🎮 The Death of Crime City

After all the heists, muggings, looting, and dirty deals down by the docks, Crime City has come to an end. Over the course of 9 years, I robbed hoods, did jobs across dozens of areas, created a syndicate, then ultimately took charge of another. I built a multi-trillion dollar empire and had so many buildings I had to tear some of them down. I’ve even seen the game pass through the hands of three studios.

I installed Crime City “HD” on my iPad, almost as a joke, thinking it might be an amusing variation on the old Dope Wars game, going back to the DOS days. I figured I would play for a day, maybe two, then move on.

To my surprise, Crime City wasn’t bad. I knew it was funded through the continual purchase of gold to overcome building times, but I liked the idea of playing a game for a limited window of time, setting up a string of tasks, and coming back later when they’re complete. When the timing is done correctly, it makes for an interesting mechanic, letting you build and progress without total burnout.

Crime City turned out to be a mini SimCity combined with GTA, where you move between areas, do the jobs, get the cash, and raise your stats. That part was pretty fun. It was slow going, but over time, you got bigger rewards, more cash, and better buildings, all the things that make you keep playing. That’s the D&D formula.

And when you ran out of stamina for jobs, you put the game aside for a few hours then continued on. Or you paid for gold if you were in a mad dash to rise up the ranks, or you wanted a special building for big money.

Then came Limited Time Events, which were another mad dash to complete a series of tasks to get bigger and better weapons. Then came the Limited Time Buildings, which cost a fortune, but made a fortune. They were an alternative to gold buildings. And for each upgrade level you got a bonus.

As the game matured and gathered players, it moved from a single player crime spree to became more and more multiplayer. Syndicates were added so players could come together to compete in Epic Boss Battles where the loot and prizes were off the charts. Then you could fight other syndicates and get your name in lights as a dominant force. Of course, the more gold you bought and used, the more points you scored, so events were about which team had the most money to burn. And some of those syndicates had some serious mafia coin.

With the syndicate events came OP weapons, which were amazing, but you needed to be on board the syndicate train. There were even sites set up to match players with syndicates.

When you think about it, that’s pretty cool and amazing for a tablet game. That level of multiplayer interaction was usually reserved for desktop games and making connections through Steam or some other lobby.

It was a race to see how many event you could complete, what new, outrageous weapons you could acquire, and how much cash you could bank. You had to overcome that 10% deposit fee.

Then it went over the edge as every week brought a syndicate based event, every week was a limited time event, every new building was a limited time building. While that sounds neat, when you do them all at the same time, week after week, it becomes tiring. They had no idea how to pace themselves and stacked event on top of event. Crime City went from being an amusing “casual game” to a full time job.

The game needed constant attention. It was no longer checking every couple hours, but looking every few minutes, if you even looked away. You had to see when an event started, when it ended, when it was time to attack, when it was time to defend.

Make no mistake, I held on for quite a while in these crazy days. I had a high level character with a solid attack rating that made hundreds of millions per hour. To be fair, in my multi-year run, I think I spent $15-20 on the game. I bought a cool haunted house, and bought a prize pack of gold and weapons when it was massively discounted, the big 40% sale right before a big event or long weekend.

I ended the game with over $13 trillion in cash, had dozens, if not all of the limited edition buildings, all of them upgraded to level 10, and the full 500 gangsters in my mafia. I could also recover all my stamina in less than 8 minutes from all the +1 Energy Regeneration prizes they used to give away.

But, like I said, it became too much to keep up with. It was time consuming, and there were so many events at once it was maddening. I even had timers for when things would be done.

The game turned into such a “Limited Time” scramble that I never came close to complete the original game. I don’t think I even got halfway through the areas they offered.

There was no thrill anymore, it was all annoyance. Yet, there were syndicates spending what I can only assume is a few thousand dollars per event to come out on top. You have fun with that, I have to put this aside. I tuned in only to check on buildings and spend billions for upgrades.

It was a great diversion at the start of the pandemic, but not long after I was burned out and looking for an exit. I was still drawn to upgrading buildings and the limited time events, but I ignored the rest. I could get those events done in a single day, then check buildings before turning the iPad off for the night.

Then I started to check less and less. It’d been away for a couple of weeks when I saw the notice the servers were going to be turned off. That’s no surprise since the game isn’t anything like it’s original release. It had code bolted on, and cobbled together over the last decade, so I’m sure it was unstable as hell. Not to mention all the hands on the code, from Funzio, to Gree, to Deca.

Crime City was a cool game, but it’s obvious where it came apart at the seams. It went from a casual game with the usual in-app purchases of gold to those who wanted a shortcut, to a multiplayer focused gold rush. Everything pushed toward events where you had to pay to progress and the game updates were pushed out to capitalize. It started off with simple micro transactions, then lost its mind.

Crime City is the longest I’ve ever invested in playing a game, whether that be desktop or tablet. The second closest is Shroud of the Avatar, which I’ve also given up on playing. The Shroud servers are still up, at least for now. The clock is ticking against them for the same reason, a cobbled together game desperately trying to get in-game purchases.

Looking back, I don’t know why I’ve kept up with either game for so long. They were past their prime years ago, and I checked out a long time ago. Crime City became a chore. It was more frustration than entertainment. I think it became, “I’ve invested too much to give up on it.”

I won’t say Crime City was a detriment, because I had a fair bit of fun, but I’m glad the game has shut down. I guess I reached my limit the same time everyone else did.

It was a good run, but I didn’t bother to check in to see how it all ended. It was more, ok cool, that’s over…

I would say, time to move on to something else, but I’m not sure playing games on a tablet is worth it anymore.

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