Game Dev Story, by Japanese developer Kairosoft, is a simple business management sim set within the game industry. Like pretty much every other game Industry sim, you hire employees for certain tasks, develop games and complete contracts. Your completed game is reviewed and then sold and you start the next development cycle.
Game Dev Story has no actual storyline, as it is just a casual business simulation game. You can hire employees for specific tasks, including writing, sound engineering, programming and graphic design. These employees can be trained to become more proficient at their tasks and eventually you get the ability to change their career paths to producer, director, hardware engineer or hacker. Changing career paths is a necessary step if you want to level up each career for an employee, so you can eventually build your own game console and release it to market.
Game development is split into writing the scenario, graphic design, sound design and debugging. Game Dev Story unlocks more game styles and topics as it progresses and as you also train staff or level them up. At the start of you game development, you assign points to a series of sliders that seem to determine the overall outcome of the game’s development. At least in the beginning, the points mentioned seem to count but as I progressed and I had more points to play with, it did not really matter anymore. There are random events built-in to the game to disrupt your game’s development and at any point during the three development phases, your game development may suffer from a studio power outage, a data loss or another developer creating a similar game. These all affect your game’s overall score and sales.
You can gain fans by releasing games and sequels and by advertising. More fans means more sales. Your employees may also approach you to ask for permission to focus on one of the four sections for your game. These focus sessions cost you money and research points and success or failure depends on how proficient the employee is in the particular field they want to have a crack at. So spending research points and money with an employee who is not proficient on graphics could lead to a failure which will increase the number of bugs quite dramatically for your game in development.
Scattered throughout gameplay are events for new consoles and handheld hardware releases, Gamedex (the in-game version of a mash-up between E3 and PAX) and a game awards ceremony. Gamedex and the game awards will affect your studio’s sales, and the hype and fame for the game currently in development. Winning awards also brings you extra cash.
Game Dev Story’s scoring takes place on a time limit of twenty years of in-game time, so each new game you are trying to beat your previous high score. You can also see where you stand against other players by checking out your own worldwide stats from the pause menu.
Game Dev Story has problems. It isn’t really that hard and doesn’t pose a challenge. It also keeps your game topic and game style levels from the previous play-through, so you can develop level five games pretty quickly on the second play-through and that does not provide a challenge. When you check the worldwide leader boards, they definitely scream cheaters though so that becomes a let-down, too. The sound and music of this game is so loud and annoying that I ended up reaching for the volume button so as to play the game with no sound at all. There is a bug in the version I was playing where the game no longer responded to touch input after adjusting in-game music volume to the off position.
Overall, Game Dev Story is a small challenge and will keep you occupied for a few weeks, but beyond that there is no replay value. It definitely is not worth the money Kairosoft are asking for it given the relatively short time you will end up playing it. Save your money and look for something else to play on your mobile.
Game Dev Story is available on iOS and Android.