All member reviews for DragonVale

Common Sense Media says

Entertaining sim experience requires patience -- or cash.

Users say

(out of 27 reviews)
age 10+
Review this title!
Parent Written byMTaylor405 May 2, 2013

With Basic Precautions its a Fun Learning Tool

Full review below.---------------tl;dr - If you take basic, common sense precautions. Dragonvale is a perfect game to foster organization, strategic thinking, and patience in a fun way. If you don't take the time to check what your kid is playing, you're in for a nasty financial surprise. Turn off automatic purchases. ------------------------------My eldest younger brother (23) and I (27) have shared custody of our youngest brothers (5) and (8) since our parents deaths. I say this to give context. I am probably younger and on the other side of the digital divide from many parents here. Both of us elder siblings work long hours, and with the 23-yr-old in medical school, we have little money and not a lot of quality time with the kids that doesn't revolve around homework help and dinner. My brothers only have smart phones because I work for a iPhone device company that lets me take home obsolete phones, and I don't give the kids a data plan. Dragonvale is the perfect game for them.--------------The Good: ---------1) Dragonvale is a free app, and every feature can be played for free! Almost everything in the game has a wait time on average 3 hours, with a maximum of 48 hours. It's a great motivator to teach your kids patience without going beyond what a small kid can tolerate.------------2) The game is very strategy heavy, but the strategy isn't complex. To breed certain types of dragons, achieve goals, and build up your park, you must utilize basic critical thinking. Your children can easily work it out themselves, but it teaches legitimate game theory, how chance works, and forethought.----------3) Dragons! Pretty Decorations! Exploding Volcanoes! Kids love this because it's FUN!-------4) It is low or high commitment depending on play style, so it's easy to play with your kids. All four of us play Dragonvale, and it's a real bonding activity. -------------------------------- The Bad: Everything in the game can be made easy. All waiting and strategy eliminated IF YOU SPEND MONEY. The cheapest in game purchase is $1.99, the most expensive -- $99.99 --! If you have automatic purchase on, and your kid is impulsive or thinks he can get away with it, you'll be in for a surprising credit card bill. All of the negative reviews center around unexpected charges, some even calling them fraudulent. 30 seconds in the game reveals that a $99 purchase is as easy to make as a $2 one, and it can save you weeks of game play time. There's no fraud, just kids who take the shortcut and parents too uninvolved to catch them at it and/or unwilling to place the blame for the charges on the real responsible party.------------------------------------ I unequivocally and enthusiastically recommend Dragonvale . . . if you turn off automatic purchases.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written bySteveSF June 9, 2012

Good game, if kids understand not to use real money

As long as kids understand that everything can be done without in-app purchases (our number 1 rule for this game is no real money), it is a very good sim-type strategy game with no violence and very good graphics. It can be a good tool (with significant parent involvement) to teach creative problem-solving and patience.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written byslukster October 15, 2012

My 5 yr old and I LOVE IT!!

I am not sure how my 5 year old son found this game on my wife's Iphone but one day I found him playing it and having a blast. After watching him play (to make sure it was appropriate for him, which it is) and playing it for a while I am as addicted to the game as he is. I find myself playing it when my wife and kids are in bed. As crazy as this may seem this game has created real bonding moments with my son. He usually wakes up at 6am and asks my wife to play on her phone and then he comes over to me all excited to show me his newest habitat and dragons. I have discussed strategy with him (don't spend the gems to hurry up the breeding process!! Save them for a hard to get dragon!) and how to save his gold coins for something he wants. It has also taught him patience since it does take hours for some of the dragons to breed and the eggs to hatch. It just adds to the suspense and fun of the game. While this game won't make your kid eligible for MENSA, it is a safe, fun stategy game that they will enjoy. For the unfortunate parents who realized the hard way that there are options to buy gems, treats and coins using real money. Don't give you kids your Itunes password! While my son knows my wife's phone password to unlock it, from the first moment he started playing on the phone she made sure he did not have access to purchase any apps or any other things. Every once in a while he will click on something that will prompt him to buy something and enter the itunes password. He quickly realized (after we told him "no" many times when he got to these purchase screens) that he can't go any further and he just goes back. Sorry to say this but it was parental error that allowed the kids to run up the bill, not the games fault. But definately something to keep in mind before handing over the Iphone.
Parent Written byfsmontenegro June 13, 2013

Don't do it. If you must, DISABLE IN-APP PURCHASES.

