- Redecor is a well-designed and polished game inside the niche subgenre of competitive home design games.
- Its developer, Finnish studio Reworks, published Redecor globally in April 2020. It gained major success, which led to a $400M acquisition by Playtika in the fall of 2021 (for 80% of the business).
- Trying to maximize revenue from the game — and perhaps justify the cost it paid to acquire — Playtika has been introducing many changes to the game over the last year and a half.
- Data shows long-term retention and revenue issues due to a lack of meaningful progression mechanics.
- A complete rework of the game’s economy — a rare sight in F2P — went live in November 2022 with mixed results. Playtika’s efforts push existing players to reconvert, churned players to reengage, and try to give the best experience to new users. Is that smart?
When sitting at home during the pandemic, perhaps you remember ads about demanding homeowners popping up.
Targeting predominantly the competitive female audience, Redecor, a home design game by Finnish company Reworks, couldn’t have launched at a better time — right at the start of Q2 2020, after 16 months of being in soft launch.
In the game, players compete to achieve the best (most voted for) interior design setup in daily challenges.
The metagame consists mainly of expanding the portfolio of usable materials and thus increasing the design options for each challenge.
To put it simply, the more materials the player has unlocked, the better and more cohesive design options they possess. The materials are applied to surfaces selected by the content creators.
The player’s goal is to reach a higher score than their competitors, either through a challenge in a pool of 10 players/designs or a duel in which the player tries to outdo another player’s design. The score is ascribed to each design through voting — a crucial “judgment” mechanic where the players cast votes on designs they prefer in exchange for one of the game's currencies.
Even when competitive decoration is an attractive and highly polished mechanic, the market isn’t booming with similar titles. It’s more of a niche mechanic within a niche genre. Three successful games of this caliber are Covet Fashion (2013), Design Home (2016), and Redecor.
Redecor caused a ripple in the market, quickly rose to glory, landed a sweet $400M+ acquisition from Playtika in September 2021, and has been declining since it peaked during the pandemic. A promising game with a faithful audience theoretically should be an exact fit for Playtika’s live operations focus — and succeeding at this should be extra important given Playtika’s dwindling valuation (see the chart of Playtika’s stock below).
However, as we’ll demonstrate in this deconstruction, approaching live-ops and in-game economies with solutions learned from social casino games (Playtika’s bread and butter) leads to diminishing returns in games with a more limited audience, a higher price sensitivity, and different player motivations — like Redecor.
In a scenario where the old players desperately need more features and new types of gameplay, and the new users are scarce due to the niche genre and rising UA costs, the developer needs to invest in the existing players and their retention. While shifting the needle of D30+ is notoriously difficult, we argue that for Redecor, a game that heavily lacks long-term progression features, finding a way to do so would have been the right direction, benefiting the players and the developer alike. Deconstructing Redecor and Playtika’s steps will hopefully lead to a better understanding of systems with carefully crafted player-first economies, as these systems have the best chances of retaining players for years.
- So why did Reworks agree to get acquired by Playtika?
- How did the game design work before, and what changes have been implemented under Playtika’s reign?
- Will these new changes work, and what else lies ahead?
- What can other developers learn from Redecor’s saga?
This report will dig into all of this and more. Let’s dig in.
Reworks and Playtika: An Offer Too Good to Refuse
The company behind Redecor, Reworks, has a scarce internet presence. It was founded in 2018 for the purpose of building and publishing the home design game that would become Redecor. It raised $5.8M over two rounds, the second one landing right before the game took off. There is a lot of similarity between Crowdstar’s Design Home and Redecor, with many obsolete Design Home flows being carefully and thoughtfully redesigned in the latter.
For Reworks, it was probably easy to say yes to Playtika’s acquisition offer — $400M in cash for 80% of the business with up to $200M more depending on the company’s EBITDA in 2022. Still, for Playtika, it’s an interesting decision, to say the least, given what we now know in hindsight about the company’s situation and the direction Redecor took after the acquisition. Our assumption is Playtika was itching to grow its portfolio — and keep up the company’s growth rate — and that’s why Redecor landed such a big deal. Compared to the $100M offered for Wooga, which had one great live title, two games in development, and 10 years of making hit games, the sum that Reworks got seems almost ridiculous. It also partially explains the direction the game took after the acquisition — in short, focusing on earning quick money rather than carefully and sustainably growing the game.
