|My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic|
|Genre(s)||City-building simulation, Open world|
|Mode(s)||Single-player with multiplayer interaction|
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a video game that was based on the animated television series of the same name, which was developed by Gameloft for most iOS and Android devices and is recommended at children aged 5 to 12. The game was officially released on November 8, 2012.
In the game, the player gets asked by Twilight Sparkle to help her rebuild her hometown of Ponyville after it had fallen into the shadow of the villainous Nightmare Moon. To do so, the player uses in-game currency and other collected treasures to build homes to bring more ponies to the town, and then they will create businesses for them to work at and to generate money. Mini-games can be used to build the skill level of each pony, qualifying them to work at jobs that can help generate more revenue. Though primarily played as a single-player game, players can visit their friends' versions of Ponyville, and also leave and accept gifts to help their own village. This game is guided by a quest and experience system. While Gameloft had developed the game towards the show's target audience of young girls, they also include nods to the adult fandom of the show.
Despite being generally well-received, the game was criticized as exemplifying the underlying nature of freemium games where either the player must spend real money, feed their pony or wait for a very long period of time in order to join the game.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's story starts after Princess Luna and the villainous Nightmare Moon have cast a dark shadow over Ponyville, which is emptying all of its inhabitants and buildings. Twilight Sparkle and her assistant Spike want to find a way to reconstruct Ponyville, particularly bring back the other bearers of the Elements of Harmony - Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and Rarity - to help defeat Princess Luna and Nightmare Moon.
To do so, the player helps Twilight Sparkle by constructing homes for her pony friends through by purchasing them from the game's international store. Once the ponies have arrived, they can then build businesses and assign ponies which work over there. Each business takes a fixed amount of time to actually generate its product, which then can be collected by the player. This can award the player "bits" (in-game currency), experience points, and other treasures used for purchasing items later in the game; these can include shards representing the Elements of Harmony, which are necessary to draw in Twilight Sparkle's five friends (Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Applejack) and try to defeat Princess Luna and even Nightmare Moon. Businesses can create one of two or more items, though the second requires a second pony to be hired which can work over there as well. Each pony character has a zero- to five-star rating, which represents a skill level. Certain business may require minimum skill levels or on Twilight Sparkle. The skill level of each pony can increase over time by participating in another mini-game with the pony, such as catching, falling apples or bouncing a ball continuously.
The game can be guided by quests which are directed by the player to build many certain facilities to attract specific ponies to Ponyville, or to perform other activities, such as clearing away shadow-covered land to expand buildable space, clear away debris, earn rewards or add decorative objects in town. The player can edit the placement of buildings and decorations which is desired after initial purchase. Completing quests can get a bit tricky but you will earn bits and experience points; earning you enough experience allows the player to gain a level or so, earning more bits, gems, unlocking additional ponies and buildings that can be purchased. Also using either Gameloft's or Facebook integration, the player can visit their friends' Ponyville (such as Twilight Sparkle's) and leave gifts which make in the form of crystal hearts.
Though most ponies and buildings can be bought using bits, some require the use of gems, rubies or crystal hearts. Furthermore, activities can be done like constructing a new building, or a business producing a good, can be hurried by expending more gems. Gems and bits can be purchased with real money through Gameloft's store or on the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic website.
An additional component features The My Little Pony: Equestria Girls which is based in a musical game modeled after Konami's popular Dance Dance Revolution and Just Dance series gameplay. Players can use their fingers to tap on the screen to the beat of the music. The songs featured in the game include The Equestria Girls theme song and "Cafeteria Song" and also in many past My Little Pony songs.
The game has been updated multiple times which included additional content such as new ponies, minigames, adventures, buildings, and quests, which is based on the episodes "Hearth's Warming Eve", "A Canterlot Wedding", "Magical Mystery Cure", "Princess Twilight Sparkle", "Sisterhooves Social" and the feature films My Little Pony: Equestria Girls and My Little Pony: The Movie. Special storylines which is based on the episodes of "A Hearth's Warming Tail", "A Canterlot Wedding", "The Crystal Empire", "The Return of Harmony" and the feature film My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree, were also added. Characters from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comics were also introduced, as well as a handful of characters that were exclusive to the game. The main characters in the video game are Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Applejack.
Hasbro and Gameloft had announced a licensing partnership in June 2012, which allowed the latter to develop games that were based on Hasbro's properties; this announcement was revealed that one of the first games was one that was based on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, for most mobile devices, to eventually arrive before the end of 2012.
Michelle Starr of CNET Australia was way more critical of the game's freemium nature: in order to progress in the quests, the player must purchase certain characters, some which may require gems to purchase or sell. While the player continues to earn experience, gain levels, earn rewards and earn gems in any other way without needing to pay any additional money, the time to collect enough gems can be extremely long; Starr Welton had estimated that one player would have to play for at least 3 years to be able to earn enough gems to be able to obtain the last required character, or otherwise they can spend around US $30 to buy them outright. Starr Welton had surmised that the mechanics will either have the player to put excessive money into the game, or otherwise they will have to give it up when they cannot easily progress any further. Similarly, Harley Ogier for Stuff.co.nz criticized the game's original pricing scheme, acknowledging either the monetary or the lengthy time investment that was needed simply to collect gems and the main story, and that this type of monetization is both insulting to adult players and frustrating to young children unaware of why they cannot play or finish the game. Peter Wellington of Pocket Gamer also lamented that the pace of the game in terms of obtaining bits and other treasures to expand is very slow, and, even though the primary source of bits are mostly the minigames, this can make the game feel very boring for very little reward even after they have played about a week.
In response to the cost complaints, Gameloft also issued a change in the pricing which was within the in-game store in early December 2012, specifically by reducing the cost of ponies that required gems by a very large amount; for example, Rainbow Dash, one of the main ponies which is needed to complete the game's story mode, was lowered from 500 gems to 90 gems. The price has still been considered high, either after requiring the user to wait for several months to collect a dozen of gems or to pay real money to buy the gems itself, putting into question the "freemium" model that most companies like Gameloft were using. Gameloft, in response to the complaints after the gem cost reduction, believed that there were most of these that were from the older fans of the show who would rather complete the game excessively and quickly, instead of having had their intended audience of younger girls; Lewis Digby of Gameloft stated that most games are meant to be free of access, and that "we need to sell more in-game content if we want to be profitable". As of March 2013, it has been downloaded more than 5.4 million times. By 2016, that number had increased to 40 million.