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开发者聊Voodoo在超休闲游戏的表现和执行状态

发布时间:2020-03-20 09:02:26 Tags:,

开发者聊Voodoo在超休闲游戏的表现和执行状态

原作者:Tom Kinniburgh 译者:Willow Wu

手游领域又经历了一次变革。免费应用排行榜近年来逐渐被超休闲游戏所占领。2017年,Ketchapp(现已被育碧收购)掀起了极简游戏机制革命,发行了Tower、Ballz这样的移动产品。这些游戏注重的是极简视觉效果以及浅显易懂的玩法机制,包含了极其轻量化的进阶系统。最为重要的是,这些游戏的核心盈利方式并不是IAP,而是广告收入。这些游戏真的非常简单,任何人都能在10秒内明白它的玩法。于是,越来越多发行商、工作室以及独立开发者也加入了这个趋势,琢磨起类似的休闲产品。今天我们所说的超休闲游戏市场已经是一片红海,但霸主是谁大家都不言而喻:Voodoo,他们从高盛集团获得了2亿美元融资,进一步稳固了市场地位。

回顾Sensor Tower(2018年)6月美国地区的数据,免费游戏Top 100中,有24.7%是Voodoo公司的产品。免费游戏下载量大概有57%是来自于超休闲领域。

应用商店中的所有游戏类型,没有任何一种能够像超休闲游戏这样拥有如此高的下载量。玩法简单,再加上玩家学习、攻克挑战并不需要多少时间,导致旧的游戏很快被丢弃,玩家会不断寻找新的游戏。很多游戏开发者也注意到了这点,大家都在努力打造下一个热门产品。然而,无论是游戏资源还是推广工作,Voodoo都是手到拈来,其他游戏公司很难与他们竞争。那么,Voodoo是如何成为超休闲领域的巨擘?

moon hunters (from pocketgamer.biz)

moon hunters (from pocketgamer.biz)

1.只用经过市场验证的玩法

Voodoo不在乎你的游戏玩法,作为一个游戏发行工厂,他们的大部分产品明显都是“借鉴”了其他人的早期作品。比如 Dune!借鉴了Tiny Wings,Hole.io借鉴了Donut Country,Paper.io借鉴了Slither.io。

无论是哪个游戏,它们成功的原因并不在于游戏机制的创意或者技术水平,而是Voodoo能够更有效地推广游戏,获得比原作更多的用户。虽说糟糕的游戏设计仍然不会被接受,但是相比新颖的玩法设计,Voodoo更看重的还是是否有经过市场验证。

原创游戏设计对Voodoo的成功来说是可有可无的,这对一般游戏开发者来说是很难接受。Voodoo之所以能够在市场中脱颖而出,是因为他们能跟多个优秀的开发工作室合作——这些人按照已成功的设计模式制作游戏,然后Voodoo运用一流的营销团队、增长策略让游戏登顶App Store。哪种游戏设计最受欢迎,这是市场说了算,而不是由Voodoo决定的。

2.快速发行

根据过去一个月对Google Play和App Store的跟踪统计,Voodoo在这期间发行的7款新游戏已经进入了美区免费应用榜单的前300。其他超休闲游戏发行商大多只发行一两个新产品,甚至没有。与这些公司相比,Voodoo的速度真的是快得惊人。这凸显了游戏公司惯用策略的根本转变。

大多数开发者在经历迭代、测试后,会选择在菲律宾或新西兰等CPI较低的国家进行测试发行。根据玩家的反馈,游戏设计师和开发者对首次用户体验(FTUE)、盈利平衡进行优化、迭代,逐渐提升产品的生命周期总价值和留存率。对打磨后的产品感到有把握之后,团队会联系苹果和谷歌平台的相关人员,推介游戏,希望能进入编辑推选。同时,他们划出了一大笔用于营销的资金,测试多种不同的广告,为了制造出最大的水花而做好充足准备。然而,这个流程对超休闲游戏来说太繁琐了,Voodoo也不是这样发行游戏的。

