godAn app that we've surprisingly never talked about here on TouchArcade is Bolt Creative's Pocket God [App Store].

What's changed? Well, maybe it's because our forum members love the app so much, or the developer's dedication to constant updates, or perhaps it was the Pocket God statuette bribe gift that Bolt Creative's Dave Castelnuovo bestowed upon me at GDC (pictured right). Regardless, the appeal of the app is hard to deny.

Pocket God is best described as a simulation-type game in which you act as an all powerful deity to a tribe of islanders. There's no specific goal, however, and it reminds me of a gentler Gabo which was rejected from the App Store for being "unpleasant".

pocketgod

That's not to say you are necessarily a kind "God" in the game. Pocket God's appeal revolves around subjecting your islanders to sharks, natural disasters, vampire bats, and even target practice. Use your finger to move your islanders around, use them as shark bait or simply flick them into the volcano.

Success hasn't come easily, however. Bolt Creative has been hard at work both marketing their app and providing nearly weekly updates to Pocket God. This sort of dedication shows and has generated quite a following in our forums. Each update discussion generates hundreds of responses with talk about the latest version and possibilities for future versions.

credits

Castelnuovo attributes their success to a number of different factors including the grass roots marketing and weekly updates, but also feels the app simply provides a way for people to show off their iPhones. "One of the things that people keep saying about the app is that it's a great way to show off their iphone, you can just get into the game and show someone a funny interaction." wrote Castelnuovo in an email interview.

Castelnuovo also feels that luck did play a major role in their success.

We just happened to hit the right idea at the right time and although we implemented the these marketing techniques in order to try and ride the wave of interest, I don't think I would have developed this idea if I had more time/resources to make an app.

This developer video comes from an earlier release version:

Pocket God remains the #2 most popular iPhone/iPod Touch application and has seen 10 updates since its original release. The latest version (1.11) is currently in review and is called "Something Fishy...".

At only $0.99, fun interaction, and nearly weekly updates, Pocket God is hard to pass up.

App Store Link: Pocket God, $0.99

  • http://TheAPPera.com Superbad

    YAY!!

    Finally some FP love for Pocket God! Congrats to Dave and Allan!

    PS. Cute toy!

  • http://TheAPPera.com Superbad

    YAY!!

    Finally some FP love for Pocket God! Congrats to Dave and Allan!

    PS. Cute toy!

  • 'Jeep

    Finally, that took some (deserved!) bribing! Every iPhone should have PG built-in, Dave and Allan have tremendously contributed to the popularity of the platform itself.

    • kennfusion

      I actually think you are right, this is a showcase app, and Apple should just pre-load it on all iphones.

      Is it fun? I don't know, not really. How much time do I spend with it? About 5 minutes tops each week when the update comes out. Do I think I have got my money's worth? Hell yes!

      Seriously.

      Because when someone who does not have an iPhone wants to see what is so cool about the iPhones, I whip out Pocket Gods and show it off. I flick a few villagers into the volcano. I drop a shark on one of them. I tilt the thing left and right and make the islanders fall into the water. I hit one with lightning, turn one into a vampire bat.

      And I do this all in a couple minutes, most people think it is cool, they have seen touch and accelerometer capabilities and that is enough.

  • 'Jeep

    Finally, that took some (deserved!) bribing! Every iPhone should have PG built-in, Dave and Allan have tremendously contributed to the popularity of the platform itself.

    • kennfusion

      I actually think you are right, this is a showcase app, and Apple should just pre-load it on all iphones.

      Is it fun? I don't know, not really. How much time do I spend with it? About 5 minutes tops each week when the update comes out. Do I think I have got my money's worth? Hell yes!

      Seriously.

      Because when someone who does not have an iPhone wants to see what is so cool about the iPhones, I whip out Pocket Gods and show it off. I flick a few villagers into the volcano. I drop a shark on one of them. I tilt the thing left and right and make the islanders fall into the water. I hit one with lightning, turn one into a vampire bat.

      And I do this all in a couple minutes, most people think it is cool, they have seen touch and accelerometer capabilities and that is enough.

  • spiffyone

    Maybe the devs should, y'know...change the app category to "game" if they want toucharcade to review the title earlier, no? It is, after all, listed as an entertainment app and not a game, although clearly the recent updates have made it err more and more toward being a game.

