‘Bitcoin Miner’ Was a Dead Game—Until It Started Paying Real BTC Earnings

Idle tapping game Bitcoin Miner was developed in the wake of the 2017 bull run as a colorful and amusing riff on the wild world of crypto. And to hear Fumb Games co-founder Paul West tell it now, almost nobody cared when the game first launched on iOS and Android.

“Nothing happened. Like, literally nothing happened at all,” West told Decrypt’s GG. West said they didn’t promote the game due to hurdles with the Bitcoin branding and that even getting the game live on the App Store and Play Store was a challenge. And then… it just went nowhere.

“We basically sat in the stores for three years, doing I reckon probably under 500 installs in all that time—which, as you know, is nothing on mobile,” he added.

Bitcoin Miner was dead in the water. But after a chance meeting with ZBD, the Bitcoin startup that integrates Lightning Network payments into games and entertainment apps, Fumb decided to give it a trial run. They updated Bitcoin Miner for 2022’s larger devices, added Bitcoin withdrawals via ZBD, and kicked the update to the mobile storefronts.

“It was like a game-changer overnight,” West recalled. Bitcoin Miner picked up about 65,000 downloads that first weekend after enabling BTC payments, with upwards of 70% day-one retention—far and away the best performance the game had ever seen.

It’s a logical addition, adding the ability to “mine” real Bitcoin earnings through a fake Bitcoin mining game, and it’s one that has supercharged the mobile game. Bitcoin Miner has now logged more than two million total downloads to date and is celebrating two years since integrating the ZBD tech—and the game just had its biggest weekend ever, West said.

Like the many other mobile games that pay players Bitcoin rewards, both from ZBD and via other Bitcoin cashout implementations, the earnings in Bitcoin Miner are very modest—like a few cents’ worth of Bitcoin per hour of gameplay, and rarely much more. You’ll earn a satoshi at a time, or 1/100,000,000 of a full Bitcoin.

West said that Bitcoin Miner doesn’t make any lavish promises about the payouts. They’re not relying on Bitcoin because of the speculative edge of crypto at large; they use the Lightning Network because it’s the only viable way they’ve found to handle micropayments at scale.

Image: ZBD

“People have said in the past that blockchain solves a problem that doesn’t exist. You know, I’ve heard that said before—but it literally solves our problem fully,” he said. “We couldn’t pay out with PayPal; the fees are too high. The Bitcoin Lightning Network literally makes this whole economy work for our game.”

They’re typically tiny payments, but both West and ZBD Chief Strategy Officer Ben Cousens told Decrypt’s GG that the data they’ve seen from these types of games suggests that the amount isn’t all that important. Players are earning something instead of nothing, which is usually the case, and that reward appears to trigger something—and create a connection, they said.

“I think it’s a big psychological barrier,” West said. “It’s like: ‘Oh, actually this game’s giving me something.’ It’s like a relationship now. We’ve invested in the player, and they’re more likely to invest in us and with their time, which is obviously super valuable for us because we monetize with ads as well as in-app purchases.”

Cousens said that recent survey data suggests that while 90% of players of ZBD-infused games had heard of Bitcoin before, about 70% of them had never actually handled it before playing the game. Bitcoin Miner and other games of its ilk might pay out only a modest handful of satoshis, but it’s a first (and free) step into a new world for many players.

Bitcoin Miner might be an ideal and frankly obvious example of how real BTC earnings can boost a game’s appeal, but Fumb Games saw the alternative during the game’s first three years of existence—and still does in certain markets where they can’t enable crypto rewards due to local regulations. Adding real Bitcoin payouts has been transformative for the game, they said.

“They’ve gone from a game that had literally no interest to a game with [day-180] retention,” said Cousens of Bitcoin Miner’s long-term hold on players. “That’s just insane for an idle game. I don’t think there’s any idle games out there with that kind of profile.”

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About the Author: Daniel