On advice of a coworker, I downloaded “Koi Pond” to my iPhone. Gloria said that it was popular with her three year old daughter.
The “game” is just what it says &endash; it’s a koi pond. There is what’re that you can interact with (the main attraction for her daughter and Maximilian), fish to watch swim about, lily pads to place. You can spend real money to buy more fish and ponds, but there really isn’t a point to do that. There are no goals. No achievements. Just you and the pond.
Contrast this with “Koi Pond 2” where I can’t open it without facing a pond full of dead fish because I haven’t logged in and cleaned a fish filter. All the advantages of having a koi pond: watching the fish, the sense of calm, are gone and replaced with the grind of maintaining a pond, and all the guilt and the daily grind of a tamagotchi. All the traps / trappings of contemporary casual gaming are there: daily play rewards, a store that takes real money, unlockables. Far from feeling rejuvenated, I feel like my soul has been sucked dry every time I open it.