Playboy: The Mansion borrows its main gameplay mechanic from The Sims series. Players are in direct control of Hugh Hefner, and have access to all operational functions of the Playboy Magazine, managing of staff, relationships with friends, and oversight of the Playboy Mansion. The main goal of the game is to successfully publish 12 issues of Playboy by completing story driven goals. The player is able to micromanage the Playboy magazine from the cover selection to ad count, in order to boost readership.
Hef has a panel of advisors, ranging from former Playmates, to his secretary, to his chief editor, who walk the player through tutorials, but also update the player on current tasks and developments. The cheif editor, Dick, usually informs the player of the type of demographic to appeal to in the upcoming issue. If the theme is sports, for example, his secretary, Jenny, will guide the player through inviting the proper sports stars to a party at the mansion.
Parties are the main source of social interaction for Hef. The player has the choice of customizing the party to either a day or evening party, casual or classy, or even a lingerie or a pool party in later stages. During parties, the player is able to speak to guests as Hef, and increase or possibly decrease the social needs of the non playable characters. As Hef's needs are always met, and not of issue, the player spends most of the time in conversation with the NPC's, stimulating their business, humor, or romantic needs. Hef is also able to introduce his guests to one another, presenting a three way chat mechanic that can potentially boost the needs of both NPC's, creating or repairing a friendship between the two. The same technique can be used to boost the romantic need of male guests, as Hef can introduce one of the Playmates to the NPC. Parties also cost Hef money, and can range in value from the status of celebrities invited and the number of people attending.
Hef makes many friends throughout the course of the game, many of which are potential interviewees or models for the cover, if female. Hef's friends have a star rating on celebrity status, as well as statistics on their education, wealth, and interests. It's important for the player to find the right balance between Hef's friends' interests and the theme of the current magazine if an interview is to be successful. For example, it is unlikely that a good sports article will come from a politician. The player must also ensure that Hef's friends' needs are always met, if good magazine content from the friend is expected.
Hef hires and fires full time staff, including journalists, photographers, Bunnies and Playmates. While Hef can sign contracts with friends; from which he can either profit or lose money, staff members are on payroll, and inhabit the mansion when hired. Again, staff members also have a star rating based on skill. A higher skilled staff member will demand a higher salary, however better results are to be expected. Only Playmates are eligible to photograph for centerfolds, during which the player has direct control of the camera and can direct the Playmate to change poses. Female friends must be contacted for the Playboy cover, also taken by the player in a similar fashion.
Clothing, Decoration & Customization
The player has direct control over the clothing and traits of Playmates. This ranges from changing the Playmate’s actual name, to the ability to have the Playmate roam the mansion topless. Topless centerfold and cover shoots are also permitted, and gain the magazine more readers depending on the scenery, accessories and star power of the model. Custom music tracks are supported on the Xbox version, allowing players to listen to previously loaded tracks through the mansion’s stereo.
Social Interactions & Girlfriends
Hef is able to maintain several simultaneous girlfriends, mimicking the real life Hef’s “playboy” lifestyle. Hef’s girlfriends also dip into the Playboy budget, as each girl get her own allowance when dating Hef. Romantic interactions are not limited to girlfriends however, as Hef can have flings with many of the mansion’s female guests if he is able to play to their romantic needs.