Following my initial post about Disneyland’s “Legends of Fronteirland” game, I have continued to play and have seen the game slowly evolve, and in many ways improve. Many of the flawed mechanics have been fixed, new features have been unveiled, and the cast of the game remains as excellent as the day it began. I’m planning to write up another piece reflecting on the game once it ends, but I’ve surprised even myself by how invested I’ve become in it.
Today, Disneyland launched their second game this summer – this one titled “Adventure Trading Company” – and it is at once more polished and less ambitious than “Legends.” Unlike “Legends,” “Trading Co.” is built on a pay-to-play model, wherein you have to enter the game by purchasing an item that launches a quest. Once your quest is completed, you are rewarded with one of nine different Jujus.
For example, to obtain the Knowledge (Eye of Mara) Juju, you have to purchase a packet that contains a map of Adventureland, which you then follow to the first step in your quest. I only did about half of the quests today, because I didn’t feel like dropping $50 on this game on the first day (six of the quests cost $5 while the remaining three cost $7.50*), but all of the ones I played involved simple fetch quests and each could be completed in 15 minutes or less. The initial buy-in item gives the player a series of things to find, which you then bring back to the starting location and receive your reward.
Everything from the pay-to-play nature to the speed and simplicity of these quests indicates that, unlike “Legends of Frontierland,” this game is geared more towards tourists. That is totally fine, but it also means that the game lacks any significant amount of depth and becomes little more than a set of chores that you have to complete before earning your souvenir. As far as souvenirs go, these are nice and relatively inexpensive. Compared to the absurd prices of pins and Vinylmation figures, $5 for one of these Jujus is an absolute steal. The value of this, then, becomes a matter of perspective; paying $5 for one of these quests is a tremendous joke, but paying $5 for a collectible is a lot more reasonable. Again, the quests on their own are fine, but not terribly compelling. Extra Credits has an episode where they discuss the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, and this is definitely in the extrinsic category – the reward comes from the piece of merchandise you get at the end, not from the act of playing the game. The best I can say about the quests is that their set dressing is integrated well into the environment and doesn’t call undue attention to itself. In this category it is superior to “Legends of Frontierland,” which still has a lot of ugly sets.
There’s not too much more to say about it aside from that. It’s all pretty straightforward. I’m mostly ambivalent towards the game beyond the fact that the Jujus themselves are solid pieces of merchandise. My biggest concern lies more in what this game could mean for the future, especially in context with “Legends of Frontierland.” Both games are set to end around the same time, and if they do bring either of them back, I worry that Disney may try to shoehorn this pay-to-play model into “Legends.” They’ve already integrated a sort of microtransaction set up in “Legends” wherein you can buy an overpriced drink that acts similarly to a cheat code (i.e. if you’re carrying the “Luck” drink around Cast Members will slip you extra bits). That level of monetization is already irritating, but I could see Disney trying to push it further, especially given the popularity of the game, and I fear it would ruin the experience. The pay-to-play model of “Trading Co.” is designed for short quests with clear rewards, and therefore benefits tourists more so than locals, while the deep, persistent world of “Legends” does exactly the opposite. Combining the two would break both experiences, but since its clear that Disney is looking for more ways to monetize “Legends” I wouldn’t put it past them.
Beyond that, though, “Adventure Trading Company” is mostly unremarkable. The Jujus, again, are nice, and they’re worth collecting during the short time this game will be running, but other than that I won’t be too upset when the game closes up shop on September 1. If they do bring it back in the future, some new Juju designs and more interesting quests might make it worthwhile, but aside from that it’s not terribly noteworthy.
*The “quests” that cost $7.50 can hardly be considered quests at all, since you simply obtain the Juju with the purchase of a specialty food item. That being said, you are allowed (and even encouraged) to trade Jujus with the Cast Members working in Adventureland, so you could theoretically buy one of the $5 Jujus and trade up for one of the higher priced ones.