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Home Blog App Promotion Strategy App Store Mobile Games Spotlight: The Light Game Is Coming on Strong Globally

App Store Mobile Games Spotlight: The Light Game Is Coming on Strong Globally

Jun 8 2021

light games


Light games have achieved a new breakthrough

From the Q1 mobile game revenue of Japan, Korea and the United States market released by Sensor Tower, these three mainstream overseas markets are in a stable growth stage: Japan handicraft market revenue exceeded $5.1 billion, up 35% year-on-year, another record high; Korea handicraft market revenue reached $1.47 billion, up nearly 16% year-on-year; the total revenue of the United States handicraft market exceeded $6.1 billion, up 34.1% year-on-year.

But beyond the overall revenue figures, we also saw some new global market trends.

This also means that in the overseas market, there are indeed a lot of heavy games of the head big manufacturers occupying the head position of the list.

However, in fact, there is a lot of upside and revenue space in the middle position, and as long as the game products do a good job of buying volume and cashing mode, they can also open up their own track.

In addition, from the perspective of market attributes, whether in Japan, Korea or the US market, there are some medium-light games steadily occupying the top position in the revenue list.

How do these games cash in behind the monthly flow of over 100 million?

So what is the revenue situation of the above three games with monthly flow of over 100 million in overseas markets today? What kind of cashing methods have they adopted?

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Using mixed cash to improve user stickiness and retention

Puzzles & Survival: Using mixed cash to improve user stickiness and retention

According to Sensor Tower data, the estimated global iOS revenue of Puzzles & Survival in May was $12 million and $9 million respectively, and the estimated number of downloads was 800,000 and 500,000 respectively.

In terms of cashing in, both Puzzles & Survival have adopted a hybrid cashing in model.

Players can buy diamonds or props in the game to speed up the upgrade process, while zero-krypton players can watch incentive videos to get certain diamonds and props rewards.

The length of these incentive videos is about 20 seconds, and as the number of views increases, the length of the incentive videos will also lengthen.

It can be said that the mixed cash model takes care of the needs of both zero-krypton players and paid players, which has a certain effect on improving user stickiness and retention.

Pay more attention to plot coherence, and the in-app purchase mode becomes the first choice

Project Makeover" pays more attention to plot continuity, and the in-buy mode becomes the first choice

Project Makeover", the game of three consumption +, has been gaining strength in overseas markets. The game has taken the TOP 1, 87 TOP 5 and 128 TOP 10 in 30 countries and regions, which is a global trend.

In addition, according to Sensor Tower data, the game's revenue has more than doubled compared to the previous quarter, and it has topped the Top 20 downloads with more than 10 million downloads, an increase of 60% compared to last year's Q4.

In terms of revenue and downloads, Project Makeover's estimated iOS stream in May reached $14 million, with an estimated 4 million downloads.

In terms of the realization model, "Project Makeover" adopts the in-game purchase model. Players can buy diamonds in the game, and the diamonds are mainly used to pass the three elimination levels and increase the stamina value.

Unlike the mainstream triple elimination games, Project Makeover emphasizes meta-play (makeup, dress-up and decoration), and the game is designed based on different chapters, which emphasizes the continuity and immersion of the plot.

After players pass the elimination level, they can produce the gold and money needed for the meta gameplay, and use the gold to promote the main plot, elimination gameplay can be said to be only "auxiliary gameplay".

When the game design of "Project Makeover" is tilted towards meta-play, the advertising cash model is obviously not suitable. Players will be interrupted by the frequent pop-up ads, and the game experience will be greatly reduced.

How do medium and light games emerge in the global market?

Medium-light games and advertising cash are being paid more and more attention by game makers. However, for a long time, the performance of light games in the global market did not have very outstanding growth, and also more only played into the head position in terms of download volume.

Nowadays, more and more light games have achieved new results in terms of revenue, which means that the bottleneck of realizing light category has been broken.

The reason for this is that, on the one hand, game makers are naturally doing better and better in designing their own realizations; on the other hand, with the rise of more advertising platforms and tool services in the global market in recent years, the realization efficiency of game makers going abroad has also been substantially improved with the support of data and capabilities of these platforms.

The increase of advertising revenue mainly depends on the increase of advertising exposure level and the increase of eCPM per exposure, and the eCPM per exposure is closely related to the advertising platform chosen by manufacturers. Because the display of ad creative, whether the displayed ads precisely match the interests of users, and whether the ad display volume level is large enough, all directly affect the eCPM high or low.

As a global platform for developers to realize and grow, it can be said that, compared with game makers who are "fighting alone" in advertising and realizing, they can achieve ROI optimization and improvement more efficiently with the help of advertising platforms familiar with overseas markets.

Of course, in addition to the breakthrough of cashing bottleneck, the reason for the emergence of light games is also the obvious improvement of their own game quality. 

