EA's popular iPhone and iPad title had plenty of "whoo-hoo" and "doh" to go around.
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." The Godfather: Part III
If we were to ask someone to list the controversial video games of 2012, he or she would probably name the violent ones. In all likelihood, The Simpsons: Tapped Out wouldn't make the list, and yet here it is, the most polarizing iOS title of the year. On paper and in practice, it's one of the more impressive franchise tie-ins we've seen. Electronic Arts not only inked a deal to include voice acting from the iconic series, but it also secured exclusive cut scenes and plans to create downloadable content around the show. Some have called it the greatest free-to-play game on iPhone and iPad, while others have accused EA of ripping them off. No one feels nonchalant about The Simpsons: Tapped Out. You either love the game or despise it.
To say this title had a rocky start is an understatement. Originally launched in March, Tapped out was pulled from the App Store a mere three days from its U.S. release due to a variety of bugs. It would then reappear in August, with EA confident the game was ready for prime time.
A visit to the app's official Facebook page proved otherwise. Scores of angry and/or frustrated players complained of disappearing donuts (the game's purchasable currency), the sudden deletion of their towns and the inability to connect. Apologies from EA quickly followed, as did maintenance and various updates to fix things behind the scenes. In fact, the game was being worked on December 19.
And yet, the level of popularity remains extraordinarily high, simply because when it works, The Simpsons: Tapped Out is delightful. The ability to build a personal Springfield provides hours of enjoyment, while the familiar characters and dialogue offer endless amusement. That, and a steady stream of downloadable content that brought Halloween treats, Thanksgiving Day balloons inspired by Simpsons characters and most recently, Santa's workshop.
Whether or not EA will be able to squash all the bugs remains to be seen. Most likely, gamers will continue to complain, even the ones that, for obvious reasons, can't pull themselves away.