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#1: Dream Games Soft Launches New Match 3 Game Royal Kingdom

Source: Dream Games

Last year, we deconstructed Dream Games' successful puzzle title, Royal Match, and touched on the studio’s plans to develop a new game in the segment. Fast forward to today and Dream’s latest title, Royal Kingdom, has finally entered soft launch for the Canadian market. Given the success of Royal Match, there is significant anticipation surrounding Dream's next move. Royal Kingdom, also a Match 3 title, looks at first glance to be very similar to Royal Match but doubles down on some distinct social components. Will Royal Kingdom live up to the hype? And why launch another Match 3 game? Let’s dissect these points. 

Royal Kingdom borrows much of its aesthetic and design from Royal Match. The game serves as a spinoff featuring King Robert, the younger brother of Royal Match's protagonist King Richard. Royal Kingdom introduces a slightly different decoration meta, an almost identical UI and main menu, and Match 3 gameplay with only minor changes. To add to the similarities, there are hints that features like teams from Royal Match will also make their way into Royal Kingdom at some point in the future.

It’s worth noting that Dream was founded by several members of fellow Turkish developer Peak Games, which followed a similar trajectory of launching one successful game, Toy Blast, and iterating only slightly on the formula with its follow-up Toon Blast. Peak Games is now part of Zynga, which itself is now part of Take-Two Interactive, but the approach at Dream feels very reminiscent of how Peak began to diversify its portfolio. 

The question for Royal Kingdom is whether this strategy will work for Dream as it did for Peak in the modern mobile market, or if the branding and gameplay similarities between Royal Match and Royal Kingdom risks confusing players into thinking they’re simply one and the same. 

Source: Royal Kingdom 

The twist in Royal Kingdom, for which you can watch a gameplay video here, is the incorporation of a Coin Master-inspired asynchronous PvP element, setting the core puzzle and decoration loop apart from Royal Match's. Every 10 levels, players play a special level known as an "attack level," in which the objective is to move the pieces and boosters to destroy the enemy's castle. Successfully completing an attack level rewards players with potions (the currency for kingdom construction) and shields to protect their kingdom against enemy attacks. 

Like Coin Master, players can be attacked and must spend their kingdom construction currency (potions) to repair the damage. It is important to note, however, that the frequency at which attack levels are presented currently makes them a minor part of the gameplay.

Source: Royal Kingdom

Dream Games' Strategy with Royal Kingdom

The new PvP mechanic makes sense for Dream. Firstly, it builds on the social motivations already present in Royal Match through its team feature and social events. Secondly, as the success of Match Masters (Candivore’s Match 3 real-time PVP title) has illustrated, adding a PVP element to a Match 3 title is a unique way to add more gameplay depth. If this becomes a trend, Dream will already find itself ahead of the competition. 

Making Royal Kingdom similar to Royal Match also allows the company to leverage its existing brand and re-use its existing assets and levels. Most importantly, by retaining proven elements from Royal Match like the game’s theme, levels, and UI, Dream can isolate variables and test whether the genre mashup is resonating with players.

Nevertheless, Dream faces certain risks. Firstly, the simplicity of the gameplay and UI and the focus on the Match 3 experience made Royal Match successful, yet adding extra elements might overcomplicate Royal Kingdom. Additionally, Coin Master's mechanic has not been successfully applied outside of the Lucky Battle subgenre.

Furthermore, Dream hasn’t differentiated Royal Kingdom enough from Royal Match. The two games are hard to distinguish from one another, and due to the frequency of attack levels presented the Coin Master twist presents as only a minor element of Royal Kingdom. This similarity poses a cannibalization risk to both Royal Match and Royal Kingdom,  which could be a significant issue for Dream down the line. It will take time for the new game to monetize as effectively as the original, and losing players from their flagship title could have serious consequences for the company's success. 

All in all, Royal Kingdom brings a fresh twist to the successful Royal Match formula with the addition of a Coin Master-inspired asynchronous PvP element. While this innovation has the potential to pay off for Dream, there are considerable risks to consider. The high similarity between Royal Kingdom and Royal Match may lead to cannibalization of the player base, and the incorporation of additional elements could alienate players who were drawn to the simplicity of Royal Match.

Dream will need to strike the right balance between innovation and familiarity to ensure the success of Royal Kingdom. The company's ability to adapt and iterate upon player feedback during the soft launch phase will be crucial to determining whether Royal Kingdom can meet or even exceed the high expectations set by its predecessor. 

Game Launch Radar

#1: Bump! SuperBrawl

Source: GamingonPhone
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • State: Open Beta
  • Territories: Poland
  • Classification: Strategy - MOBA
  • Quick thoughts:
    • Bump! Superbrawl is a new strategy title from Ubisoft featuring turn-based 1v1 battles and an art style inspired by Brawl Stars, with a striking resemblance to the Supercell game’s UI and art style. However, the similarities between the two games end there, as the main gameplay of Bump! Superbrawl differs significantly from Brawl Stars.
    • Battles in Bump! Superbrawl are divided into different rounds, with players' actions occurring simultaneously. Players form teams of three heroes using the characters available to them.
      • The game incorporates some light auto-chess elements, as players' primary actions during rounds involve anticipating their opponent's moves and positioning their heroes accordingly. 
      • You can watch a video of the gameplay here.
    • In contrast to Brawl Stars, Bump! Superbrawl still includes loot boxes, allowing players to collect shards for their characters. Given the importance of building the right team in this game, the gacha elements in Bump! Superbrawl are likely more akin to team-battle RPGs than traditional MOBA games.
    • Overall, Bump! Superbrawl introduces fresh gameplay to the genre, and its choice of team-based and turn-based elements fits well within the mobile F2P space.
      • However, as the game offers different gameplay from Brawl Stars and may appeal to a slightly different audience, the resemblance to Supercell's game could potentially work against Bump! Superbrawl and hinder its ability to establish a unique brand.

