Alpha Dog Games
Source: Alpha Dog Games

Alpha Dog Games, a Nova Scotia-based game studio and subsidiary of ZeniMax Media, is the developer behind Mighty Doom, the only mobile-first rendition leveraging the famous DOOM IP, which turns 30 years old later this year. The title is Alpha Dog’s first game within the Bethesda and ZeniMax family — and therefore also within Microsoft, which acquired ZeniMax in 2020 at a time when $7.5 billion was still an “eye-watering” amount of money.

Executive Summary

  • Mighty Doom, which was released worldwide in March after a 2021 soft launch on Android, has very entertaining core gameplay, but it seems to be the unfortunate product of an unclear free-to-play strategy from publisher Bethesda and parent company Microsoft.
  • Translating successful non-mobile game IPs to mobile is not easy. Not many examples that have made hugely successful leaps to mobile, other than Pokémon Go, come to mind.
  • Mighty Doom’s developer, Alpha Dog, has made several meaningful innovations to the mobile top-down shooter gameplay originally pioneered by Archero in 2019.
  • Innovations in the game’s meta are also apparent but don’t pack the same punch as the ones in the game’s core gameplay.
  • Microsoft has a long way to go when it comes to expanding its influence on true mobile/F2P revenue through live ops and GaaS. 

The History of Doom

Let’s start off this short history lesson of Doom on mobile with a fun fact. Believe it or not, the first mobile iteration of Doom (as discovered a year ago) was an RPG built for cell phones that “might be old enough to vote if it were a person.” But as this game was never officially released, the first actual mobile Doom was a port of the original PC game, which has been available on iOS longer than exists, showing an interesting graph as the result:

Android players had little to no luck trying to play Doom on their phones for a long time.
Android players had little to no luck trying to play Doom on their phones for a long time. | Source:

The spike in 2019 can be attributed to Bethesda re-releasing a proper port as a 25thanniversary celebration with improved controls and framerate. It was also the first official Doom to be released on Android. With nearly 1 million downloads and a little north of $2 million in lifetime revenue (due to the premium price of €5.49), the Doom mobile port has shown that the franchise has remained at least a little bit alive. In the same vein, Doom II mobile was also released at the exact same time but shared only a quarter of its predecessor’s success.

A few months after these two ports were released, ZeniMax/Bethesda acquired the Canadian game studio Alpha Dog, a developer with 27 current employees on LinkedIn and a short yet interesting history.

Alpha Dog’s first indie title, Wraithborne, became one of the victims of Supercell turning the game industry upside down in 2012 with the release of Clash of Clans. After practically closing down the studio, Alpha Dog staged a miraculous revival by releasing their second game, Monstrocity Rampage, in early 2017. That game interestingly enough was adapted into a board game in 2019 and provided enough reason for Bethesda to acquire Alpha Dog for an undisclosed sum shortly after. Monstrosity Rampage has by now been removed from the app stores, but its core gameplay shows similarities with Clash of Clans. 

Jurassic World / King Kong vibes galore. | Source: Alpha Dog Games on YouTube

After the acquisition, Alpha Dog finished their work on an Atari game called Ninja Golf, after which they started working on a new mobile game using the Doom IP. Fast-forward three years later to the release of Mighty Doom, in which downloads peaked at an impressive 4.5 million players on the game’s first day available on both mobile platforms. But Alpha Dog then failed to capitalize on this initial influx of players.

Downloads since launch show the wrong kind of hockey stick. | Source:
Downloads since launch show the wrong kind of hockey stick. | Source:
Mighty Doom’s revenue curve since launch shows a clear downward trend as well. | Source:
Mighty Doom’s revenue curve since launch shows a clear downward trend as well. | Source:

Now, Alpha Dog is not the only party responsible for this turn of events. Neither Bethesda nor Microsoft have shown how to successfully scale mobile free-to-play games. When looking at Bethesda’s mobile products, it’s painfully obvious that the successful AAA publisher is far from adept at adopting a solid GaaS strategy.

Leveraging one of their most beloved franchises on PC and console, the company released The Elder Scrolls: Legends in 2017, with downloads and revenue graphs looking strikingly similar to Mighty Doom’s, resulting in 5.5 million lifetime downloads and $10 million in revenue, while Mighty Doom’s currently has accumulated 16.9 million downloads and $4.27 million in revenue. Another similar product with the same life cycle was The Elder Scrolls: Blades released in 2019.

