Hey everyone! I’m back with a review of WeTopia, a city building game with a charitable twist on Facebook. In fact, WeTopia has been getting some attention lately due to a financial investment in the game from Justin Bieber.
Many Facebook gamers will be familiar with the basic premise of WeTopia, build a city, plant crops for goods, grow, build, rinse and repeat. Having your Facebook buddies as neighbours are not necessary, but do have their benefits. WeTopia builds on the basic Farmville concept, however it’s unique twist is that you get “Joy” points (along with the in-game currency) which are used to develop your city.
The neat thing is that these “joy” points will go to a charity of your choice, from within WeTopia’s choices. These range from educational charities, to food charities, and health charities. All the charities currently available are focused on aid in the US and Haiti. Funny, considering Bieber is a Canadian. I have read WeTopia’s policy and they do convert the “joy” points, that the player donates, into an actual donation from 50% of the game’s profits.
• Aesthetically pleasing and colourful. There’s a good use of design in WeTopia which sets it apart from other Facebook based games. There’s a good use of vibrant and bright colours which will keep you awake – you may want to avoid this game at night if you have insomnia!
• Smooth animations and graphics. As time goes on, developers are able to put in more animations and better looking graphics on web based browser games, which goes for WeTopia too.
• Tried and true concept… mostly. WeTopia went with a game design that we’ve seen before but it’s a game design that works. The player gets to build their city exactly the way they want; placements of buildings, plants, businesses and walkways are all left up to the player. However…
• On the other side of the “tried and true” there’s the “been there, done that” part. Outside of the “Joy” points and the charity donation factor, there is absolutely nothing new about WeTopia. There are games aplenty that use this same template.
• The dreadful energy meter. Right along with the aforementioned template is every Facebook gamers bane – the energy meter! I could write a whole article about this artificial concept and why it’s actually counter-productive, especially in a game like WeTopia where real life charity is a factor. However, much like every other Facebook game out there, you can use real-money purchases to refill the energy meter solidifying the bottom line that this game was still made for-profit (regardless of the donations made).
• Requires you to have neighbours. I’ve seen worse examples of this, but WeTopia really really wants you to bug your friends to start playing it. Otherwise, you’ll have less “joy” to donate, and less energy to get things done. I’ve never heard of a charity trying to stop people from contributing, but I suppose that the developers has to limit it some how.
Even though there’s more good than bad to WeTopia, the bad certainly outweighs what could have been a gratifying experience. The charity aspect, though welcomed, is marred by the energy meter. This, along with being a carbon copy of every other Facebook game, is why I’m confident you will find the experience lacking. However, if you want to play yet another sandbox building game while slacking at work, then add this one to your collection since it’s not outright awful and is at least pleasing to look at. Hopefully donating your “joy” will also give you a bit of a warm fuzzy feeling.
For more information, visit wetopia.com.