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Deconstructor of Fun

TWiG #242 Dinosaurs Crash an Eggy Party & Battle Pass Galore

Thu Jul 27 2023
Game IndustryGame DevelopmentPikmin 3 DeluxeMarvel Strike ForceRobloxTikTokBattle PassesReward PassesExo Primal

Description

This episode covers various topics in the game industry, including news updates, game development strategies, popular games like Pikmin 3 Deluxe and Marvel Strike Force, platforms like Roblox and TikTok for game development, battle passes and reward passes in games, and insights into the Exo Primal game. The discussions touch on topics such as reskinning games, savings in game development, challenges of developing on platforms like Roblox, monetization strategies for battle passes, and community rewards for game milestones.

Insights

Reskinning Games

Reskinning a game is not a clean or simple solution; it involves technical debt and pitfalls. There are savings in development time when reskinning, but the marginal benefit should be considered.

Game Development Savings

Savings in game development can be achieved by reusing elements from previous projects. However, there is still significant work involved in upgrading or modifying the existing engine.

Roblox as a Game Development Platform

Roblox is an attractive platform for game developers with its large user base of 350 million active users. However, monetization can be challenging due to the young audience. Developers should consider whether to distribute their games on other platforms while keeping their Roblox presence.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

Pikmin 3 Deluxe offers a fresh experience with new additions like a pet sidekick and more challenging puzzles. The multiplayer mode is limited to local co-op only.

Battle Passes in Games

Battle passes vary in pricing, length, and perks between core apps and casual games. They can increase engagement and offer season-long perks. Developers are experimenting with different monetization strategies for battle passes.

Reward Passes in Casual Games

Reward passes in casual games often don't have specific rewards like cosmetics. Candy Crush introduced a new approach with different pass sizes, resulting in increased engagement and spending. There is potential for more experimentation with reward passes in casual games.

Exo Primal Game Success

Exo Primal has attracted 1 million players and achieved success through its inclusion in Xbox Game Pass. Community rewards for hitting milestones can generate press coverage and attention for the game.

Game Development Insights

The discussions provide insights into various aspects of game development, including reskinning games, savings in development, challenges of developing on platforms like Roblox, monetization strategies for battle passes, and community rewards for game milestones.

Chapters

  1. Game Industry News
  2. Marvel Strike Force and Game Development
  3. Game Development Savings and Industry News
  4. Pikmin 3 Deluxe and Game Development
  5. Roblox and Game Development Platforms
  6. Game Development on Platforms like Roblox and TikTok
  7. Aggie Party and Game Development
  8. Battle Passes in Games
  9. Reward Passes and Monetization in Casual Games
  10. Exo Primal Game and Community Rewards
  11. Exo Primal Game Details
Summary
Transcript

Game Industry News

00:11 - 07:10

  • Philip Black, Game Economist at Game Economist Consulting, Jen Donahoe, Head of Publishing at StartupHiDef, and Ethan Levy, co-founder at Stealth join the podcast to discuss the latest news in the game industry.
  • Laura Taranto, Head of New Games at the end of the video, mentions that she has been busy with her co-founder and CTO starting five weeks ago. They have accomplished a lot in their first month together.
  • Laura will be taking on a bigger role while Mishka returns to being a backup host. She will still be doing interviews about twice a month.
  • Jen announces that she is starting a side gig as a fractional marketing publishing executive or CMO consultant advisor to help smaller and medium-sized companies with publishing and marketing challenges.
  • Philip shares his experience being on David Johansson's podcast called Tavern Pox where they discussed web three games and medieval fantasy role play.
  • Ethan talks about his life as a cat dad and shares updates about his cats Felix and Kai.
  • The hosts mention that people can join the Deconstructor Fund Slack channel by applying on deconstructorfund.com/slack.

