Industry Forecasts, Research

User retention, user behavior, ad networks, the list goes on and on. Developers want solid user retention and acquisition. For that, you will need to search endlessly for useful data reports about what keeps users engaged, what buttons they are clicking, what time of day they are playing, and so on. Lucky for you, we compiled a list of the top ten mobile game data reports and a what they can do for you.

Full Report

“Top Retention Platforms: Data-Driven & Video Doing the Trick”

The Apps Flyer Game Performance Index – May 2015

In May 2015, AppsFlyer found a few key insights on user retention.  Video networks produce a 130% higher user retention rate in mobile games compared to other ad platforms.

The full report answers questions such as:

  • Which platform has the highest user retention?
  • What is the best media partner for user retention?
  • Which advertising platform is best?

“Know your players and you will create successful and fun games”

10 Killer Insights: deltaDNA GDC Session Slides – March 2015

Lack of Appointment Setting is the main reason players are leaving games. Appointment Setting is defined by DeltaDNA as creating “appointments” for users to come back. Good examples are special events, theme changes, tournaments, double points days, and Trivia Tuesday. Push notifications and emails are a great way to remind users of these events.

  • What percent of users are leaving my game due to lack of appointment setting?
  • What are other important reasons users are leaving games?
  • How should developers drive engagement?

“The Cost Per Loyal User has a 39 percent rise year over year”

Fiksu Indexes for May 2015

Fiksu defines loyal users as users that open an app three or more times. In May 2015, Fiksu published indexes about the cost of maintaining loyal users, cost of acquiring game installs through advertising, and the cost of app launches.  The cost of acquiring a loyal user is increasing overall year to year in iOS apps.

  • What is the cost of acquiring a loyal user?
  • How do developers ensure that their games are making profit?
  • How does the cost per install compare between iOS and Android?
  • How does the cost per launch compare?
  • Is it worth it to spend more on one platform over the other?

 

Full Report

“In 2015 for the first time ever, over half of the US population will be mobile phone gamers.”

For Advertisers it’s Mobile Game Time – July 2015

In July 2015, eMarketer highlighted the importance of mobile games for advertisers. The mobile gaming audience consists of over 150 million different people in the US –  this broad, diverse audience is comparable to the audience of television viewers.

  • What does the large ever-growing mobile gaming audience mean for developers and advertisers?
  • How many mobile app users will pay for apps?
  • How many tablet users will pay for apps?
  • Is it worth it to develop games for tablets?

“The very first players of your game are your best. Invest resources in retaining and keeping them happy, the rest will follow as a result.”

The GameAnalytics After Analyzing 400+ Games – March 2015

Players that enter a game in the beginning have a greater chance of converting than if a player enters later. Players that downloaded a game in the first week and converted were likely to spend more in a game.

  • What methodology was used to acquire this information?
  • What is the Golden Cohort?
  • What do these numbers say about where developer resources should go? 

Included in the Full Report:

  • Key findings from TapStream, AppAnnie, Tune, Swrve, and InMobi.
  • Information that will help you improve your games.
  • Facts to consider to make profit.
  • Much More!

Full Report

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Game design, Game Reviews

If you’re having game problems I feel bad for you, son, I play 99 Slides and I ain’t got none – Zay J.

iconThere’s something about these brain breaking games I can’t explain. By all laws of nature we should be avoiding them, yet once we play them we can’t get our hands off the phone.

99 slides is one of those games. It’s short, it’s fast and it will make you dizzy.

Available on Google PlayIf you needed one reason to install the game, then I’d say it’s simply a good game. It was created by Toughwin studios, on the Unity engine for the Android platform. It is a puzzle game with a simple premise: you need to slide your finger across the touchscreen in the right direction.

Simple and Effective

Simple enough, right? It’s even simpler when you know that there’s a giant arrow pointing in the direction you have to swipe. So, where’s the brain breaker?

It’s in the colour of the background. If the colour is green, you have to swipe in the direction the arrow points. If the background is red, you have to swipe into the exact opposite. All of that is being topped off by a timer, counting down 40 seconds.

