Game Dev Story Review

Game Dev Story (v1.0.7) (Android/iOS)
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation
Developer: Kairosoft
Marketplace/Apple Store Price: $2.50
Release Date: October 9, 2010

Game played on HTC Thunderbolt running Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread)

Parent Talk: If your child gamer isn’t interested in micromanagement-type games, then he/she should stay away from Game Dev Story. Kairosoft’s videogame development company sim is all about that, and much fun for those willing to learn the ins and outs.

Review Basis: Reached 20-year time-limit with my company [Disciples]; released 64 games, with 44 inducted into the Hall of Fame; sold 799,097,617 total units; top-seller ‘7 Wonders 2′ sold 42,964,820 units; garnered $1.33 billion of profit (uh-oh, Occupy won’t be too happy with me); won 14 Best Design, 14 Best Music, 0 Worst Game, 12 Overall Runner-up and 1 [Overall] Grand Prize awards; attracted record 86,408 Gamedex attendees; acquired 26% of console market share

If in real life, opening and maintaining a videogame development company isn’t in the cards for you, then Game Dev Story can still help you experience the dream. Armed with $500,000, and conveniently avoiding all the bureaucracy, you have 20 years to turn a four-employee start-up with a name of your choosing into a dominant empire. Can you churn out enough successful PC releases to eventually become the king console maker?

The Great:

The whole experience. Initial decision-making can intimidating, but the rewards (profit, more fans, awards, etc.) of your risks and further understanding, are very satisfying. Begin with four lackeys, then expand to six, and finish with an elite eight on the payroll.

The Good:

+ So much to do, but do whatever. Game Dev Story does away with number-crunching, and instead focuses on having you just tell the company what to do. Train your employees. Level-up their skills. Take on a cost-free contract to create some art, mini-games, etc. Or if you go the game-making route: choose the platform (console or handheld) to develop for, pick the employee who will specifically handle each significant milestone (proposal/gameplay, graphics, music) of the development and watch the goofy chaos unfold. You decide how to handle the capital, who to hire or fire, what genre and type of game to create, if and with what to advertise, and much more.

+ Nods to the industry. Ever dreamed of developing for the Super IES? How about the Playdion? Did you know the ‘Game-Box’ actually won the most market share? Will your company attend the Gamedex convention? Will your staff work extra-long hours on some Dead Bull? Might you release a 64-bit, blu-ray disc console before Sonny even does? Interested in having your products’ names appear on the moon? All this and more can be done by your company.

+ Goofy, fun atmosphere. GDS doesn’t mirror the life-affecting seriousness of the industry we know, and no one would play if that was the case. So as your people work, icons frequently appear above their heads to denote what element of the game has improved (fun, creativity, graphics & sound). They even ‘catch on fire’ when something is especially taken to the next level. Just about everything positive results in an ‘event’ that shows the team as all smiles. And wait until you see your fans line up at their local stores before your game even releases due to the sheer anticipation.

The So-So:

+- ┬áMusic and effects. Your company operates in three different buildings if it lasts the game’s 20-year time-limit. Each brings a unique tune that plays in the background. The sound effects from the ‘goofy, fun atmosphere’ mentioned above, however, stay the same for the duration. It’s all OK to listen to, but you’ll likely either tune them out eventually like I did, or mute the game altogether.

The Bad:

– Another blackout? Apparently Kairosoft didn’t want your company backing up its data. Thus I observed what I believe was too many ‘blackouts’ in the middle of a development cycle. It boils down to the project losing some quality across the board, and they always conveniently take place at the tail end of things, rendering you no time to recover. You can’t delay a release; it’s only possible to cancel outright.

– ┬áLoss of challenge. Game Dev Story excellently provides goals to strive for, but it doesn’t last the entire time. Between year 12 and 15, there wasn’t really anything new for me to conquer. Every game I put out was the top-seller and profited big time, and my console (Prophecy) sold around 18 million units when all was said and done. I could’ve engineered a handheld, but it was pointless. Several years of wash, rinse, repeat isn’t the best way to end a game.

The Ugly:

Inconsistent results. It’s strange when a [competitor’s] game wins both the Worst Game award ($300k penalty) from the Global Game Awards, and the Grand Prize ($1M award) in the same year. I also determined that the critic scores your games receive once released had a random element to them. I only managed to win one set of perfect 10/10 scores, despite releasing a ton of games with high quality overall. The single one that did, 7 Wonders 2, was my only Grand Prize winner. Everything else between 37 and 39 was a habitual runner-up. How does a game that regularly tops the sales charts not win the Grand Prize? These instances, among others, remind you that Game Dev Story is flawed.

The Lowdown:

Game Dev Story leaves behind the real stresses of game development to allow us to enjoy what’s meant to be enjoyed in the process. If you want to create your own Final Fantasy, do so. If you’re the goofy type and want to experiment with a genre and type that nobody in their right mind would probably play, have at it. The possibilities of what can be done are more or less endless, and it’s up to you to make the decisions. For $2.50, enjoy an innocent sprite-driven simulation where you can spend several hours investing $500,000, and eventually explode it into $500,000,000 with your products.

Average Score Scale: 8.5 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8.5/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: GDS has sucked two or more 20-year cycles out of you.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: You prefer more depth to the micromanagement formula.


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