By Joseph Leray
After creating canonical franchises like Black and White and Fable, Peter Molyneux famously left Lionhead Studios to form 22Cans, who’s first game-slash-gamification-experiment Curiosity: What’s Inside the Cube? hit Windows, iOS, and Android this morning.
The free app gives players (and that’s using the term rather loosely) the opportunity to chisel away at an enormous black cube in a blank white room. All players are working on the same cube concurrently, but only the first person to get to the center gets to see what’s inside. (Spoiler: it’s probably Gwyneth Paltrow’s head.)
The game is being billed as a psychological geegaw to see if thousands of people will work together for a prize only one person will see, but it’s also an experiment in monetization: users can buy better pickaxes to increase their chances of “winning”, ranging from a $1 iron pickaxe that’s 10 times more effective than basic tapping, to an absurd $78,000 diamond-tipped drill.
In any case, Curiosity seems to be an early success: Molyneux has tweeted that over 80 million cubes have been tapped already, and the game’s servers are buckling under the load.
The team at 22Cans have been “working overnight” to fix Curiosity’s connectivity issues, noting that “something as concurrent as this has never been attempted before, and we’re just a small company.” The team is also working on a patch to keep the issue from happening again, while struggling to keep Curiosity up and running for players who can still access the game: “What makes this so scary, because we want to keep the cube active, we are having to make changes on the server live,” Molyneux says.
If your curiosity has been piqued, What’s Inside the Cube? is currently available on the App Store and Google Play for zero dollars.