Developed by The Method, House M.D. – Critical Cases is based on the popular medical drama House. Players are cast as a new member of House’s diagnostician team, alongside doctors Foreman, Taub and Thirteen. The game is divided into episodic cases with characters and plots reminiscent of the source TV show, complete with references to storylines from earlier seasons.
The core gameplay consists moving around a cartoony Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, spending energy to play minigames in order to prove or disprove medical theories about the current case. Provided the minigame is completed successfully, players are rewarded with clues that further the story.
Aside from the main cases, the game also provides optional side quests to play through. Players can treat patients waiting in the clinic area, which requires users to complete more minigames with the chance to earn rewards of virtual goods. Leveling up populates the hospital with new characters wandering the halls and new areas to explore and utilize in future cases.
House M.D. – Critical Cases has a lot in common with CSI: Crime City, another Ubisoft game based on a popular investigative TV series. That game was developed by independent studio Area/Code, which has since become Zynga New York. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was just renewed for its 13th season and its ratings have consistently placed it among the top 20 TV shows on the air. While CSI: Crime City isn’t exactly a monster hit by Facebook standards, the 2010 game is still around, thanks in part to receiving on-air cross promotion — including a week where the TV episode’s case tied directly into the game. At its peak, CSI: Crime City had 2.3 million MAU and 420,000 DAU, though it’s since dropped to 1.6 million MAU and 120,000 DAU.
By comparison, House M.D. – Critical Cases will likely have a much more difficult time attracting and retaining users on Facebook. House is still a popular TV show, but it’s also in its final season and its ratings have dwindled over the past few years. That means it’s not likely to receive much (if any) on-air support before the show’s May 21 series finale, which will leave the game with the challenge of representing a brand that’s no longer active.