How do you make waves in a crowded space that filled with mobile deals? One way is to make bargains a game, and not just by incentivizing group buying, but by actually making a playable game that allows you to unlock a deal. That’s what The Heist, a new iPhone (s aapl) app released Tuesday, aims to do.
The Heist is a joint effort by MacHeist, which provides periodic great deals on bundles of Mac OS X software for your Apple computer, and tap tap tap, the development studio behind iOS App Store hits like Camera+. The result is a beautifully designed iPhone puzzle game, featuring a variety of different gameplay, that costs $0.99 and apparently delivers a tangible reward upon completion.
Neither MacHeist nor tap tap tap are giving away the secret of what lies with the “vault” at the end of The Heist, but the app’s promotional site does promise that “our cake is no lie,” and that “it’s worth much more than the price of entry.” An image on the site depicts what appears to be a Mac and PC-compatible software box, and TouchArcade has already discovered what the reward is, but if, like me, you’d rather savor the mystery, don’t check out their site.
Whatever the prize, the game has 60 levels, ranging from very easy to quite vexing, so it will already have been worth the dollar I paid for the app, because the gaming part of the experience isn’t just thrown in as an afterthought. Instead, this is an iOS puzzler that ranks with the best of them, by combining great graphics with simple yet challenging gameplay.
The concept of The Heist is great: charge users a reasonable amount for a gameplay experience that is rewarding in itself, and also leads to some incentivized conclusion. It may lose some of its shine when the mystery is taken away, but thanks to tap tap tap, the game itself is worth the price of admission. Nice to see that instead of just launching Groupon clones, some people are thinking about different ways to shake up digital deals.