#1: How Well is Voodoo’s Hybridcasual Strategy Working?
According to Pocket Gamer, Voodoo recently announced that its transition to Hybridcasual is beginning to pay off with the company featuring 10 games in the category generating between $20 to $100 million a year. But how is the company progressing in its goal of increasing in-app purchase (IAP) monetization for its portfolio?
Although downloads for Voodoo have been declining — a common trend for most Hypercasual companies at the moment — revenue has demonstrated consistent growth over the last few months, as you can see in the chart below. This indicates that Voodoo has indeed increased IAP monetization for its games.
"With this new approach and Voodoo's unique capacity to make mega-hits that are resilient over time, we believe there are huge success opportunities for mobile game development studios that are partnering with us," Voodoo’s Charles Andréani told PocketGamer in an interview.
A significant portion of the revenue growth can be attributed to the higher monetization of one specific title: Mob Control, an action title currently holding the top position among grossing apps in the Hypercasual market.
Additionally, although less dramatic, revenue growth from Collect Em All has also contributed to the overall increase in IAP revenue.
Mob Control was already a Hypercasual title in Voodoo's portfolio. In recent months, it has been refined with features aiming to improve monetization and retention metrics, such as collectibles, light PvP features, and daily missions. Collect Em All, on the other hand, was initially prototyped as a Hypercasual title but was soon modified by one of Voodoo's developers, Tarboosh Games, to incorporate more Casual mechanics like a progression system, leaderboard, and decorating meta.
Examining the RPD chart below, we can see that the latest adjustments for Mob Control and the initial enhancements for Collect Em All have contributed to the increased monetization in both titles.
However, these changes and improvements have not been as effective in boosting retention, particularly in Mob Control's case. With the game's retention being lower than benchmarks and at the same level as the rest of Voodoo's Hypercasual portfolio, Mob Control remains heavily dependent on downloads, akin to other Hypercasual titles.
Furthermore, while the games have outperformed other Voodoo titles in terms of monetization, a comparison of their RPD with the same top-grossing titles previously mentioned reveals that both games have the potential to achieve greater success.
One theory worth exploring, at least for Mob Control, is that the game appears to have been designed with a Hypercasual approach. While the addition of more casual features has increased monetization, the core gameplay might have been too hypercasual to engage and retain players for extended periods.
Regarding the future of Voodoo's Hybrid Casual portfolio, the company is still in the initial stages of its enhanced IAP monetization strategy. Although it has succeeded in improving monetization in two existing titles, comparisons to other benchmarks reveal that the games are not yet shining examples of Hybridcasual success. Nevertheless, newer games developed with a Hybrid Casual mindset from the outset may hold more promise.
For instance, Block Jam 3D, one of Voodoo's latest titles, incorporates proven monetization mechanics found in other Hybridcasual titles like Triple Match-3D and a streamlined decorating progression meta. While no retention metrics are available for the game yet, the app's RPD of $1.39 on iOS in the U.S. already far surpasses any other app from Voodoo's Hypercasual portfolio. If the company manages to maintain that metric as it grows, it could soon become Voodoo’s first major Hybridcasual hit.
Game Launch Radar
#1: Oregon Trail: Boom Town
- Publisher: Tilting Point
- State: Global Launch
- Territories: Worldwide
- Classification: Simulation - Tycoon
- Quick thoughts:
- Oregon Trail: Boom Town merges the traditional Oregon Trail IP with Tycoon-style gameplay mechanics. This game adopts typical Tycoon game strategies, where players are tasked with developing and expanding their settlement through farming, resource management, and building construction.
- Significantly influenced by the game Township, Oregon Trail: Boom Town integrates several similar gameplay elements and multiple progression pathways. The game introduces:
- Three distinct order systems for diverse resource expenditure
- A daily task system contributing to a broader weekly progression system
- A multi-tiered task system segmented into daily, three-day, weekly, and monthly tasks, all contributing to a battle pass
- Regular in-game events
- For monetization, the game incorporates features commonly found in Casino games, such as a "Piggy Bank" and a "Lucky Shot" feature. It also includes various ad monetization placements.
- You can watch a video of the gameplay here.
- As a whole, Oregon Trail: Boom Town offers gameplay with multiple layers and well-designed graphics. While the Oregon Trail IP may not be as widely recognized as in past decades, it could appeal to an older demographic familiar with previous Oregon Trail games. This group is also a key target audience for Tycoon games, and the game's theme aligns well with the gameplay mechanics.
#2: Dumb Ways to Die 4
- Publisher: PlaySide Studios
- State: Global Launch
- Territories: Worldwide
- Classification: Hypercasual - Puzzle
- Quick thoughts:
- The game is very similar to "Dumb Ways to Die 3," offering a range of mini-games, some new and some from previous installments. You can watch a video of the gameplay here.
- It introduces three new features not found in earlier games in order to keep players engaged for longer:
- A streamlined design and decorate system seen in some hyper-casual games. Here, players win coins in mini-games to advance through different parts of the game.
