Gladiator Heroes

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Gladiator Heroes App Poster Image
Faux free-to-play app emphasizes pay-to-win for success.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Mechanics are simple; free-to-play is hard.


Bloody gladiatorial combat cartoonishly shown.


The epitome of pay-to-win. Free-to-play is extremely difficult.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gladiator Heroes is a pay-to-win wolf in free-to-play sheep's clothing. The game is near impossible to play for longer than a few minutes without spending money. Half the focus of the game is gladiatorial combat, which contains cartoon blood and death. Contains an online versus mode but no chat. The game's easy to read privacy policy describes the kinds of information collected and shared. Read the privacy policy in its entirety here.

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What's it about?

GLADIATOR HEROES sends you back to Roman times when gladiators ruled the arena. You get to start your own empire by building your own city and training your own fighters, then build your reputation by taking on online opponents. Like many city-building sims, the idea is to place structures, collect resources, and use rewards to expand and upgrade. In single player mode, you work your way across a map of the Roman countryside, taking on fighters in different arenas. As you go, you hire new, more powerful gladiators, train them, equip them, then send them back to the arena to fight.

Is it any good?

Nothing disappoints more than a so-called free-to-play game pulling the ol' bait-and-switch. You know, enticing you with fun graphics and cool gameplay, then making you pay for it every two minutes? This is a textbook example of the cruelty built into a poorly-balanced free-to-play game: the scene's set, you're pumped to start your own city, you're dreaming of gladiatorial greatness -- then the app throws that dream to the lions.

Gladiator Heroes has nerve calling itself free-to-play. Minutes in, you're hit with hour-long build times that bring gameplay screeching to a halt unless you cough up some cash. While there's a variety of activities within the app, they're all so intertwined, you can't use one to kill time while waiting for another. For instance: winning fights gives you gold, so you tap to collect your reward. A message pops up saying you can't collect because your gold storage house is full. You go to upgrade your storage -- there's an hour-long build time. While you wait, you think you'll train your gladiators but ha ha, you can't because you don't have the gold! This kind of frustrating interdependency runs throughout the game, sapping it of all possible fun faster than you can say "Roman candle." Despite its cool premise, any self-respecting Roman emperor would give it the thumbs-down.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about historical gladiators. Why did they exist and what was their purpose?

  • Discuss other films and TV shows that show Roman culture. From those, what's your impression of it?

  • Think about modern-day equivalents to gladiator battles. Can you think of any?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

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