Though I was not tasked with reviewing My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for the site, I needed to vent my frustration with the game so here is my open letter to Gameloft.
We’re all familiar with the freemium game model at this point, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with this system, you have taken things too far.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a really neat anomaly in popular culture. The Pony series has always been targeted at young girls, but the current generation (G4) has proven popular to adults, especially men. This is largely due to the creative direction given by Lauren Faust (Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, etc). The adults in this fandom are referred to as bronies.
I am a Brony.
My wife bought the first season of G4 on iTunes and was watching it while I was in the room. After about six episodes, I was hooked. The writing is just wonderful. Since then, our apartment is completely ponified. Personally, I have 38 t-shirts, two book shelves full of toys, shoes, socks, pajamas, bed sheets, posters, stuffed animals, and even a My Little Pony tattoo. When I heard that you were creating an iOS and Android game, it’s safe to say I was extremely excited.
Nightmare Moon has returned and covered Ponyville in darkness and it’s your job, as Twilight Sparkle, to rebuild Ponyville and get all the other ponies to move back.
This story line is fun and all the characters are voiced by the same voice actors from the TV show.
At first glance, the game is wonderful. Not only is it a neat game, but you took the time to make it very fan-centric. It features many background ponies from the TV show that bronies are especially fond of and that most kids wouldn’t even know: Octavia (my favorite) and DJ Pon3 are here, the Great and Powerful Trixie, Dr. Hooves (yes, a Doctor Who reference), and even some pony versions of characters from The Big Lebowski are here.
And then you had to go and destroy it all with a greedy currency system, split into (not two), but three forms, the most frustrating of which are the regular gems.You can only get about 1 – 3 regular gems a day (at most) without spending real cash and as you well know, everything requires gems The heart gems (also annoyingly scarce) are next to impossible to get since they are acquired by connecting with friends and leaving them gifts every 24 hours. The problem here is that your server that connects you with friends hasn’t worked SINCE THE GAME LAUNCHED!
In most freemium games, you can spend real world money to get a sizable amount of the currency in the game not so here.
When spending real money on the other two forms of currency (bits and regular gems) the amount you get is very, very low for the money you spend. The economy in MLP is far worse than other freemium titles and feels like a greedy money grab. It takes $10-20 to purchase one of the higher-priced ponies. Some of the ponies (like Rarity and Rainbow Dash) take hundreds of gems to buy and you cannot complete the game without them!
Someone on Reddit worked this out. To get Rainbow Dash (500 gems), you would need to play the game every day for three years, or spend $80 cash. Again, (as you are well-aware) you can NOT complete the story mode without these characters, and unwitting players (like myself) have no idea about this problem until we’ve invested considerable time in the game as these ponies are only available at level 30+.
Granted, you do offer the ability to watch select video advertisements to earn gems, however I found a disturbing problem with this. A lot of the ads are for adult sex sites. Yes, in a game that will probably be played by children. What?!
Another huge issue…the game is rigged to punish players who may want to take a break for a day or two. Rocks & parasprites show up no matter how often you play, even if you exit the program for five minutes then reopen it, they could show up. They spawn once or twice every 24 hours, it seems and if you have any free space on your map, these rocks will grow in the spaces and get bigger and bigger if you don’t deal with them. To clear them, it costs considerable amounts of bits and gets worse the longer you wait. If you deal with them earlier and have open space, parasprites will arrive in your town instead. If you have parasprites, you cannot build on the map. The only way to get rid of them is to use magic shards, which are VERY RARE, and these same shards are needed to activate the Elements of Harmony for the story line, making the presence of parasprites even worse.
Oh but it’s all good because if I don’t have enough magic shards, I can always buy some with real world money (but you knew that).
Adding to the unfairness, you’ve include the balloon pop game that I can play for free every 24 hours, or spend my (regular or heart) gems to play. Though, what you disguise as an optional task is really REQUIRED as certain ponies can ONLY be accessed this way (including major fan-favorites). Another Reddit user dove into the code for the game, arguing that you can only get the ponies when playing the game that costs 25 gems to play. Not only that, but the six ponies (you can ONLY get in this game) have a less than 1% chance of showing up.
In the true spirit of the show on which it is based, this game should be designed so that little kids can enjoy it as well as bronies. Sadly, your game, which costs $100+ in real world cash to complete is just a horrifically greedy money grab. Unless you update the game with more ways to get gems, cut back on parasprites and rock growth, and lower the cost of the ponies required for the story, this is an insult to fans of the series.
You owe a lot of people a serious apology here.
– Jaden Walker – One seriously disappointed Brony.