Top News

#1: Can Peridot Become Niantic's Leap Beyond Pokémon Go?

Source: IGN 

Niantic, the well-known developer behind the top-grossing game Pokemon Go, has released its latest augmented reality (AR) game, Peridot, after a 13-month soft launch period. This is a significant milestone for the company as it's the first original IP from Niantic since the launch of Ingress over a decade ago. 

Despite the phenomenal success of Pokémon Go, the company has struggled to replicate its success with subsequent games based on different IPs such as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, NBA All World, and Marvel World of Heroes. As Pokémon Go enters its seventh year with a downward trend in revenue, Niantic desperately needs a successful successor. The question now is whether Peridot can fill this void?

Peridot Gameplay

Peridot is anchored on two central features: augmented reality and virtual pet gameplay. Niantic's investment in AR is unwavering, and Peridot is a testament to this belief, building on the technology that powered Pokémon Go. Peridot prompts players to explore their surroundings, not only by tracking their steps but also by visiting Peridot's version of Pokestops, known as Habitats. Here, players can encounter other player’s pets, or "Dots," and collect specific items.

AR is integral to Peridot's gameplay, making it more immersive. The game recognizes the player's environment, different objects, beings, and environmental textures. However, it's not infallible, as it can be fooled by pictures and can occasionally glitch, marring the visual experience.

Peridot's gameplay is a departure from Pokémon Go's “catch, train, and fight” mechanic. Influenced by Tamagotchi, Peridot emphasizes nurturing Dots as virtual pets. Players must meet their Dots' needs for play and hunger. Dots start as babies and mature as players earn growth points through interactions and by fulfilling specific tasks, such as teaching Dots tricks and interacting with the real world environment.  

Source: Peridot

Peridot doesn't offer the “collect em all” approach of Pokémon Go. Instead, it allows players to breed their adult Dots with friendly ones nearby, with the resulting offspring having unique characteristics from both parents. This feature forms a vital part of Peridot monetization with objects like Nests, which are required for hatching Dots, being locked behind an IAP-only pay wall of $5 per nest. 

Peridot's monetization strategy is further distinguished by its dual currency system. The game features Sundrops, a soft currency primarily used for hatching new Dots, highlighting the importance of the breeding feature in the game's monetization. On the other hand, Gems, the hard currency, can be used to purchase Sundrops and special items like specific food and toys. These items expedite the completion of quests, helping players rapidly mature their Dots. 

The simplicity of Peridot's gameplay, like the lack of features like mini games, might seem like a disadvantage compared to other virtual pet games. However, the game compensates for this by attempting to forge an emotional bond between Dots and players. Each Dot is unique, with its own physical traits, personality quirks, and what is advertised as its unique DNA. The combination of the higher emotional connection with Dots and the social aspect of the game, from connecting with other players to showing off your Dots,  makes it easier for the game to also monetize by selling customization items, through IAP or hard currency. 

Source: Peridot

Can Peridot Be The Next Pokémon Go?

The success of Pokémon Go was largely due to three factors: groundbreaking technology as the pioneer in AR gaming, an IP that harmoniously melded the AR technology with the game's core mechanics, and a relatively competition-free environment due to the absence of other significant Pokémon games and AR titles on the market.

Peridot, in comparison, checks some of these boxes but falls short in others. The AR technology that supports Peridot, while advanced, isn't as disruptive as it was when Pokémon Go first hit the market. However, the virtual pet theme and gameplay of Peridot complement the AR technology excellently, a stark contrast to previous Niantic games like Marvel World of Heroes and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which have struggled to marry gameplay with AR.

In terms of competition, the virtual pet market isn't saturated with strong competitors, which works in Peridot's favor. However, Niantic's own flagship game, Pokémon Go, still stands as a very strong contender in the AR geolocation market. 

The lack of an established IP for Peridot also complicates things. On the one hand, Niantic stands to gain by retaining full revenue from Peridot, eliminating the need to share profits with another entity like it does with Nintendo and the other entities within The Pokémon Company for Pokémon Go. On the other hand, the absence of a recognizable IP could dampen the game's appeal, particularly in a post-IDFA landscape. 

