The creator of Oatmeal, Matthew Inman, released a new cat-themed mobile word game called Kitty Letter earlier this week that feels like playing one of his stupid cartoons. That feeling was intentional, Inman told me.
“My comics have always been rhetorical,” he said. “You do not interact with the cartoon, you have nothing to say about it, you just experience it. So, with[[[[Kitty Letter]I got the chance to introduce some elements where people get to play the cartoon, and I thought it was a lot of fun. ”
Kitty Letter has a structure that Inman described as “Scrabble combined with Clash Royale. “Your goal is to beat your opponent by spelling words from a combination of letters at the bottom of the phone screen. When you spell a word, you send a small army of cats up an invisible “path”
The game was really just going to be multiplayer, Inman told me. This may come as a surprise to those who have played the game, as it has a robust story mode that spans 13 chapters. But the story mode was born from making the game’s guide, Inman said.
“I started drawing this tutorial on how to play, and then the tutorial became the single-player mode, where you have this neighbor moving in and telling the whole story about him,” said Inman. But then he realized: ‘I went too deep. I had written all this, I was like, ‘I have to finish this,’ and I ended up writing like 12 chapters. But it became my favorite part of it all. ”
Inman also discussed the game’s free-to-play model, which is very generous. Unlike many games that are free to play, Kitty Letter’s single player story mode and multiplayer are completely free, with no restrictions. The decision to offer all this came from what Inman disliked with other free games.
“I play free-to-play games, but I play them because I like the games,” said Inman. “The very mechanics involved, like painting and unlocking coffins and getting pearls and coins, I hate them. I hate them fucking. If [developers] was like, ‘pay us $ 20, we’ll give you everything,’ I would do it. I much prefer that model. ”
The game offers paid cosmetics for multiplayer, but they provide no game benefits, and they are buried in a menu. And Inman says the revenue from them has been “largely non-existent.”
Inman acknowledged that he can largely offer the game for free due to his other successful bets, which include Oatmeal and the hugely successful card game Exploding Kittens. “I’m not just an altruistic guy who does not want to earn a living,” he said. “To be completely honest, we live well on our card games, and we live well on some of the other things I do. With[[[[Kitty Letter]it felt like we could just get away with making it as enjoyable as possible.
“This app generates more currency for – and this is so damn – currency for love and joy, as if you have a happy experience with the game,” he said. “So, in turn, you love Exploding Kittens more, and maybe one day, if you want to buy a card game from us, you can.” It is a business model similar to Oatmeal. Inman offers the comics for free online, but sells books and has offered merch.
Inman has many ideas for what’s next for the game. He wants to improve arcade mode, add more single player levels and squash bugs. He also wants to port the game to Steam and the Nintendo Switch, but they may be a little further away. “I would probably call it six months,” he said.
And I had to ask: were cats always the focus of the game?
“It was cats from day one,” Inman said. “It’s hot Cats Royale, originally. ”