2017’s Elder Scrolls Legends’ graph is not worth showing all the way until today. | Source:

Next to Doom and The Elder Scrolls, Bethesda’s last (but not least) IP is Fallout, which two years ago brought the total valuation for these three franchises to $7 billion. Fallout has by far seen the biggest mobile success of the group. 

Since Fallout Shelter was released in 2015, it has accrued over 80 million lifetime downloads and more than $100 million in revenue. But in theory, with the Sim Tower(1994)-inspired gameplay and the amount of hype it received after its surprise announcement at Bethesda’s 2015 E3 press conference, the game could potentially have performed even more if Bethesda would have adopted a different free-to-play monetization strategy. Whether this would have been a smart move, given the average PC gamer’s aversion to anything mobile & F2P, is a separate question.

2015’s Fallout Shelter started higher but doesn’t look very different. | Source:

Nowadays, it’s common to see countless games released each month that ultimately end up sputtering and eventually shutting down. So why spend extra attention on Mighty Doom’s specific case? There are three good reasons:

  1. It’s a high-profile game, from a well-known publisher, with an incredibly strong IP.
  2. In terms of core gameplay, graphics, and sound effects, Mighty Doom had the potential to become the strongest commercially viable top-down arcade shooter on mobile, but Alpha Dog has clearly not capitalized on this potential.
  3. It’s been a while since hybridcasual instigator Archero was released, and it’s still one of the most successful games in its genre. Looking at Mighty Doom —regardless of its lack of success— is a great way to more broadly examine what’s so difficult about replicating Archero’s success and the broader hybridcasual formula. 

In this deconstruction, we’ll make an example of the game by answering the following questions: What exactly has gone wrong in the process of scaling this high-potential product, and is Mighty Doom suffering from a poor audience fit on mobile(or is there more going on under the hood)? In doing so, we’ll shed light on the more general notion of porting notable non-mobile IPs to your “handy,” as they say here in Germany. And lastly, as you, dear reader, are used to, we’ll offer numerous game design takeaways throughout the piece to shed light on aspects of Mighty Doom that do happen to work well.

Genre-transcendent adaptations of non-mobile IPs

To compare apples to apples and see what Mighty Doom has tried doing, we’ll quickly look at some of the most successful game adaptations on mobile. The key word here is adaptation. We’re going to exclude direct ports and mobile games that feature the same gameplay (for example League of Legends: Wild Rift) and also exclude massive IPs like Marvel, as they weren’t designed to be games first (but rather multiverses designed to be adapted to multiple media formats). 

Once you do that, you will realize that there aren’t that many highly successful games that have started on a different platform and have since then seen a hit spinoff with different core gameplay on mobile. Only a few notable games do come to mind:

Pokémon Go

Pokémon Yellow (1998) & Pokémon Go (2016) still have the same player fantasy.

The mother of all mobile hit surprises, with almost $5 billion in lifetime revenue, this is by far the most successful mobile game that originated from a non-mobile IP — although technically, Game Boys were pretty mobile as well! Pokémon Go definitely fits the list as developer Niantic revolutionized the franchise’s core gameplay in the most drastic way possible: by including Pokémon hunting in the real world using augmented reality.

Fallout Shelter

Bethesda’s Fallout Shelter (2015) | Source: Google Play

Fallout Shelter is one of Bethesda's own IPs that did manage to make a successful transition to mobile with entirely different core gameplay than its origin. Even though the game was marketed toward PC gamers to be a sort of companion app to fill the gap before the release of Fallout 4, it did manage to amass substantial lifetime revenue without being a shining example of perfectly executed free-to-play live ops (far from it actually). Sadly for Alpha Dog, this success does not seem to have been replicated with Mighty Doom.


Blizzard’s Hearthstone (2014) | Source: Google Play

Technically, Blizzard’s TCG hit was a PC-first release, but it’s very much thought of as a mobile hit as well. Since the gameplay is so different from the original WarCraft series, Hearthstone does deserve a mention.

GWENT: The Witcher Card Game

A more fitting (albeit less successful) example of another TCG spinoff is Gwent. With $13.5 million in lifetime revenue, this mobile game is more like a portable mini-game within the Witcher universe rather than a big, standalone mobile success.

