Bubble Origins is a new Facebook game from Level Up. It has been showing activity since early February and has been enjoying slow but steady growth since that time.
Bubble Origins is yet another very conventional bubble shooter in which players must fire colored bubbles into a predefined arrangement in order to create matches of three or more like-colored bubbles. Creating a match causes bubbles to pop, and any items hanging beneath them fall into barrels at the bottom of the screen, each of which is worth a particular amount of points. Creating more matches with successive shots causes “fireflies” to appear at the bottom of the screen, which make falling bubbles bounce and provide a greater possibility of them falling into higher-value barrels. At the end of a level, which occurs when a particular number of bubbles from the top row have been eliminated, all remaining bubbles fall into the barrels and any remaining bubbles the player has to fire are shot out and also fall back into the barrels. The player is then given a rating of between one and three stars according to their score. If they fail to attain one star’s worth of score or complete the level with the available shots, they lose a life. Lives regenerate over time, though this process may be hurried along by expending hard currency.
The player’s progress through the game is determined by a combination of how many levels they have completed, which unlocks “amulet” items to provide permanent upgrades, and how many stars they have attained, which unlocks “scrolls” that can be purchased before each level for a more temporary, consumable bonus. Scrolls may be purchased using soft currency earned through play or acquired via in-app purchase. Amulets, on the other hand, may be purchased using either the hard currency “emeralds” or Facebook Credits, though since hard currency is not awarded through play, both of these options require the expenditure of money. It is generally slightly better value to purchase using hard currency than Credits — for example, one amulet costs 20 emeralds or 100 Facebook Credits ($10), but purchasing $10 worth of hard currency actually gives the player 22 emeralds, not 20. The game is very aggressive about its monetization, popping up regular nag screens encouraging players to take advantage of short-term timed offers that cannot be dismissed until the on-screen timer expires, and inviting them to enjoy a “free trial” of each new amulet as it becomes unlocked.
The game also features a “treasure island” with a selection of permanent upgrades that can be acquired in three different ways: purchasing with Facebook Credits, purchasing with hard currency or unlocking with “keys” acquired through collecting sets of randomly-selected objects after completing each level. Each chest requires a large number of several different types of key to unlock, so it will require a considerable amount of grinding the same levels over and over again to unlock them in this way, making the in-app purchase/hard currency options look much more attractive to impatient players.
The Facebook puzzle game genre is an extremely crowded one, and the bubble shooter subgenre even more so. For a new game of this type to stand out and enjoy long-term success, it needs to offer something new or innovative to the experience, otherwise players will simply find themselves drifting back to more well-established titles such as Bubble Witch Saga. Unfortunately, despite a few nice (if flawed) ideas such as the “treasure island” mechanic, Bubble Origins does not offer anything distinctive enough to make it particularly worthy of note — and its overly-aggressive monetization strategy is rather offputting. With that in mind, it’s difficult to recommend this game in good conscience — not only is it yet another entry in an already oversaturated genre, but there are much better examples of this game type available elsewhere.
Bubble Origins currently occupies the 1,000,000+ MAU tier with a rank of 291 and an estimated MAU value of 1,300,000. It also occupies the 100,000+ DAU tier with a rank of 300 and an estimated DAU value of 187,354. While the game is presently enjoying some relatively healthy success, its unimaginative gameplay makes its long-term future somewhat questionable while more well-established titles such as Bubble Witch Saga are still on the market and performing well.
Yet another bubble shooter with very little to distinguish itself from its rivals — save for some overly-aggressive monetization.