与他们合作的开发工作室可能有100~200个,每个团队都在疯狂地制作新游戏。无论是哪个游戏,最重要的都是核心玩法。最初的测试发行阶段不会考虑meta内容,甚至广告也不会。然后,在没有做任何宣传的情况下,将产品投入美国或中国这样的关键地区测试核心循环,看看玩家的反馈。根据Voodoo的官方说法,他们的游戏应该具备以下特点:体积小、适合登上YouTube、即开即玩、没有惩罚机制、有新意,这就把不少游戏排除在外了。

然后,游戏要接受残酷的考验。次日留存率至少要50%才能获得成功。这就创造了一个竞争非常激烈的环境,统计数据成为了这些顶级发行商的关键参考因素。作为一名开发者,你想知道自己的游戏是否能够真的能触及到到大量用户,这便是Voodoo擅长的地方。

3.让游戏迅速增长

在CPI低的环境中,游戏可以很迅速地增长。如果你能花1美元再赚回1.50美元,那么你应该继续投入更多的钱,让产品增长更快。这种关系经常被表示为为LTV > CPI。

不同类型的F2P游戏有不同的盈利模式,可以根据其机制或受众进行大致分类。盈利最强势的游戏(比如博彩、策略游戏)平均会在每个玩家身上投入50+美元,因为这些产品的生命周期总价值非常高。然而,他们的受众人群比较少。

基于内购的盈利模式注重的是将单位用户所产生的收益最大化,但这样做,他们的受众就更难找了。超休闲游戏就能获得很好的效果,通过广告创意和数据主导的程序化营销,它们的CPI能压得非常非常低。然而,没有IAP、付费物品或者扭蛋系统,这种模式完全依赖于用户观看广告或者跟广告互动。在极低的CPI和广告收益最大化之间取得平衡,这就是你赚钱的关键。

4.跟广告网络平台建立紧密的关系

作为开发者,你必须在展示尽可能多的广告(给你带来安装量)与不影响用户享受游戏之间把握好分寸。将对的广告在对的时间展示,你的eCPMs(千次展示期望收入)就会升高很多。

有些游戏的效果更好,仅仅是因为它们中断玩家游戏的时机选得比较好,不会因为插入广告严重破坏玩家的乐趣。玩家对游戏核心循环越欲罢不能,游戏展示广告的机会就越多,生命周期总价值自然也就随之提高。但除了时机问题,你必须向正确的用户展示吸引力最好的广告,以便获得安装量。

Voodoo比其他公司更懂得怎么才能达到最好的效果。庞大的规模促使他们能够建立起更紧密的关系网络。这意味着他们展示的广告更有可能带来更可观的付费安装,从而进一步提高LTV。移动广告的竞争是非常残酷的,每个人都想与最强大的公司合作。

5.使用基于数据的细分策略&扩大规模

对于规模较大的公司来说,能提供足够利润的机遇才会引起他们的兴趣。我认为一款每天能够带来10000美元收益的游戏就足以支持一家较小的游戏工作室正常运转。许多工作室在做游戏的时都没有考虑到收益层面,他们也常常忽略了日进10000美元所需要的用户基数。

相比其它游戏类型,超休闲游戏日活跃用户产生的平均收益会更低,一般都在0.01~0.10美元之间。Voodoo除了有庞大的游戏资源库,还有大量关于玩家的数据,它们能告诉你这些最活跃的玩家究竟是哪些人。利用游戏内活动来分析玩家的行为,帮助你了解哪些玩家是游戏的忠实粉丝。Voodoo的游戏网络越大,公司利用有效的营销信息来执行细分策略的效果就越好。

随着Voodoo的涉猎类型继续增加、有不同的玩家参与进来,创意的进一步提升可能会在单个游戏类型上看到更明显的效果。做好针对超休闲游戏的细分策略,你可以得到更低的CPI和更多的广告播放量。

而对于开发者来说,难点在于如何在正确、大规模地执行。这需要一个团队来分析、审查、制定计划,然后执行有效的营销方案,而Voodoo已经深谙其道。

跟Voodoo硬碰硬?