As a result, and as you can see in the chart below, Redecor is no longer on track to be the next and more successful iteration of Design Home (based on cumulative worldwide revenue). Also, these struggles extend more broadly across Playtika, and if you’re interested in learning more company-related context, we recommend reading our previous research essay that covers Playtika’s ongoing challenges.
Data Insights: The Four Stages of Success
To better understand the position Redecor assumed in its subgenre, let’s zoom out and take a broader look at customization and simulation games that target a similar audience. Below is a table that summarizes Redecor’s and similar game audiences based on data from Game Refinery.
This next chart also makes it clear how the market for this specific audience is relatively stale, not growing at all.
When we piece all of this together, we can distinguish four key phases of Redecor’s short history: 1) early success, 2) the stable days, 3) last year’s decline, and 4) the unclear future. Let’s quickly break them down since they provide helpful context for the rest of the deconstruction.
Redecor started off strong. Since its global launch (33 months ago), Redecor has accumulated almost $166M in worldwide revenue; from that perspective, it is only surpassed by Design Home. While it’s obvious that the pandemic was a large contributor here, there’s more to the story.
Another simple reason for success is that the developing studio did a tremendous job in terms of the overall polish and clear stakes for the players. This is reflected in the game’s RPD value ($4.55); Redecor rose to the third position in its category despite being the youngest game in the group.
The Stable Days
Between March 2021 and March 2022, Redecor’s revenue was relatively stable, if not ever so slightly declining. At that time, users and downloads were slowly falling, perhaps due to the game or the studio approaching the limits of acquiring and retaining users. This is an important point because April 2021 is also when Apple launched its ATT policy, making it increasingly harder for games to line up their sights on likely spenders, and tiny studios like Reworks with zero cross-promotion options were among the more affected ones. This trend was reversed around the time of the acquisition; possibly, Playtika started intervening and investing in acquiring new users. At the same time, DAU and revenue stayed stable.
Last Year’s Decline
The dawn of the Playtika era hasn’t gone so great for Redecor, which also found itself victim to the industry-wide post-COVID, post-IDFA slump. Here’s what we see in the data:
- The iOS drop-off started back in 2021, before any slump on Android was apparent. From March to November 2022, monthly revenue went from $3.1M to $1.2M on iOS and from $2.4M to $1.2M on Google Play.
Regarding user behavior, average sessions per user and session duration lightly grew and held steady since the Playtika acquisition (for about 6 months), before rapidly deteriorating in the summer of 2022.
Quite a few changes were launched and tested in this period, undoubtedly due to Playtika’s heavy involvement. To put it metaphorically, screws were tightened to squeeze even more out of Redecor’s existing players. As a result, between July and October of 2022, Redecor’s MAU went down by 46%. The following chart — which showcases D1 retention around 40% and D90 retention steadily declining over 2022 — doesn’t speak of healthy changes in the game.
In a game without a substantial long-term progression mechanic, pushing for more intense day-to-day gameplay is depleting the players early on.
The Unclear Future
As mentioned previously, Redecor has managed to accumulate $166M in global revenue. The initial speed of acquiring and monetizing users has been impressive, especially compared to the two games with the most similar competitive core loop: Design Home and Covet Fashion.
But now Redecor’s future appears dimmer than it looked in its earlier days. We enter this last period at the break of a massive core gameplay change (which we’ll fully break down deeper into this report). While we see a slight uptake in revenue (from the very lows), it is likely caused by a combo of newly acquired players who have favored the recent changes and old players who are being pushed to spend more, but we are yet to see whether this trend continues.
Now that we’ve set the stage data-wise, we need to dive into the game itself and evaluate its evolution, especially with regards to Playtika’s ongoing influence. Only then can we make an informed guess at Redecor’s future.
