Metrogames Continues to Grow With Mall Dreams on Facebook

Mall DreamsWith over 8 million monthly active users, Metrogames has become a strong, mid-sized social game developer. Their new title for Facebook,  Mall Dreams, recently appeared on our top emerging apps list and currently has more than 860,000 monthly active users.

Following recent city-building games, Mall Dreams contains aspects of  Mall World, but players run an entire mall rather than just one store. It’s certainly a logical extension of the mall concept, and Mall Dreams proves entertaining. Unfortunately, the game play requires significant micromanagement and its requests to publish information becomes repetitive, both of which bring the game down a bit.

In Mall Dreams, your goal is to construct a successful mall. You build various stores and after a period of time, collect the income they earn. The time it takes to collect income from a store depends on the amount of stock items it has to sell. After you collect a store’s income, you must pay a set amount of money to refill sold wares. The higher the restock value of what you purchase, the longer it will take to collect money, but the more the store will earn. The amount of stock depends on the level of the store as well and many can be upgraded.

Help As patrons file into the mall, thought bubbles will show what they are looking for. They are often searching for stores, but sometimes other items including ATMs, benches and so on. To benefit from the needs of your customers, you must click the NPC and issue “help” (or drag them to what they’re looking for). Doing so will earn you extra experience and expedite the time it takes to collect income from stores.

You must also be vigilant of trash and moles to clean up. Moles function the same way trash does, and we’re not sure why the designers chose moles per se.  Anyway, “cleaning” the space grants small monetary rewards. Not cleaning will prevent you from placing of any new items where the  trash and moles exist.

Many of the stores take up a lot of space and this sometimes feels completely arbitrary. For example, the game’s pet store requires four empty spaces in front and two behind. No part of the building fills these squares, they’re just there. Perhaps these areas are to accommodate upgrades at some point, but for now they feel like wasted space.

UpgradeCustomers in Mall Dreams also seem completely helpless, requiring assistance every couple of seconds. Granted, you don’t have to continually assist them, but it is annoying to see dozens of thought bubbles littering in your space. This becomes particularly acute when you purchase extra transportation hubs (e.g. bus stops, airports, etc.) that increase the number of patrons. We’d like to see these NPCs be a little bit more independent.

Beyond these qualms, the game prompts you to make a wall posting every time a new store is built or upgraded. Since building is a big part of the game, this pop-up becomes annoying quickly.

Investments To run your mall, you hire workers in shifts. Stores will only earn revenue so long as someone is working and some shifts earn more revenue than others. To reduce the cost of workers friends can be hired to work the stores for you.

Additional social elements include basic gifting and leaderboards. You can visit friend’s malls to clean up trash and help customers. Much more interesting, however, is the concept of “investments.” With this mechanic, you can spend money on a friend and when they reach a certain level, they will pay out a return to you. For example, if you invest 125 coins in a friend and  they reach level 20, you will earn 1500 coins back.

As for any final features worth mentioning, Mall Dreams has a nice quest system to give the player some direction and monetary reward. You can also use Facebook Credits to start a “Sale” that will dramatically increase revenue for a set period of time.

Overall, Mall Dreams is an decent game, with familiar but solid core mechanics. Some of its less important features and mechanics can get in the way of  the overall experience, but players who enjoy shopping or city-building games should give it a look.