One Way of Monetizing a Mobile App: Mayan Puzzle Sells Game Hints

Mayan PuzzleOkay, so this latest puzzle game isn’t really full of ancient Mayan puzzles, but it does come with a Mayan theme.

Mayan Puzzle HD, from developer Mind Crew, is fairly traditional with its puzzle offerings. It’s a variant on “match three” puzzle games, where you have to get three of more of the same item in a row. That in mind, it lends itself well to both iDevice platforms with its older iPhone rendition and newer iPad one, for its simple design makes it an easy title to pick up or put down during spare moments.

Aesthetically pleasing, this match-three application comes with a variety of different game modes to sate every palette. It even hosts some interesting monetization elements for those that find the challenge a bit too much.

The core game play mode to Mayan Puzzle HD is its Classic mode, and this is the most unique of all the four. Of course, “unique” is a term used loosely as it has been done before by Aurora Feint II: Tower Puzzles. Players are given a layout of different colored Mayan blocks and the idea is to remove all of them by matching three or more together. Sounds simple right? Well, the catch is that players only have a finite number of moves to accomplish this in and they can only swap blocks left and right.

What adds an extra level of challenge to each puzzle is that the game tracks how many tries and how long it takes to complete it. Depending on how the player does, users earn their score and are placed on a global and friends leaderboard that is displayed on the puzzle menu itself (though it is rather slow loading). These scores come directly from OpenFeint, but players can also opt to utilize the Game Center as well.

HintsWhile Mayan Puzzle is reminiscent of Aurora Feint II: Tower Puzzles, it is worth noting that the predecessor is a bit better. With the latter, players have to rotate the device to change the orientation of blocks in order to solve puzzles, and that extra way of thinking is not present in Mayan Puzzle. Nevertheless, with 50 different puzzles to solve, the later ones are still difficult. In fact, this leads to a rather interesting monetization element.

In addition to the $0.99 cost for the iPhone and $2.99 for the iPad versions, the game allows users to buy hints to help them through the Classic mode. They’re not really “hints,” though, as much as they are explicitly telling the user what to do next, but they can be purchased for three levels at $0.99 or eight levels for $1.99. Additionally, using these has no affect on the score it seems.

Should players get tired of the Classic mode puzzles, they can also participate in Time Trial, Challenge, or Marathon modes. Each mode works roughly the same. Instead of a specific layout, player are given a full board of blocks (kind of like Bejeweled) and must match as many as possible for as high a score as possible. As expected, combos, matching more than three blocks, or matching simultaneous sets will boost points earned. Unlike Bejeweled, however, players must swipe upward in order to add new rows at the bottom.

VisualsThe challenge comes in with the different game modes. In Time Trial, players select how much time they want to put on the clock and the idea is to score as many points as possible before it expires (30, 60, 90, or 120 seconds). Challenge, on the other hand, is a little more interesting, as players choose a difficulty and players must score as high a score as possible in 30 seconds. Here, however, time is added to the clock as matches are made, but higher difficulties require combos to add time and have more color variety in the blocks.