An Open Letter To Gameloft : My Little Pony Feels Like Nothing More Than A Fleecing Of MLP Fans

An Open Letter To Gameloft : My Little Pony Feels Like Nothing More Than A Fleecing Of MLP Fans

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.

Dear 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.

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48 comments on “An Open Letter To Gameloft : My Little Pony Feels Like Nothing More Than A Fleecing Of MLP Fans
  1. I don't know if it was entirely intentional on their part or poor game design, but it needs to be fixed. Either change prices or create an expansion that allows you to convert bits into gems. Even if the conversion rate is terrible, it would be worth the bit farming.

    And stop giving me quests that require gems to finish! I was not amused by one quest for materials–not even ponies!–that would have cost somewhere around 300 gems to complete!

    I am hacking this game so hard tonight. I've got a lot of enjoyment out of this, and would have GLADLY paud $20 to $30 to buy a bit and heart only version (hearts are pretty easy once the system is up and running), but if you intend to fleece me, I have no guilt about breaking your EXTREMELY poorly designed code.

  2. Protip: The 25 gem balloon pop ponies can be bought with bits if you start the game with wireless turned off. This is because the game downloads a different set of store prices from the game servers when you're connected online.

    It's not much help though. Even considering this trick, in order to finish the main story of the game by finishing all the quests, you need a MINIMUM of 3000 gems to buy all the required items, including some buildings and ponies which cost 600+ gems. This would take roughly 14 years of getting daily bonuses to obtain.

    Take it from me, a person who has a lot of experience playing freemium games by Gameloft and other companies known for the freemium game model like Glu. I have never encountered a paywall this high before. This is blatantly greedy even compared to other freemium games.

    • I mean, what do you expect? No game is free. Developers don’t create games for the joy of helping ppl, they do it for money. Nothing is free.

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  7. My five year daughter is frustrated and disppointed with this game. I found this site because I was looking for hints on how to get gems for her, especially the heart gems. She's 5, she doesn't have a social network. Our family loves My Little Pony, but the game needs serious work.

  8. There's another bug which is making the game a bit of a sour experience to popular ones. Andrea Libman (voice of Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie) tweeted here that she had to delete and reinstall her game due to a serious bug – TREASURE CHEST OVERLOAD! The game could not draw all the treasure chests at once:
    https://twitter.com/AndreaLibman/status/275311105

    The game should be set to change treasure chests over 20 into a big giant one that awards you the entire contents without overloading the drawing engine's memory.

    TinyVillage also uses the "render graphics only when visible" mode to allow the game to be run on older devices.

  9. I’m not sure if this applies for iOS, but the game seems to play differently on my old HTC Glacier then on my Note 2. Aside from the framerate issues preventing me from getting higher scores on the star leveling minigames, obstructions and parasprites appear MUCH LESS OFTEN on my Glacier then my Note 2. I know the game follows different instructions because the ponies don’t move on my Glacier, whereas they do on the Note 2. I hate to jump to conclusions, but it sounds like more of the obstructions appear if your hardware is more powerful (IE you’re more likely to pay for freemium content)

  10. Unfortunately, unless you are willing to 'jailbreak' your iPhone etc, all the cheats are android device only. So gameloft seem to be in cahoots with apple as far as this game goes. I'm so envious of my friend who has an android and has gotten all the ponies from the balloon pop game with bits. I agree that there should be a system to convert bits to gems. That'd make things more fair for those of us who want to play the game legit.

  11. Warning people: don't bother with the holiday quests! The first couple are easy enough, buy certain things with bits, but before long they're asking you to buy gem-only DECORATIONS like a phonograph for 30 gems. It's just a cheap way to force people to buy gems.

  12. For ipad, iphone users, try “pony liberator”. It uses a different pricelist and blocks the real one. All android can hack it themselves. Just look on youtube for mlp free gems. Have fun getting everypony!
    /)

  13. Not to embarrass anyone, but responding to the phrase of:
    "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?!"

    These adds are based on your internet searches… It's the same with the computer. Sorry to be the one to tell ya.
    Mine only had adds for things like Ice Age games, Netflix, and and an app called Magic Piano.
    Delete all your Cookies and History, and it should fix the problem.

  14. I like the game but I can't spend over a hundred dollars to play. Everything in the game is just to expensive. There are to many parasprites and rocks. They multiply to fast before anyone can get rid if them. There are not enough Elements of Harmony to take care of the parasprites and complete the game. This game really needs work.

  15. Thank you for posting this. I'm an adult who loves MLP Friendship Is Magic. This game is a giant slap in the face for all the reasons you said and more. I feel bad for any kid who trying to play this they will be sadly disappointed as I was.

  16. I don't even see how this game would be possible for a kid to manage. Sure, go ahead and add Easter eggs for the bronies, but don't convert the game into a game your target- yes, TARGET- demographic cant play because of lack of funds. Heck, I doubt some of the people you seem to have carefully tailored this game for to pull money from can even afford everything. I will play this, but I won't spend a dime.

