From a loss of 60 million to a net profit of 300 million, how can the side play save this manufacturer?

Glacier Network’s “X-Hero” went overseas to the United States for a review.


In 2021, the annual loss was 60 million. In the first half of 2022, the net profit reached 300 million. The huge change of Glacier Network is mainly due to the overseas performance of its product “X-Hero” which relies on the purchase of secondary gameplay.

In this regard, Grape Jun interviewed Dong Bin, vice president of Glacier Network, and chatted with him about the research and development ideas behind the product.

This article focuses on products and purchases, deeply disassembles the overseas play behind the market performance of “X-Hero”, and discusses the feasibility and advantages and disadvantages of “medium-heavy products + casual side gameplay” in the current market. .


Market performance that reversed the trend

Game list ranking: From its launch in 2020 until May this year, “X-Hero” has been out of the top 100 in the iOS free list. Since May of this year, the game has soared to the top 1 in the US free list (during the period due to payment problems, it was removed from the shelves and therefore not ranked).

In terms of revenue, apart from a small increase in the game’s first launch in late 2020, the game’s revenue has grown explosively since May 2022. The total income of the United States in the short five months from May to September this year was 1.67 times the total income of the United States in the two years before May this year.


Side-play strategy change

(1) Change of gameplay: SLG→SLG+ casual game

“X-Hero” is a strategic placement card game. There are five major occupations and six camps in the game. The gameplay is mainly based on the characteristics of the hero, and the best lineup and position are selected. Finally, six cards are placed for battle, and the cards are placed strategically. The card is its core payment system. Overall, X-Hero is essentially a medium-heavy game. However, the competition of strategically placed card brands in the European and American markets is relatively fierce, and the game itself performs well, and its purchase effect was not optimistic.

In July 2021, “X-Hero” began to add popular casual mini-games as copy content, but this exploration lasted for nearly a year. After confirming that this will have a certain drainage effect, in May 2022, “X-Hero” began to frequently update copies of casual mini-games, and at the same time used casual mini-games to produce a large amount of purchased materials to attract casual players into the game.

On August 26, 2022, the game will launch the “save the animals” dungeon casual game. Players will download the “Draw a line to save the dog” material to enter the game and will first clear the dungeon mini-game, and then the player will get the “X-Hero” “mainline” game The reward also jumps to the beginner’s guide on how to place cards.

(2) Changes in the content of purchased material: SLG material → leisure material

Before May 2022, the material for the game will be the original gameplay and character content of the game, and the style of painting is in the style of American comic heroes, with some Marvel elements, such as Captain America’s shield, etc. appearing. Including game display, plot, and welfare materials. Although the style is very close to the American style and caters to the local aesthetic, it does not stir up too much water.

Since May 2022, the game’s purchase material style has undergone tremendous changes. The material content follows the new dungeons in the game, all of which are changed to casual game content, including human sea defense/breakthrough, “drawing a line to save the dog”, etc.

After the purchase strategy was changed, there were many negative voices from players in the game: too many advertisements, poor user experience due to product design, false propaganda, coercive mechanisms, plagiarism and other issues.

High-frequency words and typical comments in negative comments from overseas players

(3) Purchase channels

Since the game was launched, there has been no significant change in the purchase channels in the United States. 2020 and 2021 are basically the same, and in 2022, the proportion of Meta’s media will increase.

Whether it’s a strategic placement card game or a casual game, most of the game’s purchase budget is placed in the media of Meta, a media with strong social attributes, including (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Audience Network).

Why has the purchase budget of Meta’s media exceeded 85%, which is much larger than that of other media channels?

1. The number of daily active users is large, and the advertising reach rate is high.

The core attributes of Meta Media are: social and sinking

The world’s largest social media, Facebook has 2.9 billion users worldwide, with an average of 58 minutes per user logging in every day, 3 billion monthly active users, 1.4 billion daily active users, and an average daily video playback volume of 8 billion on the platform. Nearly 75 percent of U.S. adults log on daily, and half of Americans log on multiple times a day. (As of Q1 2022, data source: Facebook) Such a high user utilization rate and a large number of active users are important factors for the game to allocate most of the budget to Meta.

2. User Habits

According to the “Facebook IQ: Crossing the Diversity Diversity in the Mobile Game Industry – The United States” survey, more than 60% of U.S. hyper-casual gamers say that as long as the new game in the advertisement looks attractive enough, they are willing to take the time to play Learn how to play it. Humorous and/or adrenaline-pumping game ads tend to resonate with hyper-casual gamers, but player preferences for the emotional tone of an ad vary by market. 52% of U.S. hyper-casual gamers like funny ads.

Analysis summary:

Changes in gameplay: The new gameplay increases the fun of the game, attracting a large number of casual players and gaining “new blood” at a low price. Although the estimated turnover rate is high, it also allows some players who originally liked casual games to go further through casual gameplay. Understanding the game itself brings new growth points. However, for some users, they may feel “cheated”. Most of the comments on the app store in the month of the sub-playing game are mostly negative, and most players are not used to this change.

Buying materials: The buying materials are gradually changed, all of which are casual game materials, and the drainage effect is outstanding.

Promotion channels: In the absence of a large budget to expose the game, most of the budget is placed on Meta media, and about 10% is placed on Google and other small media. The choice of promotion channel is biased: social sinking.