99 slides screenshot

Which way is up?

That is all the time you have to swipe as many slides as you possibly can. Fail once, the game is over and you have to start all over again.

99 Slides follows the pattern of all great mobile games – it’s fast and the rounds are short. It’s ideal for when you’re waiting in line or riding the bus or train. Visuals are as simple as they can be, but I have to commend the smart colour scheme choice. I’ve seen these fast paced brain breaking games before, and placing aggressive, bright colours means asking for a headache. 99 Slides wisely chooses mild colours, making the game very enjoyable.

The Leaderboards

Still, that’s not the best feature. This game has probably put the Leaderboard function to best use. Opening leaderboards, you get to see your average reaction time for the first 10 slides, first 15 slides, 20 and so on. That way you can see how much focus you have on the game and how long it took your brain to start slowing down. For me, the average time for the first 10 slides was 766ms and for the first 15 was 778ms.

The leaderboards also offer a list of best sliders, where you can see how well you rank among the players of the world.

What strikes me as odd is that I have seen no signs of monetisation anywhere. No ads, no premium packs, no in-game currency. It seems as 99 Slides is a free-to-play game in the full meaning of the phrase.

Go get it

All things considered, 99 Slides is a proper mobile game. It uses the potential of the platform to the full, combining simple design and great gameplay. It is short and fast-paced, allowing it to be played while in line or while commuting, which is probably why mobile games are built in the first place.

Being competition-oriented, it has a high replay value, and together with great Leaderboard functions which can show you just how much you can improve, I can see 99 Slides becoming a great mobile game.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Announcement, Unity

The wait is finally over!  We’re excited to release the first version of SOOMLA Store for Windows Phone 8, now available on Github.  For those of you who’ve already used SOOMLA, this new plugin will be a walk in the park.  Keeping consistent with the other platforms we support, WP8 utilizes our rich economy model, event system, encrypted on-device storage, user balance management and Windows Store billing all baked in.  And for those of you who are new to SOOMLA, have a look at our Github repo’s README while we’re diligently working on WP8 documentation for our knowledge base.

SOOMLA Store WP8 provides a “Test Mode” for your IAPs. You will be able to check the purchase flow before publishing, making the tests easier and increasing the quality of your app. It also runs on the simulator (as it support x86 build), is compatible with WP8.1 and is W10 ready.

unity-wp8To cater Unity devs, we’ve also included Windows Phone 8 support in Unity.  All you need to do is select WP8 as your build target.  You can also use the simulation checkboxes during testing.

Windows Phone is emerging as an attractive platform to be in. While device distribution is still significantly lower than iPhones and Android devices, the audience of Windows Phone is a loyal one.  The Windows Phone Store hit more than 500,000 apps last year which is an impressive growth rate and actually beats the growth percentage of the App Store which was launched several years before.

We’d like to pay our respect to the guys at Shinypix studio for helping us make Windows Phone another platform supported by the SOOMLA framework.  Their dedication and work on this project is the true epitome of open source technology.

To get started, head over to the Github repo: https://github.com/soomla/wp-store

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Game design, Open Souce, Tips and Advice

MegaJump

 

Mega Jump – Doodle Jump with Coins

Mega Jump is a game about Redford, a red monster that jumps really high. So high that he passes ancient cities in the sky, goes to outer space, and somehow ends up back on solid ground after 10 levels. Mega Jump is produced by Get Set Games, a game development studio based in Toronto, Canada. The studio has totaled over 50 million downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Mega Jump would be just as good or better if it had SOOMLA integrated inside – and the developers could’ve saved some cash by going with open source.

Get Set Games Could Get a Mega Bargain with SOOMLA Store

Mega Jump’s store has all the components identified in SOOMLA’s Economy Model. Mega Jump has a  primary currency, lifetime goods, upgradable goods, single use goods, single use packs, and currency packs.

