I downloaded the free game Bitcoin Billionaire by Michael Stockwell (published by Noodlecake Studios) expecting to be unimpressed or annoyed. The more serious Bitcoin miners among us might still have that experience in spite of its ability to grow on you. Take comfort in the fact that it didn’t cost anything (except time) to play, though.
When you start the game up you are presented with a warning: the bitcoins you are about to mine are not real. I guess you never know what users are going to think they can do with a game. In any case, this game wants you to tap. And tap, and tap, and tap. (Must be why they call it the genre “idle tapping.”) For added convenience, you can even tap with multiple fingers at once. The object is simple: mine as many bitcoins as you can, and grow your investment by diversifying. To do so, you tap the computer where your avatar is working steadily to a fortune.
Occasionally packages arrive, containing either upgrades to your miners or other bonuses. You can spend your virtual Bitcoins on upgrades and investments such as lottery tickets and comic books. Now and then you get unlucky, like below. “Someone divided by zero.”
But now and then you get lucky, like when these leprechauns walked by my avatar’s window.
A certain type of personality will find this game irresistible. The game has no end, and there are leaderboards. This gives it a Flappy Birds quality — the only goal is to get a higher score than last time. The company that makes the game has a number of others that are similar in concept: the more you tap and engage, the higher score you earn.
Time is precious to most people anymore, and so I was surprised to find myself thinking about this game when away from the house yesterday, wishing I had brought my tablet along. It’s like my tablet got upgraded from its previous status of ebook with occasional web browsing and e-mail management.
Occasionally you get the opportunity to pay for things by watching advertisements for other games, which is a refreshing business model. In other games, after a certain point you are pretty much forced to spend real money to maintain the same level of fun. The miner upgrades are somewhat realistic, but the investment opportunities are limited and trivial. A future version should include the alt coin markets that someone with that much Bitcoin would be able to profit in. But ,after all, it’s a video game and an engaging one at that.
One thing that is sorrowfully lacking from Bitcoin Billionaire is the ability to spend actual bitcoins on the game for any reason. For a game that does, see our write-up about SaruTobi. It is also sad to see that no Bitcoin businesses have decided to sponsor the game, as this would be a great opportunity for them to engage with the as-yet uninitiated.
However, I think someone who knew nothing else of Bitcoin might get the wrong impression about the ease with which bitcoins can be earned. As many reading this will be able to attest, the mining field is a crowded and difficult one to be successful in, and the ingenuity of those who are able to survive in the ever-shifting market cannot be understated.
Anything that makes Bitcoin a subject of conversation is a net positive for the protocol. As Bitcoin becomes more and more ubiquitous, its presence in our consciousness will inevitably lead to it showing up in more games and other areas of popular culture, like television and books. Hopefully more games like it will hit the stores and more to the point will integrate Bitcoin for in-game purchases and advertising. Since nominal but exact amounts of value are one of the things that Bitcoin is superior at delivering, things along these lines will probably come along and blow Bitcoin Billionaire out of the water.
Nearly 44,000 ratings can’t be wrong, so I won’t argue with them. I’m giving this game four out of five stars. I’d like to see improvements in future releases which would do more to educate the user as to what Bitcoin is all about, but as far as silly games go, this one is a lot more fun than expected.
Try Bitcoin Billionaire out for free here.