Thursday Throwdown: Social City or My Town? You Decide

Thu, Jun 10, 2010

Facebook, Social, Social City

Welcome to the latest installment of the Thursday Throwdown! If you’re just joining us (welcome!), the Thursday Throwdown is a feature here on Frisky Mongoose that sees us comparing two or more similar Facebook games and then letting you, the readers, decide which game is better via a reader poll.

This week, we’re building a Throwdown around the city-building genre, by taking a look at Playdom’s Social City and Broken Bulb Studios’ My Town. For a bit of background, Broken Bulb launched My Town on Facebook in November of 2009, and according to the latest App Data figures now sits at around 2 million players. Meanwhile, Social City launched just this past March, but regardless of its young age, has grown to over 11 million players.

When describing both games to someone who is unfamiliar, you’d be fine in reciting the following: Both games will allow you to create your very own metropolis from scratch. You’ll add stores and other businesses, along with homes and roads to your town, which can grow in size as you play the game.

From there, the two games diverge, with Social City being much more of a “set it and forget it” experience, whereas My Town allows for in-depth city customization, due to its inclusion of decoration features. While Social City allows you to add trees, flower beds and the like to your town, the game sticks to a large, standardized grid layout, so each and every item must take up at least one square, with all squares being the same size.

A look at the average town in Social City

A look at the average city in My Town

My Town, meanwhile, also places items in squares, but the grid is independently built, allowing for decorations to take up much less space in the game, and therefore are allowed to be placed on street corners, lining the backs of buildings, or in places where you would otherwise be left with empty space. Furthermore, the complexity of these decorative items outweighs those found in Social City, as you can put stop signs and street lamps on your roads, build sidewalks in front of businesses, place dumpsters behind them, construct fences around factories, and even build train tracks, as just a handful of examples.

Social City's version of "Decorative Items"

My Town's version of "Decorative Items"

However, where the customization in My Town is arguably unrivaled, the ability to earn money in the game is dwarfed by that of Social City. Where both games’ buildings will allow you to collect coins and experience points after specific intervals of time (depending on the building), it takes much longer to accumulate substantial funds in My Town due to the expiration time on its homes and businesses, which diminishes the coins rewarded if you don’t come back to the game in time, whereas Social City simply waits, funds intact, until you return.

That isn’t to say that Social City is without time limits, as its factory system (which is unique to the game) can be comparable to crop growing in other games, where you’ll set your factories to build a particular craft and must come back within twice the time it takes to build them to collect your profits, or face “expiration” and a waste of all of the money it took to set the factories into motion in the first place. Either way, the point here is that leveling up will be much easier in Social City for the casual gamer who may only have time to play games once a day.

Also unique to Social City is the population feature. Whereas My Town simply allows you to build without concern for population totals and the like, Social City’s residential buildings give off a certain amount of citizens every few minutes, hours or days (depending on the building). You’ll be able to add new citizens to your town so long as the city’s happiness level remains high enough to keep your citizens happy. As you might have guessed, the game’s leisure buildings offer Happiness Points, keeping your residents happy and your population growing. Without these structures, your town’s population fails to rise, and your progress in the game slows (the more population you have, the more factories you can own – the more factories you own, the more money and experience points you earn, and the faster you level up).

But while these two games can be compared, we’ve already seen that they’re clearly not identical. Here are a few more differences worth noting:

  • Social City requires you to click on each building, one at a time, to collect bonuses like extra citizens or coins, whereas My Town has a Collection Tool, which instantly “collects” from each ready building (whether ready or expired) instantly by just hovering over them with your mouse.
  • Buildings in My Town can either be rotated or flipped to change their orientation, while Social City buildings can not.
  • The road building feature in Social City automatically creates cross roads and intersections, whereas you have to build them yourself in My Town. In addition, if you choose to add an additional path, you may need to remove some pieces of road and replace them with “three way intersections” or “four way intersections” in order to allow the road pieces to connect.
  • Visiting friends in My Town allows you to “Snoop” for building blueprints, which can be posted to your wall for your friends to claim free new buildings for their town, while visiting friends’ towns in Social City is purely for your own enjoyment; in other words, you get nothing out of it (you used to get coins and experience point bonuses, but that feature was removed a few weeks ago). Update – June 11: Playdom has announced that you can once again help your neighbors by visiting their towns.
  • Both games allow you to expand your town’s size, but Social City also contains districts, or “mini-towns” of sorts that can be customized to contain one particular type of building, or just house more items that your city proper can’t hold.

There you have it – just a handful of the many differences and comparisons that can be made between Social City and My Town. After all of that, we’re left with a question – which game is better? As usual, that’s up for you guys to decide, and we highly encourage you to make your choice known by voting in the poll below.

After you vote, let us know why you chose the way you did in the comments – is there any one feature of either game that stands out enough to make you vote for it? Or, if you’ve yet to play either game, was this enough to sway you to try one or another? Let us know your thoughts on either game – we’d love to hear from you!

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- who has written 2533 posts on Frisky Mongoose.

Brandy is the Social Editor at Frisky Mongoose, focusing on the social side of the gaming world.

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