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The Garfield Messenger

The student news source of Garfield High School

The Garfield Messenger

The student news source of Garfield High School

The Garfield Messenger

I SURVIVED: The Brawldemic

The rise, fall, and state of Brawl Stars in 2024.
I SURVIVED: The Brawldemic

A very specific phenomenon has been sweeping through Garfield: another mobile gaming giant. Whether or not it’s a fad, everybody is very much hooked on it: Brawl Stars. Brawl Stars is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and battle royale shooter developed by Finnish game company Supercell. Supercell is known for its famous 2012 mobile game Clash of Clans and its 2016 spin-off Clash Royale. A hero shooter, Brawl Stars is a mobile alternative to video games like Overwatch and League of Legends which dominate the industry. Brawl Stars initially soft-launched in the Nordic countries, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, Macao, and Hong Kong in January 2018. In December 2018 it was released globally. Since that soft launch, Brawl Stars has always had a committed player base but it ironically dropped off in popularity during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. The game suffered multiple controversies surrounding its updates, additions, and removal of in-game features.

 

Like most multiplayer games, playing with friends and harsh competition has attracted dedicated players. Despite that, Brawl Stars was met with mixed reviews by Supercell fans dissatisfied with the gameplay switch in comparison to previous titles like Boom Beach and Clash of Clans which are real-time strategy games. This change of genre was noted internally at Supercell, who attributed their unfamiliarity with the shooter genre to the slow development of Brawl Stars. 

 

Though Brawl Stars is far from your stereotypical pay-to-play or freemium (a portmanteau of “free” and “premium,” as in a game with both elements) game, players such as the Masters-ranked junior Kyle Hopkins would describe the game as pay-to-win. Though many updates were criticized, Brawl Stars would make a comeback starting in December of 2022. Unlocking brawlers (the playable characters in the game) and items would be done with “Brawl Boxes.” These are purchasable loot boxes with in-game and real-life currency. This was replaced with the “Starr Road.” The Starr Road made unlocking brawlers much more linear and efficient. The elimination of randomness split the player base down the middle but ultimately made the game much more fair. Following that came “Masteries” in February of 2023. Masteries were an overhaul to the leveling system of brawlers and boosted competitiveness and grinding. In June, Brawl Stars added “Starr Drops” which served as an answer to disgruntled players who missed the removed brawl boxes. Brawl Stars would continue with multiple lifestyle and gameplay updates such as hypercharges and bling. Though they ranged in popularity, they overall improved the game’s quality of life. The constantly shifting meta encouraged adaptation and strategy. In the current environment of formulaic and repetitive mobile gaming, consistent updates distinguished Brawl Stars from most other games. This effort strengthened the loyalty of their fanbase while effective advertising strategies like sponsoring MrBeast’s “Squid Game In Real Life” video would increase downloads by over 300%. This approach to development encourages the newfound excessive trend of phone usage we’re seeing here at Garfield. If your friend (or more likely, friends) isn’t playing Brawl Stars, there are probably multiple students in any of your periods trying to cram in gameplay during class time.

 

Since January of 2024, Brawl Stars’ popularity has been exponentially increasing with no sign of slowing down. A perpetual cycle of updates, fandom controversy, and improvement in quality of life has further popularized the game and cultivated a near-mania around it.

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About the Contributor
Ibrahim Coker is a junior staffing for the first time ever for the Garfield Messenger. He is passionate about history, creative literature, and being the only remaining fan of The Walking Dead show. In his free time he enjoys spending hundreds on baking equipment just to horribly botch the recipe.

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