  • spiffyone

    Maybe the devs should, y'know...change the app category to "game" if they want toucharcade to review the title earlier, no? It is, after all, listed as an entertainment app and not a game, although clearly the recent updates have made it err more and more toward being a game.

  • Jt

    I feel like i must be the only person on TA that doesnt like this app. Every week when the update comes out I spend a minute looking at it again, but I don't feel like they've done much interesting with the concept. Each week, it's just another thing to grab and drop on your islanders.

    I'm not looking for a Sims-like experience here, but really, killing islanders is only so much fun. There is so much potential here, but instead I feel like I am slowly drowning in boring features.

    This game is practically begging for a bunch of Easter eggs, additional islands (each with their own feature set), positive effects (instead of more ways to kill or lose islanders), more interactivity between in game objects, etc.
    It seems to me that the dev is so focused on a feature-of-the-week that they've abandoned any holistic concepts to improve the game (the feature menu a few updates past is a notable exception).

    • mrbass

      No I hate it too but better this make money than a fart app so whatever.

    • jaytee

      i should qualify that i understand it isn't a game and understood this before i bought it. i don't want points, i don't want lives, i don't want timers, i don't even want an objective.

      what i want is to be entertained. (considering the gatergory it is in, i don't feel this is too much to ask)
      there is never anything exciting about this app. i see in the update notes what feature they added, i update, i look at the cute animation for a second and i close the app. it's like watching new episodes of a tv show /after/ reading the synopsis online: not entertaining.
      the most exciting moment i've ever had with this app is from the update "just give us five minutes." after five minutes of playing with it (which is a chore; i actually just set it down and came back later) you got dancing islanders and some fireworks. groundbreaking? no. exciting? almost.
      these kinds of simulations are the most fun when they're not acting like a game, which is why pocket god fails. every feature is documented, everything is predictable, and there is very little depth to it.
      instead, apps like this are fun when they allow exploration. make everything clickable. include random events. integrate features into the world seamlessly rather than drawing attention to them. let certain features unlock other features in novel ways. right now, nothing you do affects anything else—exception being the volcano, where one action (flicking) can trigger another set of actions (eruptions). this is an excellent example of allowing features to interact with each other instead of only with the user—and it would have been 10x better if they hadn't told us up front, instead allowing users to flick and flick and flick until an islander happens to go into the volcano.

      that is all.

  • Jt

    I feel like i must be the only person on TA that doesnt like this app. Every week when the update comes out I spend a minute looking at it again, but I don't feel like they've done much interesting with the concept. Each week, it's just another thing to grab and drop on your islanders.

    I'm not looking for a Sims-like experience here, but really, killing islanders is only so much fun. There is so much potential here, but instead I feel like I am slowly drowning in boring features.

    This game is practically begging for a bunch of Easter eggs, additional islands (each with their own feature set), positive effects (instead of more ways to kill or lose islanders), more interactivity between in game objects, etc.
    It seems to me that the dev is so focused on a feature-of-the-week that they've abandoned any holistic concepts to improve the game (the feature menu a few updates past is a notable exception).

    • mrbass

      No I hate it too but better this make money than a fart app so whatever.

    • jaytee

      i should qualify that i understand it isn't a game and understood this before i bought it. i don't want points, i don't want lives, i don't want timers, i don't even want an objective.

      what i want is to be entertained. (considering the gatergory it is in, i don't feel this is too much to ask)
      there is never anything exciting about this app. i see in the update notes what feature they added, i update, i look at the cute animation for a second and i close the app. it's like watching new episodes of a tv show /after/ reading the synopsis online: not entertaining.
      the most exciting moment i've ever had with this app is from the update "just give us five minutes." after five minutes of playing with it (which is a chore; i actually just set it down and came back later) you got dancing islanders and some fireworks. groundbreaking? no. exciting? almost.
      these kinds of simulations are the most fun when they're not acting like a game, which is why pocket god fails. every feature is documented, everything is predictable, and there is very little depth to it.
      instead, apps like this are fun when they allow exploration. make everything clickable. include random events. integrate features into the world seamlessly rather than drawing attention to them. let certain features unlock other features in novel ways. right now, nothing you do affects anything else—exception being the volcano, where one action (flicking) can trigger another set of actions (eruptions). this is an excellent example of allowing features to interact with each other instead of only with the user—and it would have been 10x better if they hadn't told us up front, instead allowing users to flick and flick and flick until an islander happens to go into the volcano.

      that is all.