Abstraction of gameplay often results in Cardification. | Source: Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

Other moderately successful games include Lara Croft: Go, Hitman: Sniper, Hitman: Go, and Tomb Raider: Reloaded, but as the names suggest, these are all from the same company — CDE Entertainment. Tomb Raider: Reloaded actually shares Mighty Doom’s core gameplay, but lacks the smoothness of Mighty Doom.

When thoroughly looking at the use cases where the origin of the IP’s fame is leveraged to market an entirely new game, success stories aren’t very prominent. Even when staying on the same platform, genre switches within the same IP are usually a recipe for disappointed fans or, worse, community backlash. Only very rarely have developers successfully abstracted the essence of a game down to the most primal drivers and motivations to then build an entirely new game around those same pillars, all while keeping the theme and setting of the original intact. It’s the ultimate exercise in Game Design and one of the most challenging and scary tasks to undertake. Therefore, godspeed to teams developing games like Warcraft: Arclight Rumble — you’re gonna need it!

Mighty Doom has done a lot right in this regard. To see where it scored and where it dropped the ball, let’s jump into the game’s breakdown.

Core Gameplay

As mentioned above, this game would not be worth addressing if it weren’t for Mighty Doom’s terrific core gameplay experience. It’s where the game really shines — the first hours of gameplay are a real joy, but that can be said for The Elder Scrolls: Blades as well. For Mighty Doom’s gameplay, Alpha Dog has made some impressive choices to evolve the hybridcasual top-down shooter mechanics that Archero introduced in 2019 into something more dynamic and gratifying.

A simplified Core Loop diagram of Mighty Doom. (a more specific one follows below)

Run & Gun Instead of Stop & Shoot

The most notable change Mighty Doom has made, which will immediately be noticeable for Archero players who boot up Mighty Doom, is that they don’t have to stop moving anymore for their character to start shooting.

The old-fashioned Stop & Shoot gameplay was exchanged for Run & Gun. | Source: Bethesda on YouTube

Intuitively, some game designers might feel this removes the second-to-second strategic choice players have to make. “Keep shooting and risk getting hurt as I’m being targeted by enemies” or “Move to a safer spot to keep shooting from there” is definitely one of the core principles in Archero, but it makes the gameplay feel more chopped up.

“Why not both?” is the correct question to ask here, which immediately becomes clear when putting your thumb down to start shooting. As a result, the gameplay has become increasingly bullet-hellish, which allows for more enemies to be in the room at the same time. This gameplay decision is in line with trends that can be seen in other successful roguelites like Vampire Survivor, which exposes the player to huge hordes of enemies at the same time.

G(l)ory Kills

The second thing that really distinguishes Mighty Doom from the games it takes inspiration from is the implementation of another Doom franchise staple: the glory kill. It fits exceptionally well with the top-down movement the game requires, as it creates an interesting opportunity to recover some life in exchange for forcing the player to approach the corpse of a recently slain monster. The amount of hit points recovered is substantial, which makes it a no-brainer to attempt an often unplanned maneuver.

Of all mechanics in the core gameplay, glory kills keep feeling rewarding for a long time. | Source: Mighty Doom

Because the time-limited corpse is often located right in between other enemies, the game contains a royal grace period making the character invulnerable during and shortly after the glory kill animation. Games with a similar theme and speed of action can definitely take inspiration from this glorious mechanic.

Player sentiment for the glory kills is very positive. | Source: Google Play

Visual Style & Audience Fit

Looking year over year over year, it’s clear not much has changed in terms of systematic gameplay, but a hell of a lot has changed in terms of visual effects and game feel, an element that is crucial with this IP. This is clear when looking at the initially negative reviews during soft launch, when the game didn’t yet have all this smoothness applied. Since then, more effects, including quite a good amount of gore, have been added, as this was always a staple of the franchise.

Improvements in visual design over 2021, 2022, and 2023. | Source: Mighty Doom

Boss Fights

Levels in Mighty Doom are called Chapters, which are subdivided into (usually 40) Stages where every Stage is one room full of enemies. In most chapters, all enemies that are present when entering a room need to be slayed to unlock access to the next room.

