Tiny Tower: Hugely addictive, rather expensive!

New contributor Neil Ramsay is back once again this week with a look at Tiny Towering Inferno. Over to you Neil…

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Screen Shot 2011 08 18 at 19 59 03

Tiny Tower (iTunes link, free) is a game for iOS devices; it’s insanely addictive and best of all it’s free, kind off.

You see Tiny Tower, developed by NimbleBit, is one of a growing breed of freemium games based around the model used by Zynga for their Facebook games. If you’ve never played this type of game before this is how it basically works: You start your game with a certain amount of in-game currency, in Tiny Tower its called ‘Coins & Bux’. This allows you to start playing but soon enough you run out of Coins & Bux or their equivalent. This is where the (pre)mium part of the name kicks in, because to continue playing you have the choice of waiting for your Coins to build up again or you can buy more Bux with real life bucks, £20.99 for 1,000 at time of writing.

This game model is by no means unique nor is there anything intrinsically wrong with it. Every developer has the right, and most people would agree needs to make money on their products. However in Tiny Tower’s case I think NimbleBit has crossed the line.

When the game launched a couple of months ago it was arguably too easy to keep playing for free, I certainly got hours if not days of fun without spending a penny. Did I mention it was insanely addictive? However I soon succumbed to the need for instant gratification and used Apple’s heinously easy in-app purchasing to spend about £25 to keep building higher and higher.

On the 11th August NimbleBit updated the App to version 1.3.

The iTunes store mentions the new elevator and ability to dress up your own Bitizens. What it doesn’t mention is that your in-game elevator lovingly upgraded many times from stock now runs like it was built in the 30’s. Thus forcing you to buy the new lightspeed lift for 499 Bux or wait, wait and wait some more for your previously zippy contraption to wheeze itself asthmatically to the top of your tower.

The rate at which you earn Coins has also halved meaning everything takes twice as long; you can of course convert Bux into Coins.

Basically to continue enjoying playing Tiny Towers you have to get your wallet out.

Rebalancing gameplay mechanics is an integral part of many a game but this is bait and switch. I feel like the kid that was sold my first rock of crack cocaine for a fiver only to find that now I’m addicted the next one is £50.

It may be a Tiny Towering Inferno, but I’m still playing. I did mention it was insanely addictive?

Update 16th August: NimbleBit today released another update 1.3.1 which restores your coin earning to the previous level. It was classed as a bug!!!!

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That’s a mighty useful ‘bug’ isn’t it, Neil? Ah well, at least it’s corrected. I’m going to check the game out later tonight! You can follow Neil at @TheNeilRamsay on Twitter or visit his musings online at

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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