想要打击超休闲游戏市场的这些开发公司,他们的致命错误在于认为能够通过游戏设计掀起变革。Voodoo已经证明了游戏设计的创新并没有成本低廉、成效明显的营销来得重要,他们的游戏库规模、发行节奏一直都在不断变大、变快,这使得他们能够更进一步地认识、理解玩家。为了在竞争中脱颖而出,你必须做好准备建立一个强大的数据库,组织一支优秀的营销团队,根据指标和数据来确定哪些游戏能为你带来可观的收益。

尽管跟Voodoo对抗似乎是一项不可能达成的任务,但意志坚定、才华横溢的工作室可以开辟自己的小众市场。找到一个你非常熟悉并留存率一向很高的游戏机制,然后填充内容或者完善meta部分。但是记住要保持机制的简洁,不然你就失去了超休闲游戏的吸引点。你必须对游戏设计狠下心来,放弃任何不符合标准的东西,遵循低CPI规则。Playgendary、Lion和Super TapX都证明了这并非无稽之谈。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Mobile gaming has shifted, again. The hypercasual genre has begun to dominate the free app charts. In 2017 Ketchapp (now owned by Ubisoft) started a revolution of simplicity in game design with mobile titles such as Tower or Ballz. The games focused on clear visuals and simple mechanics and very light progression systems. Most importantly, these games removed IAP as the core monetization and replaced it with advertising revenue. The games were so simple and casual that anyone could understand them in under 10 seconds. Since then, there has been a proliferation of publishers, studios, and solo indie developers each working on similar casual titles. Today the so-called hyper-casual market is highly competitive, but there is a clear king of the app store, Voodoo, which recently received $200 million from Goldman Sachs to solidify their place on the throne.

Reviewing the estimated data on Sensor Tower for June in the Top 100 US Free Game charts, Voodoo accounted for 24.7%* of all the free downloads. Broadening the view to all hyper-casual games, approximately 57% of all free game downloads can be attributed to this space.**

Of all the genres of games released on the app store, no other genre commands the pure number of downloads that hyper-casual games do. The simplicity of the gameplay, coupled with the speed of gamers learning and mastering the challenge creates a voracious need to download the next new idea, older games are quickly discarded or deleted. This has not escaped the notice of many game developers with hundreds of studios trying to build the next mega hit. However, Voodoo has truly mastered both the sourcing and promotion of their titles making it tough for studios to compete. How has Voodoo dominated the hyper-casual space?

#1 Use Only Tried & Tested Game Design

Voodoo doesn’t care about the design of your game. As a publishing house, the majority of their releases can clearly be seen as “inspired by” reproductions of older games.

Tiny Wings > Dune
Donut Country > Hole.io
Slither.io > Paper.io

In each case, success is not down to the game mechanics or technical quality of the product, but Voodoo’s ability to market games more effectively and reach a larger audience than those original games. Bad game design still won’t make the cut, but an innovative game design is not as important as tried and tested successful mechanics.

This is very hard for the average game developer to swallow and it’s hard to think that original game design is the least important aspect to Voodoo’s success. What set’s voodoo apart is their ability to work with a large number of talented studios each working on simple, tested, game designs, and then apply industry-leading marketing and growth practices to push games to the top of the App Store. Dictating which game design is the most popular is something the market decides, not something Voodoo strives to set.

#2 Ship Fast

Making rough approximations through tracking the releases of the majority of hyper-casual publishers on both Google Play and Apple App Store, Voodoo has released 7 new titles that reached top 300 in the US Free in the last 30 days. Most of the other publishers have released between 0 and 2. This is a phenomenal pace compared with classical studios or even publishers who might schedule 1 or 2 apps per month in order to give it the support needed. This highlights a fundamental shift in business practices.

Most developers’ first start to iterate, test and soft launch titles in cheaper CPI countries such as the Philippines or New Zealand. Based on the feedback they got back from players, designers and developers optimize and iterate the first-time-user-flows (FTUE) or monetization balance to slowly improve the LTV and retention. When a studio is confident in their polished products, they would approach Apple and Google to showcase their app and hope for a feature. At the same time, they might allocate a large marketing budget and test multiple ad variants in order to be confident in having the largest splash possible. This is too slow for hyper-casual and it is not the way Voodoo approach app releases.

Voodoo may have 100-200 development studios each working frantically on new game designs. In each case, the focus is the core gameplay. The meta and even the advertising is left out for the initial soft launch release. Core loops are then tested without fanfare into key territories such as the US or China in order to see if there are good responses to the mechanic. Voodoo released a simple guide for their gameplay style (Snackable, Youtubable, Straightforward, Not punitive, Innovative) which clearly restricts multiple game designs from the table.

