Is it the free donuts? Let's have a look.
BREAKING NEWS: The Simpsons: Tapped Out Receives Visit From Fat Tony
Electronic Arts' The Simpsons: Tapped Out is currently the top grossing video game for iPhone and iPad, a remarkable achievement. At the same time, it plays almost exactly like the countless free-to-play titles that also call the App Store home. Ultimately, it amounts to tapping the screen to make things happen, with the difficulty almost non-existent, since the characters, not the people playing, finish the tasks. And yet, it's taken the smartphone and tablet world by storm, despite a couple bumps that left more than a few fans upset, to put it mildly. That said, EA succeeded largely because the company took the extra step with the license. Quite frankly, it's made all the difference.
It's one thing to make a Simpsons game, but just putting Homer, Marge and the gang in there is no guarantee for success. Fully aware of this, EA made the smartest decision to work with the show's writers and voice actors. Yes, Homer looks like Homer, but he also sounds like him, thanks to the vocal talents of Dan Castellaneta. In fact, the same can be said of all the characters, and the fact that these famous faces routinely break the fourth wall, Homer especially, gives the illusion of the player interacting with Springfield's inhabitants.
Not only that, but the writing is top notch, to the point where users tap characters just to see what they'll say next. Combine this with exclusive cut scenes they can't find anyplace else, and Tapped Out might as well be a new Simpsons episode in video game form.
On top of that, fresh updates keep things interesting, as well as the town of Springfield evolving. The newest piece of content delivered characters and landmarks from the beloved Treehouse of Horror episodes, like Kang, Devil Flanders and Marge the Witch, along with Heck House and the Springfield Cemetery. Even better, EA linked this update with last weekend's Treehouse of Horror XXIII, where a clue within that episode let players unlock 10 free donuts in the game.
Speaking of donuts, one of Tapped Out's virtual currencies, EA earns points for being generous with these valuable treats, more notably in the famous Homer Simpson cheat. Buying them through in-app purchase is still the primary focus, but the publisher gives players the impression of acquiring more through other means, as opposed to competing games, where the donut equivalent is significantly tougher to receive without spending money.
Finally, there's the hook of rebuilding Springfield from the ground up, deciding where to place local businesses like the Kwik-E-Mart and Krusty Burger. Then, players can invite friends to visit and vice versa for rewards and design inspiration. Suffice to say, it'll take hours of editing until they're satisfied.
All of these things were brilliantly combined to create the game that's dominating the App Store. So, although The Simpsons: Tapped Out sticks to the same freemium formula, this valuable connection to the writers and voice actors ultimately makes it the best game in its class, one we hope continues to evolve well into 2013, alongside the show.