Let’s peek behind the curtain of Redecor’s success, then do an in-depth core loop analysis, and finally uncover the actions Playtika has been taking and whether we believe they will lead to a sustainable future for the game.
Hitting the Design Nail on the Head
Redecor’s sole competitor is Design Home, and it’s clear that Reworks set out to do things smoother and better than its predecessor. Why is Redecor worth talking about, and what does it do great?
1. Innovative and Visually Polished Gameplay
The core idea is to granularize the mechanics of Design Home. In Redecor, players match materials together; in Design Home, they match different pieces of furniture. The mental task of matching colors and patterns together is more manageable and offers more control than matching the combined furniture pieces' materials, shapes, cushions, and other details. Or, let’s just say, Redecor offers a more casual take on the Design Home mechanic.
Both games have their faithful audiences, no doubt overlapping in many cases, but it should be mentioned that Design Home launched on mobile back in 2016… and this shows. It shows enough (visually and gameplay-wise) that it’s no surprise that a company like Reworks picked up the gauntlet, rolled up its sleeves, and delivered a game that feels contemporary, both visually and control-wise. The early game friction is thus far lower and puts Redecor 7% above Design Home in terms of D1 retention, on average.
2. Great Technical Solutions Open Up Space for Great Live-Ops
Focusing on the materials rather than the furniture pieces works great technically: the player manages their materials inventory, and the developers reuse the same furniture models from their database in different setups, keeping the game fresh. Compared to Design Home, where every piece of furniture is unique, this is a more sustainable development.
As a result, the Redecor player has a portfolio of materials from different collections with high reusability. That gives it a clear advantage over Design Home, where the player using furniture sets has to combine multiple elements to stay cohesive, which lowers the furniture’s reusability across challenges.
3. Clear Progression Scheme
Redecor’s main progression mechanic is the seasonal pass, which was implemented at launch and fits like a glove. It, quite expectedly, gives out all the items and currencies in the game in exchange for playing, resets once a month, and varies in theme. Implementing a Seasonal Pass from the get-go gives players a meaningful way to repeatedly spend money in thematic seasons and have a sense of progression overarching the completion of the singular designs.
Combined with an intuitive reward scheme, high art polish, and the showcasing of awarded designs, we can see why players crave the better-looking materials that are found in the seasonal passes. It helps explain why purchasing the pass is a no-brainer, and this success is reflected in the speed with which Redecor started accumulating revenue post-launch.
4. Realism and Identification
Sharing photos of the player’s “customers” with small narratives about who they are and what they need directly complements the core audience. Typically, these players want to play a story and identify themselves with people from all over the world while taking on the role of the interior designer who is here to fulfill their dreams. The narrative is light, doesn’t get in the way of gameplay, and, most importantly, adds to the fantasy.
Notably, this is a healthy, mature fantasy that will attract a slightly different audience than rags-to-riches power stories such as Lily’s Garden. Even though Redecor is “just a decoration game,” it doesn’t take the shortcut that so many games targeted at mainly female audiences do. It doesn’t reek cute and stereotypical, and — perhaps what speaks to the original team the most — doesn’t use the stories of the protagonists in twisted UA campaigns. No “help her rebuild her house, or she freezes to death” shenanigans; it simply lets the player know this game is about aesthetics and competition.
Lacking Meaningful Progression Is a Long-term Retention Killer
One to two years ago, we would have discussed all of the above points, celebrated the game’s success, and highlighted the potential hidden features that aim to retain the player longer than just a chain of seasonal passes. While the initial setup is great, plays great, and gives clear stakes, it will, over time, feel grindy and repetitive simply because, aside from the pass and the material collections, there’s nothing to strive for long-term. However, 15 months ago, the acquisition by Playtika was announced, and a year later Redecor did a very unusual change to its core loop. So, let’s start by breaking down the old loop, and then we’ll dig into the changes.
