We spend a lot of time trying to find ways for students at Ohio State to save money on storage, or helping active servicemen and women at Fort Benning get a great deal on a locker. But, every once in a while, it’s nice to get paid to screw around, and boy did I find a great way to pull that off. About two months ago, I was perusing the Play store on my Android for storage apps, and I ran across a game called Storage Auctions.
I usually don’t buy games at all, and never before playing a trial or lite version for free. But, for $1.99, I bit the bullet and I got lucky, because the game is surprisingly good and embarrassingly addicting. The app meets all of my requirements for a mobile game: it’s intuitive, it can be played in short bursts, and it’s embarrassing to admit your addiction to your friends. Plus, I emailed the developer, Mark Roskam, and got a quick email back, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Enough background, tell me about Storage Auctions already!
First off, I love the low-tech graphics. I mean it. For some games, pushing the limits of my phone might be nice, but when I’m looking to kill time, I just don’t care. I want the game to work quickly, and I want the game to have buttons that I don’t have to work for.
How do I start the game? Kidding! I hit the big green button that says “Start Game!” Perfect.
The “?” button gives you the basic gameplay directions, which you don’t need in order to play. However, if you’re planning to win big, there’s good information about how your bank operates and when you can buy assets. The settings button gives you the settings. (Another shock, I would imagine.) The settings are as basic as they come: toggle sound, toggle speech, and three different levels of difficulty. I left the speech and sound off. They’re fine, but I prefer my games silent. I have played on all three levels, but I mostly left it on the easiest setting. Again, I prefer my games to be mindless. Plus, the three levels don’t seem all that different, so I figured that I’d just follow the advice of my high school business teacher: keep it simple, stupid.
The next screen (shown above) is a short explanation of what a storage auction is, for the seven people remaining who haven’t seen an episode of Storage Wars. The best part of this screen is that you only have to see it the first time you play each time you open the app. It’s fine for a teaser to the game, but if I would love to see a “don’t show this screen” again option. Barring that, though, it’s an quick skip once a day.
This is another screen that I could do without, but again… I don’t care. Another skip screen.
This is the screen that I know I should hate. But I don’t. Here, you get to meet the people you’ll be bidding against. This is not a multiplayer game, by the way, so it’s totally fictional. Except, it’s not. Because you can be a part of the game. Like the game’s Facebook page, post why the game is great, and email the address given in the game, and you might be a part of the next update. Name. Headshot. Tagline. This is a truly great idea.
Now, though, you’ve made it through a couple intro screens, and you’ve made it to the game.
Now you’re talking. Take me to the bidding!
The screen slides to the side, and finally the moment you’ve been waiting for… the garage door opens, and you get your first look at the unit. You get five seconds to scan the space and decide what you’re willing to pay for it.
After a few rounds, you start to get a basic sense of how much things might be worth. The loveseat? A couple hundred bucks. The fan, the two coolers, and the stroller (right behind the couch) are all worth in the $30-60 range. There’s a bicycle or a stationary bike in the back, worth $100 or more. Right there, I’m looking at probably $400-500 worth of stuff, before looking at the bags and boxes. So, I’ll bid $800-1000 at the most.
Sometimes, the units are worth quite a bit more than $800. But look at how simple the interface is. You either bid or you don’t. Then other players either counter-bid or don’t. Bidding starts at $100 increases, then drops to $50, and finally to $25. My suggestion: if you want to win a unit, don’t bid until it starts dropping by $25. Any bids before this point just serve to drive up the price.
And then… the victory.
But this is just when the real fun begins. Buying the unit is only half the battle. The whole game is pretty pointless if you’re not going to try to make some cash, right?
Money money money money… MONEY
After a round of units, you get to start emptying your unit. It’s as simple as touching the item that you want to clear. For every touch, you find out the value of the item. Sometimes you find old paperwork or letters worth nothing. Other times, though, you find a Rare Item worth more… sometimes much, much more. You can earn several hundred dollars or more than twenty thousand dollars. Winning a unit for $600, then finding a watch worth $9,000 is the most fun you can have with fake money.
Then, the screen that summarizes how you did…
And, yes… I intentionally chose a screenshot where I made more than twenty grand on a single locker.
It was awesome.
And that’s the thing. The greatness of this game comes in opening the boxes. It’s not the high speed action of a first-person shooter, or the brain teaser of a mobile puzzle game… it’s the thrill of not knowing which box will have the expensive watch or first edition classic hardcover. It’s taking a risk on a unit for $2000 and having two boxes left to open and still needing $150 to break even. Plus, you never know when you will have earned enough to purchase a new asset: owning your own truck saves you the rental fee; owning a pawn shop increases your profits; owning the x-ray specs… well… you can probably guess what those do.
What’s hard to guess, though, is when you’ll get access to the items.
Which is exactly what Roskam had in mind when he started working on the game. He said that he realized one day that the “idea of risk vs reward world of storage auctions would translate well into a game” and the rest of the game fell into place from there. Storage Auctions is something of a hobby for him. He’s been programming professionally since 1992, and thought that the app would be a good way to “experience a small amount of the excitement of entering storage auctions without the real world risk.”
When I asked him how much time he spends on the game, he told me that it’s hard to put a number on it, but that the game has taken up plenty of his spare time, and that he couldn’t begin to guess how many nights and weekends have been poured into the game.
Roskam closes by saying that he “will continue to update the game and try to make it a better and better experience for all of my customers.” In my two months with the game, I’ve fallen in love with it.
No spam or ads – none
Simple, effective graphics
Thrill of risk versus reward decisions
Very, very low learning curve
A chance to literally become part of the game
Less embarrassing than Candy Crush Saga
Made me actually care about the possibility of finding an old wedding dress in a trash bag
Still a little embarrassing (but really… what mobile game isn’t?)
Annoying splash screens
Not great for battery life
This game gets the full OSSD stamp of approval. It costs less than two dollars. Seriously. What costs less than two dollars anymore? Short of participating in an actual auction, there’s no better way to get the rush that comes from placing the winning bid and opening that first box.