  17. I would rather pay a bit too buy the actual app instead of it being free and not have to wait days and days to get anything in the game, one mission 150 hearts and another 200 gems!!!

  18. I just had to post a comment to say that you completely took the words right out of my mouth. Since I have some spare cash usually, the fact that you have to spend real money on the game to pretty much do anything was more of a frustration/annoyance to me than anything, but I stupidly have spent quite a bit on it.

    I recently got a new phone and upgraded from my iPhone 4 to iPhone 5. I had thought that the very least I could do would be to transfer my game data over to my new phone so I could continue playing. Needless to say, I am extremely angry at the fact that you cannot do this, and if I want to keep playing the game on my new phone, I have to completely start from square one. So there goes lots of time and money, right down the drain. :/ I mean obviously spending money on a game like this is quite silly to begin with, but the fact that you can't even continue your game if you get a new phone is absolutely ridiculous.

    Not to mention I've been stuck on a quest for weeks now that you can't move on without doing anyways since it requires 30 heart stones, which are like nearly impossible to get. (since as you mentioned, the friends thing barely ever works)

    So in a way, I'm happy I can't transfer my game over. It helped me realize that I'm stupid for even spending a dime on this game and that they are more interested in being greedy money-grabbers than having an enjoyable, fair game for MLP fans. Definitely won't be playing this game again, at least until they screw their heads on right and realize what they're doing is completely unfair and greedy.

  19. Was considering buying gems but luckily I used 25 free gems in balloon game to win a pony and got NOTHING. I think i got 12 of the easiest harmony stones. Ridiculous!!
    Bad incentive to buy, Excellent incentive to Quit or Cheat!

  20. A large reason for the high paywall in this game is almost certainly licensing rights. My Little Pony is an incredibly valuable IP right now, so anything associated with it is going to expensive. Compare this to other freemium games, where there is no licensed IP, just income for the programmers and the servers – not so of this game.

  21. I love MLP and I love this game, I'm on it all the time. My only real problem is the gem currency. I don't have many issues with the heart thing (except for when it crashed my game, which happens regularly), as I added people off of MLP forums that send me hearts daily. I don't really mind the parasprites/changelings/rocks, because I'm on my game often enough to collect lots of harmony stones from my shops (so far, I've never run out of stones). What I do have a problem with, however, is being forced to pay real money for so many useless things just to complete the storyline.

    I feel that if Gameloft want to make some of the more desirable items and ponies available through gems only then fine, go ahead, but these ponies and items should not be necessary to complete a quest and advance in the story. This should only be for the most hardcore bronies that don't mind paying out for the likes of Princess Celestia. I'm currently stuck on a quest that requires me to buy the old clock tower for 35 gems – the old clock tower is completely useless after purchase and I don't even like the way it looks, why should I be forced to buy it? I wouldn't mind paying for items if they occasionally produced gems in the same way they produce bits (by tapping them). That way I could slowly build my gems back up without having to pay out. I also wouldn't mind if more gems were available in-game. Gameloft introduced the movie theatre which lets you watch some short videos and in exchange they give you gems, which would have been great… if only it worked. As it is, I'm wasting my time watching videos that don't even give me any gems afterwards. There should be a way to convert bits to gems as well.

    I've already bought some gems, and I wouldn't have minded buying some more if it was to go on ponies that I really like, or even just to get the main 6. I don't mind spending a little bit of cash on a game that has kept me entertained for hours. However, I resent paying real money for useless items with no purpose other than to fleece their fanbase of more money, especially to this extent! Around 2,500 gems are needed to complete the storyline – how is this justifiable, Gameloft??

    • Applause!!!!! I agree! There will always be the hard core players that will spend for those ponies and items but Gameloft went to far. I have the newer version wheresome prices were reduced but they are still insane. Princess celestia is 900 gems for godsake! Gameloft is being greedy on this one! I don't mind spending some money but what they're asking is too much!

    • Try watching adds to get free jems, you can also play the new dog and a pony show game, try tapping on derpy whenever you see her, sometimes parisprites but most likely changelings give you jems. Hope I helped!!!

