The 2023 Wholesome Direct showcase was an incredibly overwhelming event. They squeezed 70 games into just half an hour, making it hard to keep track of any new titles. However, some great games amongst it managed to catch my eye despite the chaos. One that immediately stood out to me was Sticky Business.
I’m a sticker person; I’ll readily admit it. I have scores of them hoarded in my bedroom and living room, and I even was subscribed to a sticker subscription box for several months. I love using them in my journal as motivation to actually write, so when I saw Sticky Business in the showcase, I was stoked.
I’ve often dreamed of running my own sticker business. It seemed so fun and whimsical, but this game absolved me of that delusion. It is not fun (although admittedly, it is whimsical); it’s a lot of stress with very little pay-off.
However, it was freeing to be able to live vicariously through my character. I’m glad I don’t have the real-life responsibility of running a business, but it was still pleasant to get to design my own stickers.
I have a lot of thoughts about this game, some positive and some negative, so let’s get right into it!
If you have OCD, then this is a must-buy. If you do not have OCD, you may find yourself getting pretty frustrated.
There is so much organizing in this game, and exactly none of it can be automated. I absolutely love putting together the sticker packages for my customers. There’s something so rewarding about choosing the perfect paper and filling, and carefully layering the tickers on top.
However, setting up the printing sheets is a nightmare. You have to optimize the space to make as much profit as possible from a single sheet of printer paper.
You do this by individually placing stickers next to each other to fit as many on there as you can. There is no auto-fill option, nor any way to place more than one sticker at once. It ended up taking me a good 3-5 minutes to fill a single sheet.
It’s incredibly slow-paced, and although each day is timed, it’s based on actions, not real-time. So it will take the same time block to print a sheet of stickers whether it takes you 10 seconds or 10 minutes. It allows you to be as specific as you like when designing stickers or packing orders, as there’s no time pressure.
The upside of this is that it becomes a very casual game. Although the gameplay is nothing alike, it reminds me of PowerWash Simulator. It’s the perfect game for when you want to just tune out of life and lose yourself for a while.
You can also multitask as it requires very little attention. I was able to have a phone call with my mum while playing Sticky Business at the same time. You could use the game as a distraction while you do other necessary hands-free activities.
A Whole Lotta Wholesome
Everything about Sticky Business is cute, cute, cute. It’s very much the vibe they were going for, and they leaned into it 100%.
The color palette is a delightful mix of pastels and vibrant primary and secondary colors. Interestingly, many of their screens incorporate a lot of pink and purple in almost an identical shade to my personal brand logo.
Anyone who listens to the Indie Game Culture Podcast knows that the number one thing I look for in a game is ‘cute and colorful’, so Sticky Business immediately appealed to me.
Even though the primary focus of the game is a repetitive cycle of creating, printing, and selling stickers, there’s somewhat of a story.
As the game progresses, new customers will discover your store. Some just buy stickers, but others leave messages when they purchase. Through these messages, you learn more about the customers and their lives.
It’s really cute watching the customers’ stories progress. Your stickers always play into their personal growth, and it’s touching to know how I can make a difference in their lives. Without giving away too many spoilers, my favorite story is two siblings who reconnect over their mutual love of my stickers.
The sticker elements that you use to create your designs are all very cutesy, too. The developers certainly weren’t going for realism, which I greatly appreciate. When I buy stickers in real life, I love artistic, cartoonish designs, and those were aplenty in Sticky Business. It allowed me to express my own creativity in a way that felt natural and on-brand.
The music is cheerful but basic. At first, I found it rather annoying, but it became endearing after a while. I don’t think they put much effort into it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d have just found it for free on the asset store. However, it fits the vibe of the game, and makes a big difference compared to playing in silence (I checked).
Not Enough Variety
A game like this with such limited gameplay needs variety to keep it interesting. Unfortunately, that was sorely lacking here.
Sticky Business gives you such little control over your shop, so at the very least, it should’ve gone overboard with the sticker design. Sadly that was not the case, and you’re pretty limited in your sticker options.
Whilst their promise of ‘thousands of possible combinations’ is true, that does not mean thousands of sticker elements. Not even close. I haven’t counted, but I’d be surprised if there were even 500 total sticker elements.
