GCrest’s Owlbear Garden Cultivates a Social Fantasy World

A collaboration between GCrest and developer CyberAgent, Owlbear Garden is part farming simulation and part showcase where cultivating social interaction is equal to the importance of planting and decorating. Launched on October 3, the title has a growing global audience, with many users from the developer’s home country of Japan already producing some fascinating displays.

According to our traffic tracking service AppData, Owlbear Garden currently has 20,000 monthly active users and 2,000 daily active users.

In Owlbear Garden, players grow plants and decorate their “panel,” a space that’s part farm and part blank canvas for creation. After designing their Owlbear avatar, players interact with their panel by buying seeds using coins and planting them in available plots. Five plots for growing are available at the outset, with more unlocked as players level up. Once players have planted seeds, they can purchase and use fertilizer to make them grow, buying special spray to hasting the process. If they choose, players can use the Flower Dryer on their plants, turning the resulting crops into decorations that can be used in designing the look of their panel. Harvesting plants also gives players experience points and coins. The game presents players with challenges, such as growing a specific number of a certain fruit, then rewards them for completing the task with decoration items and experience.

Beyond plants, players can purchase deco items from the in-game store, or visit a mall where they can browse themed panels and click on items they’d like to purchase right then and there. Harvested flowers and purchased items can also be combined to create new ones, or even fashioned into new clothing for the player’s avatar.

Instead of the traditional energy bar common to most social games, Owlbear Garden uses a hunger level to restrict the amount of actions a player can perform during a session. Harvesting plants increases they player’s hunger level over time and once it’s maxed out, they must visit the Treant Dining area to eat. Players locate and grab food items, then return them to a table in order to eat. Some items, when eaten, reward the player with a deco item for their panel.

The hunger mechanic is also where the game introduces social interaction, as players can chat with others in real time while they’re in Treant Dining. The socialization continues when players visit Streets: a section of the game where players can submit their panels so that others can visit them, hang out, tend to their crops, and rate them. The highest rated panels are featured on a special page in the Streets listening, and some of them can be quite popular. Multiple players can congregate on other players’ panels, text chatting in real time and using emote animations. Panels can also be bookmarked in order to quickly revisit them later.

Up to five tending actions can be performed on another player’s panel each day. In addition to visiting others’ panels in Streets, players can quickly access their friends’ panels at any time from a menu at the bottom of the screen. Accomplishments such as leveling up and completing tasks can also be shared with friends via viral channels. Mini-games, including roulette and “bottle shake,” can be played at friends’ panels as well.

Owlbear Garden is monetized through the purchase of seeds, clothes, and deco items using the soft currency, coins, and Facebook Credits for more premium items. Facebook Credits can also be used to buy new chat emotes. Coins can be used to play a game called Gacha, where they’re traded for a random capsule that contains an item from the collection of the player’s choice.

GCrest tells Inside Social Games that it plans to update Owlbear Garden at least once every two weeks with new content, gameplay updates, and events for players to participate in.

You can follow Owlbear Garden’s progress using AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.