  22. This is exactly what I said. Unfortunately, I cannot find a way to contact them :/ The only support they offer is for actual game problems that are technical/purchase. Seems to me they know they are in the wrong

  23. My version of the game is cheaper.Rainbow Dash costs 90 gems,the balloon pop is 10 gems,Prince BlueBlood is 330 gems,and most of the ponies are free even in canterlot

  24. Man! YOU ARE INCREDIBLE! Brohoof! /) I totally agree with you on
    the fact that Gameloft is just being greedy. I have been working on the gsme for anout 1 year and I still can't get rid of those darn parasprites and can't get Scootaloo! Really?!?! Really Gameloft?!?!? So yeah! I think you are awesome! Standing up to all bronies! So…. If you still have the app and you are still working on it…. It would be awesome if we could be friends! So… Email me or something! I dunno! But thanks for saying something! My GL Live username is AwesomeKooldog… So is my email…… and well everything! Thanks! BROHOOF!!!! /)

    AwesomeKooldog
    ~Brony

  25. Well written I completely agree. Some of the amount of gems for ponies is astronomical! You could have like 100 my little pony toys in place of how much this game costs to play. It really would cost hundreds of dollars to complete and for ponies on a screen not even a tangible

  26. Welcome to My Little Pony: Money Is Magic. :(
    I have over 30 friends who have provided me with a lot of heart gems, and I have over 600+ heart gems, but they sit there being useless as I soon bought almost half of all the ponies that costs heart gems.
    I thought my friendship with a lo of bronies could help me get through. :(

  27. I think they are taking advantage of the fans on this one..I see what most of the complaints are and I agree with most of it. In most free games there's only 2 currencies and one is usually a pain to obtain but this one has 3! Wtf… It wouldn't be so bad but the friend link for heart gems isn't working. Also if you do the math on some items and ponies the amount of gems needed is obsurd for what they're asking in really world money. some ponies which you need to beat the game should be for a way lower amount of gems or purchased for coins. I do not want to pay $100's just to be able to beat the game. Save the expensive gem purchases for ponies you don't need to win if gems are gonna cost so damn much! And the dance game is rediculous you can dance your pony butt off with or without spending bonuses andiit's feels like mission impossible to actually win the prize's overall the more I've played the more frustrated and disappointed ive become by this game. Gameloft- step your game up!! All pun intended

  28. A year later and the game still kinda has this problem. I have to resort to constantly changing the date on my itouch a day ahead over and over to get bits as fast as i need them. Because playing in real time is tedious and takes forever. And everything in the game it so god dang expensive early on. If I didnt forward the days it would take forever to get things that i need for missions.

    And holy crap it costs so many bits to expand your land. like it starts to get impossible unless you save up days, maybe weeks, of bits without buying anything else. Im like level 40 and i still struggle getting bits and gems for things that i need.

    And for god sake i hate that there is heart gems. i have like 2 friends that 'play' this game. though i dont think they are active on it like i am. and i keep seeing that giving them gifts and chests gives me heart gems. but no, it doesnt. i have 27 (i think thats about as many as i started off with) and i need scootaloo to progress in the game but she costs 30 heart gems. theres no way i can get that. i tried to make an account on gameloft live and add some random people but everytime i try to login it says either 'no internet connection' which i know is bull, or 'username or password is wrong/doesnt exist' (or something along those lines) which i also know is bull. so as of right now im stuck in the story because scootaloo costs hearts gems and i cant get any!

    its so frustrating. things being so expensive so early, three means of currency, not getting that many bits to be able to afford these expensive as crap things unless you just save up for days or weeks. the only sure fire way i get gems without spending real money (which i dont have) is the date changing technique because that levels you up faster and each time you level up you get more bits and some gems, or to go into the gems menu and watch those videos where there are ads for other games and apps, occasionally derpy pony will drop a gem when you click on her but thats only sometimes and she doesnt even appear everyday.

    so my advice would be for them to lower the cost of these items so that it balances out with how many bits/gems you get (i mean lower level people wont be able to get these ponies/buildings/etc that are like 20,000bits/50gems and over that are unlocked at very early levels. even im having a struggle with them and im level 40), and do away with heart gems. not everyone has like 100 friends to be able to get them effectively. and we need them in certain cases to progress through the game.

  29. I agree completely. I'm ashamed to admit that I am such a huge MLP fan, I have spent hundreds – too many hundreds on this game… only to be tripped up by the hearts needed to purchase Twilight Sparkle's dad. It will take me months to earn enough. I've been slowed to a crawl, am being given experience gems that are not needed because I passed level 70 ages ago (have no idea why they don't just get rid of that level limit or stop giving us experience points), and have no real reason to play any longer other than to log on, earn a heart, and log back off again. Boring. Huge disappointment. Regretful waste of money.

  30. Honestly I spent my gems unnecessarily due to my random tapping when I first used the game. Gameloft should do something to ease all players, such as getting all characters via the Equestria Girls mini game like Princess Celestia, Rainbow, Soarin etc

  31. I think Gameloft read your post because things are less expensive and they just updated the new dog and a pony show game that gives you gems, harmony shards, and bits!! Thanks for posting this! I think you got through to them!!

  32. Does anybody realize none of the voice actors did this game? They are all lines taken from the show and slapped in there and the parasprites are a major mess up the rocks are ok but with paras when you get to canterlot and need deal with changelings your screwed as they each take more than 1 infact take 5 harmony gems which is pathetic

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  34. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four
    e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from
    that service? Thanks!

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