#2: Undawn  

Source: Pocket Gamer
  • Publisher: Level Infinite (Tencent)
  • State: Closed Beta
  • Territories: Canada, Japan, U.S.
  • Classification: RPG - MMORPG
  • Quick thoughts:
    • Undawn is a new Tencent title developed by PUBG Mobile studio Lightspeed & Quantum. The game is set in an apocalyptic world plagued by zombies in which players must gather resources, craft, and build to survive.
      • Undawn takes place in a massive open world, where players can fight against NPCs, socialize, and engage in combat with other players. You can watch a video of the gameplay here
    • Players are guided through quests within a light apocalyptic narrative. Given the game's zombie theme, the timing of the closed beta launch in the West is particularly advantageous, as it coincides with the recent conclusion of HBO’s The Last of Us series. 
    • The game is cross-platform on PC and mobile. It was developed with Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 and boasts astonishing graphics, as well as offering players an abundance of customization and interaction options. 
    • Undawn features an impressively deep level of character customization for a mobile title, even allowing players to use photos of their faces to create their in-game characters (and it does an impressive job with it!).
      • Undawn also provides players with a level of interaction with the environment that is comparable to console games like The Last of Us and has the potential to be groundbreaking for F2P mobile games. 

Other Game Announcements

  • EA’s Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-Earth launches May 10th. Link
  • EA Sports FC releases its new logo with more updates set to arrive in July 2023. Link
  • PUBG Mobile celebrates Ramadan 2023 with the Golden Moon: The Tides campaign. Link
  • Bandai Namco’s Gundam Breaker Mobile will shut down on June 4, 2023. Link
  • Honor of Kings announces collaboration with DJ Alok featuring in-game items and events. Link
  • Princess Connect! Re: Dive will shut down globally on April 30, 2023. Link
  • Cookie Run: Kingdom launches in Mainland China in association with Tencent Games and Changyou. Link
  • BLACKPINK The Game coming from developer Takeone. Link
  • Indian battle royale game Indus passes 1.5 million registrations. Link

Company Announcements

  • Savvy Games Group acquires Scopely in $4.9bn deal. Link
  • Sandsoft Games has a five year plan to become the Middle East’s mega publisher. Link
  • Savvy Games Group looking to invest $38bn in games. Link
  • Mario no longer has a future in mobile games, says Shigeru Miyamoto. Link
  • Turkish gaming VC firm Ludus Ventures leads $3 million investment round in Paxie Games. Link
  • Rovio gives insight into its game analytics approach. Link

Ecosystem Announcements

  • Amazon lays off nearly 100 staffers from its gaming divisions. Link
  • South Korea fines Google $32m for using games to damage competing mobile stores. Link
  • New Street Fighter movie and TV projects are in the works. Link
  • Turkey's gaming revenues nearly halved in 2022 due to lira decline. Link
  • Unity unveils winners of its 2023 Unity for Humanity grant. Link
  • Gamers are beginning to accept misleading ads. Link
  • ByteBrew, the all-in-one mobile game analytics platform, gets access to Google Ads attribution integration. Link

Content Worth Consuming

Source: Matej Lancaric
  • SSSnaker & Habby hybrid casual case study (Matej Lancaric): “On March 18th, 2023, Habby, the company behind Archero and, globally launched another bullet from their hit making machine called SSSnaker. If you have been following their portfolio, you could see a clear pattern to their success, which is also why they were able to be successful with” Link
  • The Hybridcasual Gamble (Deconstructor of Fun): “We dive into decline of hypercasual games and hybridcasual, an attempt by mobile game developers to adapt to the new normal in the industry.” Link
  • Player Segmentation Generates More Sales (Mastering Retention): “In this podcast, Tom Hammond, CEO at UserWise, and Sam Abbott, Head of Monetization at Rec Room, discuss how player segmentation can lead to stronger monetization in mobile games. They delve into the importance of understanding individual segments and creating tailored games that appeal to those segments. They also explore how to break down player behavior and analyze actions within the game to better understand and serve different segments.” Link
  • Levelling up analytics: From simple metrics to complex research (Azur Games): “In a recent joint meetup between Azur Games and Google Ads, the development and monetising of hypercasual games was analysed. As part of this meetup, Azur Games CRO Maksim Kozhnov shared some insight regarding metrics and how to improve your analytics.” Link
  • UX in games: User-centered vs human-centered design (LevelUp Podcast): “In this LevelUp episode, Melissa sits down with Om Tandon, UX Director at UX Reviewer Games Consultancy. They dive into what makes good UX, the similarities between producing games and films, the differences between user and human-centered design, and how to put design thinking into practice.” Link
  • Struggling with UA and player retention in a post-IDFA world? Minigames are the answer (Game Refinery): “With increased competition from IDFA regulation changes and new games consistently entering the market, two of the biggest challenges facing publishers and mobile game studios are acquiring new players (UA) and keeping those players in your game (player retention). ” Link
  • Candy Crush boss Todd Green on live ops excellence, new games — and that Microsoft takeover ( “Right, back to Candy Crush Saga and King. Most notably, the reason Green is doing media is because of Candy Crush Saga’s 2023 All Stars tournament, in which players compete to win a share of $250,000 and three championship rings worth over $60,000. King has also got rapper Saweetie on promotional duties for the event.” Link

A big thanks to Fernanda Gonzalez for writing this update! If Naavik can be of help as you build or fund games, please reach out.

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