Pre-Playtika: Simple Loop, Simple Setup, Limited Progression
In this section, let’s talk about the initial game design and economy that was part of Redecor until November 2022’s Big Change. To start, building a decent design or customization game is challenging because of two main factors:
First, to make the design fantasy truly work, the content production's quality and breadth must be super solid. The challenges (AKA the environments to get creative with) must feel real, have an internal logic of real-life rooms and areas, and feel fresh every day. Reworks mentioned early on that each of Redecor’s challenges are handcrafted in an attempt to meet these objectives.
Second, being in a genre where the core gameplay typically lacks a power structure, finding means of long-term progression has been the shared struggle among all of the competitors. Simulation games such as Top Eleven or Sims Mobile use the age of the playable characters to shift content from one generation to the next, providing a character’s lifetime as a boundary within which the player gets to achieve as much as possible.
Or often the customization part gets supported by a match-2 or match-3 loop (with the release of Gardenscapes, for example, we saw an excess of games with the same exact loop) that gives players the means to earn the options to decorate. For all the above reasons, building a game around competition rather than a controllable single-player experience is not without risk.
If we were to strip Redecor of the competition and progression, all would become clear. In the beginning, it’s all exciting, beautiful, and new, but later in the game, its setup feels less and less creative and more repetitive, as the player keeps doing the same thing over and over again. In the end, building great designs is the skill at the core of the game. The market advantage that Redecor holds because of the realism of the design challenges breaks when it fails to give a broader meaning to the repetition.
The Core Loop: Less Friction, More Fairness
Redecor’s core loop consists of these actions:
- Collecting daily rewards
- Voting to earn more cash
- Designing a room for an XP and cash reward
- Getting a result and potentially winning
- Progressing in the Pass
- Expanding collections with currency earned for good scores
The currencies used are cash, gold, and star tokens. Cash is the oil in the machine, serving as a reward for voting and the main means of purchasing materials. The two other currencies — gold and star tokens — serve as premium and content-gating currencies, respectively.
The daily reward (1, in the loop above) ensures day-to-day retention by distributing gold — otherwise a scarce resource.
Voting (2) is where one of the big innovations takes place. We can borrow Design Home’s core loop from our friends over at Deconstructor of Fun. In Design Home (and Covet Fashion), the player must use a specific currency (keys) to submit a finished design.
The player can spend much time polishing their design, only to be informed about the cost when hitting the button to submit.
What is undoubtedly intended to lower the friction when entering a challenge ends up being a very unfriendly flow at its end. There’s a disconnection between the voting — a crucial mechanic, as the game needs players to keep evaluating the designs — and the challenge itself. Redecor removes the artificial motivation for voting and instead simply says that if the player votes more, their ability to create better designs goes up because they can afford to purchase more and better materials.
Design (3): After entering a challenge, the player either uses materials they already own or spends cash/gold to buy more. Only when all the dots/surfaces have been filled can the design be submitted.
Result (4): The player gets two types of rewards:
- Immediate rewards: Cash as a reward for participating and Pass XP based on cash spent.
- Rewards from voting: Star tokens based on stars received (up to five), and, if the player ended up first, second, or third, gold and material boxes. Winning is by far the best game experience; it’s the invisible driving force to enter many challenges and spend much time and money on them.
Both main progression mechanics — the pass and the collections — do not exist in Design Home. In Redecor, they contribute to short- and mid-term retention.
Pass progression (5): A game like Redecor has an ideal setup for a season pass. Whereas many games struggle to fill a pass with meaningful rewards, a customization game can largely benefit from it. The seasonal pass also removes one important friction point from Design Home: waiting for feedback and rewards until the challenges are over and evaluated.
Collection mechanic (6): The content (materials) is filtered by the surfaces it applies to and sorted into groups based on the material type and/or pattern. More materials are unlocked by collecting star tokens and opening star boxes.
Over half of the IAP revenue between 2020 and 2022 is directly linked to premium content and unlocking new content, giving credit to the balancing scheme between cash and gold items and the desire to own more materials, which again speaks to the incredible polish level.
