Browser Based Game Ikariam Breaches 1 Million Users Through Facebook

IkariamEvery once in a while, browser based games successfully use of Facebook to bring in new users. We’ve seen this in the past with titles such as Evony and Age of Ocean. Now it’s Gameforge’s turn, with Ikariam, a title that just blew past a million monthly active users in under two weeks, all of whom it’s directing back to its stand-alone website.

Ikariam puts users into the world of ancient Greece, with the task of building up a bustling empire. Within this world, players must manage numerous resources in order to succeed, including a military, workers, research, physical space, and so on. That in mind, the game is a very slow burn sort of title in that most everything takes hours to produce, except for some of the earliest buildings.

Veterans of other browser-based strategy games like Evony (which makes use of a very similar engine, suggesting that both games could be licensed from the same source) will be more than well-versed with the basics of this app. Players place buildings on specific plots of land and earn some benefit from them. It uses the typical strategy game mentality, in that players build these structures (e.g. an academy) in order to unlock different ones in a technology tree. Unfortunately, that tree doesn’t appear to be terribly visible.

Town MapThe only major difference between this game and, say, Kingdoms of Camelot, is that there are no resource structures for the player to worry about early on. Instead, users are able to access a map of the island their city is located on and send workers to the various resource locales, which for us consisted of a crystal mine and lumber mill. In order to earn these resources, players must allocate a set amount of their population to work there. The more that work, the more coins it costs, but they also produce more of that resource per hour.

While the resource of lumber appears to be a stable (as it is used in making buildings), the second resource will vary from island to island. This is part of the social element, in that users must set up trade (via ports), colonize nearby areas, or simply wage war on everyone.

Island MapWhatever the choice the player makes, all three are well beyond our current level of power, and with the painfully slow pace of the game, likely to be out of reach for some time. In fact, this is actually a curious choice made by the developers. Usually, new players are given enough resources to get a decently respectable city going right from the start, but for Ikariam, within the first couple of tutorial instructions, there were not enough resources left to do anything. This forces the player to wait for hours until they can do anything else. Granted, this is typical of many games, but at least let them finish the whole tutorial!

Despite the slowness with which many of Ikariam’s features are revealed, some of them are worth noting. As a social element, there is obviously the ability to attack other users, but players can also, as expected, form alliances with one another for mutual benefit. There is even a nice leaderboard system built in. In addition, each island has a section called the “Agora” that allows for different forum-like posts, that can be viewed by other players that also inhabit that island.

GodsThere’s also an interesting means of defense in the form of a statue representing a Greek god on each island. Though new players start out under its protection from the get go, it appears that users who donate set amounts of resources (such as wine from vineyards, marble from quarries, and so on) for protection can briefly drive away 10-100% of enemy troops.