Currency – Mega Points

At first glance, it may seem that the currency for Mega Jump would be the coins collected throughout the game. However, Mega Jump converts every 10 coins collected into 1 Mega Point (MP). Mega Points buy most items in the game’s store with one exception:

Currency Packs

Currency Packs are the only purchasable goods in the game that are purchased with real money. Mega Jump offers multiple currency packs. The most popular in-app purchase on iOS is 1,500 MP for $0.99. A bonus deal when purchasing a currency pack from the Mega Jump Store is that it includes the lifetime good of “remove ads.”

Mega Jump Store

Some currency may be earned with a Facebook Like, Twitter Follow, or a rewarded video ad.

SOOMLA’s Economy Model does not include “purchase with social media” or “purchase with the viewing of an ad” as a form of purchasing goods. However, there are a few options to make this happen.

  1. The developer can use StoreInventory.giveItem(“MegaPoints_100”, 1) after a user does something on social media or after the user views an ad.
  2. The developer can use a social gate using SOOMLA Profile and LevelUp and reward the user for completing a social mission.
  3. For rewarding a user for viewing an ad, a developer can use a mission with a schedule gate using SOOMLA LevelUp. The start time will be the beginning of the ad and the end time will be when the ad has completely played. This is most useful if the developer knows the duration of the ad. Developers do not want to reward a user too early or too late for viewing an ad.
  4. Many developers unfortunately do not know the duration of an ad, therefore, they can also use the giveItem method to reward an ad.  SOOMLA integrations facilitates this process. Click here for an example of how this can be done if a game integrates HeyZap.

Feel free to comment your preferred solutions to this situation.

Aside from currency packs, Mega Jump has purchasable goods that fall into other categories.

Lifetime Goods Upgradeable Goods
Characters Magnet
Remove Ads Action Umbrella
World Unlocks Balloon

singleuse

Single Use Single Use Packs
Save Me Save Me x5
Save Me x10
Save Me x25

Remove ads is included when a user makes a market purchase from the store. This can be implemented easily with SOOMLA Store. A developer would most likely have a flag in the game that indicates whether the game will display ads or not. The flag can be turned on or off depending on whether or not the user has the “remove ads” virtual item. The remove ads virtual item does not have to be visible in the user’s item inventory. The user, however, will know they have this feature because there will be no ads in their game. Furthermore, when a user makes a purchase from the store, the game can check if the user already has this item in order to not provide repeat items.

Mega Jump Characters

World Unlocks are purchased with MP and as the name states – unlocks a world. This is another virtual item that is not usually seen in a store’s inventory, but through access to a feature – in this case, a world. The game could check if the user has the specific item that grants access to a world in order to allow a user to play in that world. This can be done using SOOMLA LevelUp.

Balloons, Magnets, Anti-Gravity Boots, and Action Umbrellas are examples of upgradeable goods. These have a simple effect during the beginning of game play. Once upgraded with MP, they make your character unstoppable. The magnet begins by simply attracting coins, but after a few upgrades it turns all obstacles into double coins. Not only is this a great motivation for users to buy these items, but they provide for a more interesting user experience.

UpgradeableGoods

Levels and Worlds – From Earth to Space

Mega Jump has multiple worlds with 20 levels in each world. The first ten are “easy” levels and the last ten are the “hard” levels. Worlds are unlocked with 2500 MP and levels are unlocked when a user reaches specific heights. Every time a user reaches a specific height the game notifies them that they have unlocked a new level.

Stage Clear

This is can be implemented using SOOMLA LevelUp. Worlds will be unlocked using a purchasable gate. This requires the user to purchase a virtual item in order for a world to be unlocked.

worlds

Levels on the other hand, are unlocked when certain scores are achieved. When Redford jumps a certain distance, the next level unlocks. The level unlocking system in Mega Jump can be replicated using SOOMLA LevelUp with the use of record gates. A record gate can be unlocked when a character reaches a certain distance or score. The opened gate will, in turn, allow access to the level.

Levels

Mega Likes and Tweets

As discussed earlier, Mega Jump integrates a Facebook like button and a Follow option for Twitter. These actions are rewarded with MP. This mechanism can be replicated using SOOMLA Profile and a connectivity with SOOMLA Store or LevelUp. Social Missions in SOOMLA LevelUP are perhaps one of the easier ways to get this done. Moreover, Mega Jump has the potential to include more social connectivity such as score sharing and game replays.

