I was tricked by the brand.
I'll be completely honest, here: I'm not normally an advocate of Facebook games. Aside from PopCap (they make good stuff, I promise), I've never had much luck when it comes to the world of social gaming. It's companies like Zynga that have ruined what could have been an interesting platform.
Despite that, the SimCity brand got the best of me. EA brought SimCity Social to E3 with them earlier in June. I was excited. I'm a SimCity fan, and the idea of a free-to-play title that might engage some of my friends was interesting.
Too bad it comes with an obnoxious requirement.
Share, share, share…or else!
I recognize that the "Social" bit in SimCity Social's name should have served as a fair indication of what this game employs. However, there's a difference between being socially interactive and socially invasive.
That's what SimCity Social is, downright invasive.
In order to actually play the game, as is typically the case with all Facebook Apps, you have to allow it basic privileges with your account. Part of that list is the ability to post to your Wall on your behalf.
Here's the good news: you can disable this. Head to your profile after the game makes a post. From there, click the pencil icon and ban the app from writing things on your Wall. Great, right? Wrong.
I played SimCity Social for around two hours today. In that time, I was asked to invite friends, share something or post to my own Wall more than twenty times. Everything I did, everything I built and every time I ran out of "energy," I was nudged with a wink-wink and told that sharing would make everything okay.
That's what makes Facebook Games practically impossible to enjoy for real fans of the gaming medium. If my gaming has to stop in order for the title to ask me to tell my friends that I'm playing it every five minutes, I get pretty cranky. My mom and dad might be fine with it, as they spend their free time on these "social experiences," but I'm not.
I get that these free-to-play games make money off of player presence and their share-ability. Not everyone buys the in-game purchases; but, these companies increase their odds of recruiting buyers by forcing everyone and their brother to tell the world when they're playing.
It's annoying. It's also sleazy.
Goodbye, Facebook games.
And that's it! I'm done. I'm walking out with my tail between my legs.
Between the constant invasions into my personal space, the begging for real life money, the absurd marketing tie-ins and the gameplay restrictions placed upon players, I have absolutely no desire to stay put in the Facebook gaming world.
I love simulation games. They, more than any other genre, have always had the ability to suck me in and keep me in place. I've poured hundreds of hours into the SimCity franchise. The problem? Facebook has practically become the platform of choice for simulation titles. So, in order to live amongst one of my favorite types of games, I have no choice but to constantly click Xs and "Don't Share."
I refuse to do it. As much as I love SimCity, this isn't it. There's a full game coming out early next year for the PC platform. Too bad it requires an "always-on" internet connection and promises to be more "social" than ever before. Two years ago, those were buzzwords. Today? They scare the crap out of me.