DeNA and Wizards of the Coast have announced the launch of Arena at War on iOS devices. The game was first announced in May as the first ever free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons mobile title. In it, players are sent on a journey through the Forgotten Realms, as they join friends to defeat enemies and collect loot.
Editor’s note: DeNA’s Japanese RPG card battler has been a hit for the mobile-social gaming juggernaut since release. As Inside Mobile Apps previously reported, Blood Brothers’ events feature is wildly successful for the game. In a third guest post from Kevin Oke, lead designer at both Adrian Crook & Associates, a social-mobile game design consultancy, and PlayRank, a second screen startup, he analyzes the successful components of Blood Brothers from an outsider’s perspective. He previously wrote guest posts for Inside Mobile Apps which analyzed Supercell’s Clash of Clans and NimbeBit’s Nimbe Quest.
DeNA Mobage’s Blood Brothers for iOS and Android recently celebrated its one year anniversary, and is continuing to monetize very well, with an ARPU that has grown every month since release. With this milestone in mind, now seems like a good time to take a dive into the game and highlight some of the things this collectible card game (CCG) does well.
Although it’s certainly firmly rooted in the conventions of the CCG genre (“hands-off” battles, card fusion, gacha) Blood Brothers does add its own touches of innovation, as explained below.
Blood Brothers excels at player vs. player (PvP) on a number of levels, one being surfacing. Good surfacing ensures that players are not only made aware of key AEM (Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization) features and the benefits they stand to gain by using them, but also pushed towards these behaviors via smart timing and offering incentives. This is generally done through contextual dialog boxes and limited time promotions.
As PvP gameplay is traditionally a strong source of retention and monetization, it’s especially important to do surfacing well. Blood Brothers keeps PvP at the forefront of the player’s mind with random PvP battles while the player is progressing through a level. These random battles are effective in several ways:
- Surfacing of PvP gameplay to get the player interested in it and strengthen its ability to help monetize and retain players.
- Increases PvP’s effectiveness as a morale sink (morale being the rechargeable energy resource needed to engage in PvP and raid boss fights).
- Clear, simple goals and incentives (winning streaks reward the player with items) — these suck the player in, extending sessions and draining the player of their morale as they attempt to extend their win streak to hit the next reward.
Although conceptually not unique to Blood Brothers, the inclusion of “all-out attacks” (more effective than regular attacks but three-times more costly in terms of morale) and high level raid bosses that are susceptible to them further help to keep morale a precious resource and make a micro-transaction refill more tempting.
Lastly, compared to the confusing and convoluted user experience (UX) that precludes getting into a PvP match in Rage of Bahamut, there is little such friction in Blood Brothers. Opponent selection filtering options are eliminated in favor of pre-determined choices, and it’s immediately clear to the player what’s at stake with rewards, and how their deck stacks up against their potential opponents. (more…)
Mobile apps news roundup: Mobile revenues surpasses handhelds, Adelphic appoints new CEO, Disney launches Where’s My Summer? and more
HasOffers raises $9.4M round of funding – Affiliate marketing company HasOffers announced a $9.4 million round of funding led by Accel Partners. HasOffers is known for its third-party tracking service MobileAppTracking, which allows app developers to track ad networks, seeing exactly what networks resulted in user acquisition. Other participants in this round of funding included RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser and Founder’s Co-op partner Chris Devore.
App Annie and IDC portable gaming report Q1 2013: Smartphone and tablet revenues increase threefold – In a new report on mobile gaming, research firms App Annie and IDC revealed that smartphone and tablet revenues from Google Play and the Apple App Store increased threefold compared to handhelds, while also surpassing traditional handhelds in total revenue. For the first time, Google Play surpassed the Apple App Store in total downloads, but the Apple App Store remained the leader in revenue.
Adelphic taps Michael Collins as CEO – Adelphic announced that former CEO at WPP-owned mobile marketing agency Joule was tapped as the new CEO for the mobile ad startup. Adelphic is known for helping mobile advertisers find the most ideal audiences for their ads, addressing the inconsistent ID for mobile users by analyzing different signals that allow Adelphic to predic a user’s demographic information.
