Fishing Battle (捕鱼大作战 in China) is a new mobile F2P game that has been featured on the worldwide top grossing casino game charts for the first time. It’s the first “hunter casino” game to do so — you use cannons to shoot fish, as you can see in this surreal gameplay video.
Games in this subgenre date as far back as 2011, with games like WhatsFish and WhatsFish2, though it's only after 2021 that this type of game started bringing in upward of $100M in total revenue. These games heavily skew China-only — 95% of this year’s $306M total revenue was driven by players in China.
So let's take a closer look at Fishing Battle and the China-only casino subgenre of hunter casino games, and assess whether they can make their way to the West and fuel innovation in the casino genre.
Over Q1-Q3 2023, Fishing Battle by Tuyoo is ranked at number eight in the worldwide casino top ten, according to data.ai. It brought in $105M in revenue from 1.1M downloads, with an RPD of $57.69 (three years since launch), which is impressive even for a casino game. Xin Stars, which started as a slots game and later added gameplay modes like bingo and fish battle, is the only other game in China that has a higher RPD of $96.86 (nine years, four months since launch) with 272K downloads and $115M in revenue in the same Q1-Q3 2023 time frame.
In the worldwide top grossing casino rankings, Fishing Battle is the only “hunter casino” game that makes the top 10 list, with the rest being more traditional slots and bingo games.
How Fishing Battle Works
Fishing Battle is essentially fishing with cannons. There are four cannons placed as a pair at the top and bottom of the screen that shoot at fish, with one cannon for the player. The other three cannons are controlled by competing players hunting for the same fish, and by tapping the screen, the player spends the number of coins below the cannon to shoot, a proxy action to inserting a coin and pulling the lever on a slot machine.
If they are successful in hunting a fish by reducing its HP to zero, the fish explodes like a piñata, full of coins. Players can then use these coins to increase their bets, which increases the damage output of the shots fired by the cannons. Players can also use coins, but mostly premium currencies, to upgrade their cannons to catch more fish.
Players also have access to skills at the bottom center of the screen. These have cooldowns and can be used to activate special effects like freezing all the fish for a short time or dropping bombs on a target. As the player catches fish and ranks up, they get access to more cannons and skills.
These games are intense in terms of on-screen feedback (as seen in this gameplay video) – these types of flashy visuals with big numbers and celebratory coin payouts are common to casino games. Casino-style gameplay elements include fish that have a variable payout of coins when caught, randomized fish that swim across the screen, as well as the coins spent on shooting fish by tapping the screen.
The progression curve lies in sinking larger coin bets for shots fired by the cannon, getting bigger cannons and progressing to new locations. The locations are a proxy to different rooms and slot machines, each with varying fish ecosystems. Adding a constant cadence of these has proven important to long-term retention, but that comes with its high content cost.
Boss monsters intermittently show up, and players have a limited time to defeat them before they swim away. Limited-time events are hunts for legendary creatures, and rare fish made of gold act as jackpots.
The game boasts different fish to hunt, cannons to collect and upgrade, as well as gacha pulls for rare rewards. All of this comes together in a feature-rich package of missions and achievements, events, social leaderboards and guilds, and near endless progression.
Fishing and casino gambling have some similarities: Both require repeating an action over and over again in the hope of getting something of value. And both have memorable moments of massive success that help you forget periods where nothing of value is gained. As far as casino games go for entertainment, pulling a lever to watch reels fall into place seems rather tame when compared to using a rocket cannon to blast a shark made of gold into an explosion of coins.
There is one hunter casino title roughly every 10 ranks in the worldwide top grossing casino charts today. And though hunter casino gameplay is currently mostly found in China-skewed casino games (like Xin Stars, mentioned earlier), it’s only a matter of time before it is packaged for the West (Deer Hunter, Zombie Hunter, and Mech Hunter). With Fishing Battle the first to enter the top 10 ranks, the only way for the hunter casino subgenre to go is up.
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