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Peter Molyneux may have just monetized trolling
Peter Molyneux may have just monetized trolling
April 19, 2013 | By Mike Rose

April 19, 2013 | By Mike Rose
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    28 comments
More: Smartphone/Tablet, Design, Business/Marketing



"We don't know quite what will happen. Curiosity may very well rapidly degrade to reveal its innermost secret or maybe the effects of automatically removing cubelets will be neutralized by players keen to keep Curiosity going."
- A note from Peter Molyneux's 22cans tells users they can pay to reverse the progress made by others in Curiosity.

The game has been available for several months now, and has players tapping "cubelets" to remove layers from a cube. There is apparently a secret to be revealed beneath the last layer for whoever chips away the last cubelet.

Now the studio has added the option for players to pay to actually add more pieces to the cube rather than chip them away as usual, reversing the process for 99 cents, $6.99 or $10.99, depending on the amount of cubelets. Some users have actually already paid to remove a large number of cubelets all in one go, thanks to a previous in-app purchase.

As noted by Eurogamer, players have so far paid to remove nearly 14 million cubelets, while adding an extra 4.7 million. Molyneux has described being able to both add and remove cubelets as a "war of attrition."


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Comments


Ramin Shokrizade
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While I think this is a fascinating experiment, and a prelude to something approaching an infinite game, I think this product is mostly being driven right now by novelty. There are a few components that are missing to bring this experiment to the next level.

Nathaniel Grundy
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Isn't novelty what IOS gaming is all about?

Alan Boody
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I think the 'experiment' was about ways to capitalize on a game. Peter, you are one sly developer.

Benjamin Quintero
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The nerd rage that follows the end of this experiment I fell is going to be historic.

Lewis Wakeford
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The final layer will be textured with a poorly compressed trollface.jpg

John Trauger
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...or the whole thing collapses in disgust if players can't get anywhere.

If stasis results from this move, the prize will be claimed by a curiosity-bot slavishly pecking away at the cube after interest has burned out.

Ardney Carter
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Eh, I think the numbers so far show that stasis is pretty unlikely.

Beyond the numbers though, it's simply a question of cost. If I'm understanding it right, cubes can only be added for money whereas they can be removed both by money AND for free via manual clicking. It's inevitable that they all be removed since the amount of people willing to mess with something for free is guaranteed to exceed the amount of people willing to pay money to hamper their efforts.

Dan Jones
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Yeah, this is my fear too. Back when Curiosity launched, I spent a lot of time tapping those cubes. (I actually quit the *second* time the buggy store robbed me of multiple millions of points, but that's another story.)

But my point is that my semi-OCD tendencies are what allowed me to enjoy spending so much time tapping that cube, not just because of the mini-triumph every time you clear a screen, but because of the overall feeling that, no matter how seemingly insignificant each member's individual contributions may seem, collectively we were marching toward the finish line.

If I *WAS* still playing, and I heard they were letting people pay to add cubelets back on, I'd probably quit right then and there. That's just a punch right in the gut.

Jonathon Green
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If this is a war of attrition as Peter suggests, does this mean he and his studio 22cans are willing to accept the moniker of virtual arms dealers?

I can't help but think this is an interesting idea in theory, but in practice, especially as a product on such scale and even before this "addition", is actually quite ignoble and abusive of the individuals who perceive themselves to be playing Curiosity. Monetizing the lure of repetitive behaviour, that we are endowed with to aid in learning and actual accomplishment, and turning it into nothing more than an extremely loosely veiled cash grab, whilst coveting a sense of rewarding curiosity that is enforced through the name of the game, that actually doesn't exist unless a user continues to pour hideous amounts time into tapping a screen with curiosity only rewarded for one person with odds tremendously stacked to the point that it makes Russian Roulette look like a game of skill... Yeah - Why does the word Gambling not appear on the wiki page for Curiosity even once? Even google won't joint match the two words.

