Aside from the Mr. T lookalike, what is it that makes Clash of Clans so successful? Is it fun commercials? Pixar-esque graphics? The timelessness of barbarian swordplay?
It could be all of the above, but one thing is for sure – Clash of Clans is one of the most popular mobile games in the market today. It sits comfortably at number 5 in Google Play’s free games selection, and number 10 in the App Store. This is almost surprising, because the game itself, while fun to play, doesn’t really offer anything new.
It’s a resource management game, the likes of which can be found in mobile games of all sorts and styles and adaptations, from The Hobbit to Star Wars, or, if you don’t care for the whole war thing, FarmVille. If you’ve played any of those games, then picking up this one is just as easy. You can even skip through the tutorials (like I did), and figure the structure of the game out pretty quickly. Using gold, elixir, and gems, your objective is to build up your village, join a clan, and succeed in warfare with other villages and clans. That’s a somewhat simplistic explanation, but it works nonetheless.
While not a revolutionary game, it does have some positives that have kept me playing longer than I’ve played other resource management games. It’s more naturally interactive than other mobile games, thanks to the clan structure. Multiplayer battles are seamless, and designing your defenses is as fun (and rewarding) as building up an army. The game allows you to connect to Facebook – I’m not usually a fan of this feature, but the game uses that connection to show you which of your friends are already on the game, and allows you to find them in-game, rather than begging you to invite everyone and their mother to play. This makes the game naturally interactive without being spammy, a balance that a lot of mobile game developers could learn from (I’m looking at you, Candy Crush!).
Parental concerns here are somewhat minimal. There is a chat feature available both globally and within the clan. As is the case with most games, global chat is a jumbled mess; clan chat could be concerning if a child were to join a small clan with complete strangers. The content of the game itself is about as safe as a hazmat suit – no blood, no language (literally – just grunts and war cries), and the only violence to speak of is comical violence followed by a decrease in health bars. One character in particular blows himself up (wall breakers, one of the military units, are basically skeleton suicide bombers); in my opinion, the fact that these units don’t look human to begin with makes this less problematic. So while the main game’s content is definitely appropriate for children ages 10 and above, the openness of the chat feature makes me hesitant to recommend it for the same age group. I would recommend heavy monitoring of the chat feature for parents of appropriate ages.
There are negatives, as well. Like most free mobile games, it’s designed to nudge you into paying to make the game move along easier. You build up your resources by building things, which take builders. You’re given two at the start of the game, which is fine for a while, but when you have projects that can take up to a day (once you’ve leveled up some), then two building projects doesn’t get you very far. You can buy additional builders with gems, but gems are only available by buying them with real-world money, or slowly accumulating them by occasional finds when removing obstacles (stones, trees, bushes, etc.). This isn’t a drawback that’s unique to Clash of Clans, but the result is still the same – it eventually becomes difficult to play the game for more than five minutes at a time, if you want to avoid spending money.
If you’re looking for a fun, interactive resource management game, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you’re more of an adventure game person, however, and you like being able to play for long blocks of time, this probably isn’t the game for you. In its own way, it’s a bit like Minecraft – not universally liked, but loved by the players in the niche it appeals to. The complete lack of problematic content makes it a more desirable option than other games, and it’s less intrusive than many mobile games are.