Tap Creepy Manor

Posted by davidludwig
Dec 03 2012

Has anyone else noticed that my “My Phone Monday” entries are so dated as to be unlikely to be of use to anyone? I only seem to download apps after they’ve been out for a while, and then have to play them long enough to develop an informed opinion before reviewing them. So unless you also are in the market for older apps then my reviews are likely just for entertainment purposes.

With that said, on to my review of Pocket Gems’Tap Creepy Manor“.

When a developer goes to the trouble of making a product it’s only natural that they should like to be reimbursed for their effort–it makes sense and allows them to expand or improve the product, or provide additional products in the future. There’s no reason it can’t be a win/win situation for the developer and the consumer.

That does not appear to be Pocket Gems’ approach to getting the public’s money. I feel the best apps encourage the consumer to invest in the game, to actually want to spend money in support of the project and offers suitable return for the investment in the form of desirable in-game benefits and features–ideally proportionate to the investment of real world capital.

Creepy Manor on the other hand takes the approach of luring in its audience and then bleeding them for everything they’re worth–less interested in building a community or a fan base than in taking each sucker for as much as possible before they get wise. I can’t say for sure that Pocket Gems’ other games are also like this, because I did download Creepy Manor after Pocket Gems officially stopped supporting it. What I can say is I will neither download nor play any other games by this developer.

These tapping games are similar to the social networking games like Rage of Bahamut and Legend of the Cryptids, in that as I understand it they got their start on sites like Facebook and calling them games is a grave insult to the term “game”. One difference though, is that I feel that in the vein of Last Day of Work’s “Virtual Villagers”–which does actually qualify as a casual game–these sort of tapping games could in fact provide a degree of amusement worthy of small investments of time and possibly money if handled properly.

In the case of Tap Creepy Manor I find the game actually has a fun ambiance and self-described collection of kooky characters with stories and personalities that while unexceptional are note-worthy for the genre. The objective is to build up a haunted manor and attract residents in order to gain the funds to further expand, hire staff, decorate, and attract more residents.

There isn’t a whole lot to interact with, and long passages of time are frequently required to represent building time–but neither of these are inherently bad things. The app could actually be well positioned as a great way to kill a free minute here or there with the time passing between those minutes still counting toward game progress.

The problem is, like Arel Wars, the game has two currencies. The coins that can be earned and saved in game, and the gems that have to be purchased for real money. Altogether too many elements in the game require gems to obtain, so many so that even if they were all reasonably priced the game would still demand a far greater price to unlock everything than it could in any reasonable universe be considered to be worth.

This problem is only made worse by the fact that aside from building the library for Sandra, every single gem purchase in the game is obscenely over priced. Pocket Gems doesn’t even make an effort to make investing in Tap Creepy Manor look like a good idea, they just hope that the gut urge to get everything will get people to dump their finances into the game without actually paying attention to how much it’s costing.

A miniscule amount of gems are attainable in-game on a free play through, and having gotten some of those I can offer a little further insight into the price system for anyone actually interested. I earned enough gems in game to initiate building of a Library to attract the character Sandra to the manor. All character rooms are completed in 3 phases, with additional time and cost associated with each phase–and I am happy to report that if Sandra is any indication the characters who require an initial expenditure of gems still complete the other two phases for their room with coins–the prank rooms are completed in a single phase and so this wouldn’t apply to them anyway.

Unfortunately, again based on Sandra, it seems that getting pets for a character who cost gems to attract will cost gems to get the pet–and where I think the characters, prank rooms, staff and decorations that cost gems are horribly over priced, I don’t think pets should ever cost gems in the first place, since that’s a rather unkind double-whammy when their owner also cost gems to attract.

Surprisingly enough, I give the app 2 stars. It could have easily been three, maybe four, stars without the gem system and limiting in-app purchases to extra coins for those too impatient to build up on their own, but Pocket Gems’ parasitic avarice damaged the enjoyability of the application quite severely.

That said, my advice isn’t to avoid the application entirely, but rather to NOT SPEND ANY MONEY ON IT. I can’t stress that last point enough, it isn’t worth money. But it is entertaining and undemanding, and if the aesthetic appeals to you then there’s a chance you could find some amusement from it–if a different aesthetic would appeal to you more then you might even consider a different game by Pocket Gems, though I can’t speak to those.

There’s a decent chance I will actually keep this application and occasionally dump a few minutes here or there into it, because there is enough to do without spending money for me to stick around a little while at least–but I think an opportunity was missed by trying to bleed the consumers rather than engage them.

2 Responses

  1. davidludwig says:

    Um, so… Through a series of circumstances I actually ended up with three more Pocket Gems games on my phone–and I am now definitely keeping Creepy Manor. My analysis and advice aren’t any different from above, but I can add that the games Pocket Gems still support are 3 stars in my book rather than 2 because of that support.

    If the company weren’t so parasitically money-grabbing the star rating would be one higher (3 for Creepy Manor, 4 for currently supported games) and I’d be willing to put money toward them. I got suckered in to paying 2 bucks in in-App purchases on one of the currently supported games, and did not get what I would consider my money’s worth, but maybe 2 bucks is reasonable for the net worth of all the Pocket Gems games I’ll ever play.

    It’s just sad, because if instead of applying so much pressure to constantly dump real money into the app PG just focused on making their apps fun to play then I’d happily put 5 bucks into EACH of their apps–but for that to work I’d want to get all or at least most of the content from each app because that’s about the correct return for the investment from a consumer perspective. As is, the two bucks they got out of me is all they’ll ever get across all apps–though Creepy Manor likely will not be alone in getting to stay on my phone as an amusing shadow of what could have been.

    • davidludwig says:

      Ok, here’s a benefit to Creepy Manor no longer being supported I hadn’t considered; once you get through all of the places Pocket Gems coded features to try and bleed their players’ bank accounts, there are no more. If you can resist the temptation to overpay for content that is only available at an obscene price, eventually they stop trying to hammer you.

      The currently supported games on the other hand are constantly evolving new ploys to bleed the players at the same rate as desirable content. This could actually lead to me deleting the currently supported games.

      Though, as before, the real tragedy is that if I didn’t feel like Pocket Gems devoted a little of every day to trying to screw me over, then I would absolutely consider their games worth investing in.

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