*download “How to make hit a hyper-casual game” for more details

Games are then measured on a brutally tough scale. Each game needs 50%+ D1 retention to even make the cut. This creates a very competitive environment where stats and data become the key to becoming picked up by these top publishers. As a developer you want to know that your game can actually reach a large audience, this is where Voodoo has developed a lot of skills.

#3 Grow Games on a Dime

In a system where CPIs are low, games can grow fast. If you’re able to spend $1 and make $1.50 back then you should just keep spending more money and grow faster. This relationship is often quoted as LTV > CPI (check out the free-to-play bible on Mobile Free-to-Play blog for details).

Different genres of free to play mobile games have different monetization profiles and can roughly be categorized by their mechanics or via their audience. Games with the highest monetization profiles (i.e Casino and Strategy games) are able to spend $50+ per user because the LTV of their titles is very high. However, their audience is usually quite much smaller.

IAP based monetization models focus on generating the most revenue per user but in doing so their audience becomes harder to find. Hypercasual as a genre works so well because they can lower the CPI to incredibly low levels through clear advertising creative and data-driven programmatic marketing. However, without clear IAPs or items or gacha systems, the model relies on users watching and engaging with advertising. Getting the balance between a very low CPI while maximizing the Advertising yield is where the profit is.

#4 Build Close-Knit Relationships with Ad Networks

As a developer, you must tread a fine line between showing as many ads as possible (that result in an install) while not breaking the user’s enjoyment of the game. Getting the right ads presented at the right time results in much higher eCPMs.

Because of this, many genres of game perform better than others simply because they create natural breaks in the gameplay where an ad can be shown without disturbing a users playtime. The better the app is at retaining players through its core loop the more opportunities there are to show ads and therefore the higher the LTV. But this isn’t the only piece of the puzzle. You must show the highest performing ad to the right user in order to efficiently display ads that will result in installs.

Voodoo is in a better position to maximize this than other studios. Due to their immense size and scale, they have more relationships at better rates than your average development studio. This means the ads they show are more likely to result in higher-paying installs, increasing the LTV further. The mobile ad networks are ruthless and competitive: everyone wants to work with the largest player. When considering the Hypercasual segment as a business strategy you must take the business development time into account.

#5 Segment and Scale

For larger businesses, opportunities must provide enough profit for them to seem interesting. I would say that any game that can drive $10,000 a day in gross revenue is enough to support a smaller gaming studio. Many studios don’t think about making games in terms of gross profit and they often neglect to think about the number of users necessary in order to make that magic $10,000 per day.

Hypercasual games tend to make lower revenue per DAU. A typical game will be anywhere between $0.01-0.10. Along with their large network of titles Voodoo also has a large volume of data on who their most active players are. Using in-game events to look into player actions, helps you to know clearly which players are playing your games the most. The larger the Voodoo game network becomes the more refined the company can segment or target individual players with effective marketing messages.

As they expand into new genres and different players engage, further refinements in their voice or creative might work better for individual game types. By doing hyper-specific segmentation you can get lower CPIs and more ad views.

What becomes hard for developers is to perform this correctly and at scale. This requires a team of people to analyze, review, create and then execute effective marketing. Voodoo has learned how to do this very well.

Going Head-to-Head Against Voodoo?

The biggest mistake most game developers make when attempting to attack the hyper-casual gaming market is to think they can innovate through game design. Voodoo has proven that innovation in game mechanics is not as important as cheap and effective marketing. Their pace of release and the scale of their network is growing all the time allowing them to learn and understand their users more and more. To have a viable shot at competing you must be prepared to invest heavily in a strong data warehouse, a talented marketing team and use metrics and data to decide which games have the strongest business case.

Even though this seems like an impossible task, strong-willed and talented studios can carve out their own niche. Find a mechanic that you know well and has strong retention metrics, then work on expanding or perfecting the metagame. Be careful to keep the mechanics pure and simple or you will lose what makes hypercasual special. You must also be ruthless with your game designs and drop anything that doesn’t make the cut, be quick, be bold and follow the low CPIs. Studios like Playgendary, Lion and Super TapX show that it can be done.

(source: deconstructoroffun


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