Fire Emblem Heroes是怎样从1000万用户中赚取1亿美元的
本文原作者：Anil Das Gupta 译者Willow Wu
任天堂的的第二款手游，同时也是第三款移动应用，在app store上架已经近6个月了。当日式传统RPG遇上Intelligent Systems公司（任天堂旗下）的经典的Fire Emblem系列，其结果是Fire Emblem Heroes与之前的Super Mario Run和Miitomo相比更加手游化。极其有趣的对战奖励机制给玩家带来了十分流畅和愉快的游戏体验，事实也证明了也非常吸金。
尽管Fire Emblem Heroes已经在全球区域的Apple Store和Google Play Store上架，但是它的下载量只有1000万左右，暴露了其缺乏用户获取量和商机。虽然下载量不多，但是这并没有给游戏的收益拖后腿。
大约在1990年的时候，日本人发售了Fire Emblem，当时只能在红白机（西方称为NES）上操作。2003年，Super Smash Bros.问世，两个主人公是从Marth and Roy系列而来。此游戏的大受欢迎程度也说服了任天堂开始在西方市场发售商品。
始于2003年的Fire Emblem：在Gameboy Advance平台上的The Blazing Blade，Fire Emblem利用任天堂的硬件设备向世人展现了设计优良的回合制RPG的流畅游戏体验。虽然游戏的每个系列都有不同，但是核心配方一直都是由许多任务构成的回合制的RPG模式。作为玩家，你可以招募英雄，在后续的战斗中派遣并随着时间提升技能。然而，玩家们需要谨慎管理好他们的团队。因为当某个角色在战斗中死掉了之后，这个角色就不会再回来了。（毫不意外，这个功能没能在移动平台上实现）
Fire Emblem虽不会被看作是像Mario, Zelda或者Pokemon这样Nintendo IP中的王牌代表作，但是绝对是引领潮流的一大作品。并且，在任天堂每发布一款新设备之后的1至2年，Fire Emblem都会跟着在该设备平台上架。因此，看看Intelligent Systems公司会如何发展移动产品是一件很有趣的事情。
此游戏采用了一种对玩家十分熟悉的循环结构，可以在其他很多日式RPG游戏中看到，例如Brave Frontier, Final Fantasy Exvius, Summoner’s War等等。大体上，游戏的货币体制也是一样的，玩家可以通过PvE或者PvP模式战斗获得财富。无论是通过哪种模式升级英雄都可以让玩家继续投资、升级英雄。玩家可以通过玩扭蛋（游戏邦注：Gacha）来加速上述过程，获得更加稀有、强大的游戏角色，虽然这不用花钱就能得到，但是可能要花费更多时间才能成功。
相比较于其他竞争对手，Fire Emblem Heroes的最大不同之处在于它的核心玩法细节丰富，不尽相同，让玩家感受到乐趣，而不是无聊。也正因为如此，Fire Emblem Heroes中没有基础建设进化系统。这种系统在其他游戏，例如Summoner’s War和Brave Frontier是有的。取而代之的是游戏通过定制不同的个人技能，让角色在深度刻画上有着很好的效果。组队策略也成了游戏中非常重要的部分。
正如其名，Fire Emblem的重点就在于英雄。发布时大约有60位英雄，后续会有更多角色定期加入。英雄有各种类型，不同颜色属性，角色差异也体现在核心玩法上。每个任务可难可易，仔细斟酌你会遇到的敌人和你手上的英雄。要成为主宰游戏的真正高手，久了之后你就会想要一个面面俱到的团队，拥有各种类型的强大英雄。这就意味着你需要经常回去打之前的任务，返回training tower升级你的英雄。
Fire Emblem Heroes中的战斗模式和主机副本很相似，但是进行了一定优化来适应移动平台。战斗是在6*9的格子中进行的，比主机版本小了很多。游戏本可以利用多屏模式来制作更大的战场，但是很显然游戏的设计初衷是单手操作，耗费时间少，能够比主机版本更快地解决战斗。
游戏中的战斗有很多细微差别，所提供的战术策略中有很多奥妙值得深究。有些角色需要提供支援，让其他成员的的技能增强，但是最终还是会变弱。有些角色能发出deadly ranged attacks，但是近身战斗就会死得很惨。有些角色擅长减益敌人的能力，意思就是你可以让敌人暂时变弱直到己方开始攻击。这些是顶级游戏决策的其中几个，但是也能给你个关于游戏走向的想法。
