Socialgamesobserver

The Latest News on the Social Games Market in Europe and Emerging Markets

7Jan/13

Game of the Week: Dragon City

By Huel Fuchsberger

With over 16M MAU and more than 4M DAU Dragon City is Social Point’s flagship-game. In the wide variety of games offered by the Spanish developer located in Barcelona, Dragon City is their most popular RPG-Farming-Hybrid. Since the release in May 2012 the user base has grown constantly. It now ranks as the #6 on the AppStats.eu DAU leaderboards.

Developer/Publisher:  Social Point
Genre:  RPG/Adventure
Languages:  English
Best-selling Item: 25 Gems($ 1.94)
Platforms:   Facebook
Active users (Facebook): 16,400,000 MAU 4,200,000 DAU

How to play
In Dragon City the player hatches, grows and trains dragons to fight dragons of other players. New dragons can be bought and need to be hatched in the hatchery. When hatched the dragon has to be places in a fitting habitat that the player builds beforehand. To get the dragons into fighting shape, the dragons need to be feeded to level up. Food can be harvested from farms the player builds. Reaching level four, three dragons can be taken to the battlefield. Winning increases the value of dragons and the rate they produce gold. Also the premium currency gems can be won by fighting other players. With this mechanics the player tries to level up his dragoons, breed new kinds by mixing different kinds of dragons. The collecting and training of the dragons creates a bond to these creatures and enhances the experience significantly. Together with the well balanced economic system it makes a great social game.  

Good Balance

Dragon City succeeds in doing what many other games of this type never quit manage – making the game bearable for those who don’t pay. Playing Dragon City the player doesn’t get the impression all the interesting stuff is a week grind away. It Every day something new can be discovered or build. Only in Battles the difference can be felt significantly, since players that invest or have a big friends base playing the game tend to have the better trained dragons than regular players. Still it is possible to beat those players after a few, by adjusting the own team just for those fight. Those encounters show the good balancing and game design of Dragon City and make clear that social games can be fun without requiring payments.

3Dec/12

Game of the Week – Stormfall: Age of War

By Huel Fuchsberger

As one of the few social games using voice output Stormfall: Age of War differentiates itself early from other castle building games. The Israeli developers manage to distinguish their game from others on the market and create an interesting world to play in.  With  1,300,000  MAU and 200,000 DAU on AppStats it leaves question, if the positive  initial impression is carried into the higher levels of the game.

Developer/Publisher:  Plarium
Genre:  Strategy
Languages:  English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Turkish
Best-selling Item: 3000 Sapphires ($14.47)
Platforms:   Facebook
Active users (Facebook): 1,300,000 MAU 200,000 DAU

How to play
Stormfall is a castle builder like many others. The main resources are gold, iron and food. With those the player has to construct buildings, recruit troops, buy upgrades or research new versions of the mentioned things. To defend and expand his castle, the player has to form alliances with other player or wage war against them. Also trading is possible. Interesting here is that is implemented as an open market. Players offer a good and name its price. It is up to other players to buy or ignore the entire on the market. Prices therefore are determined by demand and supply.

Another way to interact with friends, next to the trading and alliances, is the possibilities to summon ghost troops to reinforce the own troops. Together with the option of sending troop and resources to allies and the possibility of mailing each other, Stormfall manages to create an opportunity for real bond between players.

If played with the right persons the player in Stormfall experiences the game as if he was a real lord in this world. In these occasions Stormfall shines and engages the player the most. Players don’t play alongside anymore, occasionally interact with each other, but they start to play together by planning wars and calling for aid. In these cases the game works the best. For those players planning on the long term the premium currency gets interesting.

Pay to save

At first it seemed odd that Stormfall asks the player for real money to build something essential to a fortress like walls. But on second thought, it makes sense. Since walls are only needed in a case of defense they only result as an advantage when attacked. This means different than combat troops and other objects that are needed to expand, walls more or less saves the players progress. A strong defense makes sure that the spoils of war or the profit from trades won’t be lost that easily to others players. This advantage is only needed for players that plan playing on a longer time frame. It is possible to play without a strong defense, it is just riskier to do so.

Also the management of the player’s session is handled naturally. Stormfall doesn’t rely on an additional energy system. Only resources and traveling time of troops limit the player’s progress. This means that even if the player is not actively playing, the game moves on.  Since other players may move as well while the player is offline, it creates the tension of the classical browser game. In which the player always wonders, what is happening in the world of Stormfall.

