I have spent some time over the last week playing the various “Text Based MMORPGs” on the iPod Touch.
Invariably, they are variations on Dope Wars, and remind me more than a little bit of Kingdom of Loathing.
I found three companies that make them for the app store, and the basic designs are practically identical, but the implementations vary in the smoothness of the user interface.
I would put storm8 above the others, then playmesh, then godfather games. All games are about the same. The business models are identical. Storm8 is better because of presentation and clean user interface, and they get some points for actually trying to make their reskinned games a little different than the others.
Deep down, these games are simply Hamurabi on crack, with the ability to “attack” other players and take their resources.
Oddly enough, there are elements of these in my two game concepts Island Interloper and Midieval Micromanager, as well as the branch of Dungeon Delver games entitled “Text Quest Lite”. My original Dungeon Delver spun off into HamQuest, and will live its life as a roguelike.