Missing Long-term Retention
Unfortunately for Redecor, the game never built any progression feature that would span past the passes or give additional meaning to the repetitive core actions. It’s worth entertaining a theory that the data the team has access to was not in favor of such a feature in the first place, but given the game’s decent RPD, it’s hard to believe this was the case. At the end of this essay, we’ll discuss several ideas we would love to see in the game to help level it up here.
It’s essential to point out that in a loop this simple, the player will be more sensitive to perceived unfairness. From that perspective, the economy has to function like a well-oiled machine, accommodating under- and over-achievers, casual and invested players, winners and losers. In that sense, cash circulation is the backbone of Redecor's economy. Occasionally supported by gold, the cash lets the player stay in the loop. The basic equation balances out the income from the challenges (flat rate) and the willingness to invest in fancier materials driven by the motivation to win.
The dual currency scheme (cash and gold) ensures that this equation is less evident to the player. Golden materials do usually look better than cash materials. However, the player has to have a design sense to understand what may be liked. That is the real game in Redecor, and in the long run it adds to the repetitiveness of the experience. Speaking from experience, the more hygge the design is (i.e., the more minimalistic, clean, and neutral), the better chances it has at succeeding.
Even though gold acts as a hard currency, it is, in fact, another soft currency, and while it is harder to come by and therefore more valuable, it provides these major benefits:
- Differentiation between rewards for participation and rewards for scoring well
- Feeling special when choosing gold materials
- Its use in the daily rewards increases day-to-day retention the way cash would not
There’s another unfortunate side effect in the game economy that stems from a lack of long-term progression features: Inflation. In games with scarce progression mechanics, accumulating large piles of free currencies can be seen as a status element and a reflection of how long the player has been in the game. Of course, the more varying the in-game player wealth is, the harder it is to balance the game. Prices meaningful to hoarders destroy newbies. Without features aimed specifically at D30+ that create sinks for these retained players, the economy inflates, which gives Playtika one big reason to deem this particular economy subpar.
Post-Playtika: Iteration Frenzy and a Currency Reform
The Playtika era can be split into two periods:
- November 2021 to November 2022: Extensive testing and iterating within the existing design space
- From November 2022 on: The Big Change
Let’s break it out one at a time.
November 2021 to November 2022
It takes time for an acquirer to decide what changes to make in its newly acquired games, and in Playtika’s case, we started seeing changes in Redecor approximately six months into Playtika’s reign.
Materials can be directly purchased
Star tokens can be spent directly on materials instead of having them drawn from chests randomly. A change like this will temporarily increase revenue, but in the long run it amounts to giving players directly what they want in a gacha system. Even though a gacha system may not be the best of fits in a decoration game, it brings a notion of anticipation and surprise. It also probably moved the needle on long-term retention by a couple of decimals, as it gave players more motivation to stay and want to open more chests in order to get their desired materials. In a system where everyone can buy anything, the feeling of earning something through victories or luck goes away.
Challenges require more materials
The cost of each challenge equals the total of materials used, and the more that materials are required (i.e. the more dots on the challenge), the more expensive the challenge is. It’s been a subtle trend to up the number of materials per scene to drain more resources from the player. One clear disadvantage of this is that pleasantly combining more materials gets increasingly complex, which puts an additional strain on the long-term player.
Many more daily challenges
The number of challenges available at any given time has risen significantly. This change likely happened in March 2022 when the session count and average session length increased. The problem here is that it’s more of the same, literally. The most engaged players may rejoice, but the rest will be overwhelmed and paralyzed by choice. Repeating the same activities without giving players new reasons to participate will feel like a grind.
Vases and decorations have been added as optional items under “Finishing Touches.” While not mandatory to use, these items are expensive.
Next to these design changes, we have seen more offers focusing on materials and items that cannot be obtained elsewhere, shortening pass seasons, allowing players to redecorate the same challenge more times (using up more materials), removing rarity from materials (lowering the experience from gacha), and more. Even if every change mentioned makes sense as an iteration to test, what feels striking is the absence of any feature that actually cherishes the player, makes them feel more rewarded, or gives them reasons to stay longer. The changes during this time didn’t contribute to the long-term success of the game at all.
