Design Home
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2017-11-16 Android Simulation E (Everyone) Crowdstar

Design Home seemed like a fun game to pass the time in a casual way. After all, most of my time playing The Sims was just building and decorating houses... While at first I was looking forward to how my designer experiences would turn out, the entire thing became an ordeal, and I grew disgruntled with my experience. Let me explain.

Design Home has you work as a designer, and initially makes you feel like you're in some sort of HGTV program. Hopes and dreams are real, your budget is pretty good right from the start, and you feel like the world is your oyster and the possibilities are limitless.

At the top, there is a bar showing the two types of currency, cash and diamonds, and the amount of keys which are used to enter challenges.

With a pretty good feeling, I browsed the available challenges. Live challenges will have a rather eye-catching image of the house, location, a short blurb about the setting and will show the rewards and remaining time to enter. Clicking on a challenge will pop up a tab with the full description, which is a pretty lengthy and useless text that seems written by one of those ladies who write cheap romance novels. Or something. I stopped reading those after the first. The main things to take about the challenge details tab are the requirements and rewards.

I jumped into my first challenge and what I initially saw was not what I expected... I couldn't just place furniture wherever I wanted. There are blue bubbles and purple bubbles spread out across a room in specific positions, each bubble with an icon corresponding to a piece of furniture. Blue are required (furniture), purple are optional (decor items to complement your furniture). You can tap any bubble and the respective shop menu will come up. You can filter the items by challenge requirement, by designer, by style and by color. "What the crap", I thought as I tried finding decent items on a budget, "why can't I filter this by price?!"

And then I noticed some items cost cash and others cost diamonds. It seems diamonds are like a luxury currency, but when it comes to value, 1 diamond is $1. If you visit the premium store, you can purchase diamonds with real money, and convert them to cash (1:1) or keys. Seems a bit redundant to have diamonds, if you ask me, if they're not even worth more.

The furniture catalog is quite extensive. There are plenty of styles and colors, some stuff that I would not touch with a stick, it's that ugly. I mean, really, some of these pieces makes me wonder what the hell were they thinking. There are some pieces that are actually quite stylish, but of course, the ones I like I can't afford. There is definitely something for everyone, and as you browse by designer you can see that every one has a particular style.Except one.

Whoever this lady is, Kathy Kuo must have a multiple personality disorder, since her pieces are all over the place in terms of style and materials. Probably the Jekyll and Hyde of furniture design, really.

Kudos to the realism though, since these are all real pieces of furniture created by real designers. You can view them in 2D or in 3D. Their catalog value is their actual real cash value... In fact, the catalog goes to the point of sending you to the actual website to see the real piece. So not only the game makers cash out on alternative currency from gullible players, but probably also get a comission if someone follows the link and purchases a piece of furniture. Or maybe, just maybe, all these designers got together and created this app to promote their stuff and boost their sales?

After much searching, I finally purchased a nice sofa, a rug, a blue accent chair, and a few other pieces to furnish my first living room. I added some decorative accents (which were part of a welcome pack) and submitted my design. My reward was $2500. But the prizes... those are awarded by means of a popularity contest.

Prizes are only awarded if you get 4 stars or more during the voting phase. And while I did voting rounds, I found that the game isn't so random at placing designs against each other. You will have two really great rooms against each other, or two bare-bones rooms, or two rooms that have basically the same items except some decor. And it's not like you control the number of stars you give, you just pick one over the other, or choose the = sign in between both. I suppose our stars are calculated by the number of votes we get from other users, and that all depends on their personal preferences. For each round of voting, you earn three keys. Once the voting is over, you get a message in your profile section with the results, including pictures of the top designs for that room.

While the initial $18,000 budget seemed pretty good, you will soon find out that it's not enough. You may earn $2,500 on a daily challenge, but... how much have you spent? All others give you $500 only, and the furniture and diamonds prizes are basically a shot in the dark against the rest of the designer community. Soon enough, you'll be out of currency and unable to buy a sofa, which is basically a requirement in any living room. And sofas are freaking expensive. Oddly enough, 95% of the challenges are living rooms. I have seen only a handful of bedrooms (usually kids') and one kitchen. Even a patio or study counts as a living room due to the nature of the pieces, and there is always a sofa involved. And I can't stress it enough, a sofa costs over $1,000, but a challenge prize is only $500. See what I'm getting at?

A new challenge

I decided to check the special offers, because I was not about to use real money on game currency, so I downloaded another game app and played until I met the requirement to earn my diamonds. But the diamonds never came. After checking the help section, I found out I need to submit a ticket with the third-party that hosts these apps and wait at least 14 days. Truth be told, I will not be wasting 14 days with this game to wait for my diamonds...

If you manage to get any of your Facebook friends playing this game, you are able to borrow each other's furniture,which helps with challenge completion assuming either of them has the pieces you are missing. As much as I'd like to try this, the only person on my friends list has already abandoned the experience. And I can't blame her.

Slowly but surely, I grew frustrated with Design Home in a few days. Not only I felt like I wasn't really designing anything, just purchasing things out of a catalog, but I also felt like there was hardly any room for creativity since there are no options whatsoever to purchase alternative upholstery for an item, or paint finishes, or curtains, wallpaper, carpet... you know, BASIC design options.

And then there's the being forced to use ugly pieces in my designs because they are requirements, which really sucks. Not getting prizes because of star ratings that rely on other people's taste also sucks. Being limited by budget and requirements sucks. And what sucks most of all is that there is no incentive to keep playing. The meager prize you get from submitting a design won't cover the costs of what you spent in creating it in the first place!

Design Home needs some serious modifications to become an enjoyable game. Sure, I understand the principle of micro-transactions and alternate currencies, you have to make your money somehow with a free-to-play app. But since the entire thing is already a huge advertising deal... but I digress. I've already mentioned enough flaws and what type of improvements the game could have used. You can't really be a designer without making full use of your creativity and ideas, and as it is, this is a very limited game.

What Design Home should have been is a series of challenges that would give us an actual realistic budget per challenge (which would depend on our own star rating), and we would make of it what we want for that specific challenge. Whatever we didn't spend should be our bonus, and banked for further use.

Unfortunately, all we really get here is a Furniture Catalog Purchase Simulator.