These days a potato salad can rake in over $15K on Kickstarter and a barely interactive "mountain simulator" can become one of the most popular programs on the iOS App Store. What a world we live in.
The app in question, simply titled Mountain, markets itself as a "relax 'em up" featuring "no controls". The brainchild of animator David OReilly - director of Adventure Time's A Glitch is a Glitch episode and the man behind Her's "Alien Child" video game sequence - Mountain asks players to sit back and watch a hillside evolve.
There are some limited interactions, however. The game begins by asking players to draw images in response so some ambiguous prompts like "sickness", "afterlife" or "beauty", and these are reflected in your mountain. There are also ways to speed up time and listen to your mountain's thoughts, but you mostly just sit back and check on it every now and again as it grows trees, braves various climates, and spawns bizarre objects (bicycles, horses, hats and the like).
It's a peculiar premise - especially for a game that costs money - but that hasn't stopped Mountain from becoming the best selling app in Germany, and coming in fifth on the US and China App Stores. According to OReilly's blog, it was the "number one Role Playing Game in 33 countries," too.
Unfortunately OReilly hasn't made that much money off of it as Mountain only costs a pound/dollar and has no in-app purchases, so it didn't even enter into the charts on highest grossing apps.
OReilly wasn't willing to disclose exact sales numbers, but he told Eurogamer in an e-mail correspondence that "the iOS sales far outstripped the Humble ones - which was unexpected as the initial goal was to have Mountain be an ambient desktop game, so we're now tweaking the iOS version to balance out the experience. That includes improving load time, accelerating in-game activity and adding more options for those wishing to run a lightweight version of the game."
Mountain is available on iOS, PC, Mac and Linux, and OReilly noted that he wants to release Android and Steam versions. The "Android plugin for Unity is too expensive right now and we're working on Steam stuff," he said. "Please bear with us."