Free-to-play gamers are used to developers squeezing pennies out of every customizable option. Character skins? That’s a no-brainer. Purchasable loading screens? Sure. Emotes that let you make fun of the enemy team for how salty they are? Take my money. But in the case of SMITE’s newest cosmetic, death marks — which arrived with patch 5.6: Inner Demon — the welcome has not been warm.
What the heck is a death mark?
A death mark — or death stamp, as it is also labeled a few places within the client — leaves the killer’s death stamp of choice on the ground where they killed an enemy player. Death marks last one minute before disappearing. Like other cosmetics, death stamps can be selected through the Profile Loadout where wards, backgrounds, music and everything else can be customized.
Death marks were added with patch 5.6: Inner Demon and are rewards for the new Adventure mode, Inner Demon Arena. When all is said and done, there will be nine death marks earnable through the Arena, though only three (bolded) are available in-game as patch 5.6. The rest will be available in subsequent patches.
- Kill Face Death Mark
- RIP Death Mark
- Skull Death Mark
- Get Rekt Death Mark
- I Love You Death Mark
- GG Death Mark
- Crater Death Mark
- Salty Death Mark
- Money Death Mark
What’s the problem?
SMITE players, namely on the SMITE subreddit, the largest community of players, have identified a number of problems with death marks. Since patch 5.6 launched, dozens of threads have garnered thousands of upvotes. Take a look at these three, just to name a few: WE DONT WANT DEATH MARKS (2,000+ upvotes), Petition against death marks (500+ upvotes) and Let’s do everyone a favor and just not equip our death marks (700+ upvotes).
#1: They’re Ugly
While all free-to-play games drive revenue through many different customization options, there is a point where something is so outrageous that it has a negative impact on the game. In the opinion of some SMITE players, death marks are where the line is drawn.
Quotes from the Reddit threads linked include: “God that’s ugly,” “Honestly really diminishes the polish of the game,” “I wouldn’t mind as much if they were cool designs that fit the theme of the game like Kali’s mark for her target or some of the symbols for gods’ passives, but these just look like stamping ugly-ass clip art on the ground.”
#2: They Interfere With Gameplay
The unspoken rule in competitive games is that a cosmetic should never interfere with gameplay. In the case of death stamps, players have argued that death marks are game changers for SMITE gods like Neith and Camazotz, who also leave marks on the ground.
In the case of Camazotz, his passive leaves pools on the ground where players die. Camazotz can ‘drink’ from the pool to regenerate health and mana. He does this by sitting on the mark. Now get this: Camazotz pools are invisible to the enemy. But, when you have a death mark cosmetic that leaves a big picture of some gods’ face wherever an enemy dies, the enemy can easily tell where Camazotz pools are and can take action about this, such as zoning him away from them.
For Neith, a weave is left wherever an enemy player last died. Neith can use her first ability on a weave (and also create weaves with her third ability) to root all players within the area. This one isn’t as big of a deal because Neith roots are visible to the enemy. However, death marks could have the opposite effect here and interfere with the visibility of Neith’s roots, making it harder for players to see and avoid them.
So far, Hi-Rez has not said much about death marks, especially not since the threads began gaining traction on Reddit.
SMITE Scrub’s take
It’s hard to deny the aesthetic look of the new death marks isn’t beautiful. The one that leaves a picture of the killer’s face is especially distracting and unfitting of SMITE’s overall aesthetic. But, there is a difference between “This is ugly” and “This is ruining the game.” Whether or not death marks will have as big of an impact as is anticipated has yet to be seen due to not many players having earned the cosmetic through the Adventure yet.
The point about Camazotz pools is quite valid. Most SMITE players do not find themselves remembering exactly where enemies died and therefore knowing the location of Camazotz pools and being able to take action on it. However, death marks only last for 60 seconds, so how relevant this will be is also unclear.
Death marks are walking a narrow line, however, and make us wonder, “What’s next?”Follow @SMITEScrub