Platinum Life: The Latest Facebook RPG to Focus on the Music Business

Though we touched on it lightly in the past, we’ve never really taken a close look at the latest revisions of the Facebook role-playing game, Platinum Life. Currently in beta, this Facebook title from Heatwave Interactive has grown moderately over the past month or so, but with the recent upgrade to its Facebook version as well as its addition to competing social network, MySpace, it seemed as good a time as any to take a closer look.

The game is more or less typical of any Facebook RPG, broken up into quest/mission modes and battle modes, consuming energy or stamina (“juice” and “cred” in this case) as actions are undertaken. However, it goes beyond the commonplace by providing a much greater focus on music and real artists.

Essentially, the objective of Platinum Life: Web Edition is to go from a no-name upstart to a platinum level superstar. Broken up into two modes – Career Mode and Battle Mode – players utilize the slowly regenerating stats of Juice and Cred to earn cash and experience. Well, the latter actually being called “fame” in this app.

Career events are essentially missions or quests in any other RPG, but rather than seeing them all at once, players are only presented with a single event at a time. It’s believable enough as each one involves an increase in scale that corresponds well with the player’s fame level. For example, users start by doing an event for an Open Mic Night, while in a later one, they’re making mix tapes and selling them on the streets.

For each event, Heatwave also incorporates the concept of “progress.” This refers to the percentage progress bar that many RPG makers have incorporated to integrate an artificial form of longevity into the games. Essentially, it forces the player to repeat the same quest multiple times in order to “master” and complete it. Sometimes it’s justifiable (e.g. searching a crypt in Mercenaries of War), but a good number of times, it’s just arbitrary. In the case of Platinum Life, it works as it’s never dubbed “progress.” Events have various prep work to be done in them which often consists of two or more bars to fill up.

As an example, the first event tasks the player with rehearsal, followed by stage setup, then, finally, the performance. Unfortunately, players don’t do anything beyond press the “perform” button, but at least its more justifiable than a mere percentage bar.

One element that does make the Career Mode more interesting is the player’s cell phone. Randomly, players will get a call from a big name artist such as Ludacris, DJ Holiday, Shontelle, or about a dozen others. Regardless, when they call, players can undertake an event in their name, gaining some added experience and money. That said, they don’t feel different than the normal career events, but it seems like an area that could become quite interesting in time.

As a matter of fact, there is also an Artists page where players can purchase branded virtual goods for their avatar. These, of course, use the game’s virtual currency, Platinum Points, and as many players enjoy the prospect of expressing themselves through their avatar, it’s certainly a prudent addition. Furthermore, all the artists’ pages come with links to their official homepage as well as a feed of their latest tweets.

Though you have probably deduced it already, Platinum Life attempts to center itself around music. This extends beyond just the inclusion of platinum artists, but its one of the very few RPGs that actually has a soundtrack to it. Well, “soundtrack.” In truth, it’s more like a streaming radio in the background, but with at least a half-hour of hip hop, DJ spinning, R&B, as well as a few recorded cameos from some of the stated artists, it’s nice to just listen to. That’s saying a lot for a Facebook game considering most music and sound gets muted due to obnoxious, 30 second loops.

The only downside to the music, is that it’s just sort of there. Unlike Booyah’s Nightclub City, the music doesn’t really feel an integral part of the game. It creates a nice atmosphere, yes, but no one would really be the wiser were it not present.

Regarding the battle system, this is one of the core social elements, as players can challenge any user within their general level range at the cost of Cred. Of course, the battles are all automated, with the winner determined by factors such as fame and the number of friends one has.

Friends themselves can also provide added bonuses to the rest of the game as well. Inviting friends into one’s crew, for example, can grant users reductions in Juice and Cred costs as well as bonus cash and fame from events and battles.

Overall, and after numerous iterations, Platinum Life is a fairly well made RPG for music lovers with just over 500,000 monthly active users. Nevertheless, the chief complaint is that beyond the random events from artists calling the player’s cell phone, there isn’t a whole lot different to game play. Granted, the music itself is quality and the various artist pages with Twitter feeds and branded virtual goods are nice, but none play a very important role in the game as a whole. They’re just sort of there (save for, maybe, the virtual goods that users can dress their avatars with).

In the end, Platinum Life: Web Edition has a number of cool parts to it. They just need to be brought more tightly into the fold. The music itself has tremendous potential – a fact proven by Nightclub City, who has done zero advertising and brings in 4.5 million MAUs. Moreover, it’s just too good to let lie as a background afterthought. Regardless, as more iterations come down the pipe from Heatwave, only time will tell what changes are yet to come.