Screencap from Car Town
If you use Facebook -- and of course you do -- you know how much fun games like Farmville and Petville can be. Take a look at your news feed, and you'll see dozens of updates from nearly forgotten high school acquaintances, each begging you to help with chores and other drudgery so they can unlock a new, underwhelming goodie. Perhaps you've asked yourself, "Why hasn't anyone developed something like that for car nuts?" Well, you can stop your wondering, because not one, but two such games are set to drop this week.
The first, Car Town, follows the standard Sims formula: start in your own humble corner of the world, do a lot of repetitive tasks, and earn the opportunity to expand. In Car Town, users are given a modest garage and a small car of their choosing, plus a tiny stockpile of points and cash. Players can earn additional credits by taking on challenges, like entering races and delivering pizzas. As the cash and points rack up, players can trick out their garage with new gizmos and upgrade their cars with aftermarket parts. Further down the road (of the game, that is), users can buy additional rides, from everyday Hondas to eyepopping Indy cars. And, since the developers at Cie would love to make some dough on this, Car Town offers players the opportunity to buy certain upgrades in cash.
The other game, DriverVille, is conceptually similar to Car Town, but it's designed as a promotional tool for the 2011 Mazda MAZDA2. Players start off with a small garage and, shortly thereafter, a car; then, through tasks and challenges, they earn the ability to upgrade. The gameplay in DriverVille, though, is a little less straightforward and not as intuitive as it is in Car Town. If you've ever played a Japanese-language videogame just for the heck of it and been totally confused, you know what we're talking about.
Of the two games, Car Town obviously has the biggest potential to pull in gamers: it looks better, it's easier to play, and it's brand-agnostic. There's a lot more to do and see, and more room for expansion, too. DriverVille, on the other hand, may be attractive to Mazda fans but of limited interest to others. And there's also the question of DriverVille's longevity: after the MAZDA2 is up and running, who knows how long it'll stick around? Obsessive-compulsive types who enjoy these sorts of games typically want to know that their time and energy will have some long-term payoff.
If you're curious, here's a clip that shows how Car Town works. Just please, please don't beg us to help with the chores: we have real cars to deal with.