Township is a citybuilding game developed by Playrix and published by 6waves Lolapps. The game provides a twist on the genre’s tried-and-tested formula by not only requiring players to create buildings and supply businesses, but also to set up production lines of raw materials to create various products. In this sense, it has some similarities with G5 Entertainment’s Virtual City series on iOS, albeit with less of a focus on creating transportation networks and a stronger social angle.
Township has been available since July of last year. In August 2011 it enjoyed a small peak of just over 75,000 MAUs and about 13,000 DAUs, but then went into a long decline. In recent weeks, however, it has shown a strong upturn in popularity, presumably thanks to strong cross-promotional efforts by new publisher 6waves Lolapps. All 6L games feature a prominent scrolling banner at the top of their canvas inviting players to try other titles from the publisher, and Township is no exception. Renewed interest in the game has caused it to show up on our tracking service AppData as the 20th fastest growing Facebook game by MAU this week, with current figures showing 310,000 MAUs and 60,000 DAUs.
The game initially appears to be a relatively conventional city builder. Players build houses in order to add population to their town, and the upper limit is determined by the happiness of the residents. Residents are made happy by placing decorative items around the town, in turn allowing the player to add new housing. A higher population allows them to do more things, with the main consideration early in the game being the number of crop fields the player is allowed to plant. These crops can be used in several ways — they can simply be grown as cash crops to be sold on maturity, or they can be used to start up one of the game’s numerous supply chains.
These chains provide one of the most interesting aspects of Township’s gameplay, and a pleasing break from the norm. By placing “factory” buildings, players are able to process various materials into other products. Like crops, materials can be sold or passed on to the next factory in the chain. For example, the first chain the player is introduced to sees them growing wheat in their fields, sending wheat to be milled into flour, and sending flour to be baked into bread. Later in the game a wide variety of other products can be created, meaning the player must keep a careful eye on the resources they are producing and feeding into their various production lines. This adds a considerable amount of depth to gameplay which simply isn’t seen in a lot of other citybuilding titles.
The game’s presentation is also worthy of praise. While the short background music loop is rather annoying and best switched off immediately, the visuals are packed with detail and charm. Houses are all distinctive with little features like gardens and fences. The town’s residents wander the streets, giving it a sense of life. And any building, growing or production activity is accompanied by noticeable but unobtrusive animations which make it clear that something is going on there. The only slight shame about the visuals is that the maximum zoom level is still relatively far out, meaning that a lot of this fine detail is too small to truly appreciate, particularly on high resolution displays.
The game carries a strong focus on social play. Many major buildings require specific resources to build, most of which may only be acquired by visiting or receiving gifts from neighbors. Each town produces a single type of building resource from the start of the game, so players with enough friends may be able to acquire the materials they need simply by doing their daily visiting rounds — otherwise, it’s a case of either asking friends via notifications or purchasing using hard currency.
Hard currency may also be used to purchase premium buildings, which appear instantly and carry a significant boost to the town’s happiness rating. Many of these buildings are based on real-world landmarks, but there are also some structures which are simply for fun, such as a haunted mansion. Monetization is handled unobtrusively, however, with it simply being provided as an option for faster progress rather than it feeling like a necessity to get beyond a certain point in the game. The game does not explicitly walk the player through the payment process, though a small amount of hard currency is awarded on each level up, allowing the player scope to try out a few premium purchases and get a taste for them.
Township is a high quality citybuilding game which doesn’t rely on copying the mechanics of its rivals to produce a satisfying game. For that reason alone, it’s worthy of note, but when coupled with the high-quality presentation, well thought-out social features and unobtrusive monetization, we have a game that deserves to enjoy some success.
A well-presented citybuilder that is worthy of note purely for trying something a little different to the norm.