This weekend I jumped a lot, and more than a few of these jumps ended in death: I was playing Mr Jump, a new iPhone and iPad game that rewards pattern identification and memorization like the best of the old-school platformers. The game from France’s 1Button has already racked up 5 million downloads in just four days, and its simple in-app purchase and ad-based revenue model is earning its developers five-figure revenues on a daily basis, without having to resort to “pay-to-win” mechanics.
The game keeps play simple – it’s a one-button platform title, meaning all a user has to do is tap the screen and the appropriate point. A tap results in a jump, with the length and height of the jump variable based on how long you tap. The player character, Mr Jump, moves of his own accord from left to right across a scrolling, simply colored blocky environment, and your goal is to avoid the various spikes, pitfalls and other dangers that impede his progress.
There are pop-over ads in the game, which appear pretty infrequently, but you can also pay $1.99 to get rid of them forever. You can also pay $0.99 to unlock the next level, or simply beat it the old-fashioned way of navigating each level’s hazards to unlock a new one. 12 levels are currently included, with more to come, according to the developers.
Mr Jump co-creator Jérémie Francone says that the small developer (which includes co-founders Thomas Castel and Alexandre Konieczny, too) wanted to create an experience where they could make money, while also not making players feel like they had to pay to win. It’s true that the “Key” IAP provides a shortcut, but it isn’t required to get ahead, and in fact, if anything it takes away from gameplay enjoyment when compared to advancing the old-fashioned way.
“As gamers ourselves, we are not really into these pay-to-win models (checkpoints, continues…). They kind of ruin the experience,” Francone told us via email. “In Mr Jump, you have to complete a level to go to the next one. But if you are really stuck, you can buy a key to unlock the next level.”
Gameplay is challenging without being infuriating, and rewards the kind of hardcore pattern memorization that made classic titles for Atari and NES so fun to play. It’s also refreshing to see something other than an endless runner manage this kind of one-button simplicity.