Let’s face it gamers, the free-to-play model is here to stay and will probably never die thanks to the popularity of it for mobile games and browser games. This is due to the fact that it gives both Indie and AAA developers a much wider audience to cast a net over thanks to the game being free to download and play. There are no barriers to entry, so getting thousands upon thousands of copies of a game into hands of curious, button pushing happy gamers isn’t a problem, and as long as a handful of these willing participants spend even a few dollars on in-app purchases, the sales figures typically justify the game being free-to-play in the first place.
Unfortunately, not all free-to-play games are great. Many have barriers in place that make the experience almost impossible to enjoy unless you pony up some real life cash. With that being said there are more than a few excellent mobile free-to-play games that can be enjoyed fully without spending a dime as long as you play them sparingly throughout the day. The key here is to play these games in short spans while you go about your day. You must treat them like true life timeouts, allotting 15-20 minutes of play per session in between your other daily duties. Bathroom breaks, waiting in lines, riding in a car, and sitting on a bus are all prime examples of when free-to-play mobile games can shine.
EA is no stranger to the free-to-play model, especially on iOS and Android devices where the developer has released many of its franchises for under $1, or free altogether. Many gamers consider EA to be evil at times, and while it has had a few bungled launches and curious policies, the publisher has also created a few gems to waste some time on that are well worth downloading.
One of its latest surprises is SimCity BuildIt for iOS and Android devices, which is a free-to-play touchscreen version of the much more expansive Sim City PC/console franchises. First and foremost it’s a beautiful looking mobile title that offers full on 3D views of your city that can be freely navigated in 360 degrees of direction with the touch of a finger. Once your city takes shape the sounds of a bustling boomtown echo from the speakers of your mobile device, and the familiar gibberish speaking advisors come to your aid to offer advice. The Sim City aura is strong to say the least, so fans of the franchise will instantly feel at home upon firing up a new city on SimCity BuildIt.
To start you’re given plenty of simoleans and a bit of cash to help get your town up and running, and quite frankly upon first starting you can spend upwards of an hour or two making city planning decisions without ever being bothered with the need to spend real money to get more game money to progress. Like other Sim City games you play the role of Mayor and must build residential, commercial, and industrial zones to bring your city to life. The easy to use UI makes placing buildings easy, as well as managing your resources, which must be collected and turned into finished goods like hammers, nails, bricks, and other materials that are needed to improve upon your Sim’s homes. By doing so you earn more simoleans, which can then be used to build more buildings that can attract more Sims, which in turn will raise your city’s level to open up new buildings to craft.
The relationship between raw materials, finished goods, and building improvements is symbiotic, so all three phases need to be in constant production to keep SimCity BuildIt going strong. This is where EA hopes to prey upon your impatience, and will entice you with in-app purchases to make production go faster, but I promise you they’re not needed to enjoy this mobile game. Like I stated earlier, games of this nature are best played in small bursts, so if you plan your resource building correctly you can easily squeeze in 15-30 minute gameplay sessions without the need of cash. You could even play BuildIt for longer periods of time if you just navigate around your city and look for blue icon popups which sometimes yield bonus items, as well as opportunities to sell resources in the trading HQ, or to Sims looking for supplies. These activities can be done free of charge while you wait on your resources to build, which can give your session some legs. Some resources will take hours to complete, which is why you must plan ahead each time you enter your burgeoning city, but shouldn’t a qualified Mayor be doing that anyway?
Quite frankly, if you just accept the fact that SimCity BuildIt is a mobile experience, and not really the same game as a full featured Sim City title, its free-to-play merits really shine and you’ll never be on the hook for real money, nor will you want to invest any cash. Playing the game in small spurts throughout the day is ideal, helping you to break up the monotony of your life obligations with a bit of virtual city management. For the past month I’ve looked forward to each and every trip to my SimCity BuildIt town and can’t help but fire it up every time I have a small window to check on my sims. Even if I can’t produce new resources for finished goods needed for building expansion I can still ponder new city layouts and plan for future improvements without spending a dime.
The free-to-play model definitely has its pros and cons, and not all developers and publishers get it right, including EA. Although, with SimCity BuildIt the often maligned video game publisher has created a stellar homage to the Sim City franchise that can be thoroughly enjoyed without the need for real cash. Your approach to playing it can’t be the same as sitting down with a PC or console game for hours on end, but rather as a small mobile gaming excursion throughout the day to help pass the time while you’re on the go.
If you love the Sim City franchise and fun-to-play mobile games you should definitely give SimCity BuildIt a try on your iOS or Android devices. It offers cross-device play too, so you can start a game on your phone and pick up and play it on your tablet! Besides, it’s FREE, so what do you have to lose besides a bit of HDD space on your gadgets?
Download SimCity BuildIt for iOS
Download SimCity BuildIt for Android
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