There are not many types of games that have remained attractive from the very beginning of the game's existence. But match 3 games have it all. As the share of casual games in the app market increases further, the competition for match 3 games is getting fierce.
This article will analyze the elements of the match 3 game, and its ASO strategy.
What's a good match 3 game?
Even though they are based on a simple concept, making a great match 3 game is not easy. There are a lot of them out there, so the competition is fierce. To reach the top, you need to master every aspect of the genre.
1. Keep it simple and easy to understand
Good match 3 games have a clear hook and goal at each level. Innovation is good, but in your drive to create something unique, you can't sacrifice the simplicity that makes the genre work in the first place.
2. Use a simple visual style
A good match 3 game needs to be immersive. No matter which visual style you use, you need to keep it simple and consistent. For example, in Candy Crush, literally everything is candy-based - including the menus and icons. Your shapes and colors need to be easily recognizable in order to keep the style consistent, and the game assets need to be easily distinguishable.
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3. Get the pacing right to keep players coming back
You need to increase the challenge in a slow, consistent manner - a sudden increase in difficulty can lose your players. If you introduce new mechanics at a level, they need to be easy to explain - and you need to give players the chance to use them without challenge the first time they appear.
4. Make success as satisfying as possible
In the early days of the game, there was nothing more satisfying than sliding a Tetris block into a perfectly shaped gap and watching four lines of clarity at the same time. Over the years, the visuals have become more colorful and animated, but the concept is the same. Match 3 should feel like a great value. Passing a level should be a little celebration - especially on the harder levels. Be sure to acknowledge your player's accomplishments.
5. Give it an overarching narrative
The narrative of a match 3 game will never be an emotional, seat-of-the-pants epic. But it should have a story. Even a simple game like Candy Crush has levels that revolve around the troubles of the residents of Candy Kingdom. If you don't tell them why they need Match 3, you won't keep players engaged.
Switchcraft combines interaction and narrative so well that Switchcraft, which launched in October, has been downloaded more than 101,000 times and has already earned more than $110,000 in revenue. In Switchcraft, storytelling is interactive. It's something we haven't seen in the top triple-play games. The game comes with an immersive story that transports players into a mysterious world of witches. Interactive storytelling allows players to make choices that affect the flow of the story. In addition, the player's choices affect their relationships with other characters. For example, players need to decide if they can trust a professor or classmate. This makes the player feel important and more invested in the story.
6. Long-term game development
If you want an evergreen hit, you need to maintain a steady stream of content. You need to invest a lot of time in adding updates, building new levels, and providing a new sense of challenge for players who are very good at it.
Switchcraft's interactive narrative puts level stories in the form of short stories - books. Each of these books ends in suspense. For example, with a new clue or a sudden scream. This leaves the player hungry for answers. The only way to get those answers is to play more games.
ASO Strategy to boost your match 3 game ranking
As you can see in the match 3 game icon above, there are many design strategies floating around. It's important to differentiate your needs, which is why we see such a wide range of icons.
Of the icons, only two (Jewels Magic and 3 Tiles) show their game board as a way to immediately highlight that they are match 3 games. The fact that only a few games use this strategy suggests that today's players may be looking less for a specific match 3 game and more for the narrative or story surrounding it.
This strategy may suggest to us that match 3 game developers and marketing teams have found that to continue to grow in a very crowded category, they must appeal to an adjacent audience/narrative layer that has some affinity for the core mechanics of match 3 games but is chasing the story as well.
As IDFAs are abandoned and targeting becomes weaker, icons on ads can have a significant impact on the types of users you attract to your app.
App screenshot strategy
- As we mentioned before, this is the most interesting development happening in this category. Not only do you show the blocks and game mechanics of match 3 games, but also the deep and rich storyline, including adventures and dramas, minigames and other options. All games that offer unique stories show different building options - whether it's makeup, dressing up, decorating, discovering and solving ...... all of which point to other elements in the game besides the match 3 mechanics. Mini-Games
- We know that many of the games here offer mini-games that are not your typical triple-cancel mechanics - but rather different mechanics to advance and play the game. Ultimately, these games use the "mini-game" message to appeal to different types of players, including those who are attracted to mini-games rather than core mechanics. This trend is not limited to the match 3 game category. For example, Moon Active's "Coin Master" is now hitting the leaderboards, and it also uses village building, raids and attack mechanics on top of simple slot mechanics. Many players who install such games may not install them if they only see slot/match 3 puzzles.Build/Progress
- One of the most common messaging strategies (used by about 60% of games) revolves around progression, communicating to potential players that there will be progress over time and a plethora of options for growth as a player. While match 3 games are more casual in nature, this is still a powerful message that can appeal to an audience that is looking for games that provide enough entertainment for their time.Branding
- Some games rely on their strong branding to lead the way, emphasizing their name and putting it front and center. In cases where IP is involved, such as Harry Potter or House of Mischief, then this will trump all other options.
App preview video
The data shows that videos are a great communication tool to tell the story of the app to users. But unless done right, they can hurt conversion rates. For example, if the information in a video isn't exciting enough for users, they'll lose interest and quit, but conversely, too much information can overload users.
According to our data, the impact of video on conversion rates ranges from -20% to +20%, depending on the content. So it's a balanced risk/reward ratio, but it can definitely pay off.
Looking at video content strategies for match 3 games, we see some common trends.
- Unique story setting tone - Given the highly competitive nature of the category, is match 3 gameplay the most unique aspect of the game? Showing gameplay alone may not be enough to pique the interest of potential players. Therefore, the majority of games with video (10 out of 18, or 55%) use the first few seconds to showcase their unique story. Eight of these 10 games had gameplay for the next chapter (a chapter in the video was 2-3 seconds long), and two of these games did not show gameplay in the video at all.
- Gameplay rules for pure match 3 games - 7 of the 18 games have videos showing the gameplay itself. All seven games can be classified as more "pure" match 3 games, based on what made them famous and successful (their match 3 mechanics).
How to effectively profit from match 3 games
Even if you have a great game with high retention and evergreen potential, you need to spend your money right. Match 3 games are mostly free to play and rely on a mix of IAPs and ads. So here are our best tips for making the most of them.
Use incentives and rewards
Give players incentives to keep playing the game. They can be daily, weekly and monthly. For example, completing at least one level every day for a week can give players an extra try at a tough level. Or, if they use a specific item every day for a month, they will get more of that item. Incentives like these can go a long way to increasing retention rates for match 3 game.
Use Incentive Ads
These types of ads are perfect for the structure of a match 3 game. If a player fails a certain number of times in a level, you can give them the option to watch an ad in exchange for something that helps them crack the level.
Occasionally give away IAP items as freebies
Players are more likely to buy in-game items if they can try them out to see how well they work. Therefore, when you send notifications or reminders, sometimes put in items or props that players would normally have to pay for. This gives them a reason to return the item and increases their chances of purchasing it in the future.
Make the most of notifications
Offering rewards and help at the right time can convince players to return to a level they might otherwise hold on to or give up. For example, if they are having trouble with a particular level, notify the player that they can get two extra actions if they log in and retry today.
Use special events and limited edition items
Both of these things create a sense of urgency. Usually, if there is a new level, users can always play it. If there are new in-game items available for purchase, players can buy them later, or not at all. For special events and limited edition items, players must log in and participate in them before the opportunity passes.
Create a buddy system
Players like to help each other out. You can use it to tier incentives such as rewards and quests. Create a map where players can see exactly which level their friends are stuck on. Then give them the opportunity to give each other IAPs and items that can help them.