Town Star review: An addictive P2E NFT farming sim

In this Town Star guide, you'll learn how Gala Games' free-to-play NFT farming simulator with P2E potential puts fun first.

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The humble farming simulator has a storied history in video gaming. From Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon to Stardew Valley and My Time at Portia, and even the likes of Minecraft and the Tycoon games, they've proven to be a beloved time sink for hundreds of millions of gamers.

Town Star falls into this genre and does so with aplomb. Indeed, it manages to create a new kind of simulation experience and I'm not just referring to the integration of NFTs and the GALA token. There's a fantastic and fun free-to-play gaming experience here first and foremost, which marks it as a farming simulator for gamers of all shapes and sizes.

What formats is Town Star on?

Town Star is a browser-based game, so it can be played directly from the likes of Chrome. Any modern computer will have no problems running it.

Town Star Game 3

Town Star's gameplay explained

Don't be fooled by Town Star's simplistic visuals; this is a game of genuine depth. Played from the isometric perspective, your experience starts by selecting a plot of land from a real map of the world. Your location comes with various pros and cons. You want to weigh up the benefits of being near good transport routes – like waterways and cities – versus areas of good resources and space, like mountains and pastures.

When you start, you have very little and the goal is to build out a farm with crops, staff, infrastructure and buildings. You need farmers to find water and bring it to the crops as well as lumberjacks to harvest trees for wood to construct new buildings. This allows you to build more farmer homes, so you can get more staff to grow more crops. And it expands from there.

Like all good simulations, these simple beginnings offer an easy-to-understand gameplay loop that draws you in. But the depth quickly reveals itself. Before long, you're building storage buildings for your yield, upgrading your roads from dirt to tarmac to increase unit speeds, putting in windmills for faster water production, preparing land for livestock or vineyards, improving your mills and upgrading your staff. And so forth.

Classic farm simulator

It's not just making hay while the sun shines. There's pressure on you to create a sustainable business quickly. You only start the game with a set amount of fuel and money. So not only do you need to earn a big enough income to continue to expand your farm's produce, but also to harvest and convert resources to create fuel to sell that produce. Because each time you send a truck off to the city laden with goods, you burn fuel.

This can create a bit of a reliance on trial and error but in the best possible way. You'll build unsustainable farms at first. But trying different tactics and experimenting is part of the fun of a simulation.

Town Star is not necessarily an easy game to "win" in this regard, but Gala Games' checks and balances are smartly done for the most part. It's logical. And I love the extra yards the developer has gone to with regards to making you think beyond the obvious.

For example, shadows from passing clouds or cast by large buildings will impact crop growth while over-reliance on industry will give you pollution issues to deal with. Some land needs to be cleared at a cost before it is useable, and locations with good ground cost you more petrol when delivering goods. You get the idea.

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Chris Stead, Finder's game expert here. I've been covering video games since the mid-90s, and I've turned all that experience towards provding honest feedback on NFT and P2E gameplay.

Great free-to-play gaming

Ultimately your goal is to create produce and products that can be sold off to the big cities. Doing so increases your rank, earns you the in-game money required to upgrade your farm and helps you complete the daily challenges. This entire experience is free to play.

I spent hours addictively playing this game with no concern for NFTs or P2E gaming. It was just having fun. First and foremost, Town Star is a good game.

Town Star Game 4

How NFTs work in Town Star

While there is a game's worth of buildings available in Town Star's free-to-play experience, they're the base options. Another layer of builds can be found as NFTs, bought through the Gala Games store or from other players.

Initially, these NFT builds offered quality-of-life improvements. For example, rather than getting the generic storage shed in game that can take 20 of any produce, you could get storage buildings as NFTs that could store 20 of a particular produce or a crane that could speed up your building times.

However, over time, some of the NFTs have been more impactful on gameplay. For example, solar panels that can produce energy without pollution. While we've also seen skins, items and promotional tie-ins that offer purely cosmetic changes to the game. They're pretty expensive, too. There are 6 rarities in all, with the lowest NFTs coming in around US$200 to US$300 and higher tiers quickly rising into the tens of thousands.

The overall impression is that for NFT holders at least, Town Star is more focused on the whales than it is on regular Joes and Jills. And given Gala Games has no historical titles to measure against, I'm not sure if it will continue to build out the F2P experience or put all content moving forward behind the paywall.

As long as the core game isn't balanced in such a way to demand you move across the paywall, I'll be happy. Time will tell.

How does P2E work?

The play-to-earn mechanics in Town Star are interesting to say the least. You can't earn any of the TownCoin – the token rewarded for play – unless you have placed one of the aforementioned NFTs into your world. And you are capped by how many NFTs you can place by the mount of Gala Power you've earned.

At the time of writing, your Gala Power is a factor of how many GALA and TownCoin tokens you hold in your wallet. If you run a node for maintaining the blockchain, you can also up your Gala Power. Eventually, you'll also gain Gala Power from referring other players, owning NFTs and being a long-time player.