Dragonvale has been a great way to bond with my son (< 10), who would stay within the app for hours if we'd let him... but on balance I recommend parents stay away from it. I'm a frugal, tech-savvy parent who knows iOS well and my recommendation is not so much because of the potential monetary loss (though that is a big issue for some). The good things about it: - no violence, cute visuals and descriptions, evolving environment (new characters, etc...), encourages potential strategic thinking, teaches patience. The not-so-good things about it: - Takes the 'freemium' model of business - free to play, use $ for additional features - to the breaking point, bordering on fraudulent. Others here have commented on the absurd in-app purchases (up to$99.99). We have a rule at home to not spend real money on in-app purchases and this is exactly the scenario it was built for. Save yourself the trouble and DISABLE IN-APP PURCHASES. - The 'easiest' ways to play the game - the ones most likely to appeal to younger children - are designed to encourage constant playtime. As an example, some 'habitats' (where the dragons 'live') can only hold a maximum of 500 'coins', an amount that can be reached in a couple of minutes of playtime. The end result is that it encourages the player to just sit there and manually collect the coins every few minutes. This means your child can spend HOURS with very little to show for it: even if they amass large amounts of 'coins', most of the higher-level require 'gems' for advancement, which are VERY hard to come by. - The higher levels are extremely expensive in terms of in-game resources, particularly gems. This encourages spending real money (see point above) or requires more advanced strategies not suitable for younger children. Even then, things take forever... (really, 48hrs for 'breeding' then another 48hrs for hatching eggs?) - It does have a 'social' component of gifting small amounts of gems between friends, or giving out gems for posting to FB or Twitter. In my opinion, this is just a mechanism to establish peer pressure to keep playing or free advertisement of DragonVale. As someone who loathes the addictive behaviour of gambling, I get the uneasy notion that Dragonvale stimulates some of those traits - the constant blinking lights, the odd random win (winning a dragon race or getting a 'cool' dragon), the dissociation between real money and pretend money (just like chips at a casino), etc... People will say that the game can be played 'strategically' so that it doesn't require constant playtime. Maybe so, but be VERY careful if your child plays DragonVale: it will be extremely expensive in either money OR time.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written byfraud detector April 25, 2013

Fraudulent advertising

designed to drain your pocket slowly so you don't even notice.. Behind the nice cover, this game works more like virus. It charges $1 or $2 all the time. Somehow we ended up getting a bill for $780 in less than a month.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written bydefcsm February 2, 2014

Sweet, simple intro to gaming

Dragonvale is a simple, sweet game where players can build habitats and "buy" dragon eggs to hatch them and attract visitors to their dragon park. It is simple enough that we play it with our 5 year old, together. He reads the words on the buttons, analyzes where to put the habitats and paths, and decides how to use his in-game coins and gems. He has to practice patience as many of the items require real-time waiting. All in all, pretty OK skills for a tablet game. The dragons and scenery are beautiful, and nothing is scary or offensive. All that said, we don't have any of the problems of many of these parent reviews because we don't allow in-app purchases. Ever. And we won't allow it for our kid when he's 9 or 10 either. Just common sense.
What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Teen, 13 years old Written byRainapple April 7, 2012

Great!

Educational Value- It teaches kids how to deal with money, and land, and how to strategically place things. I personally liked this app. Violence- None. Sex-None. I mean, come on, a breeding cave? Language-None Consumerism- Your child might be tempted to buy "Treasure" such as treats, gems, and coins, but I think you can set a lock on it. Drinking-None Ease of Use- Simple. Drag-and-Drop Privacy-The worst it can possibly get is visiting someone else's island. No comments, pictures, nothing.
What other families should know
Educational value
Kid, 11 years old November 27, 2011

Appropriate but a scheme to get kids money

Its a good game, and its appropriate (its not like seeing two dragons fly around with heart symbols over them in the breeding cave is innapropriate), but if you dont have about 20 dollars to spend on DragonVale every day then your going to have to wait a long time to hatch dragon eggs or haverst dragon fruit or whatever you want to do.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written byjawstheshark June 17, 2013

Good for patient children

My nine year old daughter plays this game and loves it! She is very responsible and is able to get many things that cost "gems" for free. I definitely recommend this game.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written bynosyarg March 18, 2012

Nice game but set up to take money from kids.

