Zynga’s gotten a lot of flak for creating basically a clone of Tiny Tower, and you could make the argument EA has done the same thing with its new freemium title Monopoly Hotels.
The game features a set of freemium goals as you set up a series of businesses in Monopoly’s famous establishments, and just like Tiny Tower, you’re recruiting guests, building shops, and so on.
But while Monopoly Hotels is definitely influenced by the popular freemium trend, there’s enough here that it’s really a different game. There’s not nearly enough love for the craft as Nimblebit puts into its titles, but there is some really good thinking about reward cycles (money occasionally falls from the sky in Monopoly Town, tasking the player to grab it by tapping away with glee), enough to suggest that if you’re all done with Tiny Tower, this one’s probably worth a look as well.
Of course, EA is shameless with the product placement, so you can build rooms branded around Mr. Potatohead and My Little Pony, and even the rooms themselves (you start by building a “horse room,” a gardening themed-room, and a cupcake store) are squarely targeted at the younger, more feminine audience.
But the game is well-designed anyway. It’s a nice chance to see what a big but open-minded studio like EA can do with the freemium genre (largely led, so far, by indie developers, or at least developers that used to be indie). If you’re not a young girl or a freemium junkie, you might find this all a little boring, but hey, it’s free. Why not?