Puffballs United are pretty famous for their stick figure games. Stealing the Diamond is another one in the series. Let’s take a look at how well they’ve done with this one.
When Charging for a Game backfires
Before we get into talking about the game itself, I’d just like to bring up the price. It costs £0.79, or your regional equivalent on both Google Play and iTunes – however, if you play it in a web browser, it’s free. Now, I’m not going to deny developers the right to make money from their creations, especially when this amount of effort has gone into them – but I’d just like to look at what this has meant for the game on mobile platforms.
If you search for this game on iTunes or Google Play, you’ll quickly see that it has a lot of clones – free clones at that – which is a major problem on both of these stores. Not only will customers have a hard time figuring out which version is legitimate, they’ll actually be more likely to go for the free one. I can’t help but think this will have cost Puffballs United a decent chunk of money.
It’s not necessarily their fault, either, given how slow Apple and Google are to react to this sort of thing. I do think they should show a little more awareness of their market, and perhaps taking the smaller cut they get from in-game ads would have prevented the multiple clones of Stealing the Diamond to show up. That being said, without any tool or website for tracking sales performance, I can’t be sure that charging money for it hasn’t paid off.
A Charming, Humorous Thieving Adventure
The plot of Stealing the Diamond takes place inside a museum, where a rather large and valuable Tunisian diamond is on display. It’s your job to break in and steal it. Whether you take the more mundane routes or go for something a little more epic is up to you.
Right from the start, everything about Stealing the Diamond is humorous - from the voice acting right through to the animation of the facial expressions and the dialogue. It’s important that games like this get the tone right, because the artistic style – while nicely hand rendered – is minimalistic.
If you’ve not played one of these games before, they’re like interactive storyboards. You’re presented with a scene, either static or dynamic, and you have to choose one of the available options. Most of them will result in something going horribly wrong for your character, while one or more will allow you to continue on down a certain path towards one of the endings.
One of the arcs is laid back, giving you all the time in the world to make your decisions, while at least one of the others is much more hectic and turns the game into a series of quick time events, not too dissimilar to the Telltale games like The Walking Dead and A Wolf Among Us.
Some of the routes are pretty short, totalling no more than five frames, while others are significantly longer – although none of them will take much over five minutes to complete, even if you go through and find all the different endings and failures. Continue Reading
Release Date: 15/11/2013
Available on: iOS, Android
Length vs Entertainment
In order to find absolutely every route and failure, you’re probably looking at around fifteen minutes. For a free game, it’s impossible to earnestly critique game length. However, given that this costs money on mobile stores, I’m not sure Stealing the Diamond represents value for money, even if it does cost less than a quid.
It’s a tough genre to sell. Unless you’re a relatively large team like Telltale Games – who themselves create some really poor adaptations (Hi, Game of Thrones) – making one of these games that lasts much longer entertaining throughout isn’t easy. This is true for any game where you spend more time looking at it and watching what happens rather than actually playing it.
Stealing the Diamond is a good, funny and enjoyable experience. My problem with the mobile version is that it’s too short to charge money for, in my opinion. It’s not long enough to be something that you’ll want to go back and watch like you would a good film, and all the replay value is gone after fifteen minutes or so. It seems silly to pay for it when you can just as easily open your mobile browser and play it for free through that instead.
Stealing the Diamond is developed by Puffballs United.