Trade Nations Replicates Character-Driven Mechanics and Dynamic Economy of iOS Original

By Pete Davison Comment

Trade Nations is the Facebook version of the popular iOS game of the same name that suffers some confusion over its parentage. It was originally published on iOS by Seattle’s Z2Live, which hired Canada’s Bight Games as a contractor to design artwork and gameplay for the title. Both companies subsequently claimed ownership of the intellectual property, but came to an agreement where Z2Live owns the rights to distribute Trade Nations in perpetuity on iOS while Bight maintains the Facebook title.

According to our traffic tracking service, AppData, Trade Nations currently has 9,000 monthly active users and 2,000 daily active users on Facebook.

Gameplay in Trade Nations is faithful to the original iOS game where players build a small town that will eventually become self-sufficient. Players acquire resources, workers and coins — the game’s standard in-game currency — through the construction of relevant buildings. For example, players may acquire wheat after they’ve built a farm, built a villager’s hut and then hired a farmer to live in the hut and harvest the farm. Anything the player cannot produce themselves through this gameplay loop can be purchased through a market building given to the player during the tutorial.

While the iOS game can be compared to other town-building games on the platform like Smurfs’ Village, the Facebook game faces a different lineup of competing games within the city building genre, like CityVille. Trade Nations can differentiate itself from these titles both with its medieval setting and with what Bight Interactive calls “character-driven” gameplay.

“Trade Nations is unique in several respects,” says Stuart Duncan, CEO of Bight Interactive. “Importantly, we see it as a character-driven game as opposed to a building-driven game. Additionally, there is the global online market concept for trading goods. This lets players decide what kind of town they would like and whether, for example, to import lumber or produce it locally.”

The “character-driven” aspect comes from the use of workers in the game. Rather than simply clicking on buildings and assigning tasks directly to the premises, Trade Nations requires the player to assign specific, named workers to tasks that produce necessary resources. This helps the player feel more like they are building a virtual community, rather than a production machine.

The trade portion of the game is where Trade Nations feels like a natural fit for the Facebook platform. In both this version and the iOS original, the global market forms the main social aspect of Trade Nations. Resources can be traded with the global market or directly with other players, and in this way, players can put together cooperative communities, working together to produce the resources that they all need, and sharing the rewards. Players can also visit each others’ towns to make use of their facilities — but only if they ask permission first.

The game is monetized entirely through Facebook Credits, which are used to purchase Magic Beans, the game’s premium currency. Magic Beans are used for two main purposes: to “hurry” timed events such as creating buildings or collecting resources, and also to purchase premium items from the in-game marketplace. Additional Magic Beans are awarded to the player on each level up, however, so there is no requirement for any monetary outlay if a player wishes to play for free.

Bight Interactive has a long-term expansion plan for Trade Nations, and intends to introduce new content to the game on a weekly basis. In the next few updates, Duncan says the developer plans to add expanded tourism that leverages the Inns and Travel Agencies currently in-game. He did not elaborate on any additional features that might distinguish the Facebook game from the iOS game.

You can follow Trade Nations’ progress using AppData, our traffic tracking application for social games and developers.