Jumping With SOOMLA

Mega Jump is a memorable game that has reached millions of users. Its success is due to the great user experience it provides. This experience could be replicated with the possibility of even more features if Get Set Games integrated SOOMLA. Moreover,  if you’re thinking of making a new game with great features, SOOMLA will help you get an easy start.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Announcement, Open Source, Unity

AndroidBotWe’re happy to announce that the SOOMLA Store SDK now supports receipt validation for Android.  This latest development, which was much awaited by our developer community, is another layer in our secure in-app purchase stack which supports our commitment to prevent IAP fraud.  The validation uses our dedicated complimentary server. Don’t sweat it if you don’t know how to set up a server, we’ll pick up the tab on that one.

This latest feature has also been integrated into our Unity and Cocos2d-x plugins to ensure that developers using game engines can benefit from it as well.  In Unity, using Android receipt validation is as easy as ticking a checkbox.  You need to also configure a few things with Google and provide your OAuth credentials. This is explained in-depth in our knowledge base.

Receipt validation, also known as server side verification, is a best practice for developers who are employing in-app purchases in their game and who isn’t today, riunity-android-receipt-validationght?  For those of you who aren’t familiar with receipt validation, the general concept is to double check a transaction with a third party server which in turn validates it with Google Play’s servers.  The reasoning to do this is that malicious users could potentially “crack” their devices’ IAP by installing a piece of software that emulates the purchase process. These crackers usually hijack purchase requests and direct them to fraudulent servers that return a response similar to the one returned by Google Play even though the transaction is never really committed. The solution to this scenario is to validate the receipt that’s returned at the end of the purchase with a dedicated server that you trust, which will validate the receipt on your behalf with Google Play. Since it’s your dedicated server (or in this case, SOOMLA’s dedicated server) it’s much harder to crack the link between that server and Google Play. This process is very similar to receipt validation in iOS.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Plugins, Tips and Advice, Unity, Video

pluginbot3Users like videos. It’s no coincidence that video game has the word video in it. From video ads to video sharing – videos are essential to user retention. They keep users entertained, engaged, and interested. Videos will improve your game’s fun-factor and bring in more loyal users. Let’s take a look at 10 Unity Video Plugins that can make this happen.

Kamcord

 

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity iOS Android
Video Recording

Kamcord allows users to record game play and share it on social media. Their website displays featured videos that come from games using Kamcord. In July 2013, Trial Xtreme, a game using Kamcord had 139 million recordings and 122,000 videos shared on social media. Notable games with Kamcord include My Talking Tom and Clash of Clans.

Everyplay

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity Cocos2dx iOS Android 
Video Recording

Unity acquired Everyplay from Applifier in 2014. Much like Kamcord, Everyplay allows users to record game play and share on social media. Users enjoy sharing these videos with friends in order to encourage them to begin playing the game. The possibility for extra exposure on social media means developers can receive more free organic installs. More installs means more revenue for developers. Notable games using Everyplay include Bad Piggies, Pixel Gun 3D, and Geometry Dash. Everyplay also intends to launch an online community with discussions, videos, and video discovery this fall.
prime31

Price Supported Platforms Category
$75
Unity iOS 
Texture

Prime 31 offers a video plugin called LiveTexture. This integration allows developers to use videos as textures for different objects in games. The video can be pre-defined or come directly from the user’s camera. The possibility for camera usage means developers can create augmented reality style game plays using LiveTexture.

Easy Movie Texture

Price Supported Platforms Category
$45
Unity iOS Android 
Texture

Easy Movie Texture is a more affordable solution to do what LiveTexture can do. It does not explicitly include a live camera texture, but it does support .mp4 playback on Android. Developers can select the time a video will start playing, customize the dimension of the video and set it as a texture for objects in a game. This tool is useful for developers that want to create cross platform games that utilize dynamic textures. The use for this plugin can range from placing a TV in a game to having a video texture simulate a changing sky. Developers can find creative ways to use this plugin to create engaging games.

