This post was first published on my blog where I regularly discuss game pattern and monetization topics.
In the offset part of this series, I investigated the finer details of how Supercell tweaked the hook phase in Boom Embankment – their latest strategy title, in light of the know-how the company caused from managing Clash of Clans – its first strategy hit. In the second function of the series, I continue the deep-swoop, juxtaposing assay by looking at the second central phase in a freemium game – the habit. The dissection begins with the three nigh obvious and impactful differences that shape the games’ habit phases and mid-game user experiences. And so adhering to the key components for creating a dandy habit phase, I examine additional important design differences and their affect. To spread the content equally betwixt the iii parts, I decided to hash out the last and most of import ingredient of a great habit stage – the game’s sustainable economy, in the third part of the serial where I will conclude the analysis past also looking deeper into the differences in design employed by the hobby phases of the two titles.
One of the most prominent differences between Smash Beach and Clash of Clans is the fact that
in Nail Embankment there are no clans and there is no global chat or any other player-to-player advice mean. While the lack of clans has had some negative affect on the hook phase of Boom Embankment (Clash of Clans’ arroyo of placing a damaged clan building in the center of the player’s base tin can strongly arouse the marvel of some), in that location is no doubt that the main negative influence on KPIs is experienced past Blast Beach in its addiction and hobby phases. Equally I have already emphasized this heavily in Freemium Mobile Games: Design & Monetization, the truly social players – those who are regularly engaged in global chat or actively attempting to climb the ladder in a association’south leaderboard, showroom tremendously improve KPIs. Time spent in the game, ARPU/ARPPU and number of IAPs of social players are unremarkably reported by developers as beingness 5 to 20 times higher than the aforementioned KPIs beyond non-social players. Adding to that the fact that almost all whales are social and given the opportunity they would gladly spend on forwarding not just their own, but their teammates’ progress also, it becomes quite articulate that Nail Beach’s refusal to introduce meaningful social interaction has been dragging the game’southward performance down since launch. Having in mind that even a newbie designer tin can come up with a reasonably well functioning association organisation within the Nail Embankment framework, the rationale behind those missed opportunities could only be Supercell’southward decision to differentiate the two titles. As Boom Beach is a lot more than mid-core and a lot more whale oriented game, there is no doubtfulness that this is a costly mistake. On top of that, Supercell increased the negative bear upon of this mistake by putting PvP, PvE and event opponents on the aforementioned map. While at first having a single map that gets populated with different types of opponents based on Supercell’s LTV optimizing algorithm, might seem like a absurd and innovative idea for both players and developer, in fact this emphasizes the lack of thespian-to-thespian communication as it binds real players’ bases and AI bases together. The difference between a player and an AI quickly boils down to the amount of resource that can be looted and this seemingly neat system of optimized streak of opponents turns into a sterile and repetitive surround that sounds, feels and plays like a single player game with a height fifty leaderboard.
The second prominent difference betwixt the two titles is that
the outcome of a fight in Boom Embankment is binary. That is: either a role player destroys an enemy headquarters and wins 100% of the offered boodle or he/she fails to destroy the headquarters and gets nada of the available loot. In Clash of Clans, disregarding whether players win or lose, they can become anywhere from 0% to 100% of the loot, as attacking only the resources storage and product buildings allows players to collect the boodle they need. This is another fundamental differentiation point between the two titles and the revamped mechanic in Boom Beach can be seen as a directly consequence of the game’s core design. As mentioned in the get-go part of this series, at its core Smash Embankment is designed to have complete monopoly over the enemies that players can battle and by making the upshot of a fight binary, Supercell tin exercise meliorate control over the frustration levels of its players. To put this in unproblematic terms: winning a boxing equals gaining resources and therefore the player is happy enough for Supercell to show him/her tougher opponents with ameliorate boodle to incentivize him/her to progress further in the game, but losing a battle ways the thespian has not gained resources and to counter his/her increasing frustration he/she will either pay to progress or at some point will automatically get an easier opponent, courtesy of Supercell, when it is in the visitor’s best interest to practise so (usually some churn probability and LTV prediction systems would decide the exact timing). As winning and gaining resources are independent from each other in the Clash of Clans framework, the control Supercell can exercise over the player frustration levels is a lot less authentic.
This new binary arroyo to the action phase has definitely improved Blast Beach’s memory past streamlining player behavior towards the core fun element in a belfry defence game – protecting the principal edifice, rather than leaving that main building defenseless in order to protect your resources (a well known loophole in the design of Clash of Clans). Notwithstanding, this drastically different approach also has many downsides. Firstly, it takes abroad part of the offensive fun – the strategic attacks against stronger bases that have not protected well the resource a thespian needs. Secondly, in combination with the cadre design, the activity stage with a binary event has led to undesirable side furnishings such every bit:
- Having large discrepancies between the resources won past an attacker and the resource lost by the defender, which can easily lead to inflation and uncontrolled progress across the lath;
- Substituting the superb retentivity mechanic of histrion shielding later on each attack with a vault that protects a percentage of resources in any attack, but does not limit the number of attacks;
- Boring trial and error process for succeeding against a hard base rather than the adept single endeavour experience that would make sense in the less coincidental framework of Boom Beach.
