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From screenshots it looks similar to Ogame but why is there a montly fee?
Astro Empires works the same way as Ogame and other browser MMOs, you can play for free but there are optional paid upgrades which gives you extra features. In Ogame you can purchase "dark matter" which in return you can use for different premium services ingame, while in Astro Empires you can upgrade your account for a monthly fee, which gives you extra features.
More about Astro Empires' upgraded accounts: http://wiki.astroempires.com/index.php/Upgrade
More about Ogame's dark matter: http://ogame.wikia.com/wiki/Dark_Matter
yea if you want to be good you got to pay for upgrades. I played over 2 years now in all that time we had one free promo code for a free month upgrade from when they did the Q-CON thing. Overall lately the game isnt so much fun anymore. They added a bunch of new mods in the forum and they banned us if we coulnt spell stuff right. They always made fun of me cuz i was misspellin stuff and junk. So what it is is there is a bunch of adults play the game for alot of years and they treat us younger people or ppl who are rpging like fairyland creatures like trash alot. And if we object they ban us off the forums or they give you a yellow brick and if you get 3 yellow bricks your gone forever or next to forever. Thats what happened to me i got banned this fall until next May cause they came up with a new unannounced way to do the scouting with all these colored dots instead of letting us use our space boats system by system and then when they rolled it out they didn't explain it well and all the people who had hiddent their fleets for months in abandoned star systems they all lost them because all the hidden fleets were suddenly vivisible and you could see them by just glancing at the galaxy so you could look at a whole galaxy in 30 minutes instead of 6 hours. So anyway lots and lots of people lost their fleets because they rolled out the new scouting system during the week and most people play on the weekends so by the time people logged back in their fleets were gone. In my best server where i palyed a year and a half and had 16 planets (9 is the max u can have if ur a free player) anyway in my gamma server all the legends have been quitting becdause they were all getting banned off teh game forum for making jokes and stuff and hardly anyone posts in our gamma server anymore cuz the second you post they lock the thread. Anywya when they changed the scouting system to the heads up display of colored dotts they just did it one day, no warning and then everyone lost all their fleets and then the same month they changed their forum dispaly and the contrast was horrible and i got bad eyes so i complained i couldnt read the forum i couldnt tell the difference between the green and the yellow dots on the scouting display cause some days i have color blindness caus eof my bad eye condidtion. So when i logged in to read the forum that day and couldnt even see the forum caust they messed up the forum display contrasts that was the week they were playing all these games on the game portal for free upgrades, so while everyone was losing all there fleets took them a couuple of years to make, the game admins messed the forum up, and then were making jokes about and wanted us to guess their age for a free upgrade, so i lost my temper and called either wizard (the game designer) or xaman (the guy who runs the game forum and game) idiots. So they suspned me off the forum.
Upgrades are optional. In AE playing for free means your construction gets gimped and you lose scanners. There then comes only two things you can pay for with your credits : Fleet and research. You can play free and compete but you should try to already have the construction you will do already done when the upgrade expires.
I found also playing free forces you to learn how to be efficient in your building choices. Like you do NOT collect a rainbow turret collection. I'm thinking of making a free player guide that acknowledges the limits of free, but how to maximize what you have .
A free player with 9 or 10 bases (because he succeeded at 10 in 7) will just not have the capacities of a player with 17 bases, but within the limits, it can still be a fairly good account that he may choose to upgrade later.