Level progression in Mighty Doom requires the player to bring demonic corruption back to 0%. | Source: Mighty Doom

Every tenth stage, the player encounters a room with a boss. These are always distinctly announced with a fitting banner and camera pan. Slaying the boss grants the player with a fun and rewarding cinematic of a glory kill specific for each boss.

Boss encounters definitely raise the stakes. | Source: Mighty Doom

The gameplay’s visual design is clearly adapted to be more in line with other mobile games. The effects, color spectrum, and animations are of high quality and are suitable for premium mobile play. 

The game’s character design was based on the same principle used in other mobile games (for example, look at WarCraft Arclight Rumble) to justify making the visual style more suitable for the smaller screen. Fewer details and more cartoony, toylike visualizations often take precedence over sticking with classic and detailed art styles designed for the big screen. The same was done in Mighty Doom, in which character models are one-on-one copies of the almost chibi-like toy collectibles that could be found in Doom Eternal.

Toy collectibles from Doom Eternal inspired Mighty Doom’s character roster. | Source: MKIceAndFire on YouTube

The fact that these toylike representations have been previously introduced to the IP is definitely better than having introduced this art style for the first time with Mighty Doom, but it doesn’t change the fact that it accounts for a radically different visual experience for fans of the franchise. This, let’s call it... minification is a logical choice from an art perspective, but it creates a clear disconnect with the original IP, and herein lies one of Mighty Doom’s potential problems. 

Inconsistent Vibe with Other Doom Products

When comparing Mighty Doom’s look and feel with the other games in the Doom series, one can only conclude there’s a certain mismatch occurring. When reviews end up describing Doom’s mobile game as “The Cutest Doom Game Ever,” that justifiably raises some eyebrows.

Doom on PC (1993 and 2016) versus Doom on Mobile (2023). Source: Bethesda

A matching visual style should be an important consideration when trying to tap into an existing IP’s audience. You don’t want your new game to look too different from your old game. When seeing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’s radically different visual style for the first time, the majority of the Zelda fanbase reacted with disappointment or even disgust. It is rumored that even Shigeru Miyamoto himself “cringed” when seeing the visual departure for the franchise he created. 

For the same reason, it would be safe to say that many classical Doom players won’t immediately feel at home after opening Mighty Doom on their mobile device and seeing the vivid color palette and “cute” monsters running around in their beloved franchise. Sure, there’s gore and the announcer, and the same enemy types, but some might argue that it’s simply not how a Doom game should look. Luckily, other aspects of the experience manage to close this gap a little, but as a game experience always comes down to the whole package, it’ll still definitely irk some hardcore fans to a point they declare Mighty Doom “not for them.”

It’s hard to believe the team behind Mighty Doom doesn’t understand the core visual aesthetic. Taking the minification route must have been a conscious decision, which provided a logical thematic layer to the increased accessibility required for mobile adaptations. Unfortunately, this came at the cost of IP dilution as a result of the inconsistent visual style, with none of the benefits of mass-market appeal that usually flow from here.

Sound effects

It’s not a topic that is regularly discussed in most game deconstructions, but in this case, it definitely deserves a mention. Usually, in mobile games, audio is heavily undervalued, but not in Mighty Doom. The game’s sound design is one of the most high-quality and genre-fitting implementations out there. The soundtrack is a mixture of metal and dubstep, and features both new elements as well as recognizable melodies from the franchise. Combined with the classic Doom voice effects that announce low and critical health, upgrades, and bosses, it accentuates the gameplay very well and represents a new benchmark for audio design on mobile.

Mighty Doom’s OST definitely holds up. | Source: YouTube

Core Game Balancing

The game is supposed to monetize on the player’s power progression slowing down, but it practically comes to a halt around chapters five and six. The game starts decreasing the room size so much while at the same time increasing the strength and amount of enemies that it becomes frustratingly difficult (read: near impossible) to keep dodging all projectiles and enemies. Additionally, some specific bosses suffer from unfair-seeming difficulty spikes.

The Prowler boss feels simply unfair when not strong enough. | Source: YouTube

Of course, the core game needs to have certain spikes in difficulty, but it clearly switches focus toward requiring the player take some unavoidable damage and resist it, which puts more pressure on the metagame’s power progression. This part of the game has some crucial flaws that make advancing too difficult and strenuous, and it’s visible in the game’s retention numbers.

