Icons: How We Do Free-To-Play

May 18, 2018

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Fighting is for Everyone

Platform Fighters are ready to break out, and we’re building Icons to reach audiences across the world. The best way to reach those new audiences is to make the game free. As we get closer to opening up Icons for everyone, we’re excited to share all the ways to get it.

For us at Wavedash, getting Free to Play right comes down to four things:

1. Anyone can download the game for free and can unlock core content by playing

2. Players must have an option to buy the “full” game

3. There should be tons of ways to customize your game, and this content should be completely optional

4. Never, ever be “pay to win.” Period.

With your help, we have a plan that lets everyone play, devoted fans earn big rewards, and competitive players always stand on a level playing field. Read on to learn more.

Fight for Free

Everyone who plays Icons will start out with two characters for free: Ashani and Xana. If you sign up before Early Access launches, you’ll get Kidd as a free character, plus his Wavedash skin.

You can unlock the rest of the roster in three ways:

  • By fighting and leveling up. You can earn the entire roster by playing.

  • Through store purchase. Just want that one awesome character? You can unlock them through earnable in-game currency.

  • With your Pro Account. More on that shortly!

Finally, Icons comes with all arenas for free, forever. All stages used in competitive multiplayer will be free, always.

The Pro Account: Everything You Need to Compete

Whether you’re battling with friends, competing in a tournament, or both, Icons is about the characters. Every member of the roster brings a different style, and that roster is constantly growing. But what if you want the entire cast right away?

Enter: our Pro Account.

In one package, the Pro Account gives you every character we’ve ever made – and every character we will ever release in the future. You’ll have every playstyle at your fingertips, every new character right when it releases, and everything you need to compete in the next tournament. Forever.

Earn Cosmetics and Characters By Playing

Icons brims with hundreds of ways for you to customize everything from the character you play to the platform you fly in on.

This content comes in Portal Packs. Every time you level up you receive a Portal Pack, which contains three items ranging in rarity from common to iconic.

Through Portal Packs you can earn nearly the entire game for free, including the steady stream of new characters, new cosmetics, and new expressions. Cosmetics are 100% optional and have no impact on game balance.

A few things you’ll find inside:

  • Custom taunts for every character
  • New voice lines and victory poses
  • Player portraits, tokens for the character select screen, and trophies for the victory screen
  • Skins, skins, and more skins
  • Characters themselves

And there will be more. We’ve built some entirely new ways to express yourself in the arena to be announced soon.

If you're skeptical, we understand your concern. There’s a lot of discussion around loot boxes nowadays. As we explored different models we kept coming back because “blind boxes” allow our artists to take the most risks, and to spread the most content across a wide cast. The model allows us to support fans of every character for the long term, and to make Icons something truly unique.

Buy the Stuff You Want Directly in the Shop

As you collect more gear, you'll start to see duplicates in your packs. These duplicates automatically convert into spectra, the currency of the Icons universe.

Spend spectra in the in-game shop to get specific items. Every item available in Portal Packs is also available in the shop. When one particular skin, taunt, or character strikes your fancy, you can get it without waiting for it to appear in Packs.

A Special Offer for Founders

That brings us to one more offer. Starting next week, you will be able to support Icons: Combat Arena as a founder. 

The Founders Pack includes:

  • The Pro Account – every character we will ever make, now and forever
  • “Wavedash Ashani” Skin
  • Exclusive Founders-only player portrait
  • Five free Portal Packs

We’ll soon have more info on how these packs will be available. Follow us on Reddit, Twitter, Discord, and Twitch, and stay tuned to future Wavedash Wednesdays to watch the growing community in action.

Let’s bring Platform Fighters to the world.



Frequently Asked Questions

What is available for free when I start the game?

When you download Icons: Combat Arena for free, you immediately get:

  • Every stage in the game

  • Characters Ashani and Xana

  • If you sign up before Early Access launches, you also will get Kidd + the Wavedash Kidd skin

How many items do I get in one Portal Pack?

Every Portal Pack contains three items.

What comes in Portal Packs?