Marvel Strike Force and Game Development

06:43 - 13:27

  • Marvel Strike Force was initially developed by internal teams at Foxnext and an external studio called Seismek.
  • Scopely acquired Foxnext and the team, but not Seismek.
  • The foundational engineers of Marvel Strike Force may no longer be at Scopely.
  • Live ops games often use older versions of game engines to avoid time-consuming upgrades.
  • Starting a new project with an old codebase requires upgrading core systems that cause trouble for live ops teams.
  • Reskinning a game is not a clean or simple solution; it involves technical debt and pitfalls.
  • There are savings in development time when reskinning, but the marginal benefit should be considered.
  • King has rebranded Candy Crush multiple times, but these are not considered reskins by some experts.
  • Skill transfer between different versions of a game is similar to hiring a game engineer from another company.
  • The upfront work of deciding what game to build and solving problems takes the longest iteration time.
  • Savings in making multiple games come from learning and data analysis, not just using the same engine.

Game Development Savings and Industry News

13:02 - 19:46

  • Savings in game development can be achieved by reusing elements from previous projects.
  • However, there is still significant work involved in upgrading or modifying the existing engine.
  • Using an old codebase can result in tech debt and maintenance challenges.
  • Quick hits are short recaps of news events, not meant for analysis.
  • DC Dark Legion game announced by Fun Plus and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, set to release in 2024 as a strategy game featuring DC superheroes and supervillains.
  • New mobile game development studio Closing Theory secures $2.3 million investment for their games House Rush and Neighborhood Rush, targeting Zillow users.
  • Call of Duty Mobile has generated $3 billion in lifetime revenue since its launch in 2019, contributing to Activision Blizzard's strong financial results.
  • Overwatch 2 will be available on Steam starting August.
  • Microsoft's Game Pass numbers have not been released, prompting calls for transparency from the gaming community.
  • Belgium expands tax shelter initiative to support the game industry with up to a 33.7% gross production budget coverage.
  • EA Sports FC extends partnership with the Premier League as the lead partner and official licensee.
  • Pikmin 4 debuts at number one on the UK physical charts, selling more than Pikmin Deluxe at launch.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe and Game Development

19:34 - 26:08

  • While the IP and core gameplay are pretty much the same, Pikmin 3 Deluxe feels like a fresh experience with enough changes to make it stand out.
  • The addition of a pet sidekick with an ability tree enhances the gameplay and puzzle-solving.
  • The puzzles in Pikmin 3 Deluxe are more challenging and require players to utilize the unique traits of their Pikmin.
  • A new Pikmin that can freeze water adds an interesting twist to the puzzles.
  • The Dandori Battle Mode tests players' planning and strategic skills in optimizing their Pikmin team for capturing items.
  • Unfortunately, multiplayer mode lacks online integration, limiting gameplay to local co-op only.
  • Pikmin 3 Deluxe is highly recommended for puzzle enthusiasts and families looking for an enjoyable gaming experience.

Roblox and Game Development Platforms

25:53 - 32:06

  • Adopt Me studio on Roblox is estimated to be making around $70 million per year.
  • Roblox takes a 76% share of revenue from developers on the platform.
  • Adopt Me could consider going off-platform and launching a mobile version to reduce the platform share.
  • Going off-platform would require considering IP ownership and potential costs.
  • Roblox has 350 million active users, making it an attractive platform for game developers.
  • Developers should consider whether to distribute their games on other platforms while keeping their Roblox presence.
  • The unique coding capabilities of Roblox make it difficult to port games from other engines like Unity or Unreal.
  • Roblox should consider building a solution to make it easier for developers to create games outside of the platform.
  • The battle for becoming the best content creation platform is similar to what happened with TikTok, where ease of use keeps creators engaged on the platform.

Game Development on Platforms like Roblox and TikTok

31:37 - 38:21

  • Developing on platforms like Roblox and TikTok can be enticing for creators, especially with the easy-to-use tools.
  • Roblox is appealing for hobbyists and indie developers looking to build their gaming CV, but it's limited to the Roblox audience, which is predominantly under 16 years old.
  • Monetization on Roblox can be challenging due to the young audience, but they are introducing an ads platform called the partner program that focuses on immersive experiences sponsored by companies.
  • Fortnite's Unreal Engine is a competitor to Roblox, offering a different coding language and targeting an older audience with more realistic art styles.
  • Eggy Party, a game by Nettie's in China and Taiwan, has reached 30 million daily active users and intensifies competition between Tencent and Nettie's.
  • Eggy Party allows users to create their own levels within the mobile app, giving it an advantage over Fall Guys.
  • Nettie's seems to navigate the Chinese licensing system better than Tencent and has a culture that promotes new game ideas.
  • Tencent is developing its own multiplayer obstacle course game called Playground.

