One of the things Kwalee is interested in for games currently in development is getting free to play right. That means finding the right balance between what people pay for and what they play for. While a lot of Kwalee staff have good knowledge of designing such experiences, we try to look at successful titles on the appstore and try to learn as much as we can.
We did research last year in December on 13 games. We chose them from the top 50 grossing apps after eliminating non-gaming apps and new games. We also tried to choose only games that were not necessarily in top 50 in the overall charts.
The 13 games were in no particular order: Candy Crush Saga, Bike Race free, CSR Racing, Bejewelled Blitz, The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Clash of Clans, Hay Day, The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth, Dragon Vale, Legend of the Cryptids, Tap Paradise Cove, Rage of Bahamut, Kingdoms of Camelot.
The inital part of the research was just to find out what these games had in common and then compare their strategies for different in-game objectives in relation to the player(keeping the player informed of the game status, promotions, rival or friend activity, etc.)
What we did was take the 3 month average US rank in the free charts and the 3 months average Top Grossing US rank.
We used this data and gave a grade to how well the game balanced monetizing and the fun factor. Basically, we did a rank difference. Higher difference meant higher score. So even if Rage of Bahamut or Kingdoms of Camelot didn’t have as many downloads in the 3 month average period, on the grossing charts they averaged rank 4.
Out of the 13 games, 70% contain a depletive mechanic (i.e. fuel or gold), over 80% implement hard and soft currencies and 70% have multiplayer and/or pvp options. Most of them also have advanced messaging systems both in-game and push.
Most of the games integrated some form of resource management and we’ve seen quite a lot on the appstore, however we were more attracted to the genres that didn’t make it to the list or are poorly represented. Even taking into account that we chose the games and the list is a bit biased, it does give fair image of what’s going on.
Next up is play time. With each game. We’re curious to see how each one of the 13 manages our time and patience in game and of course lets us have fun.