Early retention for Mighty Doom is on par with comparable games, but later it drops like a stone. | Source:

It’s clear that the initial gameplay of Mighty Doom is great, even a bit superior to Archero. But because of progression-limiting issues like these combined with the game’s meager meta, which we’ll discuss later, longer-term retention has quickly dropped until it reached practical sub-zero levels at D60.

Lastly, on a different note, some of the game’s occasional choice mechanics could be made more interesting. For example, Seraphim’s Favor allows the player to sacrifice the potential of one of their stats for the benefit of another. Unfortunately, the sacrifice almost always seems to be a more useful stat than the one that gets boosted, when obviously this should be the way around. It’s small balancing (or perception) sloppinesses like these that cause entire features in Mighty Doom to fail in living up to their potential, likely dragging down retention even further.

Roguelite Metagame

For the metagame, Mighty Doom took Archero’s game loop as a foundation but made a few additions, ending up with a game loop that looks like this:

The classic hybridcasual roguelite loop. Source: Naavik

Next to classic, proven elements like Equipment Fusing, Daily Quests, and the Season Pass, the developers made small additions to the loop by implementing Idle Income, Slayer Upgrades, and Boosts. We’ll break the most notable ones down below.

Mobile Roguelike Sessioning

Inherently, roguelikes on mobile phones have an issue regarding incompatible session lengths. Where short and snappy sessions are the most desirable for the stickiest mobile games, roguelikes and most roguelites require those chunky rounds of gameplay to give the player a feeling of power progression within the dungeon run they are attempting. 

In Archero, the first few chapters have 50 rooms (stages) that need to be traversed to complete the dungeon, and this takes the player about 15 minutes, for which they have paid five energy (or a quarter of their total battery of 20). In casual games, to have players only run out of energy after a full hour of gameplay, which in this case involves clearing up to 200 rooms or waves of monsters,  is overkill. Casual players don’t have time to play one full hour every four hours. Mighty Doom has similar sessioning.

Now, a major side note regarding this is that players will reach the point where they can’t complete a full run before they die already in session two or three. On top of that, shortening the levels would have a major impact on the feeling of the aforementioned power progression, so changing this is a risky endeavor as well. 

Potentially reducing the player’s maximum energy keeps them from playing more lengthy sessions when they do have time, so there is no surefire way to tackle this predicament. Unfortunately, Mighty Doom’s power progression within the level does not feel like Archero. Attack speed increases much slower, and damage done increases mostly numerically, not visually. While in Habby’s megahit, players can add multiple arrows and strategize on how to increase their damage output, whereas it’s more one-dimensional in Mighty Doom. 

A stacking table for Archero made by a player vs. Mighty Doom’s more cookie cutter options. | Source: YouTube

Mighty Doom has many more passive boons like increased dodge or crit chance, which almost immediately lose their novelty. Meanwhile, Archero awards players by adding pets or Shadow Clones to the level, making choices between possible boon combinations infinitely more dynamic.

All of this together can quickly lead to monotonous gameplay when playing mobile roguelikes like Mighty Doom, which in turn often results in the “I wish I would die already” phenomenon that occurs when a session is taking too long. Unfortunately, Mighty Doom has done little to mitigate this, except by limiting the length of the daily event gameplay modes, which we’ll cover in the live ops analysis below. 

Slayer Upgrading & Weapon Drops

A clear indication that the game suffers from balancing problems shows up when zooming in on some of Mighty Doom’s resources. The most observant players might stumble upon a bogus resource called Argent Energy. When looking at the loop diagram above, we can see that upgrading the Mini Slayer only requires Coins, but it actually requires another currency called Argent Energy, which is one of the currencies the Argent Surge event proudly provides you more of when completing it

But in fact, this resource is completely meaningless. The issue here is that upgrading the hero is actually triple gated: Players can actually only upgrade their Mini Slayer once per player level. It then costs Coins to upgrade, which is the second requirement that could be missing. Argent Energy itself is always sufficient and is never even visualized during the upgrade process.

Upgrading the Mini Slayer shouldn’t be a meaningless experience. | Source: Mighty Doom

If there were multiple characters to upgrade and sink Coins into, that would help as well, but the other Slayers are either premium purchases or collected with Shards that trickle in so slowly that it takes months to unlock them. This is another example of how Mighty Doom’s balancing and systems design causes issues. And we haven’t yet discussed the game’s equipment issues. 