在远征和training tower中能获得名为水晶（Crystals）和碎片（Shards）的物品，可以用来快速升级英雄。这些就是基础的经验值药剂（游戏邦注：XP potions），特定颜色的碎片需要对应颜色的角色，普通的碎片可以用在任意角色上。这些道具只会在特定的某几天出现在training tower中，也就意味着在游戏中后期，你需要留心一下游戏周期。
游戏中有种模式称为“Arena”，竞技场决斗，这是目前最接近PvP模式的部分。其他玩家使用Duelling Swords，一种Arena货币，派遣鬼魂来和玩家决斗。玩家每天可以获得3个Duelling Swords，也可以选择花费一个魔法球补充。这个系统几乎和其他游戏，例如Brave Frontier的没有什么差别。
游戏中没有全球排行榜，但是玩家会在每个季度末获得奖励，奖励的多少是跟玩家挣得的决斗点数挂钩的。玩家最想要的奖励就是英雄羽毛（Hero Feathers），所以竞技场决斗是玩家后期的必做之事。利用指定角色获得连胜的玩家还能获得额外奖品，这也增加了游戏乐趣。尤其是在级别更高的时候，玩家更倾向于选择可以获得额外点数的英雄，意味着你可以通过增加单次攻击效果来打败赠送点数的敌人。这本身并不是什么创新，但是能够给Fire Emblem的玩法锦上添花。对于游戏发烧友来说，这种模式更加欲罢不能。
然而，值得注意的是PvP模式可能是游戏中最无力的部分。这游戏在机制和人物刻画上让人惊艳，但是缺少玩家之间的直接对抗，这就让游戏失去了这种潜在的能获得无限乐趣的游戏体验。我认为任天堂应该学一学Summoners War，市场上最成功的RPG游戏之一，它就有同步的1v1 PvP模式。这种模式能给那些最投入、最具竞争力的玩家提供动力，促使他们去完成游戏中的其他关键发展进程。
我之前已经在Super Mario Run解析那里谈论过了，但是在任天堂所有的移动应用里，添加好友这个机制实在是很无力。要添加这项功能有个高摩擦式屏障（游戏邦注：high friction barrier），因为这需要代码，不是简简单单用上Facebook或者Game Center就可以了，虽然现在绝大多数游戏都是这样做。
PvP模式的竞技场战斗曾经是由Takumi和Hector利用Deadly Counter Attacks这样的攻击主导的。
有些角色在PvP模式里非常强大。5星弓箭手Takumi正在PvP里进行大规模破坏。虽然是有可能打败他，但是有些团队用了好几个Takumi，那就几乎不太可能打败了他们了。同时，还有一些角色是处于金字塔顶端的。当他们发动大规模伤害时，看见起来有点太过于无敌了。攻击范围大，没有哪种颜色可以克他们，而且还能用deadly counter attack，意味着就算你接近进行伏击，也还是会死。所以要得到这种角色，得靠自己去努力争取（我还没得到），或者就是花钱去买了。我得说跟这种角色对打不是一件很有趣的事情。我希望他们能够在一定程度上削弱这种角色的力量，转而在日本的扭蛋系统里增加难度，但是我感觉他们不会这样做。
有几个烦人的问题。没有什么游戏是绝对完美的，Fire Emblem Heroes也得听听一些小牢骚。我最在意的问题主要有两个：首先，我没办法按照我的意愿在战斗中展开阵型（在主机版本可不会这样），角色都是随机站位，比如当healers和dancers被放在tankier角色前面，我的作战计划就被毁了。看不到战场地图的话会让这种情况更加恶化（特别是在PvP和Training Tower），例如等到开战时你才看到一个Cavalry角色在树林里发起攻击，这种地图就能坑死你，让人沮丧。幸亏这种情况不是很经常出现，但是遇到的话就会很让人抓狂！
幸运的是，由于这篇文章的独创性，开发者们好像已经注意到了一些问题，对游戏做出了许多优化提升，包括让玩家在战斗开始时自由调整站位，把体力值增加一倍让玩家可以战斗得更久。玩家还可以看到新增的一些新游戏特色，例如The Voting Gauntlet和the Skill Inheritance。
Fire Emblem Heroes里的The Voting Gauntlet
The Voting Gauntlet就像是迷你版的统治世界活动，在GREE公司的Modern War和Crime City中出现过。玩家们可以和另一个派系（或者是英雄，根据情况）结盟，然后通过战斗因为团队积累分数。获得最高分数的团队在挑战结束后会获得奖励。有趣的是，在此类战斗过程中玩家没有办法使用金钱（也就是说，他们不能花钱去买能多的能量），但是它却成功地留住了核心玩家群体。这又是一个典型例子，明明任天堂能够从这个环节赚钱，但是他们却选择保持他们的品牌价值，做个慷慨大方的制作商。