My 8 year old daughter downloaded this app yesterday and today I have over 13 charges on my itunes account ranging from $27.00 to $109.31. The app is obviously fun and entertaining for the kids, my daughter has hardly put it down. But the hidden costs are exorbinate. Plan to spend tons and tons of money on this app. To create an app that is so obviously set up to take advantage of little kids who do not understand money and money management is just flat wrong and this app is no longer on our Ipad. Do not go down this path unless you are fine with spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
Kid, 9 years old May 23, 2014

LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I play this all the time and am adicted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Too much consumerism
Parent of a 10 year old Written byhummerfly March 13, 2013

beware the Dragonvale $$PIT

As with the other reviews listed by parents below we have had a much similar experience with this game app that 10 yr old son had asked for on his iPod. In the couple weeks since he started, I racked up 325$ charges on my account most showing up as more than seven charges within the same day. In talking with him about it he had absolutely no idea when this was occurring, it never felt clear to him he was actually spending real money. There are places and incentives to "earn" within the game and after checking it through, it is slightly more "obvious" in some spots, that there will be a charge (you are shown a dollar price below a feature or an object you are purchasing in a "purchase" area) but there are also hidden charges that occur within the game playing process where one is NOT notified that it is a "real" charge, you must know this or figure it out!) but Yes, granted, it should be the parents responsibility to set up restrictions, we should all be soo tech savvy at this point right?? but when this is a new venture (just getting into the world of ipods, iPads, etc....and NOT being savvy to every little possibility in the big virtual world out there..) and my son being one who always asked permission prior to a purchase, and it was easier to have everything set up to facilitate an easy process when that desire was acceptable in the moment....This game felt like a horrible violation of that trust. In trying to respond I also tried to find the contact info for the game makers, which was never found, nor was there any where I could find that "explained" the rules and outlined cost features. In the clean-up process I spent >2 hours at least, on the phone and online, talking with Apple till the charges were finally reversed as "unauthorized" This pushed beyond the limits of what I consider fair business practice. I am extremely disappointed in this game, as we have never encountered one prior to this, which worked in this manner without a child or parent being notified that it was real money being charged and clearly detailing when this would be so. Regardless of the attributes and cleverness of the learning it might encourage for the child, it is not encouraging a parents willingness to support it when it is designed to work in this way. I felt very CHEATED.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Kid, 11 years old January 17, 2013

Parents, Watch out for this game

This game is a complete scam built for kids but completely about the money. My child who is 11 plays this game and loves it, but there are still many problems, like the in app purchases, and he racked up a bill that cost almost 200 $! Parents, if you ever let your child play this game, you should disable the in app purchases.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Kid, 11 years old November 23, 2012

BOSS

this game i play. i have 10 rainbow dragons! parents that think that this game is 14 years up is way to crazy! It is really easy and fun! Yeah, you can buy stuff by accident, but if you can't trust your kid, fix your settings!!! It also kinda helps for future life
Kid, 9 years old August 1, 2012

DragonVale, by Backflip Studios

The MOST problem is, the Consumerism. It has you paying REAL money to get things easie, such as treats, gems, and Gold. It is similar to My Town 2.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 10 years old May 18, 2012

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR PARENTS

I have something to say parents of "overspending childs", I have a little tip. I read your comments. The dragons will NOT DIE. I lost my iPod for 2 weeks and got like 7 reminders for my dragons, and they appear to be alive. And here's another one. Later updates will include to have the stuff and all of that. This tip will save you money. I know I'm just a kid, but that doesn't mean I can't make a difference to help 2 things: Kids have fun and parents saving money. If this comment has any problems reply.
Kid, 11 years old August 8, 2016

Extremely Addicting

Best game ever, I don't really understand why people are saying it's a 'scheme', just don't buy it! Earn it! It's really easy. But anyway, really awesome game and I really approve of people over 8 installing it.
Parent Written bydogiplayer July 17, 2016

The Best Game in the World

My son checks his Dragonvale first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. Backflip Studios have created the best game for kids 8 and upwards. It's a learning experience as well as a fun game. He memorizes all his dragons and each one tells a story. He competes with his friends and family and he's even got me playing. Now I'm addicted and can't get enough of Dragonvale. We love it as a family and talk about it every day. I recommend it to other mothers as a safe fun game for their kids.
What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Parent of a 11 year old Written byMamaSeeta January 20, 2016

Game preys on children with push notifications and in-app purchase asks

I am incredibly frustrated with this game which seems intent on sucking my child in. I use parent controls on the smart phone and have turned off notifications and in-app purchases but somehow they get turned back on. My child knows we never ever say yes to in-app purchases but he was practically in tears the other day begging to spend $10 of his own money on in-app purchase for this game. Honestly, I would sincerely recommend you never get this app and if your child asks for it just say no.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 16 years old Written byThe_wise_lamb October 12, 2015

This game is extremely fun. I've been playing this game for a year or 2 and it's been great, I think this game is fine for all children. if they are less responsible turn off in app purchases but if they're responsible and know not to abuse the in app purchases then it should be perfectly fine. Overall this game is a fun experience. However I would not consider it a learning game.

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