Megapolis is a new Facebook game from Social Quantum. It appears to be the big success story of the last month, as since its release at the start of December it has already managed to pick up an impressive 3 million monthly active users and 360,000 daily active users, many of whom are playing on the go thanks to the Facebook-connected iOS and Android versions. Could Zynga’s CityVille and its sequel have a fight on its hands?
Megapolis is a fairly traditional citybuilder at heart. Players construct various types of buildings in their fledgling city in an attempt to fulfil various objectives that continually pop up at the side of the screen, and are subsequently rewarded with soft currency and experience points. Experience points unlock additional types of building, while soft currency is used to purchase the vast majority of buildings on offer. Soft currency may also be collected from the taxes that “infrastructure” (commercial) buildings produce at regular intervals.
There are a few twists on the usual CityVille-style formula in Megapolis, however, and they’re mostly for the better. For starters, there is no energy system artificially throttling play sessions, meaning that players can enjoy the game for as long as they like without interruption. Monetization instead stems from the sale of premium items, which are more effective at producing income of currency and population, and using hard currency to purchase special “resource” items to construct larger-scale building projects such as a water treatment plant or river bridge. Players do have an alternative means of acquiring many of these premium items, which is to ask friends or invite people to play, so it is possible for more “social” players to have an enjoyable, non-limited experience without spending a penny.
Another twist on the usual formula is the necessity to manage the city’s power and water resource needs. This is accomplished by constructing special resource-producing structures such as power stations and water towers. Each building the player constructs has specific water and power requirements, and the player is unable to build extra buildings if this will take them over their current power or water capacities. This means that while expanding, the player must keep an eye on these statistics rather than just plopping down buildings willy-nilly as in many other citybuilders — though there is still no real need to be particularly strategic about placement as buildings may be rather unrealistically picked up and moved at any time. Still, Megapolis’ implementation of these resources strikes a good balance between casual-friendly gameplay and the deeper involvement those more used to standalone PC titles such as SimCity may be accustomed to, meaning the game will likely be able to find itself a nicely broad audience.
Megapolis is a very good game. It’s well-presented, has plenty to do and appears to be well-supported by the developer — at the time of writing, the game is offering seasonal holiday-themed free gifts to players along with various themed buildings, and doubtless this sort of thing will continue for as long as the game enjoys a solid base of users. It would perhaps be nice for players to have a little more freedom to develop their city as they please rather than being constantly bombarded with objectives, and the game is rather pushy about encouraging players to share each and every one of their achievements with their friends, but these do little to detract from what is a high-quality, very playable and player-friendly citybuilder. Its current degree of success is well-deserved, then — it remains to be seen if it is able to maintain this rate of growth (or at least a stable core of regular players) over time, but early indications are certainly positive, and the game stands as a good example of what a positive move launching simultaneously on Facebook and mobile appears to be.
An excellent evolution of the citybuilder genre that is presently enjoying some well-deserved success.