游戏新增的第二大特色就是Skill Inheritance。有个可能会让玩家感到恼怒的情况是有些英雄们在PvP模式中会变得过于强大，把游戏变成一个变味的元游戏。Skill Inheritance能让玩家几乎是无止境地创造游戏角色，打造属于自己的团队，设计自己的团队协作风格。这也意味着当玩家把一些十分强大的能力从其他英雄身上转移并集中到一个英雄身上，这游戏的理论输出可就突破天际了。这个游戏特色对超级发烧友群体接受良好，他们享受这个特色带来的理论计划和试验。
从产生稳定收益的角度来说，Fire Emblem大概是任天堂手里最安全的一张牌了。这种游戏模式再加上知识产权，已经被证实能够在后期的在线运营中永不衰落。它不会因为大胆创新或者独特性获得任何奖项。但是，总体来说Fire Emblem还是给我带来了很大惊喜。这是一个品质杰出，玩法有趣的游戏。即使把升级系统撇开来看，核心玩法也是令人享受的，并且游戏还有很多余留的设计空间让玩家随着时间的投入其中。
Fire Emblem Heroes大约有66%的收益都来自日本地区，这并不意外，鉴于日本民众对RPG类型和系列的热爱。
收益1亿美元却没有营销花费，Fire Emblem证明了把系列游戏做成功是多么“简单”的一件事，即使是在非本地区市场也是一样。虽然主要收益都来自日本，但是事实证明它在西方也是一个不小的成功。我觉得最可怕的事情还是任天堂还是不把移动市场当回事。显然这游戏拥有很高的平均每付费用户收入和生命周期总价值，如果任天堂选择在这个游戏的用户获取上下功夫，也是能赚钱的。他们做了一个Tier 3级别的IP，半年内就产生1亿美元的收益，这就体现了任天堂在移动平台也是有很大潜力的。更让人难以置信的是，跟其他竞争对手比起来，这游戏还有一些短板，但是依然不影响它的市场。角色在40级就达到上限，城堡升级也有限，也没有符文系统来优化、调整角色的属性，达到像Summoners War这样的级别。考虑到游戏后期可干的事太少，补充上述那些功能的话，就能够很容易地提高游戏的平均每付费用户收入，也能挽留住更多玩家。
Nintendo’s second mobile game (and third mobile title) has been available on the app store for nearly 6 months and visits more familiar mobile game territory compared to Super Mario Run or Miitomo as the classic Japanese RPG model meets head-on with Nintendo subsidiary Intelligent Systems’s classic Fire Emblem console series. The result is a very slick and enjoyable experience with some really fun and rewarding combat mechanics, which has also proved to be very lucrative.
Despite Global featuring on both Apple and Google Play Stores, Fire Emblem Heroes has only had around 10M downloads worldwide, suggesting a lack of User Acquisition and niche appeal. Despite a lack of installs, revenue for the game hasn’t slowed down.
An Introduction to Fire Emblem
Fire Emblem has actually been around since 1990 as a Japanese only title on the Famicom (or NES in the West). In 2003, the game Super Smash Bros. featured two characters from the series called Marth and Roy and their popularity in the game persuaded Nintendo to start releasing the titles in the West too.
