The World's Most Downloaded Shooter Game Faces Major Headwinds This Year Garena Free Fire has become one of the most successful F2P mobile games of all time. Some highlights: Launched September 2017 on mobile before FortniteAchieved 1 billion downloads by December 20211Set a record of over 150M daily active users in August of 20212$4.33B life-of-product gross revenue … [Read more...] about Garena Free Fire: Secrets to Success & Analyzing the Fall
In June of 2016, little known Chinese publisher DroidHang Games (aka “DH Games”) launched Idle Heroes, an auto-battle RPG with very heavy Asian metagame design influence. Although seemingly unremarkable at first launch, the game has steadily grown its download and revenue. Today the game sits on an estimated $70MM in accumulated net revenue. DH Games Monthly In-App … [Read more...] about How Idle Heroes made $100M
Overview This post focuses on three primary forms of F2P game design: gameplay, systems, and social. The console and PC world are currently dominated by a "units sold" business with emphasis on gameplay focused design. However, the F2P (free to play) business model requires additional forms of design to be successful. I explain requirements for success within each game … [Read more...] about F2P Game Design: Gameplay vs. Systems vs. Social
Context: Mobile game pre-production teams often focus on the wrong activities. An early focus on playables in software or building a game's core loop may be useful but not the best approach. Any team with limited resources should prioritize what's most critical to maximizing the success of a game. Unfortunately, the most common approach I encounter … [Read more...] about “Key Risks” Based Game Pre-production
Context Before gameplay, mechanics, monetization, or any other key design consideration, a new video game design needs to consider the most important aspect of all: a good concept. Feature film screenwriter Terry Rossio (credits include Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean, Aladdin, and many others) developed the notion of a "Strange Attractor" to help other screenwriters … [Read more...] about The “Strange Attractor” in Video Game Design
Mobile game design typically follows two primary schools of design philosophy: Iteration based design = Just get some core mechanics in and then keep iterating until you get something fun; some initial but not extensive design before development Planning based design = Think through all of the features, every key screen, all of the dependencies and interactions between … [Read more...] about Mobile Game Design: Iteration vs. Planning, MVP = Dangerous!
I was recently asked about the best approach to come up with a +1 mobile game design and wanted to cover this topic. In my view, a very specific approach and process to maximize your chances for success should be considered. What is that approach? I call it a "problem-centric" framework. What does that mean? It means that you are taking an existing design and trying to … [Read more...] about +1 Game Design: A Problem-centric Framework
Context: Mobile game design by flows refers to the concept of mapping out the entire set of screens a user can tap through in a mobile game: the user flows. While many of the larger mobile game studios such as Zynga or GREE routinely design UI/UX by flows, many mobile application designers are still designing individual screens by feature. In this blog post I describe: … [Read more...] about Mobile UI and Game Design: Screens vs. Flows
A man can surely do what he wills to do, but cannot determine what he wills. - Arthur Schopenhauer John Hopson introduced the concept of the compulsion loop applied to video games as early as 2001. Since then, compulsion loop mechanics continue to get integrated into video games fairly broadly. The compulsion loop concept regained popularity in the 2010-2012 period … [Read more...] about The Compulsion Loop in Game Design Explained
Bear with me on this post. There will be some financial jargon and a bit of math but the conclusions drawn I believe will be worth your read (at least I hope so!). Let's first start with some financial theory which will form the basis of the arguments I make. In finance, the "efficient markets hypothesis" supposes the following relationship between risk and reward for a … [Read more...] about Implications of “Alpha” and “Beta” in Mobile Gaming
Introduction Humans require a heartbeat to live. The heart pumps blood including essential nutrients throughout the body to sustain life in a regular cycle and rhythm. Similarly, mobile games in particular require a similar concept of a "heartbeat" in order to sustain an audience and user interest in a regular cycle and rhythm. This is especially true for mobile games … [Read more...] about Why Mobile Games Need a Strong “Heartbeat”
Context: Surprisingly, a large number of people in the video games industry expressed ignorance on the concept of micro vs. macro gameplay. If you're not familiar, now's your chance to learn. It's an important concept in video games and a concept that raises some interesting questions in the context of a mobile device. Stop and think: Which kind of gameplay … [Read more...] about Micro vs. Macro Gameplay
Are you ready to level up your mobile app monetization? Context: In October of 2011, an article about DeNA included a number of key mobile monetization insights: High Ass ARPU: Claimed $12 ARPU (average revenue per user) - this was a strong indicator that there was a meaningful way that DeNA was designing monetization in their games not found outside of Japan User … [Read more...] about 12 Critical Mobile Monetization Concepts (Part 1 of 3)
In January of 2008, a Cal Tech and Stanford Business School research study showed that the perception of a wine can influence the actual physical enjoyment of the wine. In this study, people who drank the same wine that was priced at $90 vs. $10 did not only believe that the $90 wine was better but in fact actually experienced greater pleasure drinking the wine as measured by … [Read more...] about Psychology & Perception: How Games are Like Wine
One of the most difficult problems in designing any game is how to address complexity in the game design. For mobile gaming in particular, this is a difficult problem as the design paradigms of successful complexity models have largely been figured out on other platforms (e.g., social, console, PC, and even game focused handheld) but not quite yet on mobile (if we define … [Read more...] about Why Your Mobile Game Failed: Complexity Kills!