Mighty Doom also includes a second branch of progression called Masteries. The system is pretty much the same as when Archero first introduced it and has since then become the cookie-cutter casual roguelike upgrade mechanic. Instead of blindly copying the system, the developers could have gone a bit further than this random-picking implementation, as the Doom  IP’s audience should be hardcore enough to handle some more agency here. The choice between catering to the classic Doom audience or serving the hybridcasual, top-down arcade shooter audience becomes evident here. Clearly, the developers didn’t aim to cater the experience to the former audience at all and fully focused on serving the latter instead.

Fusing Weapons & Gear

One of the biggest retention drivers of top-down shooters like Mighty Doom should be the weapons it offers. Having taken Archero’s Fusing system, which requires three identical weapons of the same rarity to create a new one, means that players need nine commons to make a Rare, 18 commons to make an Epic, and so on. As any Doom game should, this iteration in the series contains many cool weapons, but (as with the Slayer upgrades) some balancing problems arise here as well.

TMI- Too Many Items! | Source: Mighty Doom

Unfortunately, the game contains four variations of each item, while its Loot Crates drop Commons 90% of the time. For most players, this results in being unable to acquire even one single Rare item at level 25, at which point they have more than 10 hours on the clock. The way the system is designed actually manages to remove excitement from collecting a new weapon, as it requires duplicates for upgrades. 

Players have been trying to figure out the drop rate of gear after completing a run, which seems to be on par with competitor Mr. Autofire (about 50% of runs award a piece of gear), but the reality in Mighty Doom is that the duplicate system only allows players to merge identical items, while in comparison Archero allows merging any piece of gear of the same rarity on higher levels.

This, together with the heavy stagnation of progression in the core game, is a deadly combination that leads to players not having the necessary agency to improve their chances of winning. It’s not likely, but if Bethesda or Alpha Dog have intentionally and maliciously limited progression this heavily to push player conversion, it’s safe to say that this is not the way.

Innovation! — Idle Income & Boosts

To end on a positive note, Mighty Doom has also made a few additions to the game’s meta that have some desirable effects. The best example here is the game’s Disk system.

Adding to the game’s consumable reward space, players are occasionally rewarded one of eight different power-ups, which they can utilize when they see fit in several situations throughout the game. Some give players the ability to reroll or double up the boons they select, while others improve the wheel of fortune or the aforementioned Seraphim’s Favor.

Disks and the Idle Mining system are high-potential additions to Mighty Doom’s features. | Source: Mighty Doom

The second feature isn’t anything special, as many games have done this before, but it’s an interesting choice to provide players with progression currencies like Coins and XP for coming back in a game like this. In this game’s context, an example tweak to make the feature reward Common weapons (instead of the currencies) or allow the transformation of gear from one kind to another would increase its potential significantly. 

Live Ops

While this part of any F2P deconstruction is usually a long chapter, sadly enough this will not be the case here. For unknown reasons, Alpha Dog has only managed to perform onecontent update since launch, adding one more chapter to its endgame. For the other updates, it has only been “various bug fixes and improvements” and two new seasons of the game’s battle pass, which (together with daily events) are the only features that come close to acting like proper live ops.

Battle Pass

The game contains daily quests that players who like to optimize progression will want to complete, as doing so awards 5000 Coins and 1 Crate Key every day. Additionally, Mighty Doom’s Battle Pass also has quests, which are smartly unlocked in weekly batches to make sure that players can’t blast through the pass in the first week.

The classic Battle Pass. | Source: Mighty Doom
The game’s first three Seasons | Source: Mighty Doom

The main influx for weapons, gear, and boosters makes it worthwhile enough to reach the end of the pass, but some content in a good seasonal pass should also be enticing. Mighty Doom’s only attempt at desireable unlockables is a Slayer cosmetic skin (which is not the same as a new Slayer!) players can earn when they go premium and reach the end of the pass. All in all, this battle pass implementation doesn’t offer anything special beyond bulk progression, which is a missed opportunity. The result of this can be seen when looking at the popularity of the battle pass purchases in comparison to the game’s direct competitors.

A ranking of the most popular purchases in Mighty Doom, Archero, and Mr. Autofire. | Source:

We’ll cover more on the battle pass in the monetization chapter below.

