Ubisoft brings the Rabbids’ insanity to Facebook

Ubisoft’s Rabbids series — originally a spinoff from the company’s Rayman franchise — is well-known for its irreverent, lavatorial humor and has invaded a wide variety of platforms over the course of the last few years. The small, insane, rabbit-like creatures have finally hit Facebook this month in the form of Rabbids Invasion.

Rabbids Invasion offers a twist on standard citybuilding gameplay: the city is already there. However, the city in question was built by humans and as such, the Rabbids are unable to avail themselves of all its facilities. In order to do so, the Rabbids must “invade” the existing buildings and take them over. In doing so, the drab, brown art becomes wildly colorful and often takes on humorous, surreal characteristics. Invading a house, for example, might cover it in toilet paper. Invading a farmhouse might redesign it to look like a giant cow. And invading a log cabin simply burns it down and turns it into an enormous bonfire.

Progress in the game is determined by a number of factors: the number of Rabbids available to invade buildings, the soft currency the player has on hand to purchase and invade buildings and cans of food that are required to supply businesses. Additional Rabbids can be acquired by invading public buildings such as post offices, and this then allows for more structures to be acquired, in turn leading to greater income of soft currency and experience points. Food, meanwhile, comes from harvesting strange crops such as roast chickens from fields.

The player is led through the basics of invading and building through a series of quests, all of which are presented in a somewhat sarcastic manner with numerous pop culture references. Early gameplay revolves around taking over buildings, building up stockpiles of food and currency and then expanding the borders of the Rabbids’ invasion by using a sausage so spicy it causes a Rabbid to explode, taking a boundary fence with it.

Social features are fairly standard for the citybuilding genre. The public buildings used to acquire additional Rabbids must be staffed by friends (or “Fake Friends” purchased through the game’s hard currency) and a number of quests require the procurement of items through the assistance of friends. Players are also able to visit their friends’ territories and send tourist groups of Rabbids in order to collect coins and experience. It’s also possible to set fire to friends’ Rabbids that are wandering around the map.

Once the novelty of the irreverent humor and the invasion mechanic wears off, there’s a fairly predictable citybuilding game underneath. It’s competently handled, though, and progression is rarely halted due to friend-gating. It feels like the Rabbids license is somewhat underused, however — in its previous incarnations, the Rabbids found themselves in a variety of ludicrous situations and it was generally up to the player to either help them out or punish them in one way or another through a series of very silly minigames. There’s nothing like that in Rabbids Invasion at this time, which feels like a missed opportunity. There’s nothing stopping Ubisoft adding something like this at a later date, however.

The game is solidly monetized, offering a wide range of premium items  for players to purchase using hard currency. The most expensive of these costs an equivalent of almost $100 and provides a significant gameplay benefit, doubling the soft currency payout of all nearby buildings. There are plenty of smaller items available for purchase, however, and in the early stages the game is quite generous with the provision of hard currency to help speed up early progress.

Rabbids Invasion currently has 10,000 monthly active users and 5,000 daily active users, but has only been available for less than a week at the time of writing. The Rabbids series is a well known brand among casual gamers, and Ubisoft is likely counting on this to assist with user acquisition, along with the game’s frictionless wall posting facility for virality. To follow the game’s progress, check out AppData, our traffic tracking application for social games and developers.

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Strong brand recognition, good design and an irreverent sense of humor will help make this relatively straightforward citybuilder a big success.

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