The downsides and the benefits residual each other out and in the finish the newly implemented alternative activeness phase winning status does not constitute significant improvement in user experience or KPIs, but it definitely differentiates the two titles quite well.
The tertiary obvious difference between the 2 titles lies in the activity phase dynamics. In the starting time part of this series I already mentioned the meaning difference in average boxing length between the two titles, simply what’southward even more important is that
in Boom Beach the cost of casting spells during fights has been brought downwardly to naught. From a user standpoint this is the biggest improvement of the action phase while from a game design perspective this is a curious decision past Supercell that hints at 2 conclusions. Firstly, the spells in Clash of Clans account for less than 5% of the full revenues, because otherwise Supercell simply wouldn’t take a chance it. This is not really surprising as in that location are objective reasons for the low turnout: spells are priced very low, but their use is discouraged by hours of product waiting times; spells require as well much skill for the game’s casual audience; the game fails to create a need for spells; etc. Secondly, players who use spells exhibit meliorate KPIs. Not quite surprising as well, as those who tin afford skipping the spells’ waiting times and resort to this extra step in order to win a fight must be a lot more engaged and much deeper into the habit stage. Validating and cross-referencing those 2 facts with the terabytes of Clash of Clans data, Supercell has decided to plough things upside-down by completely removing both waiting times and resource costs in Smash Beach. They have designed heavy spell usage equally a necessity for winning practically every boxing in the game in an endeavor to ameliorate the activeness phase user feel and that has successfully lifted role player engagement and retention more than enough to recoup for the lost revenue from gifting and non selling spells.
At present that we understand the three core designs that shape the addiction phase of Smash Embankment into something quite distinct from the habit phase of Disharmonism of Clans, I motility on to analyze farther design differences betwixt the ii titles in the context of the key components for a superb addiction phase: goals and sessions, retentiveness mechanics and game economy.
When it comes to
implicit goals, Boom Beach follows the success of its older brother closely and bets on the same loop of players attacking each other in gild to sympathize and reevaluate their offensive and defensive strategies throughout the habit phase. To the familiar Clash of Clans process of reordering towers, switching the position of traps and changing army limerick, Smash Beach has made a great add-on that reinforces the loop – a random drop system (the statues) which allows players to specialize into offense, defense or resources generation. This new game mechanic is flawlessly introduced in the early habit phase and players are hinted at the implicit goal of acquiring the best statues as means to abuse or suspension the game’south economy and action phase. This naturally leads players to a lot of strategizing and long-term goal setting targeted at exploiting certain design loopholes that accept been purposefully implemented by Supercell to serve equally a beacon for non-paying and paying players akin and the impossibility to purchase statues for diamonds only strengthens the exclusivity feel and the motivation to progress.
In terms of
explicit goals, both games use analogous systems: they teach players the cadre loop and how to progress during the tutorial and and so provide them with major milestones to strive for in the form of achievement systems which reward hard currency. Where the two games differ tremendously is the
goal setting of AI opponents. While Clash of Clans places AI opponents on a typical campaign map with a standard step-past-pace gating in which every defeated enemy unlocks a harder and more profitable AI base of operations, in Boom Beach the PvE opponents are thrown on the world map in no specific society and defeating them is ordinarily a very frustrating experience. Having in listen Smash Beach’southward AI bases usually take the same time to shell, it is a big let down to observe that they require trivial to no strategy and provide less than a quarter of the average player or special event loot. On superlative of that, the AI base of operations rewards are not dynamic with respect to the army composition and therefore information technology is a common occurrence for players to lose half of their army while fighting an AI base for less loot than they can get with nix casualties from a player or a different AI base. Why would they attack those bases so? Well, dissimilar thespian bases, the only way an AI base can be switched is past defeating it. Which brings united states to the final blast in the Nail Beach PvE coffin – the AI bases continue to spawn advertising-infinitum, without a suspension. Quite often, half an hr subsequently a histrion has completely cleared the whole world map of adversaries, there will be 5-10 new bases waiting to be defeated again. This is a rational way to build the arrangement on top of the cadre game blueprint, but at the aforementioned time it is extremely psychologically abusive to the players who are bluntly asked to ringlet Sisyphus’ boulder. To put this in context, as the role player has no control over the matchmaking procedure, the opponents chosen by Supercell and placed on the world map are the only source of loot, so regenerating those bases is a necessity, just at the same fourth dimension returning to a world map which was cleared of all enemies a few hours ago and is now swarming with enemies again is by far the worst user feel a Supercell game has to offer. This is such a fundamental flaw of the game design that my rough guess is a rework of the world map and the AI opponents framework that includes a clearly conveyed goal structure and better PvE experience could potentially improve the game’due south seven solar day and thirty day retentivity by 20-xl%.