Moreover, the virtual pet theme of Peridot, combined with the lack of a recognizable IP, is likely to appeal more to a younger demographic than Pokémon Go did. This presents another challenge as this demographic typically has less buying power and may not be a viable monetization segment for Niantic. 

All in all, Peridot stands as one of the strongest recent offerings from Niantic. Its fusion of a virtual pet theme with advanced AR mechanics creates an engaging gameplay experience that surpasses many other titles in the segment. The relatively sparse competition within the pet arena further enhances its prospects, as Peridot delivers a level of depth and quality that sets it apart.

However, the absence of an established IP and a disruptive technology places a ceiling on its potential. While Peridot is likely to appeal to a younger demographic, this may pose challenges due to typically lower buying power. The game may find its niche and achieve relative success, but considering the factors at play, it seems unlikely that Peridot will ascend to the same heights as Pokémon Go.

Game Launch Radar

#1: Bad Piggies 2 

Source: GamingonPhone
  • Publisher: Rovio 
  • State: Soft Launch 
  • Territories: Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark. 
  • Classification: Arcade 
  • Quick thoughts:
    • Bad Piggies 2 is the sequel to the original Bad Piggies game, retaining the core mechanics but introducing upgrades in both features and graphics. Like its predecessor, Bad Piggies 2 is an arcade title divided into levels, with the main objective being to guide the titular piggies to the finish line.
    • Before embarking on each level, players are tasked with constructing a fragile, breakable vehicle utilizing crates, wheels, and other equipment provided in the level. Both Bad Piggies and Bad Piggies 2 share the same 2D orientation as Angry Birds. However, akin to Angry Birds Journey, Bad Piggies 2 introduces a 3D art style and enhanced polish, adding depth to the game's aesthetics.
    • In addition to visual enhancements, Bad Piggies 2 introduces extra features designed to increase currency consumption or enhance player engagement, such as vehicle upgrades, customization items, and future social PvP events.
    • You can watch a video of the gameplay here
    • Despite following a similar trajectory as Angry Birds Journey, which was a sequel to Angry Birds 2 and fell short of expectations, Bad Piggies 2 only offers minor improvements over the original game without significantly altering the gameplay. 
    • Nevertheless, Bad Piggies 2 is expected to have an easier path to success compared to Angry Birds Journey. While the Revenue Per Daily Active User (RPD) for Angry Birds 2 (U.S., iOS) stands around $0.041, the RPD for Bad Piggies is approximately $0.04. Therefore, any minor improvements in the sequel compared to the franchise are likely to be seen as a victory.

#2: Lord of The Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth 

Source: GamingOnPhone
  • Publisher: Capital Games
  • State: Global Launch 
  • Territories: Worldwide
  • Classification: RPG - Turn-Based RPG 
  • Quick thoughts:
    • Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth is a captivating turn-based strategy RPG developed by EA-owned Capital Games in collaboration with Middle-earth Enterprises. This new gacha RPG game draws significant inspiration from Plarium’s Raid: Shadow Legends. It incorporates team-battle levels, allowing players to engage in auto-battles, and offers several unique modes. These modes necessitate the use of different character sets and also introduce the element of guilds. 
    • You can watch a video of the gameplay here
    • The game showcases a 3D art style, although it currently lacks the level of polish needed to truly impress. Its user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are somewhat complex, which inadvertently results in the game appearing less refined.
    • Heroes of Middle-earth takes its cues more from the Lord of the Rings books rather than the films. This literary influence shapes both the appearance of the collectible characters and the game's storyline. However, the book-based intellectual property (IP) may not resonate as strongly with audiences as the movie-based IP, potentially attracting fewer players compared to Warner Bros' partnership games like Lord of the Rings: Rise to War.
    • Middle-earth Enterprises, now a subsidiary of Swedish gaming giant and holding company  Embracer Group, holds the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. This likely influenced the decision to base the game more heavily on the literary version of Lord of the Rings.