We built Icons from the ground up with the plan to customize as much as possible. Among the many things you’ll find in Portal Packs:

  • Skins

  • Taunts

  • Voice Lines

  • Angel Platforms

  • Player Portraits

  • Victory Poses

And there’s more we haven’t announced yet.

How do I get Portal Packs?

You earn packs by leveling up, and through direct purchase.

Isn’t this a loot box system? Why would you pick that?

Yes. Portal Packs are heavily based on the system players discuss as loot boxes. As we explored different models we kept coming back because “blind boxes” allow our artists to take the most risks, and to spread the most content across a wide cast.

The model allows us to support fans of every character for the long term, and to make Icons something truly unique.

We have a lot more detail in this FAQ about how we built this to be fun and fair, including guarantees for rarities.

What are the item rarities?

Items in Portal Packs come in four rarities:

  • Common

  • Uncommon

  • Rare

  • Iconic

How often will I get items of a given rarity?

NOTE: All numbers are subject to change based on feedback, design changes, and conditions (ie, how many items you have).

Opening up free Portal Packs, the base probability of each rarity is:

  • Common: 3/5
  • Uncommon: 1/4
  • Rare: 1/10
  • Iconic: 1/20

Purely random chance can mean some people get super unlucky. Are you doing anything about that?

Yep! We want players to get good content at a more steady rate than purely random would create. Every rarity level has a Generosity Timer, which guarantees you get a given item in a certain number of packs.

  • Uncommon: one in every six packs

  • Rare: one in every 15 packs

  • Iconic: one in every 26 packs

  • Character: one in every 30 packs

NOTE: All numbers are subject to change based on feedback, design changes, and conditions (ie, how many items you have).

Will I get content I can use by characters I own?

You will get both content for characters you own, and characters you don’t yet own. We do have a timer that makes sure you get content you can immediately use on characters you have.

Currently, we guarantee that every five packs will contain at least one un-owned item for a character you have.

NOTE: All numbers are subject to change based on feedback, design changes, and conditions (ie, how many items you have).

How much will items cost with spectra?

We’re still designing the details of the spectra economy. We do plan to have a weekend with the entire system turned on for players to test. In addition to testing the underlying tech, the goal of that weekend is to collect extensive feedback on our implementation.

What can I purchase for real-world  money?

With real-world money, you can directly purchase:

  1. The Pro Account and Founders Pack

  2. Portal Packs

Is there a difference between purchased Portal Packs and those earned by leveling?

Purchased packs guarantee one un-owned item of uncommon or higher rarity.

Can I buy spectra?

Spectra can only be earned through getting duplicates items in Portal Packs.

Why not offer spectra for direct purchase?

This system, where players earn and buy Portal Packs, allows us to make the individual spectra cost of every item lower than it would be in a direct purchase system. This makes rewards in the early game more valuable (since spectra goes further once you earn it), encourages early game play (since leveling gives Portal Packs), and allows the creative team to spread content over the whole roster.

What if I don’t want to spend any money at all?

That’s great! You will be able to earn every character in the game, and every item in Portal Packs, for free.

How does the leveling system work?

We’re still putting the finishing touches on the economy, but the details are:

  1. You gain levels by completing matches, each of which earns XP (win or lose)

  2. You gain a Portal Pack every time you gain a level

You can also level up individual characters, which give you character-specific rewards.

Leveling up characters? How does that work?

In addition to leveling up your personal profile, you will also level up the character you play. The more you play an Icon, the higher their level gets.

As you level up the character, you’ll get unique rewards for that character not available anywhere else. These include character-specific portraits, skins, taunts, and more.

Do I get Portal Packs for leveling up a character?

You only get Portal Packs for leveling your own profile, not individual characters. Instead, you get individual, non-random content for characters as you level.

Does leveling slow down? Is there a level cap? How many Portal Packs can I earn?

  • XP between each level evens out at level 11, at which point every level is about 25 matches played

  • There is no level cap!

How long does it take to earn the whole game for free?

This will be constantly changing as we add new content, but the more you play, the more spectra you earn and the faster you will collect all the content. The main driver is that there is NO level cap, and the number of experience needed between levels does NOT increase after level 11. You will gain levels at a constant rate.