Era Of Daily Play And Donuts

I believe that EA has initiated a new era in TSTO. It started with the Monorail event and continues with the Where’s Maggie? game. What is this era about?


Finding the Pattern

When the Monorail event concluded we were granted a permanent addition, the Rail Yard, that continued the event indefinitely. The biggest change from the event itself was the inclusion of 5 Donuts rewarded for completing the week.

This was a huge change to the game. While it was not an official expansion (being that it is only available to those who played and completed the event), it marked a change to what we expect from TSTO. When the Where’s Maggie? mini-game was also turned into a permanent addition, a pattern started to emerge. The latest important (possible) addition is the Deep Space Homer rocket launch “game”.

The pattern is that of an added game play element that “requires” the player to play nearly every day in order to complete the mini-games and have a chance at winning donuts. 5 Donuts a week for the Rail Yard, up to 3 Donuts every 3 days from finding Maggie (up to 9 Donuts in the span of a week), and a good chance at winning debris from the rocket launch every 12 hours.

The debris is being counted here because of its less than 1% chance at being rewarded a donut for cleaning up debris. Throughout the week that comes to 14 chances. Note: Debris is currently not being rewarded due to a glitch. Debris is now rewarded properly.

The Purpose

I believe this to be a strategy to get people to play more and to desire more donuts. (This applies to borderline freemium/premium players, not to premiums or whales. It might apply to fully freemium players.) The more donuts we get, as long as they are less than most purchases require, the more we “need”. If we only ever have a small amount, like 20, then pining for a 250 Donut item is unfathomable and therefore not something to worry about. But if we start collecting 10 a week, we can end up with, let’s say, 100 Donuts over time. That’s enough for one low priced character or building, but not for two.

Couple this with the normal offer by EA of at least a few new items each event, and it becomes clearer that we are being “primed” to want to spend real money to get more donuts. Without doing so we will miss out on limited offer items. Since we will be getting used to making these purchases it won’t be as nice to get one item but miss out on another.

Additional Additions

A long in play component of daily play mechanics is that of the Daily Play rewards. Every 5 days there is a chance at a Mystery Box item, a small chance at donuts or other items. This is usually superseded during events.

The daily play has been replaced by a daily challenge system. It doesn’t appear to guarantee donuts, like the weekly challenge (below) does but the chance is there and the requirement to play almost daily is there.

The last “addition” I’m going to point out is the weekly challenge. These are often part of events and reward 20 Donuts each week. This is the more temporary version of the mini-games, but the effect is the same.


As you can see the trend is strong. Do you think this strategy will pay off for EA? Has it already had an effect on your freemium status? Do you have a different take?


10 comments on “Era Of Daily Play And Donuts

  1. Vanessa M. Y. says:

    Okay, let a fully freemium veteran player speak, haha. EA has definitely changed their “marketing technique” – I think they have realized that the game won’t survive exclusively from whales and players who occasionally spend some money to buy donuts; or, less drastically speaking (and more likely), they realized that making donuts easier to get from the game is more advantageous. The more people start playing and they realize that event currency is pretty easy to get, the more addicted they get to the game, the more advertising they do for friends, and so on (I’m sorry if the repetitive use of “the more” is incorrect).

    Being fully freemium a couple of years ago truly sucked. It would take me ages to hoard a considerable amount of donuts. Now they come so easy that, now that I think of it, I spent more than 500 donuts from July – December 2015 and I currently have 253!

    But I think the era of bonuts really started when they added the revised mystery box. The prizes from the old mystery boxes were soooo boring, except for the SVT, the lemon tree, and some other prizes which were almost impossible to get.

    And for me, this strategy from EA is working – I still play the game, despite all the frustrations I’ve gone through. And I bought the snow globe from the Winter event. 225 donuts for a freemium player is a real fortune, but I really wanted it, and I couldn’t care less about donuts now. I think I just got used to the fact that I know that I’ll never have everything I want from the game, so I just buy oh-my-God-I’ll-have-to-buy-this things.


    • “The more”, at least to me, should be used in that repetitive way, yes.

