Chip & Joanna Gaines Have Their Own House Flipping Game, But Unfortunately, It's A Flop

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house, flip, fixer, upper, game, chip, Joanna, Gaines
Chip and Joanna Gaines have their own home renovation game but sadly, it's a bit of a flop. Find out why, here. Player.One

It's been three years since Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of the HGTV hit show Fixer Upper debuted their first Waco, Texas home renovation and since that time America can't seem to get enough the couple's flair for taking houses in ruins and turning them into dream homes. Over the last year the couple's self-started renovation company has exploded into a home design empire as the couple has not only released a New York Times Bestselling book titled "The Magnolia Story" but have also launched their own magazine and home decor brand soon to be featured in Target stores across the country. But the Gaines' touch doesn't stop there. In partnership with Fun-gi games studio, the design duo have released their own mobile Fixer Upper game, House Flip with Jo and Chip.

 house, flip, fixer, upper, game, chip, Joanna, Gaines, review, ios, android, simulation
House Flip is a home renovation simulator featuring HGTV power couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines. Photo: Player.One

At its roots, House Flip is a simulator game with celebrity adventure twist. Think Kendall and Kylie meets SimCity.  In the game, players are tasked with building their own house-flipping empire. During the tutorial, Chip and Joanna Gaines accompany you through their hometown of Waco, Texas in search of houses that could use a little TLC. As you visit open houses, you'll be shown a list of "problem areas" with the home along with its current market price. After you've observed a few homes, it's up to you to decide which one you feel best equipped to fix and flip. Fixing up a home is a fairly simple process. You are given a checklist of items that can be improved. The items fall under one of three categories: Problem Areas, Improvements and Staging. While players must fix the problem areas before flipping the house, the other two categories are optional. You will receive a 1-3 star rating depending on how many of the tasks you complete before listing the home for sale.

 house, flip, fixer, upper, game, chip, Joanna, Gaines, review, ios, android, simulation
House Flip tasks fall into three catergories: Problem Areas, Need Improvement and Staging. Photo: Player.One

Once you're satisfied with your renovations and place the home on the market, it's now time to wait for the offers to come in. Like in the real world, some of the offers will be lowballs, while others may earn you a nice profit. The types of offers you receive can be influenced by other factors as well such as what the temperature of the market is or how closely the buyer's profile matches the market you were targeting when making your home improvements. The profit you make from flipping a house can also depend on how well you matched the renovation choices to the target market. For example, if the home you are renovating is located in a low income area, it is unwise to use costly materials for renovation as your target market may not offer you a price that exceeds the investment you've made.

 house, flip, fixer, upper, game, chip, Joanna, Gaines, review, ios, android, simulation
The closer a buyer resembles your target market, the higher his or her bid will be. Photo: Player.One

At face value House Flip sounds like the kind of game many casual gamers would enjoy, but after spending some time with the game, I unfortunately found it quite lacking. Though the game has has the basic structure of a simulator, it lacks the complexity needed to make it enjoyable. In order to to be a success, a simulator must do one thing well: Make the player feel like they are truly living the experience. Simulators require great depth and challenge to keep players coming back.  They need to give users lots of options so they feel like they are truly in control and responsible for their outcomes. The need to feel that every little detail and choice they make will have a positive or negative effect on their progress. With House Flip players are reduced to being simple button pushers. On your first five house flips there are VERY few options available to you. For example, if the kitchen lighting needs renovation, you're given two options. Pick one and a timer begins for how long it'll be until the work is done. There is no choice about where to place the items, no way to customize the colors or patterns on objects. You basically tap a button and then wait … and wait ... and wait. There is nothing to do while waiting for the work to be completed and the timers are just long enough that you aren't going to hang out just staring at the screen. I found myself playing other games while the work was being done and then coming back just to tap one more button and wait some more.

 house, flip, fixer, upper, game, chip, Joanna, Gaines, review, ios, android, simulation
Customizing options are sparse in House Flip. Photo: Player.One

When the work is complete, it's pretty anticlimactic as there are no cut scenes or before and after images. There is nothing to indicate that you've played a role in making this disheveled house a home. When you place the home on the market you have no control over the pricing or negotiation of the home's price. It basically gets listed and then you wait for an offer. Offers come in roughly every 5 to 15 minutes so once again you are left with nothing else to do but wait. The snail-like pace of the game is unbearable and with very little world to explore or mini-tasks to complete, you find yourself navigating outside the game and probably end up missing good offers on the home because you forgot what was going on.

In the end, I powered through five painstaking home renovations hoping things would get more interesting when I expanded to a new town, but sadly it was just more of the same, mundane tasks. I wanted so badly to love this game because it seemed like it could have been something wonderful. I realize game development is tough and time consuming but there was so little thought put into how to make this interesting for the user. Adding some interactive features like the ability to paint the walls yourself, place the furniture or lay the flooring would have ramped it up enough to at least make it worth spending a few hours on. Indeed, if the staging process gave us the opportunity to purchase signature items from Joanna's collection for placement around the room, I'd happily have plunked down some money on premium currency to do so. Regrettably, due to its lack of "hands-on" tasks, this is easily one of the most boring games I've played all year and, well, that just makes me sad. On Facebook the development team has hinted at adding mini-games to give players a little more to do while waiting for their renovations to complete, but I don't think even that will be able to save it. 

House Flip is offered as a free download on the Apple App and Google Play store if you'd like to check it out, but we suggest you skip it.

 

 
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