Post-November 2022: The Big Changes
As someone close to Playtika once said, “Playtika likes ‘em single currencies.” When players opened Redecor in early November, they all came upon this new flow:
Who doesn’t love a good old currency reform, right?
The Updated Loop
Let’s first list the economic changes:
- The player now has coins instead of cash and gold.
- The coins you get for a challenge behave similarly to the gold in the old loop – they depend on your rank.
What does this mean? In the previous section, we discussed the benefits of dual currency, especially the player-facing ones contributing to the experience of playing and winning. Keeping those two aspects separately meant the player could operate with cash and celebrate with gold. After the change, this distinction is gone.
In fact, what Naavik often advises our clients when setting up a dual currency system is to differentiate between the “in” and the “out” of a loop. The cost to enter should not be of the same currency as the reward; otherwise, said loop becomes purely transactional. Where first place in the old design would win the player 1,000 gold, in the new design it varies. Anyone can quickly calculate that even to have a chance at covering one’s costs, the player cannot end up worse than second place. And we’re not even talking about the conversion ratio:
- Cash items are now 3-5 times more expensive in coins
- Popular items got more expensive
- Converted player’s balances with a worse rate the more they had
- Didn’t increase the rewards from quests correspondingly
The Designer Status
The other side of this coin (pun intended) is a long-term progression feature. As we‘ve noted several times, it’s a feature the game gravely needs. In Redecor, all victories (or “podiums” — first to third place) count into a designer status. That, as a soft push toward more spending and a more thoughtful approach regarding the designs, could have been a great move.
The first ‘but’ is that this status is linked to the season. Its behavior actually resembles the dropping leagues in Clash Royale or any other league-based system.
Say, for example, that the player reaches designer status level 5 in the current season. That means that in the next season, the player will be level 5 but “on hold” — they need to reach at least level 5; otherwise, in the next season, they will drop to 4. It’s competitive and disregards progress from playing and not winning, so it’s not exactly a long-term progression feature but a league feature. Importantly, if you were wondering why the player would care about the status, here is why: Materials!
Materials — the same materials players had access to before the redesign — are locked based on their designer status. Imagine you drop a league in Clash Royale, and your cards are locked until you level back up. Not only is it a bad experience, but it also lowers your chances of winning, breaks your favorite combos, and gives you plenty of reason to be mad at the team behind the game.
Our Take on These Changes
If there’s a little voice in your head whispering that these two changes are a tad too much of a P2W scenario, you are not far from the truth. In the past, the player who would be most pushed to convert or reconvert would be the heavily engaged player or the one who cares the most, while the average player’s coin needs would be supplied by the sources we described (daily reward, flat rate of the payouts for challenge completion, and voting).
In this new design, it’s still the engaged player who needs coins to participate in challenges. But it’s also everyone else, because the odds and matchmaking are against the player who will now bleed money much faster. It’s hard to imagine that old players are too thrilled about this change.
The Podium Mania
What seems to be an attempt at dealing with the lack of meaningful progression is, in fact, a poisoned chalice. Longer-term progression features are complicated in games like Redecor. For instance, Design Home has one solution: the player unlocks different houses they can furnish with the items they own. While certainly limited in scalability like any other content-based feature, it is a valid option. In Redecor, given the vast portfolio of 3D models the game possesses, it would have been cool to let players build their scenes and drive the game more in a UGC direction. (We at Naavik say that is leaving money on the table for 2023.)
Another way to boost retention would be to group the challenges into bigger chunks, provide a larger narrative and multiple layers of competition, and have teams, team duels, and team inventories. But when you are set on making do with what’s left of the existing players and rebalancing the game in favor of the newcomers, you can add a FOMO progression feature. There is just one tiny catch: the game relies on player liquidity. Given the trends (where the game lost 40% of DAU since July 2022), we can only say: well Playtika’d.