Starting with 2003′s Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade for the Gameboy Advance, Fire Emblem introduced a slick and very well designed turn-based RPG experience to Nintendo hardware. Though each series varies and changes, the core formula is always a turn-based RPG consisting of a number of missions. As the player, you earn and collect heroes who you use in battle and improve over time. However, the player has to carefully manage their roster as losing a character in battle means the character is lost permanently (a feature which unsurprisingly does not make it across to mobile).
^ One of the Game Cube versions of the game, where the series has moved to 3D and started to ramp up it’s complexity.
It’s hard to explain the appeal of the Fire Emblem series with just words, but essentially the core gameplay offers a wide variety of tactics and strategy to the player. There is a lot of gameplay mastery in that you can build a team to execute on a specific strategy that you create for yourself, whilst also providing a vast myriad of other potential tactics and strategies you can use. Ultimately this results in a game that isn’t necessarily mainstream but has a very core, loyal and deeply engaged audience.
Fire Emblem would not be considered a “tier 1″ Nintendo IP such as Mario, Zelda or Pokemon but definitely has a big following and a Fire Emblem game usually arrives for every device that Nintendo release after about 12-24 months. Thus it’s with great interest to see how Intelligent Systems have gone about creating a mobile experience
^ The Core Loops in Fire Emblem
This game uses a very familiar loop structure that can be found in one of many Japanese RPG games such as Brave Frontier, Final Fantasy Exvius, Summoner’s War, et all. Essentially the game has a twin currency system where the player can battle PvE or PvP. Battling in either mode levels up their Heroes which allows them to continue to invest and upgrade them. Players can accelerate the process by playing the Gacha to get rarer and more powerful characters but can make their way through the game without spending but taking a lot longer to do so.
Compared to rival games, the biggest difference with Fire Emblem Heroes is that the core gameplay is a lot more nuanced and enjoyable and less grindy. As a result, there is no real base building progression system which has crept into titles such as Summoner’s War and Brave Frontier, but instead, there is a good deal of depth in character customization with skills and party composition playing a large part in mastering the game.
I am going to spend most of the article talking about the core gameplay of the title, as this is where it really shines. It’s a different approach to most mobile RPG’s and probably reflective of its console heritage. From a personal perspective, I would say that the game feels less grindy than some of its rivals because the core gameplay is more enjoyable. There are also options to auto battle and skip animations to speed up proceedings if you are more of an idle RPG fan who is more interested in the metagame, progression systems and min / maxing your favorite character.
PvE and Heroes
At it’s heart, the game uses a very straight forward model for it’s PvE mode. Players are given a selection of missions to play through, each ramping up in terms of difficult and stamina costs over time. If the player completes a chapter they can also unlock the same battle on hard and then lunatic difficulty settings for extra replayability value and to help them accumulate XP for new characters they will acquire over time.
Players earn Orbs fairly generously in this game, with pretty much every mission giving an orb instead of requiring a whole chapter to be completed like most other JRPG’s. This likely decreases ARPPU potential but likely fits more into Nintendo’s overall brand and is also likely to improve retention.
Just as its name would suggest, Fire Emblem really is all about its heroes. There were around 60 at launch with more coming in at a steady pace. The Heroes come in multiple colors and types, which greatly impacts the core gameplay. Each mission can be min/maxed by carefully thinking about the enemies you will encounter compared to the Heroes you own. To truly master the game, over time you will want a well-rounded roster with powerful heroes of multiple types. This means a lot of going back over old missions and the training tower to build up the level of your Heroes.
Combat in Fire Emblem Heroes feels very familiar to its console counterparts but well suited with good optimizations made for mobile. Battles take place on a 6*9 grid which is considerably smaller than on console. The game could have used multiple screens for larger battlefields, but it seems obvious that the game was designed to be playable with one hand and for short sessions, with battles resolving faster than the console equivalent.
Combat in the game has many nuances and there is a ton of depth in tactics and strategy available. Some characters have to assist abilities that allow you to buff other party members to make them even more powerful but are weak as a result. Some characters have deadly ranged attacks but die horribly if someone gets close. Some characters are good at debuffing the enemy meaning you can weaken them before attacking them with your own. These are just some of the top level gameplay decisions you make but give an idea of where the game leads.
