Luca Redwood, also known as "The 10000000 Guy", was working on a hotly anticipated sequel for the original 10000000 [$2.99] titled You Must Build a Boat. Along the way, he started working on a side projects, and from there the story takes an incredibly predictable turn that I feel like I've heard a million times from other developers with "side projects"- The side project turns in to the main project, and before you know it, you're polishing up a game for release that you only originally meant to take a little break and prototype.

The gameplay of the upcoming Smarter Than You is essentially a highly iterated version of rock-paper-scissors with the social hooks that seem to make for explosive success on the App Store. However, what's interesting about the game isn't necessarily how you'll play it, but how you'll pay for it. According to Luca, this is all inspired by something I allegedly said during a talk at GDC, so if you hate it, I guess you can also blame me in some weird way.

Anyway, I gave a very generalized talk on how to be successful on the App Store, and as part of it mentioned that you really need to think outside the box if you want to stand out from the herd that's busy cloning whatever is popular at the moment. The part that resonated with The 10000000 Guy was me mentioning that the free to play nut hasn't been cracked yet, there's still better ways to do free to play, but no one has figured it out and implemented it yet. Few developers take risks anymore, when you can just clone whatever's popular and call it a day. (And often make a decent chunk of change doing it.)

So, how will you pay for Smarter Than You? Through a "everybody wins" system where you can essentially buy experience points. What makes this interesting though, is you can never award these experience points to yourself, rather, you can only tip them to opponents after a match.

After the game ends, you get the opportunity to tip your opponent an experience bonus. Thats it. You can never buy anything for yourself, you can only reward your opponent. This works because, If you duel in an MMO and get beaten because they have a ridiculous real-money sword, it makes you feel bad - Valve calls this a "Negative Externality"

In this game, when the other player buys something it makes you feel good. The experience feels good but the mark of respect received feels better. Buying a tip makes you feel good too - you aren’t forced to do it, you don’t have a stake in it, you do it because you had a nice match together.

It sounds totally crazy, and I dig it. If you want to play Smarter Than You without paying a cent, that's fine. You can totally do it. There's nothing you even kinda-sorta have to buy, which any self-proclaimed free to play expert with a fancy job title will tell you is disastrous. According to Luca, "I’ve consulted with a lot of people, and everybody has told me there is literally no way this will work. They’re probably right and thats OK."

I can't wait to see how it all plays out. Who knows if players will embrace this tipping mechanic, but it's wonderful to see a developer try something new with free to play outside of the typical soft and hard currencies with timers everywhere because "That's What Works™".

Either way, Smarter Than You should be finished up inside of a few weeks and released soon after- So, we won't have to wait too long to see how this experiment plays out.

  • lr1919

    GG

    /u/dogetipbot 5000000 doge

  • worldcitizen1919

    There are more than 10000000 good natured people in the gaming world so this will work.

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  • Psac42

    Very interesting. I see people ask for a donate button on a lot of games, this effectively gives that through the tip mechanism. Very much "pay it forward" thinking.

  • Jerutix

    This is going to be fascinating to watch. I would love it if Luca could do some kind of post mortem feature for TA a couple of times after release.

  • Goggles789

    This is an awesome idea. I hope it takes flight.

  • irettillib

    Looks like he might escape being known as 'The 10000000 Guy' after all.

  • Holcman

    This type of IAP I'm okay with, and I'm interested to see how this turns out.

  • Styrixa

    Iff the game is good, it might work. If the game is great, I will gladly buy some tip currency. Fun idea, and I hope more people try it.

  • Joeavery

    I like the tipping idea, but I'm not sure if this game will be a valid test of it yet. The game seems fairly simple. I'm not sure it will hold my attention for long. I know I'm not everybody, and I haven't played it yet - maybe it will be fun, but if people tire of it there just won't be many opponents to tip.

  • C. Stubb

    What the hell?

  • rewind

    I think it's great that he's trying to do Free to Play differently. But sometimes, different ideas aren't good ones. I don't believe that people are generous enough to spend real money on a virtual gift, especially for someone that they don't even know. However, it can't hurt to try. I won't ever spend a penny on this, I don't think it'll work at all, but I'm willing to support this in any other way.

  • thiagovscoelho

    there IS no way this is going to work, this is going to be terrible for the dev.
    but hey, they're the ones throwing their money away

    • Cookies

      It's a good thing they're planning on trying it rather than pointlessly dismissing it then. How many times in history have the most awesome things come from ideas people said were never going to work? (I know that's cliched, but the point remains valid)

      • thiagovscoelho

        Innovation is a bad idea in general. Sometimes for some reason you strike gold with it, but it's usually to be avoided.

  • Dubdubdubdub

    I love it. It's exactly like reddit gold, which really means a lot for a user when he gets it.

  • Sojourn

    That is one creepy trailer!

  • rachelefawcett

    until I saw the paycheck which said $8694 , I didn't
    believe that my sister was like trully erning money part time on there
    computar. . there friends cousin had bean doing this for only thirteen months
    and resantly repayed the dept on their home and bought themselves a Infiniti .
    check out the post right here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • http://www.silentrocco.com/ Silent Rocco

    Brilliant dev, brilliant trailer. I just love what this guy does!

  • kinnth

    It will work, but it might not make as much money as an alternative system. It all depends on how you tip, if you can say buy 100 XP then give out small bits at a time then you will feel good much more often than a single purchase for 1 person, therefore you will probably be more likely to do it!