A new Finnish iPhone game called Shadow Cities developed by Grey Area launched today with a whopping success. The game was available in the Finnish App Store in the morning and by 1.30pm, it was already the third most grossing app in terms of sales. Mind you, the app is free itself. Later last night the game was already the most grossing app in the App Store. The last time it happened, the game in question was Angry Birds.

We wrote about the game back in September when they released a short trailer about what to expect. Today was the first day the game came out and the feedback around it was very good. Many, me included, thanked the game for hitting productivity in the knee. While it’s not very straight forward what you’re up against and expected to do, people were hooked.

With the announcement of the game into the public, the company also discloses Ville Vesterinen coming on board as CEO. Vesterinen is one of our co-founders and he will continue to be in charge of our editorial direction, just as he has to date.

The game has a simple tutorial to get people on board, but it did leave a lot of questions open at first. The key setup is that there are two teams trying conquer neighborhoods with their magic and different actions. Players are able to conquer neighborhood energy gateways by building Dominators. Dominators are able to create energy that needs to be harvested. The team that has harvested the most energy during the week’s campaign wins.

Simple setup, but it’s not the whole story naturally. When people get crowded into a close enough space, things start to happen. They team up against others and destroy each other’s Dominators in order to control larger areas of cities. At times, there were huge amounts of spells cast and players taking part in raids.

But taking a few steps back, Grey Area may very well be onto something a lot bigger here. Just as Miikka Kukkosuo stated in our previous post, that if the game is like “Foursquare on steroids” – it changes everything. The big difference is that Shadow Cities is not about check-ins in venues at all, but about neighborhoods and the dynamics around neighborhoods in cities. It really isn’t even comparable to Foursquare in this sense. And indeed it isn’t, going back to Foursquare simply feels lame, as one of the players put it.

There’s also a lot of elements that are similar to older strategy games and more recent casual games like those of Zynga’s that have been taken advantage of in the game. Players aren’t allowed to achieve everything immediately, but the element of time creates a constant addiction to the game when you know you have to check back in a while to see if you’re still in charge of that neighborhood Energy gateway and if your Catcher has caught any spirits.

The game came out with a version 1.0.0, but according to Vesterinen – it’s a Beta, which is to be improved upon and developed further. The reaction I have described above speaks for itself, I believe. It will be very interesting to see where Grey Area goes with Shadow Cities.


Screenshot of the Shadow Cities in the App Store from Wednesday 10th of November.