I particularly enjoy the depth of combinations you can come up with your Heroes auto and their skills. For example, I have a character called Tiki that heals adjacent party members when she attacks but is generally quite slow moving. However, using one of my Knight characters that I won, I can use the knights “shove” skill to push Tiki further into the battlefield. Supported by two powerful flying characters, I can use Tiki to heal and support my flyers whilst keeping her safe. The game is full of combinations and team synergies like this and makes the game really addictive. I often find myself thinking about combinations of Heroes that I own and how they would interact with each other, which creates a powerful call-back mechanism to make me return.
Most characters also have a special move which is activated automatically when their trigger is ready. This means that you often have to plan a couple of turns ahead in advance to maximize the potential of your party as wasting your special on an attack that would have killed anyway could mean losing a battle you would otherwise have won. Some specials also have abilities like an area of effect or healing nearby units, so core gameplay keeps you on your toes!
Though the game has a story mode, the story isn’t the most riveting and essentially is just a facade to lure you into the satisfying gameplay. Actual progression comes from the investment you make in your characters over time. Heroes’ stats increase to begin with, but over time your character can learn new skills which you can equip to your characters to change the way they can be used in battle.
An interesting nuance which has made it over from the console series is that characters primarily gain XP by dealing damage and/or pulling off the finishing blow on an enemy. This means that when you want to invest in new characters that you have acquired, you have to plan the battle such that your powerful units don’t completely kill off enemies, but do leave them weak enough for your lower level heroes to commit the last blow. Additionally Heroes don’t gain any XP at all if they die, so you need to formulate this into your plan too. Characters gain levels during battle, something that is quite unique but adds a lot to the enjoyment to the battles when you play them.
It’s also possible to acquire items called Crystals and Shards from quests and the training tower to invest into characters to level them up at a faster rate. These are basically XP potions, with a colour specific shard required for each colour character, and a universal shard also being available which can be used on anyone. These items are only available on certain days in the training tower, so it means that in the mid and elder game, you need to pay attention to the weekly game cycle.
After a while, players face more obstacles when trying to improve their characters. Whereas Crystals are used for characters below level 20, Shards are needed once they pass that point. Additionally, to truly maximize a character, you may want to unlock their potential of merge heroes. These systems make up for the lack of a traditional fusion system and are not the most intuitive. However, they serve a purpose and effectively determine the elder game for most players – grinding the Arena and training tower to gain the rare resources you need to improve your characters to their highest capability.
Gacha is the lifeblood of any RPG based game, with developers making large numbers of 2D assets that can be created fairly quickly but that are in high demand by players. Fire Emblem actually introduces a fairly unique system to its game as players get a discount on their summons by summoning up to five heroes at once. The player also has some ability to influence their rolls, by being able to choose from either Legendary or Devoted hero (these determine their type) and by getting a preview of what color they will earn. If you really want Marth, who is a red Hero, then if you go to summon and see that there is no red available, you only have to make one roll and know that it’s not possible to get him in that specific summoning period.
Interestingly this means that as a player, your goal is usually to play until you get 20 Orbs so that you can go crazy at the Gacha to summon new heroes. This helps create daily and weekly goals and makes the game feel quite fair. Of course it’s painful to see someone roll three 5-star heroes in half the number of rolls you make, but that’s literally the luck of the draw and how Gacha games inherently work. It does also men though that players are not incentivised to buy orbs if they are getting less than 20, so it will be interesting to see if this increased ARPPU or conversion on the 20 orb bundle.
At this point, I must also call out the AWESOME Gacha sequence the game offers. Some characters play a movie when you get them, and this is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in a Gacha in any game. The level of polish and quality throughout the title is of an extremely high standard and even though this game is 2D, I would argue it’s a clear example of a “Triple-A” game in much the way that Clash Royale is.
PvP / Arena Duels
The game currently has a mode called Arena, which is the nearest thing the game has currently to PvP. Players battle against ghosts of other players using an Arena currency called Duelling Swords. Players only get 3 of these per day but can spend one orb to replenish them. This system is almost identical to ones used in many games such as Brave Frontier so is about as proven as they come.
