Wheel of Treasure is a digitized version of the TV game show, Wheel of Fortune, by Cromulent Software. Up to four people can play at a time, taking asynchronous turns, guessing letters, earning money, and winning prizes.
From a social standpoint, the game is executed quite well. During game play, you can see everything the other players are doing via a chat log, and can talk to them live during play. This alone speaks volumes for social game play! Being able to joke, brag, talk trash, and just carry on while playing a game together with friends is one of the pivotal points playing as a group. Without it, any multiplayer game is just…. well, less fun.
Aside from the live chat, the developers have integrated a nifty prize showcase to purchase virtual items from. It isn’t anything extravagant (yet), but it has tremendous potential. Unlike other Facebook games that give you default rewards for progressing, Wheel of Treasure allows you to purchase any number of them with the money you win. (Personally, I’d rather have the money, but since you can’t do that, I guess you’ll have to settle for a pair of shoes or a washer and dryer.)
The point is, however, being able to purchase items from this game for your Facebook profile can encourage a large number of players to participate for the chance to acquire virtual goods for free. If there is anything the developers here should work on further, it is the number, types, and quality of items that players can win as this alone will attract more people than the game itself.
Of course, like all games, Wheel of Treasure is not perfect. In fact, there are a few nuances that I found quite frustrating. While the social aspects of the game are well done, there are some usability issues that did hinder game play. The biggest issue I found was the manual spinning of the wheel. It is a great feature for interactivity, but it would often take me multiple attempts to get a “full revolution” since the wheel tended to start a spin before I let go of the mouse button, in which case I had to wait seemingly forever to try again (this would go on for 3-4 more tries). Thankfully Cromulent had the insight to include a “spin” button as an alternative.
The other issue I found was when you play with only two people and “bust.” Normally, the asynchronous turns allow you to take turns at your leisure, but if anyone has watched Wheel of Fortune, you know that when you bust, you not only loose all your cash, but your turn as well…. I guess this isn’t really a fault of the developers, but when your opponent happens to go away, you cannot play again until they do. You could stop the game and come back later, but for those with less patience (like me), this gets a little annoying. While there may not be a good solution to this dilemma, it is certainly a pitfall of turn-based online games to watch out for.
Overall, Wheel of Treasure is a well executed game. Yes, it does have a few problems, but other than the manual wheel spinning, they are easy to overlook. Most importantly, the social aspect of the game is great. Being able to chat while playing is a fantastic feature, that, surprisingly, isn’t used enough in Facebook games, and the ability to purchase virtual goods is a fantastic way to display profile rewards. More than anything else, it will be exciting to see what prizes await in the future.