UChromaKey

Price Supported Platforms Category
$25
Unity iOS Android 
Video Effects

UChromaKey Allows for the possibility of a green screen effect. It features fullscreen effects and the ability to add chromakey to materials that are lit or unlit. It also includes camera source handling. It is a good addition to a game that may want to incorporate a type of augmented reality or a fun Photo Booth option. The opportunities with chromakey in mobile games are not completely explored and could potentially allow for some interesting and engaging user experiences.

Video Glitches

Price Supported Platforms Category
$10
Unity iOS Android 
Video Effects

Sometimes a normal video is not enough. Developers might want to add creative effects to videos in games. Video Glitches is not the usual video plugin that simply allows for video playback or video ads. This plugin allows videos and scenes in games to look purposely messed up. It reminds me of this video when the pc bot tries to wake up again in the end. This plugin can be used to simulate messed up video transmissions or display a view from the perspective of a broken camera. The possible uses for this plugin are up to the developer – ideal for a Sci-Fi or Horror game.

Youtube Player

Price Supported Platforms Category
$25
Unity iOS Android windows
Video Streaming

This plugin allows users to view YouTube videos within a game. It will return an .mp4 video that can be displayed wherever the developer chooses in the app. It allows video searching functionality. Users can search for videos, channels, and set category filters. This is useful if you want to incorporate funny videos and extra interesting content into your game.

AdColony

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity iOS Android air
Video Ads

AdColony prides themself on their .13 second load time for ads. They serve video ads that can be integrated in games to reward users. Video ads served with AdColony have the highest retention rate on Android. Many developers have a strong incentive to advertise with video ads. Users that come to a game from a video ad are 13% more likely to be retained and twice as likely to make a purchase when compared to other users. Video ads have the potential to make developers millions of dollars. Crossy Road made 1 million dollars in only 45 days in video ads. They have since made a total of over 10 million dollars.

Vungle

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity Cocos2dx iOS Android aircorona
Video Ads

Vungle serves personalized video ads to different users. According to their website, no two users should be exposed to the same ads. Vungle focuses on creative ad serving with a specialty around rewarded ads. Rewarded ads are a good opportunity to keep users engaged in a game while rewarding them with resources to continue playing. Integrating Vungle in your game will give you an opportunity to monetize by giving other companies exposure. Moreover, they can also help you obtain users if you choose to advertise with them. Ads in mobile games for other mobile games are more likely to be clicked than ads for other products.

Applovin

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity iOS Android amazon
Video Ads

A data report by AppsFlyer in May 2015, found that AppLovin has the highest performance in 30 day user retention on iOS. Applovin’s high quality video advertisements encourage users to stay for longer periods of time. They pay developers only 15 days after each month. Moreover, AppLovin provides developers a dashboard that shows information on ad delivery in real time. This will in turn, allow developers to efficiently deliver ads.

The term “video” in relation to mobile games is vague. However, videos are an integral part of mobile and platform games. Developers should include videos in their game whether they are in the form of ads, live camera recordings, or funny YouTube cat videos. Videos improve user engagement and provide interesting and memorable user experiences. Not to mention they will contribute to a game’s “stickiness” factor as they retain and obtain users.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Game design, Game Reviews

moon_iconToday I’ll be reviewing Moon Away, a small atmospheric mobile game built by Moonville Entertainment for the Android and iOS operating systems. It reminds me heavily of Twister, the game that’s used to mend the wounds created by Monopoly and Don’t Get Angry board games.

Available on Google PlayAvailable on iTunesAs most games, this one has its good and bad sides. As a big plus, I’d single out the game’s mechanics which are innovative and well-built. As a minus, I’d say the game lacks a serious challenge, as it seems to be too easy to complete. Let’s get down to it:

The Setup

Moon Away tells the story of the moon, having left the orbit and now drifting away from earth, the developer says. Now it is up to you to bring it back! The first thing you’ll notice when you run Moon Away is the soothing music, which creates an atmosphere worthy of a game set in outer space. The second thing you’ll notice is the graphics, which also encompasses the spacey look quite nicely. Hand drawn, with cool glowing effects and shimmering of the stars, it is a well-designed game.

