Game Review: Friends for Sale Is Still The Most Social Game
By Neil Vidyarthi
Serious Business’ Friends For Sale is one of those rare games where every action you take relates to your social graph, and thereby lives up to the mantle of a ‘social game’. The game revolves around buying and selling your friends with the goal of owning the most popular people in your social network to maximize profits. We review the game below.
Title: Friends For Sale
Genres: Social, Strategy
Game Developer: Serious Business
Game Publisher: Zynga
Friends for Sale, despite its presentation shortcomings, provides one of the most social gaming experiences available on Facebook.
Fun, quirky game engine. Lots of humor. Variety of activities to do with your friends as pets.
Difficult to navigate the user interface. Simplistic graphics can get boring.
Friends for Sale revolves around buying and selling your friends to maximize your profits. You can browse to look at any of your friends’ FFS profiles and view their current cost (which increases each time they are bought and decreases if they are manually put on sale), their nicknames, their owners, their admirers, their own pets, and more.
All these actions are available to you, as a player as well. You can create an anonymous wishlist which will let your crush know that you think they’re awesome, and this indirectly raises the value of a certain person within the game. You can give your pets nicknames, which is one of the funnier aspects of the game. You can lock some of your pets at a cost, so that they won’t be stolen for a set period of time. Locking, of course, costs tokens which are only purchased by doing offers or using real money.
One of the best things about Friends for Sale is the consistent game engine. The game has been around for a while and has iterated and solidified its engine as the game has progressed. It was one of the first games to spread virally, a large part of that being the fact that every piece within the game world is in fact a friend on your social graph. This led to the tremendous growth in several waves until it reached its current user base of 3.6 million monthly active users. Following this, Zynga acquired Serious Business for an undisclosed amount in February of this year. When Zynga purchased the game, they added the Zynga bar to the top of the game, but also streamlined the monetization procedure with tokens.
Friends for Sale has very minimal graphics, and no sounds to speak of. The presentation is mainly done through static screens that display your pets and their information, and actions like kicking or poking don’t have any animations. The user interface itself can feel a bit cluttered at times, but is functionally good. When first users start a game, they are given a tutorial which explains how to play the game, but it is a very short explanation that glosses over the basics: advanced users will probably find themselves asking questions at the forum to understand some of the concepts in the game.
The whole reason this game is special is its lasting appeal. The entire game uses your social graph, and this means that every activity in the game has a social component. Whether you’re getting your friend (who is your pet) to kick another friend of yours, or scanning the friend market to see who has the highest value, these actions all relate to your real social graph. This means that once you’ve made your first moves and had a week of fun with the game, you’ll likely get sucked back in when a friend of yours either makes you poke a frenemy of yours, or somebody sells you off at a price you object to. The whole game has this natural level of humor, because of the fun situations that real people get into, and this is what makes the game last.
As mentioned in lasting appeal, this game is social because every piece is from your social graph. Looking at what separates social games from standard casual games, it’s only the use of the social graph (aka your real-life friends) that separates it, and this game thrives based on it. This game would not succeed nearly as much if it were to be played in a disparate game site where your friends lists are remote game-only buddies that you just met: you wouldn’t get the social benefit from owning and selling them. But the fact that you can buy players that don’t even HAVE the game, like your grandparents, for instance means that the game is truly social, and easy to access.
Also, the fact that you can make public requests on your page means the game really can come out into the real world. In the above image, we can see me publicly requesting someone to adopt me, and that makes sense in the game world but is hilarious in the real world, and that’s what sets the game apart from other fantasy based games.（Source：socialtimes）