacks, movement speed, recharge time, etc.

Some of the brawlers have traits which might affect the way the brawler interacts with its environment and opponents.[11]

Brawlers come in variety of rarities:

  • Starting Brawler (Shelly)
  • Rare
  • Super Rare
  • Epic
  • Mythic
  • Legendary.[12]

Brawl Pass

In May 2020, a game update added a new reward system called “Brawl Pass”.[13] The Brawl Pass is the game's version of a battle pass. When players compete in battles, they earn XP (before known as Tokens) to progress along the Brawl Pass, which the XP required would exponentially increase per Brawl Pass level. Players can earn credits, Gems, skins, Pins (emojis that can be used during battles or in a team game room), Coins, Power Points, and Brawlers from the pass. There are two types of Brawl Pass. All players have the free Brawl Pass by default. Players could purchase the premium Brawl Pass with Gems, until 4 January 2023, where a change was made so the pass could only be bought with money.[14][15] After 4 January, Brawl Pass Plus was added, being a different version of the premium Brawl Pass with better rewards.

Power League

Power League is a competitive ranking system added to the game in March 2021, replacing the Power Play system. Players unlock Power League at 4500 trophies. There are a total of 19 ranks between Bronze I and Master. Each season lasts two months. At the end of a Power League season, players gain Star Points based on their rank.[16] At April 2023, Bling replaced Power Points in the Power League ranks.

Players can enter Power League solo or with teams of three. The winner is decided on a best-of-three format and ties do not count. Each match starts the game randomly choosing a game mode and map. All players from both teams choose a Brawler to ban. All six players in the match must play with a different Brawler. Progression is varied based on various factors including the opponents ranks.[16]

Resources

The main resources in Brawl Stars are as following:

  • Gems: The premium currency in Brawl Stars. Can buy cosmetics, Brawlers from the Starr Road and the Brawl Pass. Gems can be bought for money or obtained in tiers in the free (or paid, beginning on 4 January 2023) portion of the Brawl Pass. Gems are also rewards in certain seasonal events.
  • Coins: Used to upgrade Brawlers and buy Gadgets, Star Powers and Gears for Brawlers. They can be purchased with Gems, bought from the Shop, found in the Brawl Pass, Starr Drops, the Trophy Road, Challenges and events.
  • Power Points: Used to upgrade brawlers up to power 11, along with coins. Mostly found in the same way as coins, but they can only be purchased in special offers.
  • Pass XP: Used to progress through the Brawl Pass. They were originally called tokens. Available through daily and seasonal quests.
  • Bling: Bling was introduced in season 18 (April 2023). They can replace gems to get cosmetics. They replaced Star Points (a currency used to purchase some skin recolors and Power League). Bling is available by progressing through Power League, Challenges, events and Trophy League.

Starr Road

The Starr Road was introduced after the removal of Boxes in December 2022. It serves as the gateway to unlocking Brawlers. Players can select a Brawler from a selection of others of the same rarity to initiate the unlocking process. The progress is made through Credits, a currency obtained in the Trophy Road, Starr Drops and Brawl Pass. Players can switch to a different Brawler they wish to unlock at any time, with the accumulated credits transitioning to the new selection.

Once a Brawler is successfully unlocked, it becomes a permanent addition to the player's collection. The Starr Road then presents a new selection of Brawlers from the next rarity tier to unlock. Alternatively, players have the option to acquire Brawlers from the Starr Road using Gems.

Until 12 December 2023, the Chromatic Shop, allowed to unlock Chromatic brawlers through Chroma Credits, a currency obtainable through the Brawl Pass and used exclusively for unlocking brawlers in the Chromatic Shop. Alternatively, Gems could be used to purchase the Chromatics.[17]

Player retention

Newcomers and returning players are offered a login calendar, different in each case, to encourage them to stay in the game. These rewards are usually currencies, though some are skins or new brawlers.[18]

Brawl Stars Championship

The Brawl Stars Championship is an annual tournament, composed of a qualifying stage, available in-game, another Monthly Qualifier stage, a Regional Monthly Finals stage, and finally a World Finals stage, where the best teams compete to win the Championship. The first in-game challenge is similar to other challenges: the players must win 15 matches in the in-game challenge without losing three times. After 15 wins, a regional Monthly Qualifier stage is created, that gives access to the regional Monthly Finals.[19] These events would lead to the World Finals.[20][21]

Its first edition, known as the Brawl Stars World Championship, was held on November 15 and 16, 2019, at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center in South Korea. The first-place winner was Nova Esports after a 3–0 victory. Other participants competing included Animal Chanpuru, Tribe Gaming, 3Bears, Spacestation Gaming, and PSG Esports. With a $250,000 prize pool, it was the first international event for the game and had teams from North America, Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Japan, and South Korea.[20]

In 2020, the World Finals were held between November 21 and 22 with a base $1,000,000 prize pool. Half of the amount was raised using the profits from an in-game championship package. Eight teams participated in the World Finals, which were originally planned to take place in Katowice, Poland, but was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PSG Esports was the winner of this year's championship with a prize of $200,000. The other monetary prizes were split between the other teams which won second to eighth place.[22]

