What makes this release interesting is that version 3.0 was released in 1998. Yes, it has been 12 years since we have updated this product.
Why the long gap?
I have discussed FreeCell Plus on this blog before in 2005 in Indie Game Case Study: The Story of a Modestly Successful Game.
In short, FreeCell Plus was the first game I developed after Pretty Good Solitaire. I wrote it in December 1995 and released version 1.0 on January 25, 1996. It was made completely from Pretty Good Solitaire code and was meant to be a smaller collection of solitaire games targeted at people who just like FreeCell type games and don't want anything else. It was written as a 16 bit application for Windows 3.1, although of course it ran on Windows 95 and NT (which were the only 32 bit Windows at the time).
As I explained in the 2005 post, FreeCell Plus filled a specific market need for a Windows 3.1 FreeCell game. I updated it with versions 2.0 in 1997 and 3.0 in 1998, but by this time Windows 3.1 was dying out. In 1998 I released a new 32 bit product called FreeCell Wizard, which basically replaced FreeCell Plus.
And that's how things stood for 12 years. FreeCell Plus continued to sell a few copies, because some people kept searching for "windows 3.1 freecell". But of course the numbers kept dwindling over the years. The game ran on Windows ME and XP, but when Windows Vista came along, as a 16 bit application it would no longer run (at least on the 64 bit OS).
At this point, it made sense to just retire the game. But on the other hand, over the past couple of years we have been developing our new cross-platform solitaire engine, which makes products that run both on Windows and Mac OS X (the games Most Popular Solitaire, Goodsol Solitaire 101, and Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition are based on this engine). Why not just make a new version of FreeCell Plus with this new engine?
And so FreeCell Plus version 4.0 was born on January 25, 2010, exactly 14 years after version 1.0. It runs not only on Windows Vista and 7, but also on Mac OS X. Users who buy it get both versions. Also, since FreeCell Wizard is Windows only and we won't be making a Mac version of it for awhile, we are giving the Mac version of FreeCell Plus away free to FreeCell Wizard users.
We now have 4 products for Mac OS X: the $9.95 FreeCell Plus, the $16.95 Most Popular Solitaire with 30 games, the $19.95 Goodsol Solitaire 101 with 101 games, and the $24.95 Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition with 200 games (updating to 300 in a few months).