26Nov/12

Game of the Week: Baseball Heroes

By Huel Fuchsberger

Released in April 2012 the Facebook sports game Baseball Heroes has now 2.400.000 MAU and 410.000 DAU on AppStats.eu. The Korean developer Syntasia created a baseball social game with an anime-style that looks appealing and offers interesting game play.

Developer/Publisher:  Syntasia
Genre:  Sport
Languages:  English, Indonesian, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, Korean
Best-selling Item:  Special Batter Energy Reset ($0,15)
Platforms:   Facebook
Active users (Facebook):  2.400.000 MAU 410.000 DAU

How to play

Baseball Heroes has several layers of game play. Into which the player is introduce step by step. The player begins with creating a team and his avatar. After the creation and customization part the first game of the season awaits.

Before the action takes place on the green, the player has to pick his line up for the match. This segment of the game is handled like a trading card game. The player can buy booster pack to acquire special players and use them to improve his line up’s strength. Those special players can be enhanced or in pairs of three, traded in for better cards. Also friend’s avatars can be added to the line up. After setting up the Team, the match begins.

Here the player is introduced to the match game play. It is a reaction game in which the player only plays out the hits of his avatar during the match. To hit the incoming ball the player tries to click on the ball in a grid. For a home run, accuracy and timing must be spot on. If not, the hit could be enough to reach a base or lead to fly out. There is a combo-meter available that if fully charged leads immediately to a home run if the ball is hit by the player.

After the matches players can manage their players, the team and the stadium. Upgrades to the stadium lead to more cash that can be collected by selling tickets. This coin can be spend to purchase better gear for the avatar or better players for the line up.

A strong game for those who pay

Baseball Heroes is a well crafted social sports game in many regards. Even though the anime-style may not be for everyone, the underlying game play is worth taking a look. Only thing spoiling the fun is the need for payment. Even though the game play can be addictive, if the player doesn’t invest into the game, the experience is very different. In some cases this can’t be compensated by inviting friends, but not always. This is in particular the case for gear. It is so powerful that it creates a significant imbalance. This can be especially felt when the first free bat runs out. Winning a match afterward is way harder. It gives the game an unpleasant “pay to win” aftertaste. These cases of imbalance are seldom but feel displeasing.

15Oct/12

Game of the Week – Puzzel Adventures

By Huel Fuchsberger

The classic jigsaw puzzle isn’t just kid’s entertainment. Also adults enjoy the challenge that lies in solving jigsaw puzzles. With “Puzzle Adventures” the  German company Ravensbuger Digital created the social game that should please puzzlers desires. The mother company Ravensburger has a 125 year long tradition in making puzzles and kid’s games and evolves the trademark with Ravensburger Digital beyond the classical cardboard puzzle. Their digital version was released in December 2011 and has currently 620,000MAU and 12,000 according to AppStats.eu. And it seems that the classic puzzle can transport its charm into the digital era.

Developer/Publisher:  Ravensburger Digital GmbH
Genre:  Puzzle
Languages:  English
Best-selling Item: 200 Puzzle Cash ($ 1.10)
Platforms:  Facebook
Active users (Facebook): 620,000MAU 120,00DAU

How to play

The basic game structure is simple. Players solve puzzles by rotating and dragging the parts in the right position, if the intersections fit they merge. The controls are very intuitive which makes the game easy to pick up. Different than in other puzzle games, parts can be merged everywhere on the field. This leaves the player the freedom to choose how to tackle the problem. Players may first sort the parts by colors, search for corners and edges or start by linking the first key parts of the image. A strategic approach is needed, since the puzzle has to be solved in a limited amount of time. To mix things up the games asks players to solve chosen parts in a certain time. If successful they are rewarded and in some occasions punished if they fail.

Should the player need help, bonus items are available in the in-game store. They can be purchased with a premium currency called “Puzzle Cash”. Puzzle Cash can’t be earned by playing, but it is possible to earn items directly by playing. Players can collect a series of bonus items to complete a collection. These collections can be gathered by playing certain levels.

Around the core game Ravensburger also build a competitive “Tournament Mode”. Players can compete with each other in weekly tournaments. Those consist one puzzle challenge per day which has to be solved as quickly as possible. The player with highest overall score of the week wins. For less competitive player progressive features are available.

In the “Adventure Mode” players solve levels and progress through several stages with increasingly difficult puzzles to solve. Players can compare their scores with their friends and gain levels.

A game for puzzlers

With Puzzle Adventures Ravensburger Digital manages to transfer their brand into the digital realm. Puzzle Adventures is a good social game that meets the quality and professionalism associated with Ravensburger.  Even the small flaws as the leveling system which fells attached and doesn’t add much to the game, don’t disturb the overall experience