There isn’t a global leaderboard, but players do earn arena points which tie into rewards they will get at the end of each season based on how any points they acquire. Rewards are of the highest desirability being Hero Feathers, so Arena is a must for elder game players. Bonuses are awarded for win streaks and for using specific characters, which makes the game interesting. At higher tiers especially, it poses an interesting question as players are likely to use the heroes that offer additional points, but means you can beat them in the meta game by picking units that counter the ones giving bonuses. This isn’t an innovation per se, but given the brilliance on the Fire Emblem gameplay, means that this mode can become moreish to the hardcore players out there.
However, it should be noted that PvP is probably the weakest area of the game. This game nails the mechanics and character depth but without a mode to battle other players, the game loses the potential for an infinitely fun gameplay experience. I feel that Nintendo should take a leaf out Summoners War, one of the most successful RPG games on the market which has a synchronous 1v1 PvP mode. This would give the most engaged and competitive players something to do and provide a real motivation to go through all of the other core progression systems in the game.
Many RPG games these days have a progression based element of a town or base that the player can invest in over time. Fire Emblem has something similar, although the amount of progression it offers is very little. Players have a Castle where some of their heroes stand and where they can interact with them (a nod to the more sophisticated stories of the console games). Players can also upgrade the appearance of their Castle to get permanent XP boosts to all of their characters. This is a no-brainer purchase and recommended for everyone, though it’s fairly well hidden away. This means that the hub for the game is well presented and fun, and not just a boring menu, like some other games. The hub is also used to interact with friends from your friends-list.
Friends and Social
If there is one area that Fire Emblem is weak in, it’s definitely in its lack of social. In fact, this could be said of all of Nintendo’s games so far. I have a feeling this is because Nintendo is scared to add a chat system to their games given their brand but it’s equally possible that it’s just an oversight.
I’ve commented on this in my Super Mario Run deconstruct, but the mechanism used to add friends in all of Nintendo’s mobile products is exceptionally weak. It has a high friction barrier because it requires a code and not allowing an easy way such as using Facebook or Game Center as pretty much every other game in these day does.
Once you are connected you can greet friends to receive Hero Feathers, but interactions are very limited after that. unlike almost every other JRPG, there is no “borrow a friend’s Hero” mechanic which seems like it would be really well suited to this game. There is no way to send messages to each other and the only “free” invite you get is when you play someone in Arena. This could be an area which the developer is looking to expand upon in the future, but currently, with no guilds service, no way to chat and no reason to want to chat (such as trading items or working together to achieve a goal), it’s a definite weakness in an otherwise great game.
Live Ops and Notable Updates
It’s encouraging to see that in launch week the game was getting heavy support with new events, game features and challenges being added at a regular intervals. Many JRPG’s have already paved the way for successful roadmaps for event cadence and new features so Fire Emblem doesn’t need to innovate in this area. However, given the charm of the game, I am expecting to see some twists and originality in what comes next, so look forwards to seeing what comes next.
After playing the game solidly for a few months, and having grinded a number of characters up to level 40 and beyond. I’m still really enjoying my time with the game, but there are a number of issues I can find at this point in time that may be areas of concern in the not so distant future.
The game is short of content. I finished all of the story missions in about 5 days, and although there are Hard and Lunatic difficulties available the game, I feel like the finishing line is way closer than a good service game should be. This is easily rectifiable with more content and game modes, but I think the developer needs to get a move on with it because mid-core is a competitive place and players will happily move to the next game of the week if you don’t give them a reason to stay. If the developers could add a good synchronous PvP mode to this game, it would be insanely addictive as the core gameplay is fantastic and if anything my experience of it has improved over time rather than diminished and would give the game evergreen gameplay, so I am hoping the hidden game mode is something related to multiplayer.
^ The PvP Arena was once dominated by characters with deadly Counter Attacks such as Takumi and Hector.
Some characters are too strong in PvP. A 5-star archer called Takumi is wrecking havoc in PvP right now. Though it is possible to beat him, some teams run multiple Takumi’s which are almost impossible to beat. Whilst there was always going to be some characters that end up at the top of the pile, he seems possibly a bit too good as he does massive damage, hits from long range, has no colour weakness AND has the deadly counter attack meaning that even if you get up close and ambush him, you still die. This means you either need to get him yourself (I don’t have him) or spend to get him and it’s not very fun to play against. I hope they nerf the character somewhat, but given the tough rules on Gacha in Japan, have a feeling this won’t be rectified.
