It wasn’t long ago when I was lazily browsing the app store on my iPod Touch and found an interesting little game by the name of Tiny Tower. It’s a game that gives players a small building to work with that will steadily become larger as more floors are built, eventually becoming a towering skyscraper. I was intrigued by the idea of managing the tower and the citizens inside (referred to as “Bitizens”) in a way similar to The Sims…or so I thought. What I got was a game that was more similar to Farmville than The Sims. And that scares the crap out of me.
After “playing” this game for a couple of days, I can safely say that this game is pure evil and I will be severing all ties with it as soon as possible. Why not now? Well, I slipped up and allowed myself to become…invested in it, which I’ll elaborate on in time, for now, allow me to focus on why this game is pure evil and why you should avoid it like the plague.
My earlier comparison to Farmville isn’t one I can back up with experience. Fortunately, I have managed to steer clear of that little time and money sink, despite the many thinly veiled ads have appeared on my wall and in my inbox masquerading as free in game items and bonuses for playing it. So the comparisons I make from here on will be based on what I have read of the game. I still have yet to see it in motion and, if at all possible, I intend to keep it that way. While not entirely similar to Farmville, the folks at NimbleBit have employed a number of Zynga’s diabolical tricks. Let’s go through them with a nice list shall we?
1. Tiny Tower is “free to play”
Yep, Tiny Tower is a free download to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and you do not have to pay a dime to play it. You don’t even have to cough up for the best benefits and bonuses. Everything in the game (as far as I know) can be obtained without spending a cent. So what’s the problem?
Spend enough time with the game and you will end up paying, which brings me to number 2…
2. You have to keep coming back
Tiny Tower is built around the idea of running several establishments you build on each floor of your tower, ranging from Coffee shops to Planetariums and Shoe Stores to Laundromats by giving your Bitizens jobs. Up to three Bitizens can be employed at any one business and having all three positions filled is the only way to access the full range of three goods and/or services your store sells, at different price points which earns you coins, one of Tiny Tower’s currencies. There’s a “stats” option in the menu which shows how many sales per minute your tower is doing and which types of businesses are in demand which gives you a general idea of what you should be building next to maximize the number of sales you make.
Herein lies the way Tiny Tower gets you hooked. Each store can stock three goods and services at a time. Once stock runs out, you’ll have to restock for a certain amount of coins and…time. Much like Farmville allows you to plant crops and gives you a set amount of time to wait until they’re ready to be harvested; Tiny Tower gives you a set amount of time to wait until your item is ready to be restocked. But…if you’re impatient and don’t feel like waiting…you can tell the game to “hurry”… for a small fee of the second of Tiny Tower’s currencies…
3. Tower Bux (AKA Microtransaction bait)
Tower Bux are a currency independent of coins that you receive for performing various tasks. By adding a new floor to your tower, you receive a complimentary Tower Bux (yes, it’s used the same either singular or plural) and for doing other mundane tasks. Occasionally you’ll be asked to find a certain Bitizen in your tower and will receive a Tower Bux “for your trouble”. Outside of that, the only other free way to obtain Tower Bux is by taking Bitizens to whatever floor they request in the annoyingly slow elevator (unless you upgrade it by paying Tower Bux of course). When they get off they’ll tip you some coins and OCCASIONALLY give you one Tower Bux.
So, if you want the game to hurry up (and eventually, you will), the piddly amount of Tower Bux you receive for free ain’t gonna cut it. But fret not, NimbleBit has you covered! In the menu, there’s an option to “Get Bux” where you can purchase more Tower Bux in quantities of 10, 100 and 1,000 for $1, $5 and $30 respectively.
Remember how I said I was “invested” in the game? This is how. In a moment of what I can only believe was temporary insanity, I purchased $1 worth of Tower Bux. Of course, I went through them rather quickly…and then I bought another $5 worth of Tower Bux. Again…I must have lost my mind which caused me to believe this purchase would last me for quite a while.
Two days. That’s how long they lasted.
I’m impatient. If I download a game and load it, I want to be entertained now, not later. Of course, Tiny Tower was more than happy to oblige me and took my Tower Bux in exchange for speeding things up. And then it hit me. This isn’t a game. This is little more than a Skinner Box that was moments away from trapping me in its evil clutches. I realized something very important at a critical moment in my time with Tiny Tower.
I wasn’t playing a game. Not really. The game was playing me.
From that moment. As soon as I made my purchase for $5 worth of Tower Bux, I knew I’d made a mistake. I knew I was allowing the game to get its claws into me and that soon enough; I’d probably end up addicted. So, I made a promise that as soon as my Tower Bux were gone, I’d delete the game from my iPod and never play it again and I’ve kept that promise. The app has since been removed from my iPod and the backup stored on my computer has been deposited into the Recycle Bin and done away with…permanently.
There you have it folks Several reasons why you should not play this game. Avoid it. If you’re “playing” Farmville, cut ties with that game too. Don’t even download Tiny Tower out of some sick masochistic sense of curiosity. Trust me…it’s not worth it. I lost $6 to this game but I don’t feel too bad about it. Truthfully, I’m just happy I didn’t end up sinking any more money into this evil…evil game.