New Trailer & Screen Shots Of Upcoming Location-Based iPhone MMORPG Shadow Cities

Grey Area, a new Finnish iPhone gaming startup (see our previous coverage), has been operating silently the past months, but now the firm has released a new teaser trailer and screenshots of their upcoming location-based MMORPG for iPhone called Shadow Cities. The game transforms the neighborhoods and familiar streets as part of the game world, visible to the player through iPhone. The tagline is "Your city is a game." The company promises the game will be available on the iTunes App Store in late 2010.

The game tells a story where Mages have been missing for centuries, and darkness and "Shadow Spirits" have taken over. Now the player's responsibility is to become a "modern mage" and help humanity to regain control of the world. Player hunt spirits, gain experience, explore the surroundings with new eyes, and learn more and more powerful spells. Players can use magic and strategy to battle for the control of their neighborhoods with their friends and other players.

In addition, there are two sides battling against each other and not only the spirits: the tech mage Architects and the impulsive spell artist Animators. The player can select which side to join, and there are also further role playing elements as one proceeds. The video also show a neat "rune spell" system, i.e. casting spells by drawing magical runes on screen - Something we haven't seen anyone else do on the iPhone yet.

Grey Area's video trailer:

The main problem with location based game ideas is often that it is unreasonable to expect people to run around cities as part of the core gameplay to complete tasks and actions. However, Shadow Cities seems to be more like level based social game that ties in to daily habits (like visiting shops and cafes etc., like with Foursquare), location information, and real players. (Of course the video appears to be a bit dramatized.)

If the game is more like "Foursquare on steroids", meaning deeper gameplay elements, it may be rather widely appealing and working concept. Not as mass market as the most widely spread casual games, but just enough to reach a rather good chunk of active players, who likely also monetizes above average (provided it is designed cleverly). The game will be free to play, monetized by selling virtual goods: one can buy Mana potions, with which to cast spells in battle among other things.

Shadow Cities is said to be piloting in Finland still this year, published globally soon after.

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Jani Joki September 29, 2010

I don't suppose you have any beta access keys to give out? :)

Custodus September 30, 2010

This looks really cool, the Grey Area guys have done a good job.

I'm wondering, though, whether the ArcticStartup team has connections related to the product/company in question that may have gone unmentioned? Didn't Mr. Vesterinen represent Grey Area in a roundtable/panel discussion last week and isn't it him doing a "cameo" in the trailer? I, for one, would welcome such disclosures from the editors.

vesterinen September 30, 2010


Correct! There is a connection and I will be first to disclose it as soon as we know exactly what to disclose. It's ongoing. All I can say at the moment. Sharp observation!

Custodus September 30, 2010


thank you for the swift response.

I understand that things might be in the works, but this can be the status for quite a long time. If the connections I mentioned are for a fact, disclosing these public appearances might be a good starting point.

Most surely no one thinks that recruiting or investing decisions are made overnight. Thus the general public might fear that a human factor of preferential treatment toward certain companies exists during the whole negotiation process (just take Finnish politics and certain mining companies as an example).

The road to downplaying the rumors and keeping people from doing malevolent guesswork starts with disclosure. I'm sure your editorial policy also supports transparency to a great extent.

vesterinen September 30, 2010

Correct again!

Custodus October 10, 2010

Thanks, it feels good to be right :)

Regardless of that, it has now been ten days and the readers of Arctic Startup aren't seeing any disclosures added to the article above. Maybe I'll have to renew my kind request: even if the grand plan was still in the works, wouldn't it be a good thing to disclose what is known so far (see factual hints in previous comments)?

vesterinen October 11, 2010


Thanks for keeping us on our toes re: transparency. Always room for more and better.

I am involved with the company just as your observations suggested. Please consider this my disclosure for now. That's what is known so far. AS readership is among the first to know when there's more.