My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (video game)
|My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic|
|Genre(s)||City-building simulation, Open world|
|Mode(s)||Single-player with multiplayer interaction|
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a video game based on the animated television show of the same name, developed by Gameloft for iOS and Android devices. The game was released on November 8, 2012.
In the game, the player is asked to help Twilight Sparkle rebuild her home of Ponyville after it fell into the shadow of the villainous Nightmare Moon. To do so, the player uses in-game currency and other collected treasures to build homes to bring more ponies to the town, and then create businesses for them to work at and generate money. Mini-games are used to build the skill level of each pony, qualifying them to work at jobs that can generate more revenue. Though primarily a single-player game, players can visit their friends' versions of Ponyville, and leave and accept gifts to help their own village. The game is guided by a quest and experience system. While Gameloft developed the game towards the show's target audience of young girls, they include nods to the adult fandom of the show.
The game was generally well-received, but was criticized as exemplifying the underlying nature of freemium games, where either the player must spend real money or wait an indefinite period of time to advance the game.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's story starts after the villainous Nightmare Moon has cast a dark shadow over Ponyville, emptying it of its inhabitants and buildings. Twilight Sparkle and her assistant Spike want to reconstruct Ponyville, particularly bringing back the other bearers of the Elements of Harmony - Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity - to help defeat Nightmare Moon.
To do so, the player helps Twilight Sparkle by constructing homes for her pony friends through purchasing them from the game's internal store. Once these ponies have arrived, the player can then build businesses and assign ponies to work there. Each business takes a fixed amount of real time to generate its product, which then can be collected by the player. This awards the player "bits" (in-game currency), experience points, and other treasures used for purchasing items later in the game; these include shards representing the Elements of Harmony, which are necessary to draw in Twilight Sparkle's five friends and defeat Nightmare Moon. Businesses can produce one of two items, though the second requires a second pony to be hired to work there as well. Each pony character has a zero- to five-star rating, representing a skill level. Certain business may require minimum skill levels. The skill level of a pony can be increased over time by participating in a mini-game with the pony, such as catching falling apples or bouncing a ball continuously.
The game is guided by quests that direct the player to build certain facilities to attract specific ponies to town, or to perform other activities, such as clearing away shadow-covered land to expand buildable space, clear away debris, or add decorative objects in town. The player can edit the placement of any buildings and decorations as desired after initial purchase. Completing quests earns bits and experience points; earning enough experience allows the player to gain a level, earning more bits and gems and unlocking additional ponies and buildings that can be purchased. Using either Gameloft's or Facebook integration, the player can visit their friends' Ponyville and leave gifts in the form of crystal hearts.
Though most ponies and buildings can be bought using bits, some require the use of gems or crystal hearts. Further, activities like constructing a new building, or a business producing a good, can be hurried by expending gems. Gems and bits can be purchased with real money through Gameloft's store.
The game has been updated multiple times to include additional content such as new ponies, minigames, buildings, and quests, based on the episodes "Hearth's Warming Eve", "A Canterlot Wedding", "Magical Mystery Cure", "Princess Twilight Sparkle", and the feature films My Little Pony: Equestria Girls and My Little Pony: The Movie. Special storylines based on the episodes "A Hearth's Warming Tail", "A Canterlot Wedding", "The Crystal Empire", "The Return of Harmony", and the feature film My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree, were also added. Characters from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comics have also been introduced, as well as a handful of characters exclusive to the game.
Hasbro and Gameloft announced a licensing partnership in June 2012, allowing the latter to develop games based on Hasbro's properties; this announcement revealed that one of the first games would be one based on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, for mobile devices, to arrive before the end of the year.
Michelle Starr of CNET Australia was more critical of the game's freemium nature: in order to progress in the quests, the player needs to purchase certain characters, some which require gems to purchase. While the player can continue to earn experience, gain levels, and earn gems this way without having to pay additional money, the time to collect enough gems can be extremely long; Starr estimated that one would have to play for 3 years to earn enough gems to obtain the last required character, or otherwise spend around AUS $50 to buy the gems outright. Starr surmised that such mechanics will either have player put excessive money into the game, or otherwise will give it up when they cannot easily progress further. Similarly, Harley Ogier for Stuff.co.nz harshly criticized the game's pricing scheme, acknowledging either the monetary or lengthy time investment needed simply to collect the main story, and that this type of monetization is both insulting to adult players and frustrating to young children unaware of why they cannot finish the game. Peter Wellington of Pocket Gamer also lamented that the pace of the game in terms of obtaining bits and other treasures for expanding is very slow, and, as the primary source of bits are the minigames, this can make the game feel very repetitive for very little reward even after a week of playing. In one case, a child playing the game on her parents' iPad had bought more gems though microtransactions, unaware that this costed real money, and ended up spending more that GB£900 within an hour; the charges were eventually reversed, but highlighted the seemingly-innocent nature of such freemium applications.
In response to the cost complaints, Gameloft issued a change in pricing within the in-game store in early December 2012, specifically reducing the cost of ponies that require gems by a considerable amount; in one example, Rainbow Dash, one of the main ponies needed to complete the game's story mode, was reduced from 500 gems to 90 gems. This price was still considered high, either requiring the user to wait several months to collect gems or to pay real money to buy gems, putting into question the "freemium" model that Gameloft was using. Gameloft, in responding to the additional complaints after the gem cost reduction, believed that most of these were from the older fans of the show who would rather complete the game quickly, instead of their intended audience of young girls; Lewis Digby of Gameloft stated that the games are meant to be free access, and that "we have to sell in-game content if we want to be profitable". As of March 2013, the game has been downloaded over 5.4 million times.
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