      Thanks for your thoughts on this. Glad to hear that I’m not wrong. And, of course I forgot to include the Daily Play in my “Era of Daily Play”…!!! lol. I always forget it. 😦 Anyways, while I agree that daily play would have started with the mystery box, I sense that EA is going to be rolling out more and more of these things, and more often. The mystery box feels like old hat. Maybe that EA releases these “games” as only permanent for players that complete events is another way to keep us playing, instead of just including these as expansions or like how everyone can get Sideshow Bob even after the Terwilliger Event.


  2. Davidbo33 says:

    I think another thing to consider is the competition from the Family Guy game. I agree with Vanessa that when I started playing, (over two years ago, and before FG game) donuts were very hard to come by. But there were also lulls in the game with no new content at all. The FG game constantly has events. As soon as one ends, the next begins. These vary from one or two week mini events to longer four to five week events. I think EA has been trying to keep pace. While it’s been awhile since there’s been a new level in TSTO, there has been plenty of content released during events or tie-ins. Since the FG game came out I think TSTO has changed and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

    One of the biggest complaints about FG is the lack of land. Around the time I started seeing a lot of these complaints EA released a couple new strips of land in TO. It was almost like EA saying, well that game isn’t going to give you the land you want, so we will. And in FG, especially during their early events, premium currency (clams) was a lot easier to come by than in TO. Also that game has an option to watch ads in order to get clams. EA being more generous with donuts seems like a way to make up for that without having ads.

    Of course they’re not going to make money by just giving them away so the strategy seems to be offer a few limited time premium items (of course this has always been the case for events) but with the ability to earn one (or some/most of the cost) through the weekly challenges and then you’ll have to buy donuts to get the rest. Sort of a virtual loss leader. Although I think that might better describe the Frink deal from a while back.

    For me (and like Vanessa said) I know I’ll never get everything, and I’m fine with that. More donuts just means I’ll be able to get the things I do want a little bit quicker. I love the chance for free donuts, but I’m not consumed by it. I don’t even do the weekly monorail. And while I’ve made many comments about donut farming, it’s more just something that interests me. The strategy of it, and now that I have extra in game cash, why not try to use it to my advantage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that perspective. Do you play FG? I only have a little bit of familiarity with it. I’ve never played.

      Your theory is that it’s part of a competition strategy, or maybe they’re just copying what works?


      • Davidbo33 says:

        I do play FG. There are similarities and differences but I’d say they copy each other, at times anyway. There are other town building games (the sims etc, although I haven’t played them) but TSTO and FG are really going after the same demographic. Since these games are more direct competition I do think some of the changes we’ve seen in TO has to do with that. But, that’s just my opinion.


  3. Vanessa M. Y. says:

    I agree about the competition thing. I’m not familiar with FGTQFS, but definitely TSTO has become a busy game after the release of the FG game. I remember of a lull of almost three months, and now TSTO players are complaining they don’t have a break to organize their towns. The competition between them was very explicit, at least for me, when EA released the Superheroes event some time after TinyCo had released the Comic Con event, which apparently most players from that game enjoyed very much.

    I, for myself, am very glad donuts now are easy to come by, but I’d appreciate a little break. And simp7fan, I’m truly sorry you weren’t around by the time Superheroes event was up. Best event ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Davidbo33 says:

      It’s nice to hear from another long time freemium player, especially one that agrees with me. 😊 How long have you been playing Tapped Out?

      I started around October 2013. I reached the top level, I forget exactly when, but sometime around level 40. And back then, yeah, there were times when you had nothing to do. No events, levels, tie-ins etc. Of course you could always work on your town design or build up your cash, or buy up land and aspirational buildings. But now they seem to be keeping us busier. It’s good because I like when there are things to do in the game, but I wouldn’t mind a short break now and then.


      • Vanessa M. Y. says:

        Hi, David! 🙂

        I started playing in October 2012. I’m around since the first major content update and am very proud of that 😀 I have no idea when I reached the top level, especially because I started paying real attention to the game after I came across tstoaddicts, and that was only after 2 years, when I was looking up information about THOH event of that year. I can’t believe it’s been 3+ years since I started playing a game about a show I didn’t even like (cough, cough).


        • Davidbo33 says:

          Hello, Vanessa! 🙂

          Wow! You really are an old timer! 😉 And no need to “cough” in my direction. I do like The Simpsons…but I haven’t watched it regularly in, oh, 15 years or so.


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