Other similar games on the market

“X-Hero” is not the only one that attracts new users with side gameplay. There are already many moderate-to-severe games on the market that have built-in side gameplays, and the domestic “Pocket Raiders” has added 500 mini-games to form a dedicated mini-game center.

Among them, “Stormshot” (Bullet Shooting: The Mystery of Treasure Island), the most typical overseas recently, is a multi-play combination SLG game newly launched at the end of September. The game also adopts the same buying strategy, and is currently buying on a large scale in European and American countries.

Compared with “X-Hero”, which has been groping for a while before changing its strategy of purchasing materials, “Stormshot” has only used the materials related to the secondary gameplay as purchasing materials since its launch.

The internal core gameplay of “Stormshot” is a typical SLG game, and it is worth mentioning that compared with “X-Hero”, the material of the purchased shooting mini-game has a good degree of integration with the core gameplay. The resulting small derivative branches will not make players feel a strong sense of separation, and balance the feedback fatigue brought by traditional casual game mechanisms to players.

Compared with the blunt transformation of “X-Hero”, the overall feedback of “Stormshot” players has improved. However, it only used casual gameplay as a purchase material, and did not “tell all” (gameplay), and it was criticized by some players.


The pros and cons of going overseas

What is the reason for the manufacturer to make the decision to increase the secondary gameplay? I think there are several reasons for this:

(1) Market level: user preference

Overseas users prefer casual puzzles, easy and low-krypton ones, and simple and clear mechanisms to pass the time and relieve stress.

According to the “Super Casual Mobile Game Market Industry Insights” published by Facebook Gaming in 2020, the game category is still the dominant factor for mobile game players to decide to try new games. With easy-to-understand game mechanics and level goals, hyper-casual games are gaining popularity among players looking for a quick and easy way to entertain.

(2) Company level

1. Purchase cost

The purchase cost of casual games will generally be 60% lower or even higher than the purchase cost of moderate-to-severe games. Especially in Europe and the United States, the purchase price will be much lower than the purchase cost in other regions of the world. After “X-Hero” began to put a large number of leisure materials in May this year, the average purchase cost dropped by more than 50%, and the low price attracted users, which is conducive to reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

2. Cost-effective materials

Compared with brand promotion, cross-border linkage, and live-action plot materials, casual game materials are simple and easy to understand, and there is no need to worry about excessive cultural barriers and cognitive differences. The simple content allows players to quickly understand. And the production difficulty is relatively low, and even the picture style is relatively rough, and the material can be mass-produced relatively quickly.

3. Reduce the cost of training players

Compared with strategy games that require a lot of time to get started, casual games load fast, download fast, get started quickly, start and stop randomly, are not limited by time scenes, and use fragmented time to achieve the purpose of leisure and entertainment. And the degree of difficulty is simple and moderate, and it is just right between simplicity and “small brain”, and players can enjoy the feeling of relaxation without wasting time.

What players like more is the behavioral simulation of the gameplay itself. This kind of feedback feeling, the instantaneous feedback of casual games gives players a foothold in their actions, and they will continue to play after they get started. It is not so much fun as it is to say Is to develop the player’s behavior habit.

Everything has two sides, and side play may also lead to:

1. It is difficult for users to operate and encounter problems in word of mouth.

The core gameplay of a game affects the player’s loyalty to a certain extent. The short-term effect of this sub-game method in locking up the player’s loyalty is currently good, but it remains to be seen in the long run. In the later stage, it may be because there are no continuous new users to attract traffic to the game. Old users in the game (referring to players who already know the “main and auxiliary gameplay”) lead to most of the loss due to deviations in the gameplay. Games without core gameplay have some problems in recalling lost users. greater difficulty. It is difficult to cultivate loyal users, and it is difficult to increase user payment.

2. The homogenization of the product imitation model has seriously caused industry chaos

The core positioning of the game is not clear, resulting in a serious decline in the quality of the game, and the secondary gameplay is not recognized by the players. It is very likely that this mode will fail, which will affect the development of the industry and lead to the loss of too many players.

3. The idea of ​​secondary gameplay may be accustomed to users

An efficient and creative side gameplay often has a “window period”. Even on a glacier, the gameplay is constantly changing from climbing towers, crossing levels, drawing lines to save dogs, and then moving cars. When casual users get used to it and understand the routine, this type of effect may quickly fail.

4. It is regulated by the purchase volume media policy

If you use compliant advertisements and sub-playing methods to divert traffic to the mainstream game of “wiping the edge”, you will be reported and complained by media users, which will have an impact on the media reputation, and may be blocked by the media or introduced policies to control the “skin changing” behavior, resulting in Ads cannot be reviewed to reduce ad exposure, thus affecting the game’s internal payment ecosystem.


The key to buying amount of material in the secondary gameplay

When we helped some SLG manufacturers to research side-game material, we found that some prerequisites need to be met:

1. The moderate-to-severe “reputation” is not particularly suitable;

2. If the subject matter is too clear, it is not suitable to use the subject matter to make a small game directly.

Furthermore, we find:

First, the research on the attention change path of user traffic advertising material is the first step to make a successful sub-game material (keyword: deep packaging. For example, the game icon should also be combined and changed with the sub-game);

Second, for “what kind of casual game intake”, we have also discovered some laws of the glacier, which are being verified by data.

About how to make secondary gameplay materials, and what will the secondary gameplay materials bring to the industry? Stay tuned for more articles.

This article is reproduced from the public account DataEye, author Ann.

Game Grape Recruitment Content Editor,

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