House Flipper: Bust Pandemic Blues by Literally Leveling Other People's Living Rooms
A new HGTV-inspired video game expansion pack puts you right in the middle of home renovation.
Finally. A game for those of us who cozy up on the sofa and somehow find ourselves passionately screaming at the TV when a well-known HGTV dilemma presents itself: Will they love it or list it? Now you can flip a house all by yourself and find out its virtual value (without all the anxiety).
Cue House Flipper. The realistic simulation game by Frozen District and PlayWay SA, available on Steam, PlayStation, XBOX and others, first launched in 2018 and has since earned an overwhelmingly positive rating. The buy-reno-sell action starts from the top, requiring a first-person renovator to nail simple repair mechanics, iron out interior design basics and handle tight budget management to achieve ultimate success. It offers a little bit of everything: head-scratching challenges, cathartic, repetitive actions and real estate education that’s useful IRL. So it’s easy to imagine the newest downloadable content (DLC) was the perfect partnership.
A Game for Demo and Design Fans
House Flipper publishers teamed up with Discovery Communications to launch brand new DLC in 2020 that would appeal to armchair designers and reno addicts alike: HGTV House Flipper. Players take demolition dreams into renovation (virtual) reality in Sunset Bay, the fictional location that looks like it's plucked from an episode of House Hunters International. The new HGTV content, added to the base game, offers new mechanics and skills, fresh interior design choices, updated client emails and a map of homes in need of love.
Maciej Knot, Frozen District CMO, admits his favorite HGTV series is Property Brothers, and it likely served as a jumping-off point for the new DLC content. “The popularity of simulator games and makeover TV series made us want to experiment and see what combining these two might bring us,” Maciej says.
Test Driving the Tool Belt
So what's it like? Here's my review.
Gameplay is realistic, but not so realistic that it feels like you’re cleaning years of grime from your own long-forgotten garage windows. Real estate voyeurism is the central key to success in HGTV House Flipper, combined with repetitive action-items that somehow become pleasurable to complete over and over again. At two hours in, I recall telling my wife, “Hang on! I just have five more windows to clean.”
From the get-go, game controls are logical and operation is easy, plus Steam offers full controller support and remote play, which enables hammer-swinging on your phone, tablet, TV or other PC. It might take a minute to learn the controls for first-time gamers, but it’s a cinch for avid gamers. The takeaway: Parents will love playing this game as much as older kids and, dare I say, find it equally interesting and relaxing. Plus, the before-and-after photos are super pleasing to see.
If challenge-based games are your thing, you’ll find it very attainable to tick all the boxes — but it comes with a time-consuming catch: lots of tasks. The faster you complete repetitive actions like removing trash and cleaning cobwebs, the more your skills will improve. And when skills are improved, rewards come in the form of perks like quicker dexterity, larger brushes and heavier sledgehammers to increase efficiency, which translates to more money in the bank. But if you’re only in it to aimlessly wander around dilapidated homes while listening to soothing ambient noise, you don’t have to finish every single task to complete the project. In fact, most home challenges wrap up at the 70% mark and you can move on to the next.
Soothing Wallpaper Music
Breathe in. Breathe out. Smash a wall. That’s the exact feeling HGTV House Flipper’s softly playing soundtrack invokes. After hours of play, the calming tool belt tunes don’t distract the player and actually work as a nice companion to the deep cleaning, smashing and crashing.
“We specifically aimed at elevator music,” Maciej says. “Something that a player can listen to for hours and it won't become irritating.”
They even subtly tinkered with big reveals. “We also wanted to be able to slightly modify the soundtracks to create two versions of the same song,” Maciej explains. “The music is a bit different before the renovation and after the renovation.”
While I never felt the need to hit mute, other gamers might opt to turn off all sounds completely. Or, simply leave the ambient sounds on to take in the full effect of birds chirping and floors creaking.
The Most-Used Tool
The game can be as cathartic or educational as you want it to be, but one tool stands out for most situations: the tablet. The in-game, digital tracker provides a sense of purpose and helps to keep the player on budget and connected to tasks. Clients send in-game emails that offer extra ways to earn money. Check the tablet and you’ll find that an elderly neighbor needs window cleaning or someone down the street has a roach infestation. (Yes, that’s a thing — but you can change bugs to look like broken glass in the game settings.) Complete these tasks and compile cash to purchase a home that needs flipping.
As renovation and design skills improve, the tablet then becomes a gateway to all the real estate listings available in Sunset Bay. Scroll across an aerial map of homes in the sunbathed, virtual landscape, then tap on a property to learn specs like pricing and square footage.
The game works best as a form of entertainment, but can also function as a real-world simulation of expression and ideas. “Many [Frozen District team members] used House Flipper to create a preview of [our] own designs before real-life renovations,” Maciej says.
Game on! These spaces are ready for a whole lotta fun with epic play ideas for kids and grownups alike.
Build a video gaming station for a child or teen's bedroom with all of necessary conveniences for hours of play.
Knock out seasonal blues with the game that boasts reno-based relief and design-induced relaxation. Create a free account on Steam using an email address. Download the base version of House Flipper for $19.99 in the store, then add HGTV DLC for $9.99. Or snag a DLC bundle that includes House Flipper, HGTV DLC and a fresh, first-person experience for the green thumb in-training, Garden Flipper.