The only way I can see this self proclaimed "experiment" end in a somewhat positive fashion, is if the prize held by curiosity is the profit earned by the experiment itself minus development and upkeep costs (*cough* gambling). If 22Cans are indeed "learning incredible amounts" from this as they claim, then let that be profit enough for them and the reward for their own curiosity as to whether this could be a viable product in today's market.

However in future, I almost feel as if there should be devices in place to stop aggressive elements of products that are designed purely to grossly waste the time of or milk, in this case, n million minus one individuals, ... using self generated hype and insinuation to make people pay money for something which can equate to nothing, because someone finally figured out you can do it in an intelligent way which manipulates people into associating the magnitude of their repetitious action with progress without actually giving them anything.

I'm worried that all that has been truly learnt from this that will be taken forward by others (which was actually quite obvious before), is the notion that people really will give you money for nothing and that your game mechanics can be as non-existent as you like so long as you provide a means to do whatever it is faster or better than other people by paying for it. Elsewhere in the industry it's called Pay2Win, and it didn't take an experiment involving millions of people to work it out and then figure out that people really don't appreciate it when it's not obfuscated by fluffy words - like Curiosity.

David OConnor
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to manually peck at this cube, or pay money to add/remove cubelets... one might conclude that a person is bone frickin' idle, or has too much money to spend. Well, I guess everyone is entitled to their preference. *shrugs*

Alex Leighton
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Yeah really, we need to give people tar and blowtorches and have them out filling potholes or something.

David OConnor
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sure seems more interesting, and useful, than this... drivel

Ofer Rubinstein
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It shows people are willing to throw money on really stupid things. I mean, some people take pride when people spend money on their game, but to spend money on this? It put all other things in a different perspective.
Maybe people are just too damn bored and lonely they spend money on something like this.

Alan Boody
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To me, it seems like Peter Molyneux thinks that if his name is on a game he can call it an 'experiment' and it's different than other depthless games that monetize in the worst ways. He tried to create the idea that this was somehow genius from a game perspective when all it is is a test in cash grabs. My respect for him as a game developer has decreased considerably.

David OConnor
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lets see where the money goes at the end

Jacob Germany
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How is this better, or even simply not-worse, than Zynga's attempts to create for-pay Skinner boxes?

Joel Bitar
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It is better because it's not dressed up as something else?

Jacob Germany
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Is that better?

Bob Johnson
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Funny stuff. It's like a good April Fool's prank. You can only pull it off once. This is the once.

Jeremy Alessi
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Does anyone else think they're mining Bitcoin with this "game"?

Sean Francis-Lyon
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How could they use this to mine Bitcoin?

Mike Griffin
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Hopefully when the last cubelet finally falls away, there's a message saying:

"Congratulations! You are the first to discover that we're donating 100% of Curiosity's break-even revenues to a wonderful charity organization. We can't believe this actually worked. Thanks for your contributions!"

Now -that- would be a genius secret at the end of an oddly exploitative and highly successful game experiment initiated by an eccentric wealthy man with some occasionally great ideas.

Luke Quinn
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Peter Molyneux is plagiarising Zach Weiner-Smith's MMO!!!
He better be planning to send some royalties Zach's way :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD69PAIqiYo

George Booth
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It's like Cow Clicker without the conscience.

Nathaniel Hannigan
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I'm fairly sure this is what's in the box: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhwbxEfy7fg

TC Weidner
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Just reminds me of some old "Carny" monetization like trick used for centuries in roaming "freak" sideshows.

There's a sucker born every minute... as the saying goes.

Dan Bridge
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It's a bit like a digital pass the parcel isn't it, only you can only remove a tiny tear at a time while others can add a bit more. Which is really just a dull distraction from the reality that its highly unlikely anything of interest or value is at the centre.

There's something quite depressing about the whole thing really,particularly the image of people finding the thing interesting in the first place

Ujn Hunter
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Thanks for ruining "Video Games".


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