X-Mas Resort

App review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
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Appears to be free resort-building but needs real money.

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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

The game's controls are pretty straightforward. You skim through menus to pick the items you want to buy and then place them on your island with a tap. There's not much more to it.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

While you don't need to spend any real money to play the game, there's not much you'll be able to make happen without doing so. By spending anywhere from $2 to $100 at the game's in-app store, kids can purchase packages of coins or shells (the in-game currency spent to build up your resorts).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that X-Mas Resort is a velvet rope app, meaning that it is offered for free, but in order to get the most out of the game and to avoid waiting for hours or days between playing, you'll need to spend real money to buy extra in-game currency.  You need to spend shells and coins to buy buildings and decorations for your customizable Christmas Island, but you have a very limited amount of that currency to begin with and anything you purchase will use up most of it. In order to purchase more stuff for your island, you need to either wait a long time for your resort to earn dribs and drabs of coins, or you have to cough up some real money to buy more coins and shells from the in-app store. The holiday theme is going to make this velvet rope app more appealing to younger kids than most.

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Is it any good?

X-MAS RESORT, while cute, colorful, and creative in its holiday theme, is one of those insidious "free" apps that tempts users to spend loads of their own real-world cash in order to continue playing. There are several of these so-called "velvet rope" apps that are constructed in a way that allows players to do plenty of stuff without needing to spend real money, but this isn't one of them. Put a "Santa Letters Post Office" and a candy shop on your Christmas island and you'll be pretty much out of dough. All the very cool looking, very tempting items you can buy to decorate your island have big price tags. The game feels designed to cause players to use up their in-game currency really fast and then feel pressured to spend real money if they want to continue playing. Some of the items feel like a real rip-off, too. After using a bunch of your shells to buy the exciting-sounding "Santa Sighting," you'll see the sleigh zip over your resort for about a second and a half, before it disappears. There goes your money.

App details

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