Airport City hits Windows Phone... and your patience and bank balance

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Oh dear, oh dear. With court cases over in-app purchases in the news at the moment, and with my own outrage at swingeing IAPs in some titles still ringing around the walls of AAWP Towers, along comes a 'simulation' game that rises to new peaks of IAP craziness. Yes, dear readers, it's quite possible to spend £146 of your own hard earned money in a couple of taps in Airport City. Die-hard sim fans only past this point please, boarding sanity cards must be shown...

The idea is similar to Nokia's (also panned by me) Modern Mayor. Why bother putting in a lot of hard work and expense building something in the real world when you can put in equal amounts of work and real money into building something small, trivial and virtual in a phone game? Cough.

Sadly, Airport City also shares another trait with Modern Mayor - being built on a cross platform game it's very definitely not optimised for Windows Phone, with tiny details and fonts that strain even players with really good eyesight. Add in the tedium of building and waiting and building and waiting and toiling and speeding up by paying and working and working....

From the Store description:

The exciting new game Airport City is a 2-in-1 strategy builder: First, you build a modern, full-service international airport, and second, you develop a city around it to support your growing airline empire! 
Airport City challenges you to send flights all over the world, meet interesting characters, and complete exotic artifact collections. 

- Build air traffic control towers and runways 
- Manage international flights across the globe 
- Level up to access new flights and airplanes 
- Collect exotic artifacts 
- Complete item collections and trade them in for useful bonuses 
- Manage daily charter tourist flights 
- Perform tasks for in-game characters for a variety of rewards 
- Go through hundreds of quests and earn exclusive gifts 
- Plan and Build a unique city 
- Amass a fortune and Build a bustling metropolis 

- Beautiful graphics and realistic sound effects 
- User-friendly interface and immersive gameplay 
- Easy-to-use tutorial and help system 
- Many vivid characters coming to life with their own stories to tell 
- A score of residential, commercial, and recreational buildings 

'Exciting', eh? Not exactly the word I'd use - this is roughly as exciting as watching paint dry (IMHO). And a lot more expensive:

Screenshot, Airport City

Getting going. It may be 'Free2Fly' at first, but don't worry, you'll be paying in style in due course...

Screenshot, Airport City

The starting screen. Hang on, let me get my magnifying glass out. This graphical text is obviously designed for a completely different platform and set of screen routines. Whoever passed this for publication on Windows Phone should be severely scolded....

Screenshot, Airport City

Tiny icons, tiny writing throughout - you buy stuff, you position it, you buy more stuff, you position it, you wait, rinse and repeat...

Screenshot, Airport City

If you can read the tiny, tiny text you'll find out that Airport City uses the usual freemium scam technique of making you pay for 'speed-ups'....

Screenshot, Airport City

Bit by bit the airport and supporting 'city' (ok, ok, four houses at first!) grow - the graphics here are slightly easier on the eye, though the status readouts at the top are all tough.

Screenshot, Airport City

Ah, there we go. Wait TEN MINUTES or pay some in-game currency. Told you.

Screenshot, Airport City

Screenshot, Airport City

Buying each of the in-game currencies. £146 gone at worst case, bought with a couple of taps...

Look, freemium games can be done perfectly. Just look at Deadlings or Flower Garden as far, far better examples of how to make money while not cheesing off your potential gaming customers.

It's game porting and freemium, both gone mad. Am I totally off beam here? Your comments welcome. 

You can download Airport City here in the Store (if you really must). See also the official game website and the rather misleading game trailer.

Source / Credit: Download from the Windows Phone Store