Digital Chocolate Kicks Off The City-Building Genre With NanoTowns For Facebook

NanotownsDigital Chocolate, best known for their various iPhone game hits, today announced the launch of NanoTowns, a city-building game for Facebook. The game focuses on creating a unique city by creating businesses, keeping citizens happy, and completing quests. It combines elements from old city-building games like SimCity with social elements from games like Cafe World and even Mafia Wars. Overall, the game has fun, cartoony graphics and is a rewarding experience, but only time will tell if it successfuly gains traffic: as of this writing the game has only 5,200 fans.

Digital Chocolate has been slowly gaining ground as one of the premiere iPhone application development houses, with four games hitting the #1 spot on the Apple Application Store: Crazy Penguin Catapult, 3D Brick Breaker Deluxe, 3D Tower Bloxx Deluxe and Mini Golf 99 Holes Theme Park. The company’s founder and CEO, Trip Hawkins, is a console game veteran who founded Electronic Arts. Regarding the game, Trip had this to say: “We’re proud to be launching NanoTowns on Facebook. This new game brings the hilarity and entertainment of building your own quirky town and employing your friends on Facebook.”

The game itself is a treat. At first glance, you feel as if you’re playing SimCity, as you build buildings and plunk them down alongside roads on your patch of land. However, as soon as your building is completed, you need to start running that building’s business. For instance, if you build a coffee shop, then you’re going to actually need to choose a friend to be the manager for that business. They don’t actually have to play the game to manage the business, but just like in Restaurant City or Cafe World, their presence and photo makes your city feel like it’s full of people very close to you.

The quest element is interesting as well, as various buildings will start to flash when the person inside has an available quest. For instance, one of your owners may need a coffee, and you will need to click over to the coffee shop, buy a coffee, and return it to the owner in need. This gets you virtual currency which you use to build the city. There are also gold bars which can be used to accelerate your game, akin to Godfather points in Mafia Wars. These can, of course, be purchased using Paypal, Zong and various other methods.

I feel the city-building genre will become important on Facebook in the years to come, and this is likely the tip of the iceberg. I’ll follow up in a few months to see how the game is doing.