That may sound like a lot, but when you consider that that’s across all the categories (animals, gaming, plants, etc), it’s really not much.
There were also glaring omissions. I was sad to discover there was no penguin sticker, as that’s my favorite animal. I also saw that they had a kiwi (animal) but not a kiwi (fruit).
This seems like an oversight, as I’d have loved to make a punny sticker combining the two. It’s also frustrating that, except for plain shapes, you can’t recolor stickers. Every element comes with its own color, and that’s final. It makes you feel limited in your options.
Also, the trailer made me think that I’d be able to create sticker sheets, but I realize now that I was only seeing the printing screen.
That was a huge disappointment, as sticker sheets are my favorite item as a sticker collector in real life. I love having similar stickers all themed around the same vibe. It’s less pressure than having to use an individual one.
The sticker creation screen is decent for the most part but could do with more explanation. I’m no stranger to graphic design and was able to immediately intuit what the different functions did, but there were no labels. Seeing as this is a cozy casual game, it feels like an accessibility oversight to not clearly label the design possibilities on the creation screen.
However, I felt that the game offered a decent range of options, such as inverting the elements on an axis, resizing them, rotating them, etc.
No Man is an Island
The community aspects of Sticky Business are hit and miss. The stuff they do is done very well, but there’s also a lot missing. Given the wholesome vibe of the game, I was expecting a lot more than we got.
I’ll start with the parts they do well. Although I haven’t used it myself, Sticky Business has Twitch integration. It allows streamers to connect their shops to their stream, and then people in their chat can place orders for stickers.
It’s an adorable concept, and I love that the developers included it. It’s fun seeing how popular the game is on Twitch, and at the time of writing, there were hundreds of viewers enjoying the different streams.
The game also allows you to save your sticker designs to your desktop. This is an awesome way to bring the game into real life, as it allows you to print them out for yourself if you want to. The developers encourage you to take pictures and share them on social media with other players.
That’s all well and good, but there need to be more community options within the game itself. I’d have loved to see an option where you can input somebody else’s username and browse their shop. It would be a fun way to see other peoples’ styles and could help with your own collection.
They could also have an option where you select a particular sticker element, and then you can browse a selection of stickers created by other players using that element. It could help give you inspiration for your own shop.
I’d even love to see a collaboration option, where you could feature stickers in your shop from another player for a limited time, and vice versa.
Adding more community options would give the game more excitement and help it feel less repetitive.
Let Me Run My Business My Own Way!
One of my biggest qualms with this game is how limited I am in terms of actually running a business. The game is called Sticky Business; there should be business elements, not just stickers. I was excited about the resource management side of things; it was always something I enjoyed greatly.
One of my favorite games as a kid was Record Shop Tycoon. It involved me running my own record store by buying CDs and pricing them based on current trends. Deciding how many of each CD to stock, how much to sell it for, etc, was the reason I loved it so much. And it’s that aspect that was sorely missing in Sticky Business.
The game decides for you how much a sticker will sell for, and that price is based exclusively on size. You could have a really detailed small sticker that incorporates loads of different elements and only sell it for 3 coins.
Meanwhile, you could just grab a random large element, submit it with no changes at all, and sell that sticker for 11 coins. That’s not right; there are more considerations for price than just size.
You also have almost no control over your shop website. I’d love to be able to group stickers into collections – animals, plants, pride, etc. That way, customers could buy a group of stickers for slightly cheaper than if they bought them individually. I’d also like to be able to offer discounts on products I’m delisting, to sell existing stock before the sticker gets removed altogether.
The lack of any choices on the business side of things was very frustrating. You can’t even do promotional aspects such as running ads or giving free stickers to influencers. It was more of a sticker creation and packing game than an actual business game.
I didn’t want to neglect the parts that don’t neatly fit into the other subheadings, so here are some final observations:
- Inclusivity – The game has a whole section of sticker elements related to pride flags. This covers gender, sexuality, and disability. It’s great to see such diversity in the game, it even had some flags which I’d never seen before. It was especially cool to see flags for autism and ADHD, as I’m neurodivergent myself, and I rarely see representation like that in games.
