By Pete Davison From Inside Social Games
In SimCity Social, players put down buildings, all of which cost money and some of which require several "clicks" (and thus expenditure of energy) to finish. Some buildings are friend-gated, requiring the player to send a request to friends (and said friends to accept) before they can be used — alternatively, these requirements can be bypassed with hard currency, which is awarded in small quantities on each level up.
Positioning certain buildings next to others provides bonuses to their income, which must be collected manually at regular intervals. Businesses require materials to operate and produce income — said goods are produced by factory structures.
Players also gain the ability to send relationship-related gifts to one another — for example, rival cities may send a flock of seagulls to do a rather messy flyover, while towns on more friendly terms may send something more peaceful such as a hot air balloon display.
There are a few other nice touches, too — for example, over time, Sims drawn from the player's Facebook friends list (not necessarily those who are playing the game) move into the city and take up residence in the houses that the player has constructed. Occasionally, these Sims will make positive or negative comments on what the player has been doing recently, adding a little flavor and personality to the city — not to mention providing a convenient means of viral promotion, since the player is provided with the opportunity to thank their virtual friends for their comments by sending them a gift.
In the long term, there is a light exploratory element as the player expands their city — various "Wonders" around the game map become accessible over time, providing the player with significant bonuses when they manage to capture them. And the "one-time offer" special buildings that appear for vastly-reduced hard currency prices upon leveling up are a great means of monetization.
SimCity Social isn't going to do much to change the minds of core players who are already skeptical about social games — or those who are tired of citybuilders, for that matter. SimCity Social is solid, competent and infused with a good sense of humor, but outside of the "relationship" mechanic.
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