Happy & Free

By: Trevor Shanahan



It saddens me sometimes to think about the many games that I love and enjoy that do not receive noticeable press coverage (in my opinion).  Toylogic’s Happy Wars is one such title.  Initially released on October 12, 2013 Happy Wars has weathered the free-to-play stigma and gone on to significant success.  Happy Wars is a team-based action game pitting real and AI-controlled players against one another in a vast assortment of mission and battle types.  Players can choose among 3 classes, with 3 more that can be unlocked by meeting specific requirement or by making in-game purchases.


Two examples of log-in notifications of current special matches, specials, and updates.

The game is built upon item “gathering” through free and/or paid means.  These items ultimately determine the potential of your character(s); augmenting each classes small pool of abilities and offensive/defensive stats.  What drew me in was (and is) Toylogic’s variety of means to obtain items.  You get items from playing weekly “instances” (special battles), with different rewards for multiple difficulty levels.  Happy Wars also has a monthly “treasure map” which you can access once a day to move a character forward a space on the map earning in-game currency, and a few items (usually good ones) – the map always has less spaces than days of the month, so missing a few days won’t prevent you from getting the large chest at the end.



A sample treasure map; in-game currency for every space moved, 3 item chests, and bonus in-game currency per visit after completing the map.

The game has evolved much since its launch; adding classes, augmenting maps, changing the item system.  It is evident, even as a consumer, that this was done to maximize the overall gameplay experience to both retain AND attract new users.  F2P (free-to-play) is a curse word of sorts within our culture.  It evokes news stories of individuals maxing-out credit cards playing farming games or trying to grow dragons – but these tales rob developers of the talent it takes to manage these potentially eternal balancing acts.


  • Can you sell your game outright?
  • What sales numbers need to be me to break-even?
  • How many units need to be sold to maintain the game?
  • How many units do we need to sell to help it grow (expansions, DLC)?
  • If we go F2P what do we do to make money?


These are just a few questions developers and publishers have to address when developing a title that is not a franchise game with a proven profit model.


Battle in the enemy base, right in front of the target: their tower.

If for no other reason, try Happy Wars just to see and experience the product for what it is; a stand-out example of a free-to-play title that doesn’t plague the user with stigmatized free-to-play conventions.  Happy Wars is out for Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Steam.


ccccccAbout the blogger

My name is Trevor Shanahan and I am finishing my undergraduate degree in Marketing with a minor in Media Studies.  I am interested in video games and everything they touch (their industry, development, games as art, psychology of games – like gamification, industry issues, cutlure, etc.).  I have come to realize that the more I learn ( and learning is so important) the more I do not know.  Learn as much as you can about what you love and   try to give back to it.