Idle and clicker games boomed too soon. Sure, we had a lot of fun during the 2013 clickplosion, but just imagine the joy you'd have experienced staring at browser windows and occasionally clicking if during pandemic lockdown. What a thrill! Well, perhaps you'll be tempted to return to the highly influential Cookie Clicker now that it has a premium version up on Steam. It's got music from yon Minecraft musicman, you know, that C418 lad.
The paid Steam release of Cookie Clicker is basically the same as the version you can still play for free in your browser, with a few perks. Cloud saves, for one (and yes, you can import saves from the browser version). Steam Workshop support for mods is planned, though not in yet. And it's got music from C418 music (which you can also stream in many places). And hey, you can give the devs a few quid if didn't fancy backing the Patreon which supports ongoing development (yes, still).
Cookie Clicker is out now on Steam for £4/€4/$5. Or free in your browser.
"Our design philosophy was that the only features the Steam version gets that the browser one doesn't are things that are only practical through the Steam platform, ie. workshop, cloud saves, Steam achievs etc. (also music - we're very likely not putting that in the browser version anytime soon, that stuff takes up a lot of bandwidth!)," clickhead Orteil explains.
"Heralds also function differently and are based on current number of Steam players instead of our Patreon subscribers. Outside of that, I'm hoping to keep the Steam and browser version as close as possible gameplay-wise. The browser version will likely lag behind for a bit while I focus on Steam, but after that I’m expecting to release the usual updates on the browser beta first, then browser live + Steam. So to answer whether you should buy it: that's up to you man! We've put a lot of love and polish in the Steam port but the free browser version is staying right where it is and we're thankful for all the players and all the support we get either way."
I'm reminded a bit of philosophy behind the upcoming premium Steam version of Dwarf Fortress, which will be the same game at heart but drape an official graphical tileset and menus over its ASCII form in return for a little money.
Cookie Clicker, like many of the era's great clickers, is more than it seems. From simple roots of treadmilling through upgrades and expansions it grows into cosmic horror with such awful, awful, awful grandmothers. It's still mostly automation and clicking (think more AI horror story Paperclips than shapeshifting ones like Candy Box and A Dark Room) but I like how casually and cheerily it slides into horror. You can minmax Cookie Clicker, particularly with addons which highlight optimum investments, but I think that spoils the magic.
"When you start taking it seriously, and look at it as calculations rather than something silly but kinda fun happening somewhere on your workscreen, it misses the whole point," I said when talking cookies with Pip in 2016. "I felt like I do in Bethesda RPGs - 'Okay, I get this, I've seen some interesting stuff and where the main story goes, let's power through and finish this because all this other faff is boring, take me to the end.' The end being having all the achievements, I suppose? I never finish Bethesda RPGs either. Cookie Clicker has a better story and characters though."
Sick burn, 2016 Alice. God, I reckon I still have 2016 Alice's Cookie Clicker save in a browser on an old computer. I could... no 2021 Alice, no.