- A daily quest system to keep players coming back.
- A character collection system, where each character has unique boosting abilities. This feature could be a hit with fans of the IP due to the fun and endearing nature of the characters. However, since these characters aren't playable in the mini-games, it might lose some appeal.
- Interestingly, the reveal of Dumb Ways to Die 4 last month coincided with a boost in the franchise's popularity, largely thanks to TikTok. Although there are some new features, the core gameplay hasn't shifted much. Additionally, it's been four years since Dumb Ways to Die 3 was launched.
- Taking these factors into account, it seems the decision to launch a sequel was mainly driven by the title's recent surge in popularity, without much consideration for how the gameplay might evolve in a new version.
Other Game Announcements
- Rovio’s Bad Piggies 2 gets a soft launch for iOS in select regions (Link)
- Apex Legends Mobile shuts down (Link)
- Angry Birds Dream Blast was at the top of the Rovio pecking order in Q1 (Link)
- Magmic uses ChatGPT to power Hasbro’s Scattergories (Link)
- Pokémon Go hit $34.7m in April, its lowest monthly sum in five years (Link)
- Love Live School Idol All Stars will shut down on June 30, 2023 (Link)
- Honkai Star Rail introduces a new social media-based event that revolves around taking in-game pictures for free premium currency (Link)
- Punishing Gray Raven finally reveals the release date for its highly anticipated PC version, which features cross-progression for mobile gamers (Link)
- Supercell backs social midcore studio Phantom Gamelabs with seed funding (Link)
- Monster Hunter Now boosts Capcom share prices (Link)
- Riot Games to compensate 1,548 women in gender discrimination case (Link)
- Activision Blizzard publishes pay equity analysis (Link)
- Fragbite ends contract with Tilting Point (Link)
- Frantic Games raises $2.4M for action-based hybrid casual mobile games (Link)
- Krafton reports record Q1 with $407.8M in sales (Link)
- Unity laying off 600 workers in search of "long-term and profitable growth" (Link)
- Unity Ads bidding now available in LevelPlay (Link)
- AppLovin brings Google bidding’s open beta to all MAX publishers (Link)
- WePlay Ventures launches Europe’s largest accelerator program for gaming startups (Link)
- Meta veteran Nerissa MacDonald joins Anzu global sales role (Link)
- Mobile proliferation pushes gaming market growth (Link)
- AppLovin brings performance-based buying to CTV to AppDiscovery (Link)
- SPARK 2023: Tencent Games’ annual conference to take place on May 15th (Link)
Content Worth Consuming
- Clash Mini - Supercell’s Next Billion Dollar Game? (Deconstructor of Fun): “Javier Barnes analyses Supercell’s Clash Mini, one of the three Clash franchise extensions Supercell announced back in April of 2021.” (Link)
- Ep. 113: How Voodoo is Disrupting the Gaming Industry (Mastering Retention): “This week's guest is Alvaro Duarte, VP Casual Games at Voodoo. In this episode, Alvaro reveals Voodoo's business model, unique approach to game development, and the screening process for Voodoo's games.” (Link)
- The Rise of Hybridization in Mobile Games: How Developers are Genre Mashing Their Way to Success (Game Refinery): “We’ve been writing about the growth of ‘hybrid’ mobile games – when a title merges two or more genres to create an entirely new gameplay experience – since 2020, but hybrid games have evolved a lot since then, especially when it comes to the game genres that are being merged together. “ (Link)
- First icon tests for ASO using AI (Azur Games): “In ASO, we launch hundreds of tests every month and try out dozens of concepts that constantly need new art. To avoid distracting 2D artists every time, we’ve decided to use Midjourney to create icons for first tests. We test the waters, generate icons, run tests. Then the artists join in, refine, and improve the art.” (Link)
- The top 4 Rewarded Video placements to boost your puzzle game’s revenue (Iron Source): “To make sure you’re setting up your puzzle game’s placement strategy for success, Anna Popereko, Game Design Consultant at ironSource, walks through the most useful rewarded video placements and what makes them so effective. Let’s get started.” (Link)
- Q1 2023 Insights into Global Mobile Game Marketing Trends (Social Peta): “SocialPeta analyzed and summarized the 2023 Q1 game market data, finally, we released the Q1 2023 Insights into Global Mobile Game Marketing Trends report as usual. Which includes: Global mobile game marketing trends, Global marketing insights into popular types of mobile games, Mobile game marketing insights of popular countries/regions.” (Link)
- Three ways to bring more creativity into mobile game marketing (Gamesindustry.biz): “I can’t say that I share their skepticism: the mobile game market is barely in its teens and it would be unimaginative – and, frankly speaking, ambitionless – to presume that this is all that the industry has to offer. However, it’s also clear that legislative changes and player feedback both demand a new approach from game makers and marketers. Here are three ways the mobile games industry should adapt their approach to this new environment:” (Link)