I am not sure if you remember the Tamagotchi at all. It was a small device, kind of “Chinese electronics” (sorry, I know most electronics are made in China anyway, so not sure why the ones that does not have a non-Chinese mark are mostly so creepy), where the child needed to take care of a pet.
Probably there were other games with similar behavior, but this is the first game that I remember that needed constant attention, as it worked in real time. From time to time, the device will ring and flash, asking the player to do something, like feeding the pet, or playing with it.
From Tamagotchi we got to different other games with real time behavior. Probably the most common is the FarmVille, the game from Zynga. You all know the game, so probably I do not need to talk about it. But the player is a farmer, and needs to take care of animals. Events occur from time to time, if the player is playing, or not. So, it cannot be compared with other games like the old Sim City. There, things happen from time to time, as well. But the player can change the speed of the time, or just exit or pause the game, getting to the last position next time it plays.
Well, the kind of FarmVille games continues. There is another one, very similar, for Android, Hay Day. Probably there are much more. But I just happen to have installed that Hay Day some time ago, as I really liked the chicken on its icon.
Well, recently I just downloaded SimCity Build It for Android, from Electronic Arts. You know, I am, or I was, a SimCity fan. So, why not to get a SimCity version and play it? Who knows, even buy it?
But I got frustrated. Why? Because SimCity Build It is Hay Day (or FarmVille) in disguise. The mechanics are exactly the ones from Hay Day. Even the market! But if Hay Day is prepared with some caution (for example, to make a strawberry cake, you need flour, sugar and strawberries), in SimCity Build It, to build a house, you might need some iron, plastic or some wood. But you might also need some seeds, or a couple of hammers or even a measure tape. Yes, you might need seems to build a building. Yeah, that makes sense (not).
And, again, this is a “real time” game. You can’t pause it, you can’t exit it, you can’t speed forward for some time. You do not control or play the game. The game plays you.
This also leads to the discussion on the old “Pay to play”, or the new “Pay to win”. I confess I prefer the first. You might even release a free shareware version (lets say, 5 free levels). Just make that clear in the download page. Then ask for some amount of money to buy the full game. But this might be a good discussion for any other future post.