Gala Power levels up in solid integers and increments of 1. So, if you have a Gala Power of 3, you can place 3 NFTs into your game world.

It's the NFTs that determine the amount of TownCoin you can earn in any given 24-hour period. The rarer the NFT, the higher your earning potential. You still can't unlock your TownCoin earnings unless you complete the daily challenges, which include tasks like earning a certain number of stars (achieved by selling goods) or creating a certain amount of produce.

Complete the last daily objective and you can claim the TownCoin. From what I've seen, lower end NFTs can earn you around US$20 a day, but I've seen rarer NFTs earn as much as $240 a day. At March 2022 rates, at least. But obviously the cost of those better earning NFTs is significantly higher, too.

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How scholars can rent NFTs in Town Star

P2E gaming in Town Star is a super convoluted system that's not nearly as straightforward and friendly as many others. But it's a system that provides exponential earning power, assuming you stake the earned TownCoin in your wallet and can afford NFTs in the first place.

Look at the loop. Owning an NFT allows you to earn TownCoin and having TownCoin increases your Gala Power. This then allows you to place more NFTs and earn even more TownCoin. So, it's up and to the left, if you like. But what if you're a scholar?

Gala Games has confirmed that renting NFTs will be introduced to Town Star in 2022. The loose flag is "season 2", which could be around Q3. Once introduced, a marketplace will allow owners to put up their NFTs for rent to scholars.

The current plan is for the system to be solely based on revenue splits and not on upfront fees as we see in games like Pegaxy. I like this approach as it makes the game more accessible. Suggested revenue splits are healthy, too – 50/50, 30/70 or 20/80 for scholar/owner. The only other thing to negotiate is the length of rental time.

Season Pass

Town Star is a much more enjoyable game to play than it is to earn. At least at the time of writing. And it may get harder to earn in the future despite the addition of a rental market. Once the game comes out of beta, you'll need to buy a season pass to even earn the right to place NFTs.

At the time of writing, the cost of the season pass hasn't been revealed. As a comparison, season passes in games like Fortnite cost around $10 to $15. But a "season" comes with a tonne of new content, maps and gear. Will Gala Games reinvent the game each season or just bill players for giggles? What's the player going to get out of it?

I'm far from impressed by this approach. It just doesn't seem right to hit people up again when they're already invested in your title via very expensive NFTs. Surely owning an NFT is your season pass access! Or renting one. This should be reconsidered by Gala Games.

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Does Town Star have multiplayer?

There is no head-to-head multiplayer in Town Star. There are leaderboards, but you're not rewarded in any way by being near the top on any given day. It's just there for your personal gratification. It's you versus the system, but some multiplayer could be introduced into the future I feel.

For example, I would have loved to have been able to click on and explore other people's farms. Either for inspiration or to socialise. It would be intriguing if you could sell resources directly to other players, too. You could become a water harvester, for example, and make all your bank shipping blue stuff off to neighbours.

There's untapped opportunity there.

How to buy GALA?

I highly recommend you start your Town Star experience in the free-to-play mode to see what it's like. But if you want to invest in the experience, you'll need the GALA token. It's actually a handy token to have in your wallet.

In my opinion – remembering I'm not your financial advisor – Gala Games has a solid future ahead of it. There's a very promising roster of games the company is developing and publishing on the Gala network. As each game finds success, the value of GALA should increase. Plus, the token will have utility across a number of titles.

We have put together a how to buy GALA guide for those who want to acquire the token.

Town Star Game 1

What is Gala Games?

There's no shortage of developers rushing towards NFT games and the play-to-earn (P2E) space in 2022, yet Gala Games stands out. The company has become more than just a creator of games, but a platform for publishing titles from other studios, too. For example, big names like The Walking Dead: Empires and Peter Molyneux's Legacy are using Gala Games.

Gala Games was founded by Eric Schiermeyer, who is also the founder of Zynga, which has been one of the biggest players in the social and mobile gaming space for 15 years. You'll know Zynga from Words with Friends and, more pointedly, FarmVille. That experience in leadership, especially with proven success in emerging spaces, can't be ignored.

Is Town Star worth playing?

Let's be fair dinkum; there's a stack of NFT games that are focused on pie-in-the-sky ideas or P2E first and gameplay second. As such, I respect Town Star for being the other way around. This is a great gameplay experience first, and the P2E aspects are not only second but playing catch-up.

I would happily recommend Town Star to gamers who enjoy simulations and management titles. Just enjoy the free-to-play experience; it's a lot of fun. I enjoyed the experience and invested way more hours in it than I intended without owning an NFT or investing a cent.

But this is an NFT game, and that side of the equation isn't such a slam dunk. A rental market can't come soon enough. The NFTs are expensive and are gameplay-altering to the point where Town Star teeters on the edge of being a play-to-win experience. Not that you can "win", but you get my point.

Gala Games must stay aware of this in my opinion and ensure a fair balance in the F2P experience moving forward.

Town Star Game 2

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