Other Game Announcements

Source: Game Developer
  • Roblox saw $655.3 million in Q1 revenue, with 14.5 billion 'engaged hours' (Link)
  • Jonas Brothers premier new music in Candy Crush Saga (Link)
  • Lilith Games celebrates its tenth anniversary with a documentary video (Link)
  • Mobile MMO TibiaME celebrates its 20th anniversary (Link)
  • Hutch updates F1 Clash in promotional drive (Link)
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Chef Blast announces a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to Edinburgh (Link)
  • 8 Ball Pool is hosting a virtual charity fundraising event with the Global Gift Foundation (Link)
  • Brown Dust 2 is targetting a June launch as pre-registration opens for Android and iOS (Link)

Company Announcements

  • Blue Archive helps push Nexon Q1 sales up 36% (Link)
  • Fragbite and Tilting Point end their publishing deal (Link)
  • Outfit7 invests in educational startup Hopalai (Link)
  • EA takes its eye off the ball as mobile growth slows to 1% in Q4 report (Link)
  • Nintendo made $379 million from mobile games and IPs in the last financial year (Link)
  • Pixel Federation 2022 report 7% drop in sales in latest financials (Link)
  • Bandai Namco celebrates 11.3% increase in net sales (Link)
  • Sybo celebrates 11th anniversary with Hoverboard Hunt event (Link)
  • Lilith Games celebrates its 10th anniversary with a heartfelt documentary (Link)
  • Riot Games global president A. Dylan Jadeja to become CEO later this year (Link)
  • PUBG drives Krafton's "record" sales for start of 2023's fiscal year (Link)

Ecosystem Announcements

  • Unity revenue reaches $500 million during Q1 2023 (Link)
  • Sony brings its Hero Project incubator program to India (Link)
  • Keywords Studios acquires Hardsuit Labs (Link)
  • AppLovin’s software platform goes from strength to strength (Link)
  • The UK CMA place blanket ban on investment between Microsoft and Activision (Link)
  • Roblox ads come under fire from the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (Link)
  • Carry1st brings India’s esports Mobile Premier League to Africa (Link)

Content Worth Consuming

Source: Deconstructor of Fun
  • Royal Kingdom: Will it Usurp the Throne or Just be a Royal Relative? (Deconstructor of Fun): “Dream Games’ achievement to date is unprecedented. They launched a new game from a new studio entering the most competitive genre on mobile in the midst of Apple’s privacy apocalypse and has generated a billion dollars in revenue in two years. The question, which our latest analysis aims to answer is, can Dream Games repeat their success with their second game or are they a one-hit-wonder?” (Link)
  • Why low-key hit Legend of Slime is ‘an admon masterclass’ ( “Legend of Slime has earned South Korean publisher LoadComplete over $40m in IAP revenue from around 20m downloads to date, according to both and Appmagic.” (Link)
  • Ep 114: The Brilliant UX Design of Marvel Snap (Mastering Retention): “In the latest episode of the Mastering Retention Podcast, user experience expert Neil Edwards discusses the brilliant user experience design of Marvel Snap. Edwards is the co-founder and head of UX at a full-service design studio in the video game space.” (Link)
  • two & a half gamers session #64 (Matej Lancaric): “This is no BS gaming podcast two and a half gamers. A safe space for all of us & you as well. Bringing you the feel of a „4am conference“ discussion about the gaming industry. Fun, latest news, but also education. Let’s dive in!” (Link)
  • Leadership in games: solving the human puzzle genre (Level Up): “In this LevelUp episode, Jasmine sits down with Sophie Vo, GM at Savage Games. Together, they dive into the the role of empathy in leadership, what leadership means and looks like in games, what the games industry can learn from others, and much more.” (Link)
  • Why Large Companies Can’t Make New Games (Nikita Tolokonnikov): “The entire purpose of this article is to ponder why it becomes increasingly difficult to create a new successful game within a large, successful company as it expands. And that's the issue I want to chew over today. Why can't large companies that have tasted success once, twice, or even multiple times in the past seem to create something new and instead end up focusing mainly on expanding older games?” (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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