The home screen offers three features: the leaderboard, achievements, and the start of a new game.

Pressing Start Game will move the screen to Level 1, where you will see that each level gets rewarded with one to three stars, depending on how well you do.

The goal sounds simple: Hold the moon with one finger, collect the stars with another. The moon drifts around the screen, meaning you have to follow it with one finger while waiting for the stars to appear so you can tap them with another finger.

This is why the game reminds me of Twister, as sometimes your hands will end up entwined as you try to reach for certain stars. In my opinion, this is also the game’s best feature, as it’s unique and well-built.

Lacking Challenge

However, what this game makes up in quality mechanics, it lacks in a serious challenge. The moon drifts quite slowly, and even if you lift the finger from the screen or fail to follow the Moon properly, you still have a second or so to fix your error before the game stops.

ss1There are comets flying around that seldom hit the Moon and have it change course abruptly, but still not strong enough to have you fail a level.

With no effort whatsoever, I have managed to successfully complete, and get three stars, for the first 20 levels. The game features a total of 50 levels, which means I have completed almost half the game with close to zero effort.

I do like, however, what the developers did in terms of in-game currency. Each light you collect can be traded for various power-ups, including increasing the size of the Moon, pulling all lights towards the Moon, and slowing the Moon down, to name a few.

However, with the game being this easy to complete, I have had no need to purchase a single power-up, and only did it to see how it works.

In conclusion, I’d say the game is beautiful, but too easy. The mechanics are innovative and well-implemented, the graphics are cool and the music is perfect. The game runs smoothly and the power-ups are a great add-on. Having an in-game currency with power-ups is always a good way to keep players interested, especially if those power-ups don’t require real cash.

However, the game is simply too easy to complete, which is why I feel it seriously lacks entertainment value. Make it a bit more challenging to play and it will be just perfect.

Bonus Trivia

Moon Away is a figure of speech, which is used to describe someone wasting time pining or grieving. “Don’t moon the whole year away! You have mooned away half the year. Now pull yourself together!”

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Guest Post, Open Source, Tips and Advice

In this tutorial, we will look at ways to upgrade SOOMLA packages.

Case: You get an email from your friend “Hey, there’s a new feature in the SOOMLA module. It’s available and supports Windows phone too. Upgrade it in your existing project to use the new features.”

You are really excited and want to upgrade your existing project to the newest version immediately! You open up your project and see lots of project files wandering around and feel confused. You ask yourself, “how the heck will I update this?”

Now, your main objectives to overcome:

  • Update SOOMLA modules to newest release
  • Update it without losing any connectivity or files

So, let’s begin:

There are two ways to update SOOMLA modules:

  1. Manually
  2. Automation

Manually for smaller projects

Step 1: Select soomla files

Step 2: Right Click and press delete

Durvish1

Step 3: Press “Delete.”

Durvish2

Step 4: Download and import new package.

Manually for larger projects*:

* If your project is larger, then you may have a lot of other files in the “Plugins” folder which may result in confusion over which files are related to SOOMLA.

The easier workaround is, open a new SOOMLA project while the current project is still open. Import the respective SOOMLA package and wait for the “Importing package” screen to appear.

Durvish3

Now, cross check which files are related to SOOMLA and delete those files.

Auto process for large and small projects:

I was looking for better options over manually adjusting everything which uninstalls the assets auto. After quite a bit of searching, I came across Package Uninstaller, which helps uninstall any package without having to fear of deleting wrong files.

Let’s see how to use this package to upgrade our SOOMLA modules.

Step 1: Download and import Package Uninstaller.

Step 2: To uninstall, go to Assets > Package Uninstaller

Durvish4

Step 3 : Select SOOMLA’s .unitypackage from explorer.

exploer

Step 4: Click uninstall.

Step 5: Press “Yes Do it” and the uninstalling package process will start.

Durvish7

Step 6: Download latest SOOMLA module and import.