  • VoidCog

    JT, you are not the only one that doesn't like this app. It is not a game, and it is not fun. There are no goals, no stats, no save state. It's like a Flash/Java demo circa 1998 -- "press this button and watch something slightly amusing happen".

    I regret this purchase more than any other app.

    • SalsaMD

      Such strong emotions for $0.99...

    • hirschy75

      uhh its definitely fun but you are right it is not a game.

      that being said you should have totally seen that it was under entertainment and not games

      i absolutely love this app and theres nothing better that ive spent a dollar on in my life :)

      congrats dave

    • http://TheAPPera.com Superbad

      I can say that one of your NO things is coming in this next update they'll submit soon

  • VoidCog

    JT, you are not the only one that doesn't like this app. It is not a game, and it is not fun. There are no goals, no stats, no save state. It's like a Flash/Java demo circa 1998 -- "press this button and watch something slightly amusing happen".

    I regret this purchase more than any other app.

    • SalsaMD

      Such strong emotions for $0.99...

    • hirschy75

      uhh its definitely fun but you are right it is not a game.

      that being said you should have totally seen that it was under entertainment and not games

      i absolutely love this app and theres nothing better that ive spent a dollar on in my life :)

      congrats dave

    • http://TheAPPera.com Superbad

      I can say that one of your NO things is coming in this next update they'll submit soon

  • http://www.transapp.com transapp

    I love this app for 1 minute a week (right after the update) :)
    But that's also the reason for keeping it on my iPhone.
    And it's always VERY funny to show it to friends.
    The amusement is gigantic....always....at least for this particular minute.

    But still it's far far away from a game, so it's in the right category.
    Great character design and some sweet ideas make this little distraction very unique....for one minute a week :)

  • http://www.transapp.com transapp

    I love this app for 1 minute a week (right after the update) :)
    But that's also the reason for keeping it on my iPhone.
    And it's always VERY funny to show it to friends.
    The amusement is gigantic....always....at least for this particular minute.

    But still it's far far away from a game, so it's in the right category.
    Great character design and some sweet ideas make this little distraction very unique....for one minute a week :)

  • Lord Gek

    Power to the dev, it looks cute but I too resent anybody trying to spin it as a "game" and therefore have absolutely no interest in purchasing it..

    • arn

      agree it doesn't seem so much a "game" in the traditional sense, which is why we didn't originally post about it. Though, Gabo was a similar app and we would have posted about that. TouchDogs is also a bit goal-less and is also of appeal to many.

  • Lord Gek

    Power to the dev, it looks cute but I too resent anybody trying to spin it as a "game" and therefore have absolutely no interest in purchasing it..

    • arn

      agree it doesn't seem so much a "game" in the traditional sense, which is why we didn't originally post about it. Though, Gabo was a similar app and we would have posted about that. TouchDogs is also a bit goal-less and is also of appeal to many.

  • Mystic

    It's OK. I thought these different episodes meant that you had to do something in particular to pass the episode. Nope. As far as I can tell they're just little graphics/interface updates like a hurricane, lightning, day/night, volcano, etc.

    Oh well.

  • Mystic

    It's OK. I thought these different episodes meant that you had to do something in particular to pass the episode. Nope. As far as I can tell they're just little graphics/interface updates like a hurricane, lightning, day/night, volcano, etc.

    Oh well.

  • M.D.

    I enjoy the app...but if it's not a game, then why is it allowed to be posted in the game section?

    Seems to me that there is an "apps" section that the Pocket God discussions should be taking place in.

  • M.D.

    I enjoy the app...but if it's not a game, then why is it allowed to be posted in the game section?

    Seems to me that there is an "apps" section that the Pocket God discussions should be taking place in.

  • Steve

    This "Game" is fun for about 1 minute after every update.

  • Steve

    This "Game" is fun for about 1 minute after every update.

  • Man of Mystery

    i find this game exceedingly boring

  • Man of Mystery

    i find this game exceedingly boring

  • stargazer513

    sorry dave i ran out of space on my ipod lol...

  • stargazer513

    sorry dave i ran out of space on my ipod lol...

  • http://informationrain.com Chris Papadopoulos

    This was interesting for 30 seconds, but I regret spending even a dollar on this.

    If you like it, good for you. But I can't understand how this has such good reviews.

  • http://informationrain.com Chris Papadopoulos

    This was interesting for 30 seconds, but I regret spending even a dollar on this.

