London-Based Zattikka Launches First Facebook Title, Wheelers and Dealers

Wheelers and DealersFollowing its $5.5 million funding, new social and mobile developer Zattikka has finally launched its first dedicated game on Facebook. Dubbed Wheelers and Dealers, the money and social management app gives users in a rather unique form of play, tasking them with making it big financially.

The gist is that Wheelers and Dealers is all about balancing reputations and finances. Different though this concept may be, the game could appeal to a niche audience. On the other hand, while more extensively developed than most titles, Wheelers and Dealers’ downsides could also turn away even users that enjoy business games.

Players start out in the town of Shady Acres with little to show for themselves beyond the clothes on their back and a handful of cash. The idea is to move about the world in search of deals that can be turned around to make a quick buck. The basics of this are pretty simple: players visit a non-player character to see what they have for sale. The objective is to haggle to the cheapest possible price and make a purchase. Once bought, players then turn around and locate someone else that is willing to buy the item for the highest possible price.

ReputationsThat’s just the basics. Each character can be broken up into one of eight categories such as dealers, crooks, friends, and so on. As players interact with specific types of characters they will earn reputation with them, which in turn comes with added benefits. Moreover, each character will have specific likes and dislikes which give clues on what they might want to buy.

While reputation building takes a significant amount of time, players can build up a sort of relationship with individual non-player characters as well. By chatting with them, users can use questions, jokes, or compliments to raise their friendship level.

The character types are where things get a bit more interesting. Amongst the items available for purchase are both legal and illegal items. The latter are purchased mostly from characters classified as criminals, and can be sold for significant profit. One of the first missions the player gets is to acquire two “Touch myPods” for a buyer. Since they are sold out everywhere, users must track down a criminal that may just have what the user needs.

However, there is also a reputation for the police, and if the user isn’t careful with these goods, they can “get into trouble.” Unfortunately, Wheelers and Dealers is a bit of a slow burn game when it comes to earning income early on, so we’ve yet to stir up any myPodreal trouble. That said, there is a “police raid” and “break-in” risk, so depending on how many illegal and legal items one has stored, there appears to be a chance to lose them, if held on to for too long.

As players get more cash, they’ll also be able to decorate a virtual, 2D flat in a Pet Society sort of way. Truth be told, however, this element feels a bit tacked on and doesn’t play any significant role other than becoming a cash sink for people feeling creative. Most of the time, social games seem to have this feature merely because it’s popular, but it does provide a moderate aesthetic reward to fiscal success.

Socially, friends can buy and trade with one another, setting prices in a sort of bazaar. Additionally, users can set what items they are looking to buy within a wish list, so it becomes beneficial to play with other active friends.

FlatUnfortunately, it might be a bit tough to find a good number of friends to play, because while the game is well made and different, it may only appeal to those who enjoy deal-making or business. It just isn’t much fun to artificially chit-chat with NPCs and balance out a computerized relationship that isn’t exactly hard to change. This ease makes the haggling feel arbitrary (though it might get harder at higher levels), the reputations take a long time to develop, and the core play is dull enough to obscure the true depth that the game seems to have.

In the end Wheelers and Dealers earns points for trying to be different, but isn’t likely to attract a substantial audience. The title is well made, and has a lot of aspects that are interesting (new areas, bribes, complicated deals with entrepreneurs, and so one), but unless the core business aspect is sped up and made more attractive and entertaining, all that innovation may go to naught.