ChessCraft in 2022

Published on 2022-12-31 by Stuart Spence

I've often liked year-end reviews like from quanta magazine or Wendover. So why not do a short one for ChessCraft?

336,000 Installs

It has now been 5 years and 1 day since my first git version of ChessCraft. Remarkably, installs per month are still steadily going up, even though there were no major version releases in 2022.

There are now nearly 140,000 custom pieces and boards designed by the ChessCraft community in the mongodb database.

It feels like yesterday that my wife and I celebrated 100,000 installs, but now we're already at 336,000!

100 thousand installs celebration

Google Play

Google Play provides fun graphs to app developers. Here's installs per month, for each month:

google play graph of installs per month

It's fun to correlate install counts to world events. In November and December 2022, we see the biggest spike yet and I have no idea why. Let me know if you have a hypothesis!

There's 44k active Android devices with ChessCraft installed, and the average star rating is very steady at 4.44.


Steam has far fewer downloads, but much higher revenue. Steam sales grossed about 205 USD per month in 2022, whereas Google Play was about 40 USD. Notable, because Steam has about 630 installs per month yet Google Play has 5000 or even 20,000.

The demo on Steam is like the Google Play version. It's full, free, and ad-free, there are just occasional popups asking you to become a Patron (not Patreon).

I don't follow video game industry trends these days, but it seems to me that Google Play and Steam have fundamentally different business models. Users on Google Play expect ads and in-app-purchases but I dislike both. So it makes sense that Steam is naturally easier for me to monetize.

Community Manager

Okay, you got me. I have not been keeping up with the Discord, emails, Google Play reviews, and Steam reviews this year. There is just too damn much. Sorry!

I really didn't expect ChessCraft to have accelerated this much after five years, and a year of no major releases. I think I need to pay for a part time community manager. If this interests you, let me know.

Version 1.14

I have done lots of work on the latest major release this year, including improvements specific to desktop (Steam). Unfortunately, the universe has conspired to make my next release extra work!

  • Google Play requires me to upgrade my payment version.
  • This probably requires upgrading Unity, and the latest versions currently have Linux problems. There are workarounds but I have better uses for my time.
  • New features (profile backup, top boards this week/month) require me to upgrade the Linux version of my web server via migration.

So it's coming, but infrastructure work you don't care about is holding me up for now.


There's an incredible new free AI chatbot called ChatGPT that is unlike anything you've seen before. Here's me asking it for ideas for ChessCraft. What do you think of these ideas?

chatgpt transcript asking for chess variant ideas

I could ask for more ideas, or ask for sci-fi ideas, or ask for only real animals, whatever. Incredible!

I write more about ChatGPT here. I also recommend browsing the group on reddit for endless incredible examples of this latest AI tool.

Goodbye, 2022

chatgpt transcript asking for chess variant ideas

I agree with the sentiment... but I didn't write it. Does that make it less meaningful to readers?

Thanks so much for reading!

white griffin sprite