Freemium city-building games have been hugely popular on the App Store for nearly as long as the App Store has been around. With their trickle feeding approach to progress, and that temptation to spend real money to expand one's virtual empire, it's no wonder that everyone ends up intrigued. Like any genre, though, there are good and bad examples. I take a look at four of my favorite city or village builders.
The mighty behemoth of Zynga starts us off, courtesy of the rather charming CityVille Hometown. Players focus on building up their town, keeping the residents happy and getting new people involved. There's a little bit of everything here with decorating, farming and business growth all playing a part. Keeping things focused on the residents gives the game a suitably homely feel.
When I was a child, I adored playing with Playmobil, creating stories with the constantly happy, plastic people. PLAYMOBIL Pirates brings such fun to iOS with players able to develop their own pirate camp, recruit new members of the crew and complete a variety of fun missions. Yes, it's not city building in the conventional sense, but it's charming and cute. The allure of in-app purchases isn't too strong either, with patience fixing that problem.
My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic
A series that has benefited from quite a resurgence in recent times, My Little Pony transfers the city building motif to Ponyville. Usual village building techniques play a role here, but it's all backed up by a selection of mini-games which keep things more interactive than most. The cute factor is off the scale, too!
Quite different from the others in the list, Pixel People is more focused on the genetic splicing of people rather than village building, but it's still an important part of progression. There's charm aplenty here, plus immediately accessible yet addictive gameplay, with players combining characters to create new ones. It'll take quite a while to collect every single one of the over 200 characters, as well as some careful thought, but it's terrific fun along the way.