    If you like it, good for you. But I can't understand how this has such good reviews.

  • http://trioco.webs.com IBITF

    TYPO ALERT: you wrote creative bolt instead of bolt creative........

  • http://trioco.webs.com IBITF

    TYPO ALERT: you wrote creative bolt instead of bolt creative........

  • Kes

    That figurine is awesome.

  • Kes

    That figurine is awesome.

  • ZZMitch

    My best 99 cent purchase and one of my favorite apps, great that it got some exposure on Touch Arcade!

  • ZZMitch

    My best 99 cent purchase and one of my favorite apps, great that it got some exposure on Touch Arcade!

  • http://www.mattgillingham.com/software gillygize

    The important lesson here for developers is that arn can be bribed...uh, given gifts... :)

  • http://www.mattgillingham.com/software gillygize

    The important lesson here for developers is that arn can be bribed...uh, given gifts... :)

  • http://www.smouch.net/lol Fazzy

    My anti-spam word was ikea.
    And there seems to be more hate on these comments than love.

  • http://www.smouch.net/lol Fazzy

    My anti-spam word was ikea.
    And there seems to be more hate on these comments than love.

  • http://e-reviewz.blogspot.com/ Swikity

    I think this is ultra boring.
    Like other people have said, this 'game' is amusing for about 30 seconds after I download the update.

    It's dull, and really not fun at all.
    I probably would have had more enjoyment from spending the $0.99 on a gumball than this app.

  • http://e-reviewz.blogspot.com/ Swikity

    I think this is ultra boring.
    Like other people have said, this 'game' is amusing for about 30 seconds after I download the update.

    It's dull, and really not fun at all.
    I probably would have had more enjoyment from spending the $0.99 on a gumball than this app.

  • f e a r l e s s

    I love PG! I love showing it to people! This app and a few others have turned a few of my co-workers (including myself) into iZombies! Much of our workday is spent playing with our iPhones and iPod Touches. Our boss could care less. :D

  • f e a r l e s s

    I love PG! I love showing it to people! This app and a few others have turned a few of my co-workers (including myself) into iZombies! Much of our workday is spent playing with our iPhones and iPod Touches. Our boss could care less. :D

  • http://www.taptoplay.de Lakeshore

    I bought it and lost interest after a few minutes. It is a collection of animations, which react to what you tap or how you tilt. Nothing more, nothing less. That's not bad: They don't sell it as something different, they don't say it's a game and it's only 99 cents. So I don't care. It was fun to tilt the iPhone and see the people fall ;).

    I was never able to hit the volcano :(.

  • http://www.taptoplay.de Lakeshore

    I bought it and lost interest after a few minutes. It is a collection of animations, which react to what you tap or how you tilt. Nothing more, nothing less. That's not bad: They don't sell it as something different, they don't say it's a game and it's only 99 cents. So I don't care. It was fun to tilt the iPhone and see the people fall ;).

    I was never able to hit the volcano :(.

  • http://www.hotcat.org Chris Knight

    Amusing, probably a lot of fun to watch non-techies play with it. It's a toy, not a game, so I don't mind the "no score". Heck, it's not much more than what you'll find on sites like homestarrunner.com but we can't play with those sites can we?

    One thing that REALLY bugs me, though, is the You Tube video shows the game load in what, .5 seconds? Takes 9-10 seconds on my 3-g phone. I'm half-tempted to return this on that alone. A toy that you want to play with for one minute shouldn't take 10 seconds to load (why I think the Tomogochi game for the phone is a waste as well.)

    Hopefully the developer can improve load times. In the meantime, if load time bugs you, avoid this toy.

    • f e a r l e s s

      OMG! 10 Seconds!

      Have you seen iPhone commercials where everything loads instantly? Yeah, we all have... Does anything on iPhone load like they show on commercials? Hell no! They don't want to bore you with loading times. You should expect that. When developers show preview videos of their apps, a lot of the time they are running that app on their desktop computer. Which most likely is A LOT FASTER THAN YOUR PHONE!

    • TKO

      Yeah, you really shouldn't consider those actual load-times. On YouTube, where videos are of limited length, it's to be expected things will be edited. ..Just like, in 30 second Ad - why would you have five seconds of static screen when you're paying thousands of dollars for that 30 second spot?

      Now, if they edit the load times of those actual webpages in Safari .. that's another thing entirely.

