Dragon City review
Dragon City is a new Facebook game from Spanish developer Social Point, creators of the successful Social Empires and Social Wars (formerly Men vs. Women). The new title is a pet breeding sim title, and at the time of writing is showing up as the No. 9 top gainer by MAU according to our traffic tracking service AppData.
Gameplay in Dragon City revolves around building habitats for dragons, hatching dragon eggs, breeding types of dragon together and ensuring that the player’s increasingly-large menagerie stays well-fed. The game walks players through the basic processes involved in hatching, building, housing and feeding dragons through a simple tutorial and then repeatedly encourages them to follow these procedures through a series of quests. There is not a specific “story” to follow, meaning that the main incentive for progression is to earn money, level up and fill out the “Dragon Book” with all 159 types of dragon currently in the game. Some of these dragons may be discovered simply by hatching new eggs, some may be discovered by feeding a dragon enough for them to “evolve” and others may be found by breeding two different types of dragon together. Some dragons are also awarded as daily bonuses, and others may be acquired by using the in-game “recruitment tavern” to get friends to help.
Dragon City’s monetization comes about primarily through its soft currency “gold,” which is required for most tasks, including clearing “junk” items from the play area. There is no energy bar system in the game, so the main means of limiting free players’ interaction with the game comes through this currency system. Successfully-bred dragons earn money over time, allowing the player to develop larger and larger income streams over time, theoretically allowing for gradual growth. However, this is somewhat stymied by the time the player reaches approximately level 7-8, at which point they will likely have a quest to hatch a “Plant Dragon.” Purchasing the habitat for this dragon costs 1,500 gold, which is well within the reach of the player’s income stream at this point in the game. Actually purchasing the egg to hatch the dragon, however, costs a massive 15,000 gold, necessitating either a currency purchase or a lot of tedious grinding. This sudden difficulty spike is likely to prove offputting to a lot of players, especially since the game is, up until this point, rather generous with experience, soft and hard currency rewards.
Once the player reaches level 10, they are able to enter the game’s PvP component, known as Dragon League. Here, players are able to attack others up to three times every six hours and be rewarded with prizes including experience, soft and hard currency. There is little in the way of risk involved in this mode, however, as dragons cannot be “lost” or injured during combat, making the experience a little shallow — it’s essentially little more than an alternative means of grinding. Similarly, the facility to visit friends who are also playing the game is not very well fleshed out — players are able to click on friends’ structures to “help” but are given no indication of what, thematically speaking, they are actually doing — they simply click on something to make experience and money pop out.
Dragon City has some potential but it’s lacking in a few key areas to make it an “essential play” title at this time. The quests are drab and lack character, whereas a sense of narrative progression would provide a stronger impetus for the player to follow these through. The unbalanced currency requirements for hatching later dragons effectively puts a solid “paywall” in front of most players rather than gradually increasing the difficulty. And the PvP component is underdeveloped and uninteresting at this time. Its production values are good, however, and Social Point’s previous titles have performed well on Facebook, so it’s certainly one to keep an eye on for now, even if it has a long way to go before it becomes an absolute “must play.”
Dragon City currently has 650,000 monthly active users and 260,000 daily active users, getting it off to a good start. Follow its progress with AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
Some good potential here, and Social Point has a good pedigree, but the game itself feels underdeveloped and unbalanced at this time.