Today's update introduces 3 new "rare" Battleships: ATHENA, MERCURY and ZEUS. These new Battleships (and all future rare ones) unlock slowly but consistently over time by opening Ship XP artifacts from Zone 3 and above. See below for more details on how we plan to implement this and other "rare" items in the game.
Our philosophy on "rare" items and "loot boxes"
Many games with in-app purchases offer items that have a chance to award you something awesome. These items can either be for purchase (with expensive items offering a much bigger chance to get something good), or as part of regular gameplay (where usually that chance is very low). Sometimes the chance is advertised up front, sometimes it isn't. Some of these games offer an experience that players think is fair, in others players play despite not knowing the odds and even knowing some items are completely out of reach unless they spend significant amount of money.
Our team's goal is to maximize the long term engagement of our players across all our games, not to maximize short term profit for any particular game. We believe hiding specific items behind paid purchases, or even worse, making some items seem like they could be obtained through regular play but making the chance so low that it's practically zero, would hurt that goal. We know over 90% of our players will never spend anything, and those players are still extremely important to the longevity of our games so they need to have a good experience. We also know that the small percent that will choose to spend money will sustain our game for a long time, so we also want to make purchases valuable for that small percentage of players.
Our philosophy on how to achieve these goals can be summarized simply:
All items in the game are available via free play over time. Some more rare items will take more time to get unlocked via free play - some may take months or even years. However, any player should be able to calculate correctly the exact amount of time it would take to unlock any item they want. Knowing the exact time would help players who never spend money plan their long term strategy appropriately. It would also help people who are considering spending money see the exact value they would get from their purchase, so there's no regrets and hurt feelings.
BATTLESHIP APOLLO recently introduced Rare Battleships, which provides a good example of how we plan to be transparent about total unlock time for Battleships. Every time players open a Ship XP artifact (obtained consistently through regular play), they have a small "chance" (5-12% depending on zone) to unlock a rare Battleship. I'm putting "chance" in quotes because this process isn't random at all. There is a counter that gets incremented according to this "chance" every time a Ship XP artifact is opened. When that counter reaches 100, a random rare Battleship is unlocked. In a future update of the game there will be more features to show exactly how this works, but in short: Everyone will get a rare Battleship every 1-2 weeks, assuming they maximize daily rewards from regular play. Knowing this time interval allows someone to see exactly how much time it would take to unlock every rare Battleship in the game, and if an in-app purchase for obtaining a specific Battleship faster or immediately is good value for them.