- No warnings – I wish the game would give you warnings if you’re making an order wrong. It grays out the stickers in the order form once you’ve packed them, but it doesn’t go red if you put extra stickers in. You don’t get a failed order if that happens, but you also don’t get anything extra, so you’ve essentially wasted a sticker. I also think it should warn you if you’re about to pack an incomplete order. There could be a message like “Are you sure? Not all stickers have been packed”.
- Great ASMR – The sound effects are absolutely nothing like an actual sticker business would have, but I’m not complaining. There are some really satisfying clicking and popping sounds to accompany your actions.
- Sticker inventory – I wish you could see your sticker inventory somewhere very clearly. Perhaps on the Shop page, it could have the stickers listed from most stock to least stock, so you know when to print more. Or, ideally, have it visible on the Printing page for convenience. Instead, you have to go to the Packing page and manually scroll through all your stickers, taking a mental note of the numbers.
- Gimme stats – I’m sad you can’t see your sales statistics. I’d love to see which of my stickers had sold the most, which had sold the least, which customers had given me the most money, etc. I enjoy seeing the numbers for games, and Sticky Business felt like a prime candidate for a list of stats.
Despite the low score, I don’t dislike Sticky Business. Far from it; I actually enjoy it and will be playing again. The score simply represents the fact that the game leaves a lot to be desired and is a pretty weak offering. It’s certainly an acquired taste, and I’m not going to pretend that it’s better than it is.
It would benefit a lot from some further development, as I maintain that it’s a cool concept. I really hope the developers will take feedback on board and release updates to offer new and improved content. There was a day 2 patch to fix some initial issues, so clearly, they’re paying attention to their community.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced game with varied and intense gameplay, this couldn’t be further from it. But if you’re just after a cozy title to entertain you for an hour or so at a time, then Sticky Business could scratch that itch.
At only $9.99, it’s decent value for money. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it in its current state, but I wouldn’t dissuade people from purchasing either.
Pros and Cons
I get it; reviews are long. Sometimes you just want to skip to the summary, I can respect that. Here are the pros and cons of Sticky Business.
- Cute and colorful art style
- Great organizational aspects
- Diverse representation with their pride flag selection
- There are lots of packaging options
- Nowhere enough customization options for your shop website
- Gets boring pretty quickly
- Gameplay is incredibly limited
- Business aspects are almost non-existent
- Not enough freedom with sticker creation
If you like the essence of Sticky Business but don’t feel that it’s quite the right fit for you, here are some alternatives that you might want to try:
- A Little to the Left – This one also offers lots of organization, but through the means of puzzles. Instead of running your own business, you’re sorting out household items in the best way possible. Solve the puzzles to optimize your layout, but beware the mischievous cat that’s trying to sabotage you.
- Potion Craft – Bear with me. The art style is totally different, as Potion Craft uses desaturated medieval tones rather than vibrant colors. The gameplay seems different at first glance, too. But the vibes are similar. In Potion Craft, you have to build up the reputation of your alchemy business by creating potions for your customers. You have to be very specific when mixing ingredients, and brewing your way around the map reminds me of carefully aligning the stickers in Sticky Business.
- Autonauts – In this management sim, you’re in charge of an array of robots who are colonizing a new planet. Cute graphics and fun sound effects bring the world to life in this cozy title. Organize your robots and collect supplies to make your colony as efficient as possible.
Question: Is Sticky Business coming to console?
Answer: Currently (July 2023), Sticky Business is only available for PC. The developers have said that they do intend to port it to console in the future, but they’ve not given any further details. At the time of writing, we do not have a release date, nor the platforms that it would become available on.
Question: How profitable is a sticker business?
Answer: If Sticky Business has inspired you to start your own sticker business, you may be curious about money. Unfortunately, this question is much like ‘how long is a piece of string’ and varies wildly. However, the profit margins are around 80% on production, so it’s relatively low risk.
Question: Is Sticky Business free?
Answer: Whilst not a free game, Sticky Business is priced at an affordable $9.99 on Steam.
Sticky Business Review: Playlog
Melika played Sticky Business for 7 hours, which was 35 in-game days. That was more than enough time to experience everything that the game has to offer. She will be playing it again in the future in an effort to get all of the achievements.