Pioneers from German publisher Plinga is a new frontier-themed building and farming game for Facebook that has been attracting some attention from players recently. In our last roundup of the top emerging titles on the social network, Pioneers showed up in the No. 9 spot with a gain of 15,000 monthly active users — an increase of 300%.
As the title suggests, Pioneers bears more than a passing resemblance to more well-established “frontier” games such as Zynga’s Pioneer Trail. The player is provided with a small tract of land and is then tasked with turning it into a successful frontier village by building structures, harvesting food and other resources, and ensuring that residents’ requests are met. As the game progresses and the settlement expands, the player gains the ability to trade with other settlements and expand their available land to make room for further development.
Gameplay in Pioneers is exactly what one would expect from this type of game. Players purchase buildings from the in-game shop and must then click them several times in order to complete their construction. Certain buildings require specific resources to construct, which may be gathered by harvesting materials, purchasing with hard currency or requesting from friends. These more complex buildings tend to have the capability to produce refined versions of resources — logs become planks, for example — and these are often necessary to create the later structures.
In a twist on the format seen in Pioneer Trail, the player does not control their own custom avatar. Rather, as the game progresses, various residents move into the village and each take on a specific role — one builds things, one chops down trees and cuts grass, another harvests crops. It’s a nice touch that gives the village a feeling of “life,” even if it is ultimately meaningless in gameplay terms.
Many tasks in Pioneers take a large number of real-time hours to complete, and in a curious move, there is seemingly no facility to “hurry” production using hard currency. Besides being inconvenient for players who would like to play for a little longer than a few minutes at a time, this is cutting off one potential avenue of monetization. The game’s hard currency is otherwise only used for the purchase of vanity items or the restoration of energy.
Pioneers feels unfinished. This is perhaps understandable this soon after its release, though the game does not carry any indication that it is still in early development or beta — at the time of writing, it is available for all to play on Facebook. There is no sound or music, for example, and tooltips presented in some of the game menus are written in Cyrillic. The “help” button at the top of the game canvas also leads to a blank page and the “forum” link simply leads to the game’s Facebook fan page, which is rather short on information at this early stage. This means that anyone looking for more information about game mechanics and things to aim for will be left wanting.
The main problem with Pioneers, however, is that everything it does has been done before elsewhere, multiple times over and often much better. That leaves little reason to check out this title, and as such it’s one to skip.
Pioneers currently has 30,000 monthly active users and 4,000 daily active users. Follow its progress with AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
Pioneers is somewhat ironically named, since we’ve been here many times before. As such, it’s a title which can be safely skipped by all but the most dedicated frontiersmen.