Casual Gaming Review: Money Garden

In which I waste my time so you don’t.

Screen capture showing rows of bonsai pots with plants which have bills as opposed to leaves.

Title of Game:

Money Garden (Version 1.3 for iPhone)

Developer:

Game Type:

Merge / Play for Pay

General Play Loop:

Merge plant pots and watch ads.

General Review:

The story, such that it is, is that you’re growing magical money trees. They have pretty bonsai type pots which change as you merge them together. Each merge level has its own pot type, though there is a helpful number in the corner, so that you don’t have to remember them all. There are bonuses for increased “cash” production/growth rate of the plants. And you do receive a lot of presents in the form of plants which don’t prompt you to watch an ad. That is a very rare thing in this game.

There is a happy little cloud that puffs out game bonuses — half of which prompt you to watch an ad. The PayPal P’s and the gems generally give you an ad to watch. The stack of money and the suns, in general don’t, but probably will if you’ve not watched an ad in say… twenty seconds?

There is a fairy with a buttercup hat which flies around with a present. This can go either way. Mostly it’s an ad. Sometimes it’s just a game bonus.

There are daily tasks which reward you with gems — as long as you watch an ad.

There is a lucky spin wheel which rewards you with a variety of items — as long as you watch an ad.

There is a shop in which you can spend the in-game currency for pots of every level you have unlocked. This is an action which does not require you to watch an ad to receive it. I’m not sure how that snuck into the game, but it proves that there once was a game here.

There is an iPhone 12 on offer if you sign in and get all the puzzle pieces you need for it. Signing in requires you to watch an ad. (Are we sensing a pattern here?) Then you earn points toward the phone. As of 4–2021, 100 points were necessary in order to win the phone. The first sign in gained me five points. After that the points vary between 3 and 5 points per day on the week.

If that stayed consistent, then logging in every day would earn you the phone in about three weeks. I did not invest the time to see if that was actually going to happen. My tolerance for ads is not great to begin with. After this slog, I am even less tolerant of subjecting myself to marketing messages every ten seconds. That is not an exaggeration by the way. I used a stopwatch. It took less than 15 seconds for there to be an ad on offer. I opened the app, touched a pot, and there was an offer for an ad and a PayPal reward. I probably even added a second on either end from having to turn off the time and record the time.

Technically this is a game. There are game elements. You have to match the levels and pots in order to merge them together into a higher-level pot. You have to touch things like PayPal icons and gems and stacks of cash to get pretty colored gems and fake cash and “earn” towards a PayPal payout.

Realistically though, the entire point of this app is to watch ads and “earn” money for that. It’s a marathon of ads. Sort of like watching certain cable channels. I spent about an hour merging pots and earning toward a PayPal card.

So you merge your pots and watch the ads. So many ads. Such bad acting. And the occasional celebrity face. (I’m looking at you, Recognizable Rap Star, and you, other familiar faces. I have your ad on my list to test.) But, you can actually reach the minimum $200 for redemption. (Even though the ad claims there is no minimum needed to withdraw. I knew going in that that was a lie.)

However, there is a tricky aspect to the redemption that I almost missed. You can click on the redeem button, but then you have 72 hours to watch another 100 videos to actually redeem the money. After watching those 100 more ads, the redemption is under review for 24 hours. And from other players, it seems that the redemption hanging up in “processing” is a frequent problem. (This has happened to me so it was not a surprise at all.)

There is another hurdle. After you watch the ads and they “redeem” your earnings, you have to get 10 level 35 pots. I have, out of curiosity and masochism attempted to get 1 level 35 pot. I’m not there yet. I don’t know that it’s actually possible (Though there is a review that claims to have done it. Surprise! No money.) I have to wonder if there’s another hurdle after this or if you simple get hung up in “processing.” If I ever reach that point, I will do a follow-up comment on this story.

This developer has two other games under their name in the Apple App store. I am not going to bother with them.

Can I recommend this to anyone? No. Not from the other user reviews. Not from my experience. It’s not even rewarding to move the pots around. I’ve played other simple merge games with much more rewarding play. Do not play this game.

In fact, if a game is promising to pay you thousands of dollars for a few minutes (hours) of play? They’re probably lying. It’s more than likely a scam to get you to watch ads so they can get revenue from the companies who are advertising on the app. More perniciously, it could be harvesting PayPal addresses to sell on to scammers. I dread to know how much information they could harvest from the iPhone portion. A word to the wise: Do Not Give Your Shipping Address or Credit Card to this app. That is a way to get scammed.

Are there micropayments?:

No

Are there ads? (Can I pay to get rid of them?):

So many ads. Ads galore. No, you can’t get rid of them. They are the primary game loop. On the plus side, the ads have more variety than I am used to and actually include some apps and companies with reasonable reputations. I hope the developers have been taking a few of these ad companies to the wash though. They’re certainly showing them to a lot of eyeballs.

Rating: 0 Neon Frogs out of 5

Currently living in Northern VA where she has 2 businesses, a day job, and an imaginary cat.

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