Daily Events

As mentioned before, the other live-ops-like feature Alpha Dog came up with are the events. The idea behind these daily event modes in Mighty Doom is solid one: The game advertises gameplay with added modifiers that can only be enjoyed once or twice per day, sometimes in exchange for a more-than-average amount of a specific currency.

Events in Mighty Doom aim to introduce gameplay variation. | Source: Mighty Doom

Unfortunately, most of the modifiers are hardly unnoticeable, except for one or two that add a fiery aura to some spawned enemies or spawn zombies with Easter bunny hats. Additionally, the additional currency some events generate (like the aforementioned Argent Energy example) suffers from a lack of utility. Once again, a good idea is poorly implemented, producing a lukewarm gameplay result.


When looking at the updated revenue graph, the two peaks that were visible at the end of April and May were the releases of battle pass seasons two and three. Repeated purchases of the battle pass seem to reflect this lack of valuable content, as can be seen in the graph below. The game’s fourth season started at the end of June, but that spike is practically invisible.

As mentioned in the battle pass section above, compared to its competitors, Mighty Doom’s €6.99 price point for the Battle Pass IAP is pretty steep for a Slayer skin chase reward. How big the difference actually really becomes painfully clear when comparing the RPD curve with the ones of Archero and Mr. Autofire.

Mighty Doom’s RPD curve is not looking so mighty. | Source:

In addition to the battle pass’s monetization aims, Mighty Doom features sales to unlock premium Slayers, new weapon cosmetics, and bundles of resources. Unfortunately, most of these fall flat. Without the balancing issues that were mentioned before, these bundles and purchases would have definitely been more tempting.

The IAP store offers resource bundles, cosmetics, and crates for purchase. | Source: Mighty Doom

What’s more interesting is Mighty Doom’s strategy of incentivized advertising, which includes three placements:

  • After dying, players can revive once 
  • Daily crates containing upgrade tokens or (when lucky) one piece of Common weapon or gear
  • Boosting the Vega Mining (idle income) speed
The three ad-placements available in the game. | Source: Mighty Doom

From the above, the placement with the highest conversion surely is the revive, as it comes at the end-of-round screen and offers great value as a free continue. Some players might engage with the second placement, as gear is quite a rare commodity and every chance to earn some counts. But the third placement isn’t very attractive as it doesn’t reward anything you can solely get by watching the ad.

Knowing that only the first placement surely converts well and the other two much less, and by taking Felix Braberg’s conservative eCPM numbers for Frozen City, we can get a rough estimate of the ad revenue for Mighty Doom. It looks something like this:

The three ad-placements available in the game | Source: Mighty Doom

The impact of the revive placement should not be underestimated. Players can play four runs per session, and energy is fully replenished after four hours. Players generally don’t completely empty their energy each time they play a session, and they also won’t use the revive each time. So from the four daily sessions shows, one ad-watch per session seems realistic. Together with the minor additions the other two are estimated to make, Mighty Doom’s ad revenue per DAU is respectable. But with the dwindling number of daily players, the game won’t be worth supporting anymore.

As can be seen, releasing a game with only the above hardly qualifies as the live ops strategy this IP deserves, which is a little surprising as the game was made by a “mobile developer known for creating"top-tier" 3D games for portable devices,” although it is actually less surprising when rehashing how Bethesda, ZeniMax, and Microsoft have run their mobile titles in the past. 

Microsoft’s Live-Ops Predicament

Looking at the mobile game revenue in Microsoft’s currentecosystem, something becomes painfully obvious: Next to mobile game spinoffs of Microsoft-owned IPs like Forza and Gears of War — none of which have exceeded the $5 million lifetime revenue — Mojang and Bethesda are the only noteworthy companies within Microsoft that are developing mobile games. Zooming in some more shows that Minecraft Pocket Edition tops a list in which Mojang practically accounts for all Microsoft’s lifetime mobile revenue. Mighty Doom, interestingly enough, still comes in third.

Microsoft’s most successful mobile games in terms of lifetime revenue. | Source:

This article raises questions about Microsoft's ability to develop influential mobile games, given its unclear mobile strategy. A broader conclusion we could draw is that Microsoft currently lacks a coherent vision and plan for becoming a major player in the mobile gaming market.