Aggie Party and Game Development

37:52 - 44:27

  • The game Aggie Party combines elements of Fall Guys and Fortnite.
  • The success of the game will depend on the quality and variety of its game modes.
  • User-generated content could be a key feature for Aggie Party.
  • It is unclear if Aggie Party will be released cross-platform.
  • The art style of Aggie Party is adorable and has a female appeal.
  • There may be a switching cost for younger players who are already invested in Stumbleguys.
  • Netties, the developer of Aggie Party, does not have much success in mobile gaming.
  • Eggs are popular among tweens, making it a good marketing theme for Aggie Party.
  • It would be interesting to see if eggs break when characters die in the game.

Battle Passes in Games

44:06 - 50:34

  • Pricing, length, tears, and bundles vary between core apps and casual games.
  • Casual games tend to have shorter and cheaper battle passes.
  • Bundles, perks, and free promotions are common in battle passes.
  • Secondary progressions like sticker collections can add value to the battle pass.
  • Some games require players to reach a certain level before accessing the battle pass.
  • Casual and casino apps focus on functional rewards like boosts and perks.
  • Season-long perks at the end of the pass can increase engagement.
  • Developers are experimenting with different monetization strategies for battle passes.
  • Changing the duration of the pass can impact monetization depth.
  • Mobile games often offer boosters as rewards in their battle passes.

Reward Passes and Monetization in Casual Games

50:08 - 56:45

  • Mobile passes don't tend to have specific rewards like cosmetics, unlike games like Call of Duty and Fortnite.
  • Candy Crush introduced a new take on their reward pass, allowing players to choose between big, medium, or small passes with free and deluxe versions.
  • The hypothesis behind this update was that giving players the agency to self-classify would generate higher engagement and spending.
  • The update resulted in a small revenue spike about 30 days later, estimated at a 2 to 6% uplift.
  • There is potential for more experimentation with battle passes and reward passes in casual games.
  • Some mobile mobas offer different levels of premium tiers for battle passes.
  • Eastern gacha games effectively split the premium and free tiers by offering a tremendous amount of value in hard currency on the premium side near the end of an event.
  • The presentation of battle pass information is important for player engagement, with horizontal approaches being more common in mid-core games.
  • Starter battle passes or quests are effective in training new players and providing outsized rewards to help them catch up with older players.

Exo Primal Game and Community Rewards

56:18 - 1:02:33

  • Exo Primal has attracted 1 million players and issued a free skin to celebrate.
  • The game was launched on July 14th across PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and S, and Xbox One.
  • The game's success has been partially attributed to its inclusion in Xbox Game Pass.
  • Steam numbers for the game are not great, with around 1000 CCU and approximately 20,000 DAU.
  • The steam sales for the game were around 60,000 units.
  • Making money on game passes is difficult as it relies on selling full units or getting additional in-game sales.
  • A community reward for hitting a milestone can generate press coverage and attention for the game.
  • It is important to work with the development team in advance to plan key milestones and revenue models for rewards.
  • Attribution can be challenging but finding meaningful rewards for the community is crucial.
  • We may need to rethink what we can give players that will drive key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • This dinosaur shooter game is fun and crazy, featuring humans defending against dinosaurs through portals.

Exo Primal Game Details

1:02:04 - 1:03:32

  • The game being discussed is bat shit crazy, involving humans defending against dinosaurs through portals.
  • There is a Power Ranger AI unit that occasionally delivers narrative.
  • Players can also play as dinosaurs in the game.
  • The suit animation in the game is comparable to the one seen in Anthem.
  • The game is worth checking out, especially if it's available on Game Pass.
  • It is made by a Japanese studio.
  • A crossover with an egg party and dinosaur game mode sounds fun.
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