Good concept--terrible execution!
I will start by saying that I used to play on this website as a preteen. Back in the day it was pretty fun for me because I didn't have to pay a subscription in order to do most things. Nowadays, however, things are a bit different.
They have three types of currency in the game: stars, gold, and ecoins. Stars are earned when you play games, mostly. Coins and gold, however, cannot be earned--they pretty much must be purchased. And it's not exactly cheap, either--it's $10.00 for 10,000 gold (don't quote me on that, I could be slightly off) but I will say that the currency goes fast, and 10,000 gold hardly gets the player anything at all. For example, one of the "luxury" items in the furniture store, a sports car, costs 20,000 gold. So is a parent really expected to pay $20.00 so their child can have a virtual car for their Fantage character? This is just one example of how the consumerism in this game has really become absurd over the years. Once it was a fun (and even educational) site for older kids and preteens now revolves almost entirely around money, and the site is completely boring unless the parent signs their child up for a "premium membership", which has a monthly cost.
That's another thing I have an issue with--monthly cost. It used to be that you were able to purchase only a month of membership, and when the month ran out, you were back to being a non-member again. The same could be done in a 6-month increment or a year's increment. And now, a premium membership is "automatically" renewed every month, regardless of what you sign up for. In other words, it's a recurring bill, which is something not every parent wants. It's a sneaky way to take more money from people!
However, it's worth mentioning in spite of the costs that the site is pretty safe for older children and preteens or even younger teenagers. I know I played the game up until I was about 18 years old, when things first started taking a turn for the worst. There are two types of chat features that can be enabled--Safe Chat (a child can pre-select a phrase or question from a list the site has come up with) or regular chat, which a user can type anything, but of course certain words are moderated. I specify that this site is for OLDER children and teens because of this; some users, as you might expect, find their way around filters and come up with slang words for swears, sexual references, etc. Fantage continues to monitor this, and over time the slang has gotten more and more complex due to the security features. This is a good thing--hopefully it means that eventually it will completely cut out the population of people who are instigating this type of bad behavior, as they will want to do it on websites that are much easier to hack in that way.
Another reason why this website isn't suitable for younger children is because, occasionally, there are outfits that aren't completely appropriate that characters can wear. The stores on Fantage sell everything from bikini swimsuits to crop tops. Sometimes the skirts and shorts fit the characters in a very scandalous way, if that makes sense. The characters aren't really sexualized necessarily, but parents might be wary of the fact that some people might be showing off a little bit more skin (for example, the torso/naval area).
I know that the majority of this review is bashing the site, but I think it's justified--not only does it have some outrageous costs, which cause an unequal distribution of wealth in the Fantage world (there is a VERY distinct difference in the dress/appearance of nonmembers vs. members) and it probably isn't a good thing that it's teaching the concept of materialism to children at an age that is very impressionable.
In spite of these faults, it does have a good amount of entertaining games and seasonal activities for players to enjoy. Unfortunately, once again, the limited-time events cater only to members, and nonmembers cannot enjoy any of those benefits. On top of that, there are usually "limited" items that you can buy during these events, and 99% of the time they can only be bought with gold or ecoins--which, as I mentioned before, you have to spend real money on in order to get. And since "limited" items cost so much, you'd end up spending probably $20.00 worth in virtual money for a user to have just a simple outfit! Ridiculous.
The games that are available to all players also don't seem to have been updated in a VERY long time. I realized this because when I went back to playing a lot of my old favorites, they were buggy and sometimes almost completely unplayable.
Such an expensive website as this shouldn't come with as many faults as it does. I'm very disappointed. Hope Fantage cleans up their act soon. It's so clear that all they care about is money, and the least they can do is make the website worth that money being paid.
This title contains:
Privacy & Safety