There are some annoyances. No game is perfect and Fire Emblem Heroes has its share of minor gripes. My biggest problem is two-fold. Firstly, I can’t deploy my team into battle in the way I want to (this was not the case on console), which means that often my tactics are ruined by the random placement as healers and dancers are placed in front of tankier characters. This is exacerbated by not being able to see the map you are going to fight on (especially true in PvP and Training Tower), which makes it extremely frustrating when the map screws you by having a Cavalry character start among the trees or similar. Luckily this doesn’t happen too often, but it is annoying when it does!
Fortunately, since originally writing this article, it seems like the developers were paying attention, as a number of quality of life improvements were made to the game, including allowing players to re-position their units for free at the start of a battle and doubling the stamina cap to allow players to keep fighting for longer. The game also saw notable features added, The Voting Gauntlet and the Skill Inheritance.
The Voting Gauntlet feature in Fire Emblem Heroes
The Voting Gauntlet was a mini version of a world domination event seen in some GREE titles such as Modern War and Crime City. Players allied themselves with a faction (or hero in this instance) and battled to accumulate a score for their team. The team with the highest score got a reward at the end of the gauntlet. Interestingly there was no way to further monetise during the event (IE they could not pay for more energy), but the event seemed to succeed in terms of increasing retention for the hardcore players of the game. This is yet another example of a game mode where Nintendo could easily have increased monetisation but opted to keep to their brand values and be more generous instead.
Skill Inheritance allows players to build their own custom Heroes by taking skills from one hero to another.
The next biggest feature added to the game was Skill Inheritance. Players were likely annoyed that some heroes were Over Powered in PvP and led to a stale meta-game. Skill Inheritance allows players to make an almost infinite series of character builds to create their very own team and team synergy. This also meant that the theoretical spend for the game went through the roof as players could take all of the really strong abilities from powerful heroes and put them onto a hero that didn’t have it. This feature has gone down well with the super hardcore players of the game who enjoy the theory-crafting and experimentation that such a feature brings.
5 Thousand Installs and Half-a-Million of Dollars a Day
Fire Emblem is probably the “safest” game Nintendo could have made in terms of generating solid revenues. It’s a proven game model with an IP which can have a long tail through live ops. It won’t win any awards for daring innovation or uniqueness. However, overall I have been very impressed with Fire Emblem. It’s a high-quality product that is genuinely fun to play. Even if you stripped the progression systems away, the core gameplay is fun and involving and there is plenty of design space left for the game to grow into over time.
Around 66% of Fire Emblem Heroes’ revenue has come from Japan, a largely unsurpsiing facet given the immense popularity of both the RPG genre and the franchise there.
With $100M in revenues from zero marketing spend, Fire Emblem proves how “easy” it can be to take a franchise game and make it a success even on a platform that is not native. Whilst the majority of this revenue comes from Japan, it’s till proved to be a reasonable success in the West too. I think the scariest thing is that mobile is still at the very back of Nintendo’s mind. This game clearly has high ARPPU’s and LTV’s and Nintendo could profitably run a User Acquisition on this game if they choose too. The fact that they can make a mobile game that generates $100M in half-a-year with a Tier 3 IP shows you the potential Nintendo has on the mobile. Even more incredibly the game has obvious shortcomings compared to rival RPG’s. Characters cap out at level 40, the Castle progression system is as limited as it possibly could be and there is no Rune based system to optimise or min/max characters to the level of Summoners War. These additions could easily increase the ARPPU of the title and would probably improve the retention too given the lack of things to do in the title at the end-game.
For the western market, the game is still rather complicated. Though the game has high production values, there is poor UX in places, as it’s not clear how a lot of the game features function, and often it’s unclear how the battle works. Sometimes when your characters do 0 damage, you are left scratching your head, and it took a group of us a few days to work out that special attacks weren’t random and that there was a logic behind it! These things increase the self-discovery when playing the game but ultimately hurt the genre and title from really going broad on appeal. However, I suspect that’s not really the goal of the Fire Emblem series.
For myself personally, I think the game is great and think the rewards are richly deserved by the team developing the title. How much more they choose to add and support the game will be interesting to see, but the game retains a loyal audience and almost endless potential.（source：gamasutra.com）