  • http://www.hotcat.org Chris Knight

    Amusing, probably a lot of fun to watch non-techies play with it. It's a toy, not a game, so I don't mind the "no score". Heck, it's not much more than what you'll find on sites like homestarrunner.com but we can't play with those sites can we?

    One thing that REALLY bugs me, though, is the You Tube video shows the game load in what, .5 seconds? Takes 9-10 seconds on my 3-g phone. I'm half-tempted to return this on that alone. A toy that you want to play with for one minute shouldn't take 10 seconds to load (why I think the Tomogochi game for the phone is a waste as well.)

    Hopefully the developer can improve load times. In the meantime, if load time bugs you, avoid this toy.

    • f e a r l e s s

      OMG! 10 Seconds!

      Have you seen iPhone commercials where everything loads instantly? Yeah, we all have... Does anything on iPhone load like they show on commercials? Hell no! They don't want to bore you with loading times. You should expect that. When developers show preview videos of their apps, a lot of the time they are running that app on their desktop computer. Which most likely is A LOT FASTER THAN YOUR PHONE!

    • TKO

      Yeah, you really shouldn't consider those actual load-times. On YouTube, where videos are of limited length, it's to be expected things will be edited. ..Just like, in 30 second Ad - why would you have five seconds of static screen when you're paying thousands of dollars for that 30 second spot?

      Now, if they edit the load times of those actual webpages in Safari .. that's another thing entirely.

  • TKO

    There will always be people who don't get it. That's the nature of some game genres (if you want to call this a game .. which I will.) :) I think it's a neat distraction. Showed it to my wife and friends wife the other day, and they just wouldn't stop using it. Throwing them around, dropping cocnuts on their heads, zapping them, etc. (I couldn't get the volcano to work, but I think I know what I did wrong now.)

    This is what I love about the apps store. A huge variety of game types out there. There's something for everyone. This is one of those great odd-ball apps (without the goals, levels, and scoring you would find in a typical game) that would probably never have made it past the concept stage in a regular development studio.

  • TKO

    There will always be people who don't get it. That's the nature of some game genres (if you want to call this a game .. which I will.) :) I think it's a neat distraction. Showed it to my wife and friends wife the other day, and they just wouldn't stop using it. Throwing them around, dropping cocnuts on their heads, zapping them, etc. (I couldn't get the volcano to work, but I think I know what I did wrong now.)

    This is what I love about the apps store. A huge variety of game types out there. There's something for everyone. This is one of those great odd-ball apps (without the goals, levels, and scoring you would find in a typical game) that would probably never have made it past the concept stage in a regular development studio.

  • RVP

    My 6 year old loves the "game". I do believe it is a game. There are different levels of games. I can't believe some of you are so bent out of shape over a .99 app/game. What about trying to get the islanders in the volcano. Knoock them in the head with a coconut. Yank them out of the water before they drown. Is that not a game. Come on guys. I guess a real game is trying to blow somebodies head off or run them down with a car for points. My mother does not think that is a game. She is silly enough to think that Scrabble is a game!!

    The app/game is just damn cute even of for a few minutes after the update. That's why it has a place on my Ipod for my son. Get over your big .99 regret!!

  • RVP

    My 6 year old loves the "game". I do believe it is a game. There are different levels of games. I can't believe some of you are so bent out of shape over a .99 app/game. What about trying to get the islanders in the volcano. Knoock them in the head with a coconut. Yank them out of the water before they drown. Is that not a game. Come on guys. I guess a real game is trying to blow somebodies head off or run them down with a car for points. My mother does not think that is a game. She is silly enough to think that Scrabble is a game!!

    The app/game is just damn cute even of for a few minutes after the update. That's why it has a place on my Ipod for my son. Get over your big .99 regret!!

  • Nukie

    If you like Pocket God, you owe it to yourself to also check out Virtual Villagers. It's Pocket God on steroids (and berries, carrots and coconuts).

  • Nukie

    If you like Pocket God, you owe it to yourself to also check out Virtual Villagers. It's Pocket God on steroids (and berries, carrots and coconuts).

  • johnny kabpa

    I know what ooga jump is. it has to do with the sky as dave said and since doodle jump and PG are joined, ooga jump means you can jump from the clouds in a minigame!

  • johnny kabpa

    I know what ooga jump is. it has to do with the sky as dave said and since doodle jump and PG are joined, ooga jump means you can jump from the clouds in a minigame!