There are major differences in the gameplay between Zynga’s The Ville and EA’s Sims Social. I’ll describe these differences and in my opinion, identify which game is more fun.
First, I’ve taken a look at the games’ core loops. The core loop consists of the main activities the player completes over and over again – there are lots of other things to do in each game outside of this, but I’m just focusing on the very basic flow of the game.
In The Ville, the player’s main goal is to get the most impressive house possible and expand their property. The player does this buy buying and placing decoration items into the home or yard. The player will need to earn the coins for these decorations, mainly by completing jobs – like painting or a print business. However, in order to complete these jobs, the player needs to earn smiles by interacting with friend characters or cooking and eating food.
The secondary goal is to continually increase the efficiency of their job contracts by buying new productivity items with better job contracts.
In Sims Social, the player’s main goal is to increase their home value by spending coins on decorations – they don’t get any gameplay benefit from this but since it’s how they are judged amongst their friends, it’s motivating to keep that number going up. To earn coins, the player will need to complete activity tasks like painting and cooking.
The secondary goal is to master each activity item and buy new activity types with higher earnings.
Which one does it better?
Home Value – The Main Goal
Both games’ goals are the same – get the most valuable house possible. Sims Social provides a great way to motivate the player to do this, simply by ranking the player amongst their friends by using this value. The Ville does not do this, so they miss out on this opportunity to motivate the player.
Sims Social’s rankings by home value
However, The Ville’s expansion mechanic makes up for this and actually provides a better experience overall by tying the value into the expansion feature. Since the player needs to increase their home value to unlock new expansions, and that the expansions have interesting discovery items, the player is very well motivated to increase the home value.
The Ville’s expansions need enough home value to unlock, and look what you get!
One point for Zynga’s The Ville!
Productivity – The Secondary Goal
Both games use productivity items like easels and computers to produce coins. The Ville’s mechanic requires the player to spend smiles to start the contracts and most require a long wait time to complete. I find this to be overcomplex and frustrating when I run out of smiles, run out of energy or don’t have the ingredients for the food I need to earn the smiles. There are too many blockers and not enough fun rewards – it feels like work to me.
The Ville’s Art Studio
Sims Social’s mechanic requires the player to initially acquire collectibles (from gifts, completing task, farming…) to unlock each activity. Once the activity is unlocked, the player is free to spend their energy to master each task. The player is rewarded for mastering the tasks by unlocking even cooler activity types. I find this mechanic to be much more fun – the mastery element makes me feel like I’m progressing and my work is paying off. And even though the player must acquire the collectibles in order to unlock each task, I still find it fun since it provides meaningful choice on how to find these items.
Sims Social Still Life Easel featuring Mastery
One point for EA’s Sims Social!
It looks like we’ll need a tie breaker here. And for me, this was actually a deal breaker. One of the features in Sims Social is the inspiration meter. The inspiration meter keeps track of the character’s needs – like going to the bathroom, sleeping, washing up or social. Over time, the character needs the player to fulfill these needs. The integration of this mechanic made me feel like I was spending too much time watching my character go to the bathroom – it was fun the first few times, but every few minutes come on! For this exact reason, I quit playing the game.
Sims Social “Inspiration” Meter
I was throughly relieved when learning The Ville did not feature such a strict requirement. Therefore, Zynga’s The Ville wins for most fun game!
Now the question is, with all the recent news about cloning, who is willing to make a game combining The Ville’s home value mechanic with Sims Social’s productivity mechanic and make me a happy gamer?