In the data, we see that the moment revenues started to drop off coincides broadly with the acquisition. It’s a chicken-or-egg situation here: was Redecor already on its decline, and Playtika made a bad decision, or did the Playtika’s forced changes decisions run a successful project to the ground? Or a mix of both?
Here’s what we think: Playtika decided that given the game’s dependence on a new stream of players, the best way forward would be to adapt the experience towards getting the most out of them with little to no regard for the existing audience. And we see three major flaws in this thinking:
- Redecor is an atypical game in Playtika’s portfolio, and its players are not social casino players. The same lessons learned do not necessarily cross genres.
- Given Redecor’s niche status, alienating its old players is shortsighted, as there simply aren’t that many of them remaining.
- Last but not least, messing with the internal logic of the game means breaking the motivations it was built upon.
Playtika acquired a game with one of the highest download rates within its portfolio:
With all these new users coming in, it probably thought it bought a goldmine where no one had hit the vein yet, and the tools to hit it were going to be the secret Playtika social casino recipe for success. But Redecor is not a social casino game, and before it knew it, the company was losing the old players and failing to retain new ones because the game was becoming more and more imbalanced. At the same time, Playtika’s stocks started to plummet.
So, Playtika does the only thing it can do (and it may have already been in motion anyway) — it redoes the whole game economy. And while that’s underway, it keeps missing its targets over and over while putting effort into features that will end up driving the old, patient players away. And when players have almost no external motivations to stay in the game, they will be more sensitive to any attempts to get more money out of them.
In that sense, Playtika’s practices are misplaced in a game like Redecor, where players are quite willing to pay (pointing back to the RPD numbers), but also where they can do the math and figure out the transactional nature of the singular currency reform — something that a social casino player will not bat an eyelash at, as they’re used to receiving and losing vast amounts of money daily.
In a game like Redecor, losing players is much easier than gaining and keeping them. Playtika should have realized that in a niche market, it cannot afford to alienate singular players, even if, on paper, there are many of them. The niche focus on redecorating may not be casual enough to have a broader impact on the market, as the game cannot be played as a relaxing single-player experience. In other words, only so many players will want to play a game like this, and the ones who do are worth fighting to keep, not fighting to squeeze every penny out of. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Redecor is the only game in Playtika’s portfolio whose RPD has dropped over the past year.
What Lies Ahead?
- Playtika misjudged the Redecor audience by throwing it into the same bucket as social casino players, overlooking that they have more motivations to play than to watch their coin balance.
- Another miscalculation was estimating the potential ability to acquire new players as larger than it actually was, probably seeing the game as more mainstream than it was in reality.
Sadly, Redecor’s growth plan has not been adjusted to where the game’s potential actually lies: in carefully growing the audience size while making sure more players stay beyond D30, motivated by a sense of fantasy and new progression mechanics, not just earnings.
From a company perspective, it is understandable to push for greater profitability and faster growth when investor sentiment drops, but Playtika’s ambitions have created self-inflicted and largely unavoidable pain. For Redecor, the future likely holds more intense UA efforts (already a rising trend), followed by more cash-oriented features (hello, piggy bank) if the results do not fit expectations (they won’t). Since it is burning through new users faster without retaining them, we probably won’t see more substantial growth. Redecor’s future looks dim unless Playtika changes its approach to managing this type of game, which we’re skeptical will happen.
Lastly, as we put the finishing touches on this essay, Playtika has made an offer to also acquire Rovio. We don’t know whether Rovio will say yes or no, but the history with Redecor (among other acquired games and studios in Playtika’s recent history) should give the Rovio team pause. If not careful, they could walk into a situation that, despite a meaningful share price premium, creates even more value destruction — for players, for employees, and for Playtika shareholders. Let Redecor’s story be a shining light on the fragility of success in mobile games, as well as the difficulty and importance of finding the right acquirer for studios looking to sell. Let’s hope everyone can learn from this example and be smarter in the future.
Big thanks to Eva Grillova for writing this deconstruction! If Naavik can be of help as you build out your games and gaming businesses, please don’t hesitate to reach out.