Parents' Guide to

Gladiator Heroes

By Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Faux free-to-play app emphasizes pay-to-win for success.

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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.

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