Payvia to acquire Mogreet – Carrier-based mobile billing startup Payvia revealed it’s buying Mogreet, a mobile marketing company which delivers campaigns through text, video and picture messaging services. Acquisition terms were not disclosed.
PlayFirst brings Diner Dash to Android – Resource manager Diner Dash, from developer PlayFirst, made its way to Google Play this week. PlayFirst also revealed that its Dash franchise reached more than 700 million downloads across all platforms globally.
Disney launches Where’s My Summer? – Disney Interactive launched Where’s My Summer? yesterday for iOS (coming soon to Android). The physics-based puzzler features Perry the Paltypus from Disney’s animated TV show Phineas and Ferb who also stars in the hit mobile title Where’s My Perry? The game is packed with 12 new limited-time levels.
Elephant Mouse launches Star Trek Rivals – Developer Elephant Mouse launched collectible card battler Star Trek Rivals (free) last week for iOS. The game features characters and ships from the two most recent Star Trek films — Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness.
Chillingo partners with Ninja Theory to publish Fightback for mobile – Mobile game developer and publisher announced a partnership with Ninja Theory, the developer behind the recently released DmC: Devil May Cry for consoles. Chillingo will publish the Cambridge, U.K.-based indie studio’s first mobile game, Fightback for iOS and Android.
DeNA releases ShowStopper Basketball – DeNA, in partnership with GameCloud Studios, launched ShowStopper Basketball this week for iOS. The game is a basketball action simulator, putting users in charge of their own teams to coach them in real-time on the court.
Japanese mobile-social gaming mammoth DeNA today announced two more games — G.I. Joe: Battleground and Dungeons & Dragons Arena of War — from its existing partnership with toy and board game company Hasbro.
After landing a three-year licensing deal with Hasbro for the Transformers franchise, the first game from DeNA and Hasbro was Transforms Legends (originally announced as Transformers Battle) for iOS and Android, a card battle game developed ngmoco (review).
Starting with G.I. Joe: Battleground for iOS and Android, producer of the game David Phan describes the title to Inside Mobile Apps as an adventure RPG where players build a team with Joe heroes, Cobra villans, or both. Users are tasked with completing missions, collecting new members (in the form of cards with an action figure as the visual), and upgrading characters’ skills. Like other DeNA games before it, G.I. Joe features special missions, raid bosses, and player vs. player events, which have been extremely successful for other DeNA titles including card battler Blood Brothers.
“We have the opportunity to make the first mobile game for G.I. Joe not based on a movie, but based on the cartoon series and comic books,” Phan says.
Gameplay unfolds in an asynchronous manner, where combat is automated either in player vs. enemy or PvP (one-on-one only), relying on the statistics and skills from a user’s team of three or five characters to determine the outcome. (more…)
Editor’s Note: Doug Scott is vice president of marketing and revenue at Japanese mobile-social gaming company DeNA. For a taste of what will be discussed at the “Platform Opportunities for Social Apps” session at Inside Network’s Inside Social Apps conference June 6 to 7, Doug answered a couple questions regarding the prospects of current mobile app platforms.
Inside Mobile Apps: Now that Google I/O just concluded, where do you see the Android platform for mobile development in the future?
Doug Scott: We have found Android to be a great development platform for several years now but the announcements at Google I/O take it to another level. By focusing on features to enhance gameplay and support game developers further, I look at this as a watershed moment for mobile gaming. This will certainly encourage more game developers to embrace Android and will allow developers of platforms such as Mobage to focus on even deeper, richer tools and communities for developers on top of these features. It is a testament to the power of gaming as the most engaging activity on these platforms.
IMA: Is there a difference between the iOS and Android platforms in terms of monetization for DeNA?
Scott: There can be differences between the platforms depending on the product but we have found that it’s possible to monetize extremely well on both Android and iOS. Without question, great businesses can be built on both platforms.
22cans, which is led by game industry veteran Peter Molyneux, chose to partner with the Tokyo-headquartered DeNA to distribute and market Godus when it launches for Android and iOS. No official release date was revealed. The game will also utilize DeNA’s mobile social-gaming platform for western territories, Japan and Korea.
