A fairly recent phenomenon in the gaming world is the emergence of clicker games, notorious for playing on people’s sense of reward to create a game with as little gameplay as possible, as a platform off of which to launch their microtransactional enterprise. But I, for one, like them. Not the microtransactions part; those who balance their game around them can quite happily go back to their mobile gaming caves for all I’m concerned. I enjoy them as a mere simplification and minimalisation of the tycoon management genre of old.
It all started on April 14th last year. I was taking a gander at the most popular new games section and found a nifty little capitalism simulator named AdVenture Capitalist. Reviews told me that it was similar to Cookie Clicker (amidst well-humoured remarks of ‘stay away’ and ‘your soul will never recover’), but all I saw was easy achievements. I am, as previously mentioned, a bit of an achievement hunter. And so I plunged myself in, and over a year later I’m still playing, with over forty hours logged (in a predominantly idle game) and a long way to go.
AdVenture Capitalist isn’t a saint when it comes to the microtransaction balancing thing I mentioned earlier. They always had a gold shop, but over time they placed more emphasis on it, and even added more enterprises and harder achievements, demotivating many, including myself. However, having returned to the game a few months ago, it’s good to see that they’ve rebalanced the game to allow for limited gold gain and other, more permanent means of upgrading your business in a traditional microtransactional way without spending your hard earned Real Life Dosh ™. There’s still some complaints about the impossibility of the end of the game (which I believe I’m beginning to run into) without either microtransactions or a large amount of dedication, but the developers have recently put out an update announcing a future patch to fix this isssue. All in all, it’s a gratifying game which I’m pleased to have so much progress in, and look forward to completing.
Here’s the thing: I think these types of games appeal to those who enjoy the meta-game of Steam achievements and badges, and the like. And I’m unashamedly one of those people, not for bragging rights, but for the personal enjoyment of buffing up my Steam profile.
The other clicker that I’ve been playing, which I picked up only the other day on sale, is Plantera. Plantera is a very cheap clicker that’s got more going on with it than many other clickers. It’s less of a UI-based game (like AdVenture Capitalist, which is all buttons) and more of a little farm simulator… wait, scrap that, we cannot utter those two words together without lightning rending the skies, no, it’s more of a plantation, er, manager. And it’s adorable. And, most notably, it’s not free-to-play, and has no microtransactions, so you can feel guaranteed that the game’s pace is tailored to everyone. It’s a much shorter game than AdVenture Capitalist, for I’m only 2 hours in and already have 17/29 achievements (though the difficulty may ramp up from here), but it also gives you far more to do. AdVenture Capitalist is guilty of having no gameplay at all besides micromanagement, whereas in Plantera you’re encouraged to help collect the fruits of your little blue friends’ labour and scare off unwanted nuisances. The whole thing can be automated, of course, but lend a helping hand and the money gains will flow much faster.
I’ve seen many other Clicker games advertised on Steam, and besides giving Clicker Heroes a shot and immediately becoming bored, I’ve not tried them. I suspect that many of them are shameless cash grabs built upon the success of AdVenture Capitalist, and so I haven’t bothered. I’d say “feel free to let me know if any of them are good”, but between AdVenture Capitalist, Plantera and Tiny Tower, I think my quota for idle games is pretty much set until Fallout Shelter releases on PC.
And yes the fact that they capitalise the V in AdVenture Capitalist aggravates me as much as you might expect.