Now, we have seen basketball games. We have seen basketball games on social networks. We have even seen coaching and management games on social networks. But now we’ve just seen a basketball management game that is a social network (well, a quasi one, at least). Okay, so perhaps Irondomain.com isn’t as robust as something like Facebook, MySpace, or hi5 but it does a highly focused niche for basketball fans that comes with many of the social features we have come to know and love.
Players can create profiles, add friends, create clubs (groups essentially), bookmark, view ladders, share what they are doing, and a myriad of other things. The game differentiates itself by offering a very full list of features for team management.
When the player signs up they are granted an arena, a budget, and a starting team. Conveniently, there is a fairly non-intrusive help window that takes you through what you should do step by step.
The help window is both a blessing and a curse. It tells the user how to increase their players’ statistics, but the problem is that it never goes away until you have done so with all players. Why is this a big deal? Because the game asks you to confirm every… single… point. Then it has to refresh the page, leaving the user to wait an obnoxious amount of time before moving on. After one player, it became a task in clicking around the site and figuring out what else there was to do (since the help still continues to say “upgrade a second player”).
As it turns out, the matches are where all these upgrade points come from, and by the looks of things, they run in a fairly realistic fashion. Each team is part of a league. As such, league matches are only played twice a week. If you are looking for further action, however, you can also play weekly friendly matches, regional matches, and international cups (some of which will have prizes).
Since Irondomain is a manager type of game, players are only able to set up various tactics on how their team should play (up to eight) in each match, and cannot play themselves. Some tactical examples include man-to-man defense, zone defense, and pick-and-roll.
Another interesting feature was the ability to find and recruit new players and coaches by sending out scouts. Frankly, it is really just a glorified search engine in which the user puts in the criteria they are looking for and a scout goes out for, literally, a few days to “search” for such NPC players. However, when compounded with the ability to buy and trade players, such a feature could prove a prudent virtual business method.
Overall, Irondomain is an interesting idea and currently garners over 100,000 users with an average daily of over 2000. Curiously, the developer states that they are getting a dramatic number of users from Southeast Asia and South America; over 50,000 to be more exact. Perhaps, this is due, in part, to a second soccer manager game that is offered to the best basketball managers. Soccer is, after all, the most popular international sport. Regardless of the reason, these numbers aren‘t too shabby, and based on them, Irondomain predicts that they will reach 1 million users within the next year.