One Year of Listed!
August 28th was the one year anniversary of Listed, a wordle-inspired real estate guessing game built by me and my pal Andrew Pariser. The circumstances of its inception are pure happenstance- Andrew was isolating from his family with a covid rebound, and was going stir-crazy. We'd collaborated on some coding projects during the pandemic as a way to hang out and it was time to goof around some more. We were inspired by Wordle (who wasn't!), specifically the idea that everyone is playing the same game and can talk about it. We eventually hit upon (per the text message chain):
Two weeks later, the game as-conceived was more or less ready to go. For anyone who hasn't played (c'mon), here's the gist: Each day you're presented with a recently sold house in the US. At first, all you get is a photo and the date it sold. After each guess at the sale price, you get a hint if the actual sale price was higher or lower, and you learn a new piece of information about the property - first, where it is, then, how many beds/baths, etc. You win if you guess the actual sale price within a small window (1% or $5k). Every day there's a new house, and you can check out the listing at the end. It's meant to be a quick "snack" you can play on your phone.
We quietly launched the game, sharing links with friends and family. We were hoping for a little word-of-mouth attention and not expecting much. We were not anticipating winding up on the morning news:
Have you tried the game https://t.co/cV7wa8QTsl? It’s like Wordle but for real estate. We had some fun with it on @WGNMorningNews today… pic.twitter.com/Fd5OfbFne9— Marcus Leshock (@marcusleshock) September 1, 2022
Fortunately, the site was built for the traffic- small footprint, lots of static data, and honestly what's 30k visits between friends? We didn't know whether we had the next big sensation on our hands and we. were. buzzing.
The wave of interest largely subsided (as they so often do), and we settled into a modest, but steady, stream of traffic. Once a week we "replenish" the site with new listings- our goal is that the houses sold are generally sold in the last week, aren't too outlandishly difficult to guess, and have a nice representation of the country.
After the big traffic wave in Chicago, we thought that it could be cool to have city-specific versions of listed, and wound up picking Chicago and SF as our regional versions, shipping those a few weeks later.
As the year's gone on, we've had some fun surprises- a lovely writeup in SFGATE, the occasional realtor asking to advertise on the site, and some offers to do more with the site/game that ultimately didn't pan out. The daily player count goes through phases, as different social graphs discover the game and share it, it gets a blurb in a newsletter, etc.
As the one-year mark approached, Andrew and I started talking more about what we wanted for the site. At the current cost to run and effort to maintain, we feel like we can run it more-or-less indefinitely. We'd really prefer not to slather the site in ads but are open to some sort of monetization to offset the time/server costs, but there is a ko-fi where we accept contributions to offset the cost of running the game, which, while modest, are non-zero!
We decided to add some "one year anniversary" improvements- the most significant of which is multiple photos that get revealed in a carousel as the guesses progress. We also made listings that sold for less money easier to guess by setting the win threshold to be 1% of the sale price or $5k, whichever is larger. Additionally, you can now replay games from one year back via a new archive feature!
It's been a ton of fun running Listed as a passion project- sharing it with people, the occasional "wait you made that game!?" reaction, some kind press, and seeing a dedicated player base grow organically over time. If this is the first you're hearing about it, I invite you to give it a try, share it with that friend who's always sending you "can you believe how much this house sold for" links, and if you're feeling generous, supporting the site.
On behalf of Andrew and myself, thank you to everyone who's played this past year!