The Activision Blizzard Acquisition

A valid question is if and how Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard King will influence the company’s mobile strategy going forward. While King obviously has done extremely well operating and optimizing Candy Crush Saga, the developer has basically done only that over the years. It’s clear King simply hasn’t visibly improved Activision’s mobile strategy, with universally loved IPs like Warcraft, Starcraft, and Overwatch staying mostly untouched until now. This leads us to believe that after the acquisition is finalized, the same could happen to Fallout, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Guitar Hero, Quake, and, unfortunately, Doom as well. 

While King will likely not be the entity that builds out a comprehensive mobile strategy (if Activision can persuade U.K. regulators during the coming months), what will likely happen is that Microsoft’s initial mobile strategy will hinge on pushing its Game Pass subscription service. This will first involve more of a “play anywhere” mentality — revolving around making games available on mobile via cloud streaming — than actually developing mobile-first F2P games.

In the bigger scheme of things, a more sustainable approach would be to follow Sony and set up a proper dedicated mobile division within Microsoft. The success of this approach would depend on hiring the right executives, who should be experts that have lived and breathed mobile F2P gaming for the majority of their careers. This, in combination with other strategic M&A of highly functioning mobile studios (for example, Playrix, Voodoo, Outfit7, Dream Games) to top it off, would make a lot of sense.

With regards to Mighty Doom, it appears the game has stopped scaling and will be left for dead before the end of the year. The majority of the initial cohort of players that Alpha Dog should have kept engaged have already quit, but if (by some miraculous intervention) Bethesda suddenly feels like resuscitating Mighty Doom from the brink of death, here is where they could start:

  • Facilitate engaging live ops by rotating new and different game modes that feature different gameplay, such as payload or asynchronous co-op raid bosses. 
  • More forgiving metagame balancing that gives away Rare or even Epic weapons and gear during special events. Players will still need to have the necessary coins to upgrade their weapon of choice, so making this the gating mechanic (not the player level) would be a much healthier solution.
  • Less drastic difficulty spikes in the core game would allow players to progress through more chapters at a higher speed. Chapters should be easily generated and added to the game’s progression.

Making Mobile Spinoffs is Hard

Successful, truly genre-transcendent mobile spinoffs of PC/console games can be counted on one hand, and unfortunately, Mighty Doom doesn’t seem like it will fit the category. In conclusion, we’ll list what seem to be the most important factors to tap into that massive billion-player mobile market with your more “traditional” gaming IP: 

  • Top-quality gameplay:Obviously, the more smooth and juicy the core game experience is, the more players will stick around. As can be read above — and as the game’s D1 retention proves — Mighty Doom really delivered here. With regard to the metagame, there isn’t a strict rule to live by, as long as it adheres to the requirements below and it carefully threads that famous line between easy to pick up and yet surprisingly deep. One of the most fitting examples of this would be Supercell’s Clash Royale.
  • Player fantasy: There are two routes here. The first one is matching with the original IP. Pokémon Go and Mighty Doom have the same player fantasy as their original games (yet provide radically different core gameplay). The second option — taken by games like Fallout Shelter, Hearthstone, and GWENT — follows the mini-game route. Both routes can work. The first one is more ambitious but generally has higher hit potential, while the second offers fewer restrictions in terms of design but, in turn, alienates players who would rather stay close to the genre of the original IP. 
  • Thematic fit: This is where Mighty Doom didn’t deliver, with Alpha Dog not being much at fault here. The original IP’s gritty art style did need an overhaul to meet the accessibility requirements that successful mobile titles demand. This inherently took the theme scarily far away from that classic Doom look that fans are used to.
  • Gentle monetization: Original fans of the PC/Console games are the top priority players, and most of these are highly skeptical or outright allergic to monetization strategies Free-to-Play requires. While the need for sales and seasonal Battle Pass is essential, it’s of utmost importance to keep the monetization ethical and fair. If this is not the case, this part of the audience won’t fulfill the essential role of advertising your game to everyone in their circles, which will undoubtedly happen when the game hits these marks.
  • Proper, engaging live ops: Lastly, au contraire to their (often) premium PC/console counterparts, successful F2P games are never done. Both publishers and developers need to be willing and able to invest in a live game for years. If this is not the intent, it’s better not to adapt the game at all. It really is as simple as that.

Now let’s just hope Microsoft is reading...

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