While mechanically nearly identical to Kabam’s well-established Facebook game Kingdoms of Camelot, Battle for the North is a standalone mobile product and as such does not interface with the existing title. The release of Battle for the North represents Kabam’s first steps away from its Facebook origins and into the mobile market. Kabam’s chief executive Kevin Chou had told last month at our Inside Social Apps conference that Facebook Credits was not converting nearly as well as he had expected.
The game has recently been undergoing a limited test release via the Canadian App Store, but is now available worldwide.
Battle for the North sees players cast in the role of a new lord aiming to defend the North of Britain against the Picts at the behest of King Arthur. This is achieved primarily through building up a large, well-defended city with strong resource production, then training a large army of skilled warriors with which to conquer as much territory as possible.
Early gameplay largely focuses around building and upgrading city facilities. The game introduces basic concepts and interface features via a brief tutorial and then continues to guide the player through the early game using a lengthy series of simple quests, one of which is “recommended” at a time. These vary from requests to build specific structures to the requirement of having a certain amount of resource production in place.
The player’s home base is split between two screens: the City screen and the Field screen. In the City, buildings which house population, generate income and train troops are placed. In the Field, resource-producing structures such as farms, sawmills, mines and quarries are placed. Buildings can be upgraded over time to make them more efficient, but certain levels of upgrades have prerequisites such as having researched a particular technology, or having upgraded other structures to a particular standard.
Everything in Kingdoms of Camelot takes varying degrees of time, and it’s this factor which forms the basis of part of the game’s monetization strategy. It’s possible to instantly finish any time-consuming project by spending the game’s hard currency of Gems, with more required for longer projects. Players can also purchase, find and use Hourglass items, which reduce wait times by anywhere between one minute and 24 hours. If players are happy to wait, however, push notifications inform them when a particular project has been completed.
Other things for players to spend their hard currency on include “boost” items, which increase the production of various resources for a temporary period, and tickets for a chance-based game which offers the possibility of acquiring special items for “free.”
Like most of Kabam’s other offerings on the Web, Battle for the North is inherently social thanks to the game’s persistent world, in which all players’ cities are scattered. Once players have a solid defense and a formidable army in place — a process which takes a considerable amount of time, even when making use of “instant finish” or hourglass items — they can venture out into the wilds of this persistent world in an attempt to conquer territories and even attack other players. Like most other games of this type, however, new players are given a seven-day grace period during which they are immune from attack by other players, allowing them to build up their defenses without fear. A real-time chat facility allows players to communicate with one another, and most dedicated players choose to create or join an alliance with others for faster progress and socialization. Alliance members also share scouting reports, so players can get advance warning of the threats which surround their city.
The game makes use of a proprietary Kabam account for its online features and does not connect with Facebook, Game Center or any other cross-game networks. Players are rewarded with hard currency when signing up for a Kabam account, though must hand over their email address in the process. In the long-term, Kabam is hoping to connect all its games in a synchronous environment using a proprietary framework known as Pyramid. The aim is for players on various networks and devices to be able to play together, suggesting that Battle for the North may well make its way to platforms other than iOS in the future to enjoy cross-platform play.
Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North has just launched worldwide and is currently listed at No. 351 in Top Free Apps, No. 240 in Top Free iPad Apps, No 104 in Top Free Games and No. 87 in Top Free iPad Games. To follow its progress through the App Store charts, check out AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.