A big part of Boom Beach’due south failure to monetize on par with Disharmonism of Clans is its worse retention. I accept already underlined a number of issues that exacerbate the effect, but in fact the major underlying crusade for those troubles, autonomously from Boom Beach coming out to the market 2nd and it being less casual, is the fashion in which
Blast Beach disincentivizes both brusque and long sessions.
Let us outset with the
short sessions. The most crucial divergence here is something nosotros already mentioned – Clash of Clans’ shield organisation was removed in favor of the vault arrangement. To empathize how this seemingly minor pattern change drastically affects players without going into as well much detail, let’s consider the case of players in the early habit stage of both games. Every attack in Clash of Clans while the players are at Town Hall levels 1-5 results in the histrion losing at nearly 20% of their resources collected into the storage. Every such assail would automatically activate 16 hours of shield during which the player is guaranteed to not lose any more resources. In Boom Beach for the analogous early addiction stage of Headquarters levels one-8 nosotros have an average vault protection of ~41%, which translates into every assault robbing players of ~59% of their collected into storage resources. Note too, that a successful attack confronting you in Boom Beach does not in whatever way terminate other players from attacking you immediately later. What this means for the regular Blast Beach users is that if they can brand ane,000 resource in a 5 minutes session, but they need 3,000 resource for their next upgrade, investing those 5 minutes is completely useless equally the next time they join they volition have lost ~59% of all their resources in the case of i successful assault against them, ~83% in the instance of ii successful attacks confronting them and ~93% in the case of three successful attacks against them. I must note here that getting attacked more than than 40 times a week (five-half-dozen times a day), is a common occurrence in Boom Beach. When we add to those grim stats, the rough player feel estimates:
- the average Boom Beach fight is 2 times equally long every bit the average Clash of Clans fight;
- usually looking for the best opponent in Boom Beach takes longer than the actual fight;
- the random elements in the action phase forcefulness players to restart a fight about in one case on average;
we get a clear pic of how short sessions are not just severely punished by Boom Embankment, but also extended to at least 10 minutes and representing a rather masochistic manner of “playing” the game. Since battles don’t provide experience or any other permanent, tangible user progress with certainty (wink at the randomly dropped statue components), all a brusk session can give a player is resources, 90% of which are practically guaranteed to be lost before the player’due south next login. As I have elaborately explained in Freemium Mobile Games: Blueprint & Monetization, not having a core loop and something relevant to do in a game, which can exist finished in under three minutes is a recipe for disaster. Curt sessions matter a lot more for habitualizing players than any other directly retention mechanics and rather than introducing some other submarine to the game, Supercell would practice themselves a favor if they rethink their curt session incentives and counteract the currently existing brusk session disincentives.
The main disincentives Boom Beach provides against
are iii. Number i – in Boom Beach playing more than than four hours in a mean solar day will automatically put your base into interruptible mode. Once you enter interruptible way, the fact that you are online no longer protects your base from enemy raids and neither does it protect you from losing your current resources. Number 2 – waiting times as early on every bit Headquarters level 5, go upwards to 5 hours. While this number is definitely dwarfed past the weeks of waiting time encountered in Clash of Clans, it is however big enough to disincentivize longer sessions. The single worker policy of Boom Beach strongly incentivizes rational players to finish playing after they have started a construction, because in the culling scenarios they would have to either play for 5 more than hours or speed up the construction with diamonds or keep fighting for resources, 90% of which will be gone by the side by side fourth dimension they login. Number 3 – the players’ bases are office of the matchmaking arrangement only while they are online. This means that whatsoever time you are online and players around the world press the “find new opponent” button or automatically get a new enemy placed on their world map, at that place is a positive chance that the new enemy on their map is your base. Therefore, every time a thespian makes a long session in Boom Beach, he/she is increasing the probability of getting multiple raids shortly later on.
In conclusion to this 2nd part of the Clash of Clans vs. Blast Beach analysis, we note the interesting choice Supercell made to shift the blazon of cadre
employed. While in Clash of Clans the retention mechanics were predominantly using negative incentivization – joining the game as often every bit possible in gild to transfer resources towards the storages and to avert losing also much of what is withal in the mines/collectors, in Nail Beach the positive incentivization is emphasized – diamonds randomly dropped on the world map, coming back for a daily reward based on your victory points, coming back to collect ship ships from the islands and resource bases (the resources they bring can never be lost during raids), coming back to get what the submarine has dived for, etc. While Clash of Clans still had some small retention mechanics that tried to positively incentivize players to login – the alliance organisation and the clearing of obstacles for a take a chance to gain gems, Boom Beach has no negative memory incentivization whatsoever. This is a very irrational conclusion, having in mind the piling upwards psychological research that convincingly shows negative incentives – those that demand deportment from individuals in order to avoid a loss, outperform positive incentives – those that motivate individuals through additional gains. The lower retention numbers of Nail Beach definitely get in line with that enquiry and it is actually hard to believe there is no i at Supercell taking notes.