The card-battling games that have swept Asia in the past two years have been steadily gaining traction in the West recently. Titles such as Rage of Bahamut, and Dark Summoner have proven to be enormously profitable, with ngmoco CEO Neil Young telling Inside Mobile Apps recently that many of these games are inclined to bring in revenue at a much higher rate than industry norms.
Unfortunately, this is by no means a guarantee that these games are, objectively speaking good. Most are rather amateurish productions that seem closer to HTML-based web games than mobile apps, and very few offer gameplay that can be honestly described as in any way “deep.” Regrettably, Gang Domination is no exception to this rule. It offers: a clumsy, difficult to navigate interface, a distinct lack of any meaningful choices for the player to make, crippled socialization, no sound whatsoever and graphical performance that is just embarrassing to see on modern devices.
Like most of these games, Gang Domination is split into two main components: a linear, mission-based “story” mode that requires the player to repeatedly tap an “OK” button until a progress bar fills up over and over again, and a massively-multiplayer “battle” mode in which players can pit their “Strike Team” hands of cards against one another in order to acquire various collections of tattoo parts. Neither mode requires the player to do anything beyond press a button and let everything else be taken care of — this is particularly frustrating in the multiplayer battles, as the player is given absolutely no indication of how to judge whether their cards are stronger than their opponent’s, making battles more a matter of luck (or purchasing powerful cards using hard currency) than anything else.
On the social front, it is difficult to find other players and impossible to talk to them when you do, with the only options for interaction being sending “props” (which rewards the player with Respect Points that can be used to acquire additional low-end cards) or sending a contact request. The in-game menu promises a “Community” feature, but when tapped this simply pops up an error screen that says “this application is not available in your country/region.” Players are encouraged to add as many friends as possible to increase their pool of maximum energy and be able to call upon assistance during boss battles, but given the total lack of interaction between players, there is little incentive to do so.
The only slightly redeeming feature of the game is that the art for the collectible “gangster” cards that the player acquires through play is well-drawn, if rather inconsistent in its style. This said, the overwhelming emphasis on provocatively-posing animé-style women sporting either improbably-huge breasts or a distinctly underage look may make playing the game an uncomfortable experience for anyone outside the apparent target demographic of teenage boys.
Aside from the sometimes questionable charms of the artwork seen throughout, there is absolutely nothing else to recommend Gang Domination to anyone. Despite all this, if previous “card battle” games’ performance is anything to go by, it will likely enjoy a healthy degree of success and profitability at least in the short term. Unfortunately, while titles like this continue to be popular and profitable, genuine innovation may end up stifled in favor of what will turn a quick profit — something that won’t be healthy for the industry in the long term, as players will eventually get wise to the fact they are playing the same game over and over again.
Gang Domination is not yet ranked in the App Store leaderboards on iOS, but you will shortly be able to follow its progress with our tracking service AppData. On Android, meanwhile, Google reports the title has been downloaded between 10,000 and 50,000 times so far.