I really enjoy the Fire Emblem franchise. Ever since playing my first Fire Emblem game on the 3DS in 2014, I've been playing the other entries in the series, even going as far as to play fan translations of Japan-only entries in the series. In 2017, during the Fire Emblem Direct, Nintendo announced that they'd be bringing Fire Emblem to mobile as well.
End of Service
In August of this year, the game will be disabled in Belgium. I wanted to talk a bit about the game before I can't play it any longer. I wrote about Fire Emblem Heroes earlier when it originally launched and was not super impressed by the game. I only played it briefly for a few months, and then promptly dropped the game.
Here's what I wrote in my original post:
I have to say that I generally like the new Fire Emblem Heroes on mobile — but then again, I’m saying this as a fan of the series. Unfortunately, the game has all the signature features of a typical mobile game — only slightly more reasonable.
I wouldn't have touched this game if I wasn't someone who really enjoys Fire Emblem, but I did play the game for a few months: I basically dropped the game less than 6 months into its lifetime. I do sometimes return to the game to play through the main story but I don't really enjoy the game.
Earlier this year, the following announcement was made by Nintendo:
Due to the current unclear situation in Belgium surrounding certain in-game monetization methods, we have made the decision to end the service for Fire Emblem Heroes in Belgium. From Tuesday 27th August 2019, it will not be possible to play the software, and it will be unavailable to download.
After EA's release of Battlefront II, the legal aspect of gambling and loot boxes was seriously brought into the spotlight. Belgian legislators then declared that (paid) loot boxes constitute gambling and thus games containing said loot boxes shouldn't be accessible to minors.
So, the folks at Nintendo and Intelligent Systems decided to end the service for Belgian players, and I won't be able to play any longer.1
Given the predatory nature of loot boxes in general, I can't say I'll miss Fire Emblem Heroes. It is filled with many different types of resources and if you want to have a specific character, expect to spend quite some money on Orbs. I did spend a bit of money on the game at first in 2017, but I am definitely not a whale.
To give you an idea, in the last two years I spent a total of 25 euros on the game, grabbing a starter pack and two Orb promo packs. There's people spending hundreds of euros on these gacha games every month, which is quite irresponsible.
I do want to add that I think they could've just disabled the in-app purchases here in Belgium and that probably would have been fine. But it seems clear to me that the easiest solution was to just disable the game in Belgium.
A word on Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fortunately, Nintendo is a reasonable company, and unlike their mobile games, their first-party Switch games do not contain such garbage mechanics like loot boxes. (This applies generally to all of their franchises on their own systems: Zelda, Mario, etc.)
On Friday, the latest entry in the Fire Emblem franchise, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, was released to universal acclaim. I've really enjoyed Three Houses so far, and I'm very pleased to say that you can pay an upfront price for the game and the additional content they're bringing to the game over the next year, in true Nintendo fashion.
I think it's absolutely worth picking up for newcomers to the series as well, plus it's got great replay value. I hope Nintendo can keep doing this, because with their Switch releases I know what I'm paying for.
Please note that I am aware that you could theoretically change the region of your Nintendo account (to e.g. The Netherlands) and keep playing, but I'd need to change the country of my Apple ID or use an Android device to be able to download the app. This seems like quite the hassle for a game I only play rarely. ↩