Whether in medium games to do the integration of play, or in light games to "subtract" and explore the creativity of play, game manufacturers have made more fine products in this field, which undoubtedly lay the most important foundation for commercial realization. 

Take "Project Makeover" as an example, the game incorporates the construction gameplay, the plot itself is rich and detailed, compared with the past three consumption products, the quality and playability are greatly improved.

Why choose light-medium hybrid games

Mature business model

Moderate play is not new to developers worldwide, but has only been hotter in the last two years. This is because people have found that advertising and inbound purchases can be combined well and can contribute a significant percentage of revenue.

From a commercialization point of view, there are some problems with a single cash-in model. Except for a few big competitive categories, most of the pure in-purchase driven games are designed for vertical players, which is difficult to expand the volume. And pure advertising cash-driven games are at a disadvantage in terms of risk resistance.

With the emergence of incentive videos, the hybrid cash model is gradually maturing.

Market data shows that more and more casual and heavy developers, in their own original fields, are trying to move closer to mixed cash.

Thinking about the same period last year, the overall advertising real estate revenue of ultra-casual games increased by 2% and IAP revenue increased by 12%. And many head developers are starting to transition to target the medium market.

On the contrary, the poisoned track such as strategy and RPG games saw a 35% increase in ad revenue and a 5% decrease in IAP compared to last year.

Opportunities and challenges

Developers also face some challenges, the key word of this challenge is balance, how to balance the lightness of the gameplay, how to balance the internal purchase and advertising revenue, and how to transition to medium for both light and heavy developers.

Innovation of gameplay and category expansion

This is a light game can not get around the topic, an addictive and deep core gameplay, plus Roguelike system, plus a certain value system.

But does this formula necessarily hold? And when we look back at the success of the game of fire, of course, its benefit from the Roguelike system and the integration of the numerical system to increase the thickness of the game, which to a certain extent solved the problem of long-term retention in ultra-casual games.

But on the other hand, the core key to innovation is still that he has a very unique core gameplay, which makes the game in the short-term retention and buy promotion to gain a huge advantage.

So how should the gameplay innovation of the medium-light hybrid game be done? We divide the gameplay innovation on the handicraft into four categories. Absolute core gameplay innovation is very difficult, basically 5 years to appear one, such as MOBA, tactical competition.

Since the 90s, there are no more than 15 games that really achieve breakthrough in gameplay.

As the difficulty of game category innovation escalates, big gameplay innovation gradually becomes unattainable, in such a state, micro-innovation becomes the common choice of developers. Most of the micro-innovations mainly come from the following three categories.

The first category is the classic gameplay rework or simplify, such as "Plants vs Zombies" is based on the classic tower defense gameplay to do some simplification.

The second category is the fusion of gameplay, typically like the three consumption PRG, placement RPG, and Roguelike, etc..

The last type is the addition of innovative meta-games, the most typical is Playrix's expansion of the three-disaster game, adding a story line and customization elements.

The hybrid cash model to be truly inside-out + advertising dual-driven, there are requirements for the game itself. Both the spreadability of super casual games, the volume of users and the diversity of the user base to maximize advertising revenue.

At the same time, we also need to take into account the retention and ARPU of heavy games to obtain considerable in-purchase revenue. So to both ultra-casual games and heavy game features, it requires a mix of cash must be medium play, in a word, simple addictive, but also has a certain depth.

Generally speaking, heavy games are less focused on control and overly complex gameplay, while ultra-casual pay less attention to systematic growth, medium games are both simple operation and growth. Since we have to take into account the advantages of both, there are essentially two general directions.

Heavy gameplay lightness

The first direction is to lighten the heavy gameplay, that is, to popularize a medium-heavy category recognized by vertical users, while retaining certain game depth, such as strategy and sociality.

Specifically, we think we can think about it from two aspects: device and player. First of all, the so-called equipment is to optimize the interactive experience transformation for the touch screen, here are three examples for you.

One-finger operation

Many games now use vertical screen + single finger operation to simplify the operation learning threshold, while releasing one hand, which allows players to devote themselves to the game on more occasions, thus increasing the game length.

Paddle screen operation

On mobile touch screen devices, the paddle screen has a more convenient experience than the mouse and handle, and many casual categories shine on cell phones because they are naturally adapted to paddle screen operation.


Small screen adaptation

Mobile hardcore gameplay may be used to a screen full of skill buttons and icons, but to get more acceptance from the lighter players, developers need to consider how to use the least amount of space to cover the most core gameplay.

Combine with mobile player attributes

Another angle of subtracting for medium-heavy games is from the mobile player attributes.

The first attribute is fragmented game time, and the recent boom of placement games in the past few years is a universal solution.

Another handheld gamer characteristic, many are not hardcore players.


Not even a short time ago were not gamers, especially for casual and medium games, then to popularize a play style that has matured in the vertical group, the simplification of game mechanics is almost inevitable.

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