This is how you can upgrade your existing SOOMLA package to the newest version.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below. Also, if you’d like other tutorials on similar topics let us know or visit my blog Game Development Secrets

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Game design, Game Reviews

Jumpin' Donuts IconFlappy Bird clones are usually badly created, cheap rip-offs whose developers have no intention of actually creating anything worth your time. Instead, they just tapped into a trendy environment during a particular time with the sole purpose of making money off somebody else’s design.

Even though Jumpin’ Donuts does tap into the Flappy Bird idea stream, it doesn’t feel like a cheap Flappy Bird rip-off. With original minimalistic design and cute audio, the game will definitely keep you playing for longer than you originally intended. That is, if you like the frustrating game design that has zero tolerance for mistakes.

Designing the game

Available on iTunesAvailable on Google PlayThe game was created by Oops! studio for iOS and Android-powered devices.

The game design is as straightforward as it can be – you take control of a ram, running endlessly in a straight line from left to right, and have to jump to avoid donuts coming your way. Now I don’t know how the developer came up with the idea of a ram jumping over donuts, but I won’t go into that. It’s also funny knowing that rams don’t really care about jumping over things and if they don’t like you, they’ll walk straight through you. Exhibit 1 and exhibit 2.

Similar to Flappy Bird, the phone is held vertically, and in order to jump, the player need only tap the bottom of the screen reserved for that command. That’s pretty much it concerning gameplay.

The look and the feel

donuts ss 1I really enjoyed the simple visuals of the game. Snow white background with nothing but black outlines of figures around you, including the surface on which the ram runs, as well as clouds in the sky, create the most soothing visuals I’ve seen in a long time. The only exception is the ram, whose face is painted grey, and the donuts, which are coloured.

I’m not really sure why the developer decided to leave the donuts in colour, but let’s just write that down to the designer’s artistic expression.

After testing the game for some time I have experienced no stuttering or bugs. It runs smoothly, and the ram is responsive to the tap.

Additional features

The game rewards you with medals and cups if you achieve a good score, which is a cute little add-on. It also features the leaderboard which can tap into your Google friends list to see which one of your friends failed more than you did, as well as go worldwide to show you just how bad you actually are.

The statistics page shows you how many times you’ve played the game, what’s your best score and all the virtual awards you’ve won in that time.

It also has simple social media integration, allowing players to share their success on Twitter and Facebook.

Monetization and other issues

One element of the game I feel was badly designed is the way the game is monetized. It earns its living in two ways – via ads and through the “upgrade app” option.

Ads are placed horizontally in the bottom of the screen, basically on the same spot where the jump button is. Sometimes, when you really get into playing and tap fast, you’ll die, but still press the button out of reflex, opening up whatever the ad was displaying.

donuts ss 2For me, this is an issue in two ways – first of all I feel like I’ve been tricked into pressing an ad I usually wouldn’t press and second of all – once you press it and the information goes to the advertiser you did – you’ll get served similar ads, potentially blocking you from content you’d actually like.

I’d really like to see the ads placed on top of the screen, where it won’t get in the way of the jump button.

The second way of monetization is the “upgrade app” option. The developers wanted to split the game into a free and a premium version, with premium obviously having more features. However, looking into the features offered in the premium version, we’ll see it’s not really worth the effort:

For $0.90, you’re offered ad disabling and “enable reset stats feature.” It also says “and last, but not least, support our team.”

This also feels like a trick, as the premium version offers very little value. I’d love seeing additional features like a timer to show how much time you spent in the game, an auto-notice feature which would let your friends know when you’ve beaten their highscore, or perhaps a couple of cosmetic changes to the game.

The way it is now, I’d rather change the “upgrade app” feature to “support us” feature, as it would sound more honest, and honesty is valued most in today’s digital world.

UPDATE: 

After the review was published, I was contacted by the developer, who had his say on the issue of ads: “I agree that perhaps the ad banner is not in the best location it can be, but […] you can tap anywhere on the screen to jump. That way you avoid tapping on unwanted ads.”