In 2021, the Brawl Stars Championship started on February 20. There are eight seasons for the championship that occur once per month starting from February until September. The Championship Challenges and Monthly Qualifiers are each live for two days per season. The top eight teams from the regional Monthly Qualifiers go to the regional Monthly Finals. 16 teams from the Monthly Finals from all seven regions come together to participate in the World Finals, which took place in this edition from November 26 to 28 in-person in Bucharest, Romania. The prizes for 2021 were $600,000 in the Monthly Finals, and a minimum of $500,000 in the World Finals with opportunities to increase this amount through in-game offers.[21]

Development and release

Supercell set out to develop a team based game similar to League of Legends and Overwatch. The team wanted to create such a game that was designed with mobile devices in mind first. According to Frank Keienburg, Game Lead of Supercell, "Our focus was on retaining a lot of depth while stripping away all the fluff."[23] Although the game contains some elements of the battle royale genre, these were implemented before the genre as a whole took off and the team did not set out to make a game with those elements.[24]

The game is notable for its long soft launch period during which virtually every aspect of the game changed.[25] Supercell officially announced the game via a livestream video on June 14, 2017.[26] It received an iOS soft launch in Canada the following day.[27] The soft launch would last a total of 522 days, during which internally it was doubted whether or not the game would ever actually see a general release.[24][23] Initially, the game was played in portrait mode and the movement controls were controlled by tapping on the screen. Eventually, landscape mode and joysticks were implemented.[24][23] Other changes include changing the UI, changing the metagame and transitioning the game from 2D to 3D.[23] Frank Keienburg attributes the difficult beta period to the developers working in a new genre where they "weren't sure how to interpret its success."[24] The game soft-launched in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao and Malaysia for iOS on January 19, 2018. On June 26, 2018, Android received early access to the game as a continuation of the soft launch.[28]

Brawl Stars was made globally and officially available on December 12, 2018.[4][1] It made more than US$63 million in its first month.[29] On June 9, 2020, Brawl Stars was released in mainland China, with the corresponding changes to accommodate to the Chinese laws.[30]

Partnerships

The game has a partnership with Line Friends to create official merchandise, new skins for Brawlers that are based on Line Friends characters, sticker packs on Line Messenger, and new content. A pop-up store was opened in January 2020 in South Korea to sell the merchandise from the partnership. Merchandise is also available at major Line Friends retail stores and online.[31] In September 2022, Brawl Stars also partnered with BT21, featuring new skins and Pins in-game.[32]

The game partnered up with Paris Saint-Germain F.C. (PSG), a French professional soccer club, in 2019 to host Brawl Stars Ball Cup organized by PSG's esports division. There were three online qualifier events and an online playoff event. The top two teams travelled to Paris for the finals. The finals were played live at PSG's home stadium, Parc des Princes. All matches took place in Brawl Ball, a football-like game mode.[33]

The game partnered up with PSG again in 2020 and 2021. During the partnerships, the game launched the Paris Saint-Germain Challenge. The challenges are similar to the championship challenges, but all matches are based in the Brawl Ball game mode. In 2020, the game offered a PSG skin for Shelly for players who won nine matches and lost four or fewer times. PSG's esports division also has a team that competed in the 2020 championship challenge.[34] In 2021, the game offered a PSG Mike skin for Dynamike.[35]

Reception

Awards

The game was nominated for "Mobile Game" and "EE Mobile Game of the Year" at the 15th British Academy Games Awards.[39]

Critical reception

Brawl Stars received "mixed or average" reviews or 72 out of 100 on review aggregator Metacritic.[36]

Pocket Gamer's Harry Slater scored the game 3 out of 5. Reviewing the game immediately after global release, he praised that game's progression. He criticized Showdown, the game's battle royale mode, for being the weakest of all the game modes that were in the game. He said that Showdown "doesn't capture the real madness of the genre, and there's a distinct lack of tension since you can pretty much see everyone on the map and what they're up to". He mentioned that something felt "missing in Brawl Stars. You'll play, you'll get new characters, you'll unlock new modes, but you're never having quite as much fun as you feel you should be doing." He continued on to say that "the action is relatively flat - in the team matches you know within the first few seconds which way the game is going." He concluded in disappointment because the game did not seem like "the huge step forward for multiplayer mobile action that a lot of us were hoping for."[37]

148 Apps' Campbell Bird scored the game 3.5 out of 5. She started with mentioning that the game felt "like a combination of Arena of Valor and Overwatch." She praised the game's graphics and the developer's implementation of the progression system to encourage players to play again, as well as the quick matchmaking. However, she criticized the game's controls for feeling "oddly loose and muddy". the characters falling "into pretty predictable hero shooter archetypes", as well as claiming that "every mode in the game is some variation on something you’ve seen before in other, better multiplayer shooters." She also highlighted that the frequent connection issues and unbalanced teams made the experience of playing the game less enjoyable.[38]

Commercial reception

Brawl Stars has been downloaded over 200 million times. In 2020, Brawl Stars had the second highest gross of any mobile game in Europe.[40] It grossed US$526 million in total in 2020, which accounted for more than half its life time revenue. It was also the fourth game by Supercell to surpass US$1 billion in lifetime revenue.[41]

References

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External links