Celebrity Agent by TheInsider.com is a social game with a rewarding way of comparing your celebrity knowledge against your friends, but ultimately suffers from lack of depth.
Overall Score: 6.0 (Just Above Mediocrity)
- Effective tutorial screens make it easy to get started
- Core gameplay is simple, yet entertaining
- Ties in with TheInsider.com well
- Limited depth of gameplay beyond badges
- Community of players is small
- Almost impossible to play without friends
From the get-go, Celebrity Agent presents itself as a very basic game in which users can easily play with minimal time investment. While this is an effective method of getting users interested, it ultimately becomes their downfall as the game lacks any serious long term replay value. Despite its lack of depth, the core game is actually pretty fun. The goal of the game is to collect money and badges (achievements) by selecting a team of 6 celebrities for your roster. You gain money when your celebrities make news on TheInsider.com, as well as a bonus money when you gain a new badge. Badges are gained when you have certain combinations of celebrities on your roster. For example if you have both Barack and Michelle Obama, you receive the “Obama” badge. In order to get a new celebrity on your roster, you must swap one of yours with a friend.
Gameplay is divided into 2 separate purposes: getting badges and getting money. Its up to the user to decide which aspect of the game they prefer at first as it is impossible to keep a steady roster while collecting badges. Personally I found getting badges to be more entertaining, as it is the more active portion of the game. Finding that rare celebrity to complete your badge that you have been working on for days is highly rewarding. For me it was finding “Spencer Pratt” for the “Reality Show Villains” badge. I never thought I would be so happy to see that idiots face. However, I can also see the appeal of trying to just obtain the best roster and play the game more passively as it is less time intense and you can actually make more money that way.
The game has many of the common social elements that has become be the standard today. The leaderboard is prominently displayed and other than its standard application of showing your friends scores, you can also click on each friend to access their rosters. From here you can steal their celebrities. The social elements are limited, yet effective for the game. Because the game relies solely on stealing celebrities from your friends in order to change your roster, having friends (more importantly, active friends) who play the game is imperative to its success. While this model is the breeding ground for social game success, it places too much emphasis on having active friends playing the game to the point where you literally can’t play the game unless you have friends. The game does address this problem by adding 4 computer generated “friends” to your initial leaderboard, but it does come off a bit impersonal once you realize they aren’t real people.
Graphics & Aesthetics:
The pages were well organized, especially by social game standards, and there weren’t too many times where I couldn’t find the function I wanted. As you can see in the above screenshot, the celebrities’ images themselves were big and recent, as they’re imported from The Insider, and that made the game feel current. The strongest aesthetic element of the game was the introductory screen, which clearly explains how to play the game in three easy steps.
The game does not monetize in any way. The game is completely free to users, and we guess that the goal of the site is to bring traffic into theinsider.com.
Seeing as only 1 other person I knew was playing the game, I needed to find more players and went to the official Facebook page. There are 6 to 7 posts a day from eager players looking to trade celebrities or just discuss some of the latest information. For example:
The game peaked in mid-September, and has been s lowly losing MAUs from its peak of 45,000 to around 33,000 today. Seeing as it has no revenue, it would be hard to call this a smashing success. However, given the probably low cost, and the goal to drive users to use theinsider.com, it may have served its purpose. Our guess was that this game was developed by a small games team on a contract for TheInsider.com. The problem with using small third party teams for small limited scope contracts are that the games always go half the way: if they had further developed the game, and incorporated virtual currencies, teams and more, this could have been a fantastic social game.
This also ties into the fact that social games like these ’start’ once they are launched. The time most critical to success is the first few months post-launch, when the game must be improved and tuned based on the users’ feedback. Unfortunately, with contract games like this, the game doesn’t evolve as much as it should. A few new badges won’t cause any viral sensations.
The game itself has a very interesting hook, and takes an admirable shot at combining the market of celebrity fans with facebook fans, but suffers from long term appeal and over-reliance on your friends involvement. I would have liked to see an alternate method for obtaining celebrities, as well as a use for the money you gain other than just getting new celebrities.
Overall, you’ll probably have a few days of enjoyment with this, especially if you love celebs, but unless your friends are playing, you’ll probably drop it after a week.