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Game design, Guest Post, Tips and Advice

soomla-blog-post-image

The app market has undergone significant changes in the last few years. Gone are the days where users fork over even 99 cents to install an app. In the current mobile monetization ecosystem, developers offer free apps and still generate significant revenue. In fact, free apps tend to maintain a more profitable monetization strategy with in-app purchases and mobile advertisements. Developers can deploy multiple monetization methods simultaneously, ensuring more profit and improving the  user experience- especially in gaming apps. Here are a few effective methods top gaming developers use to monetize engaged users in their free apps.

Induce Motivation: Play Hard to Get

Candy Crush implements drastic limits on users’ playtime to drive in-app purchases and app promotion. In America’s top-grossing app, users only get five lives at a time, blocking them from playing any further unless they progress to the next level. The time management method has become one of the pillars of mobile monetization. This approach might seem obvious, but before King implemented it in Candy Crush, the app industry didn’t fully comprehend how heavily it would drive in-app sales. The 30-minute “time-out” devilishly manipulates the brain into wanting, nay needing! more play time, especially if the user is having a hard time beating a level.

They can, of course, buy more lives or get a Facebook friend to grant them some; both options contribute to Candy Crush’s monetization and distribution success. The mandatory abstention will drive users to spend on in-app purchases or promote the app to a friend on Facebook, all for the sake of accelerating game progression. Supersonic - Soomla blog post 1

Encourage Loyalty: Make in-app Purchases Valuable

The key to success for developers with the freemium business model is to make virtual items valuable and necessary for the user. The popular strategic game of Clash of Clans does this remarkably well. Players are given a plot of land on which they build a village, train troops and attack other players to earn gold and elixir. They start with an abundance of resources which eases them into the game and allows them to start developing their plot of land. This gives the user a sense of instant gratification because they can unreservedly buy and upgrade virtual items.  But soon enough, resources run out and upgrades become expensive. Assignments become harder, updates take longer but their determination does not falter- in fact the more time users invest in the game, the more likely they’ll cough up the mere $4.99 to acquire 500 gems or a new builder to speed up their in-game achievements. Studies also show that once a user spends real life money on the game, they’re bound to do it again. In fact, the average time lapse between the first and second purchase is just an hour and forty minutes. An engaged user will clearly spend some real life currency to speed up his game success as Clash of Clans boasts an average of $36.99 per user on in-app purchases!

From Premium to Freemium: Reward Your Users

The future of mobile monetization clearly lies in ad-supported models. While the majority of users forgo in-app purchases, rewarded ad formats provide the ultimate solution to monetizing all users. According to recent studies, these creative ad units also improve user experience and retention. Rewarded ad formats are proving to be a new, lucrative category of mobile advertisement. Incentivized ads like the offerwall or mobile video awards users with virtual items or unlocks premium app features in exchange for the user’s’ interaction with ads. For example Epic Skater, a free skating game, implements both the rewarded video and the offerwall in the app to reward users with virtual currency.

Users simply watch a video or complete an offer to obtain free coins. These coins can be used to buy virtual items that enhance the user’s game, ie. speed upgrades, new outfits, cool boards or energy drinks. This monetization model allows a developer to incorporate an additional stream of revenue from ads without potentially intruding on the user’s experience. If you’re looking into this monetization strategy, choose an ad network that offers instant play HD videos, global fill rates and localized offerwalls to ensure high completion rates and competitive eCPMs.

Supersonic - Soomla blog post

Users won’t pay for something they can get for free. If we’re being honest, I wouldn’t either! A free app needs to purposely add to its value. Building a profitable mobile game starts with the early adoption of an original, effective monetization strategy. This is how Candy Crush, Clash of Clans and Epic Skater made it big- now you can too! Implementing just one of these monetization methods will enhance your game overall and provide your app with the necessary components to promote its success.

As part of SOOMLA’s partnership with Supersonic, a leading mobile advertising network, you can now discover rewarded ad formats and receive $100 bonus to advertise on their platform. Click here to redeem this exclusive offer!

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookBuffer this pageShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+

Join 8307 other smart people who get email updates for free!

We don't spam!

Unsubscribe any time

Archives

SOOMLA - An In-app Purchase Store and Virtual Goods Economy Solution for Mobile Game Developers of Free to Play Games