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Discussing Mobile Social Gaming – Millionaire City

By Huel Fuchsberger

Being a millionaire is a dream that millions share. This helped “Millionaire City” to peak at 13 million MAU in the end of 2010. Today, it only has about 1,600,000 MAU. For Digital Chocolate it still is the second biggest game on Facebook, according to AppStats. It is also a good example to investigate how an alteration of a classic resource managing game translates onto mobile devices and to discus differences of both platforms and their meaning for social games.

Developer: Digital Chocolate
Genre:  Resource Management
Languages: English
Platforms: Facebook, iOS , Android
Active users (Facebook): 1.600.000 MAU 250.000 DAU

How to play
In this early resource managing game the goal is to accumulate resources, build more and more advanced buildings and decorate the city with new shiny items. For “Millionaire City” that means getting money through renting property. The user levels up and unlocks more profitable properties to build his own digital real estate empire. Although the goals of both versions are the same, the appeal is not.  It’s the details that make the difference between the Facebook and mobile version of the game.

iPod-Screenshot-Millionaire City

Game play – touching is not clicking

The touch screen doesn’t change the possibilities for the player in the game but changes his interaction with the game. The mouse has several advantages here. The mouse always feels fast and precise. The player only needs a few seconds to select a building and build it where he wants, more information is shown via simply letting the mouse hover over the property of interest. Zooming in and out is easy and smooth with the mouse wheel. On touch devices all those interactions are bit notchier.

Buildings have to be dragged and dropped into position and then confirmed to be build. For more information the player has to open a new screen by taping on buildings. Zooming in and out is intuitive with the pitching motion but doesn’t feel as responsive compared to a mouse wheel. Right now, Facebook versions of most social games feel smoother when played than via touch screen on mobile devices. Taping on a screen and clicking a mouse may do the same, but it doesn’t feel the same.

Facebook screen shot Millionaire City

Presentation – mobile ghost town

On Facebook Millionaire City has very bright and colorful graphics with appealing animations. Due to the more limited resources of mobile devices the game doesn’t look as good as on Facebook. Again the details are the difference. On Facebook the player can examine his whole empire at once, not so on mobile devices. Also no vehicles are driving on the streets of the city on portable devices, giving the city an intensified feeling of emptiness. With less bright colors compared to the Facebook version and buildings that look muddier in comparison – cities build by the player have more similarities with a ghost town. Also missing on the iOS and Android versions are some small animations when collecting money, building and other interaction. In summary this results in a superior look and feel of the Facebook version. It seems like mobile social games don’t play as well as their social counterpart.

Millionaire City on mobile devices isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t a good one either. It shares the problem of many mobile social games that try to sell the same game mechanics of their desktop analogues. Facebook and mobile are two different platforms that have their own set of rules.

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