“We have huge respect for DeNA’s successes in mobile gaming,” said Peter Molyneux, founder of 22cans, in a statement. “By fusing their expertise and experience with our passion and dedication, we are going to make Godus a truly groundbreaking reinvention of the god game genre. As a global leader in developing and publishing mobile games, DeNA is the ideal partner for us to collaborate with on the launch of Godus. Their breadth of expertise working with second and third-party game developers is invaluable as we prepare for the release of Godus on mobile devices.”
Godus is God game in the same vein as Black and White, where in it the user is a God, able to wield divine powers over their devoted followers. The game starts off at the beginning of civilization, and as the user advances, the people in the game will grant the user belief. With this belief, users can create entire lands and shape them in their own vision. Also, there are other worlds and rival Gods to face and challenge via multiplayer. As a God, a user can unleash earthquakes, volcanoes, or tondos upon opponents, as well as deploy armies of their followers into battle.
“One of my first jobs in the video game industry was working on the quality assurance team for Peter’s Populous 2,” said Clive Downie, CEO of DeNAWest, in a statement. “That title and its predecessor set the tone for a whole new generation of games. Fast forward to 2013, and it’s an honor to have the opportunity to work with Peter again on the launch of Godus. Our team is looking forward to working with 22cans on a game that we know will set a new standard for the mobile generation.”
At a Google I/O session today covering monetization in Google Play, Ibrahim Elbouchikhi, Google Play product manager for commerce and monetization, revealed that in-app revenues increased 700 percent year-over-year from May 2012 to April 2013.
Elbouchikhi also says since launching the ability to monetize through subscriptions a year ago, revenue has doubled each quarter. He notes internet radio service Pandora as a perfect example of a top grossing app which monetizes its users via a subscription model.
Android for tablets is starting to show some growth now, Elbouchikhi reveals. In the past 12 months, Google was seeing a 1.7 times higher purchase rate of apps on tablets compared to apps on smartphones. “The additional cost of optimizing your apps for tablets is well worthwhile,” he says. Additionally, there’s a 2.2 times higher purchase rate on recent platform versions compared to prior ones. “Take advantage of the latest features, whether its Google+ sign-in or all the latest APIs released at I/O this week.” On top of all this growth, average revenue per user (ARPU) is 2.5 times greater year-over-year.
Google hasn’t been slowing down at all when it comes to adding and optimizing forms of payment. In July 2012, Google introduced the Google Play gift cards at retail. Google also launched promotional campaigns for Google Play credit by partnering with pre-paid phone providers, offering a $50 Google Play credit if a user purchases a particular pre-paid phone, for example. Carrier billing, one of the most lucrative forms of monetization in various parts of the world, is now available to 50 percent of Google Play’s daily active users. Google also optimized the purchase flow, making it more contextual, faster and simpler. According to Elbouchikhi, Google has dropped latency by 35 percent when users make purchases. Looking forward, Elbouchikhi says Google will invest more in expanding Google Play gift cards to more markets as well as carrier billing. (more…)
Mobile-social gaming giant GREE today reported 37.9 billion yen ($370.9 million) in revenue and 10.8 billion yen ($105.7 million) in operating profit for the third quarter of 2013, a quarter-over-quarter decline of both sales and profits. Sales fell 4 percent and profits 24 percent. Year-over-year, revenues are down 18 percent from 46.2 billion yen ($452.1 million) in Q3 2012 and operating profit dipped by 56 percent from 24.5 billion yen ($239.7 million).
The Japanese company, which was established in 2004, also posted an “extraordinary” loss of 4.03 billion yen (39.4 million) on one-time write-off of assets related to some titles. The loss was part of GREE’s plans to shift growth strategy to “selection” and “concentration”, where it will streamline its portfolio of core titles. Card battle titles from Pokelabo, the Japanese game studio GREE acquired in October 2012, are performing well for GREE. Three of the top 25 grossing iOS apps in Japan include Guardian Battle of Glory at No. 7, Sword of Phantasia at No. 10 and Clan Battle of Fate at No. 25. GREE also plans to share its successful Android lessons with Pokelabo, while Pokelabo plans to do the same for GREE with iOS lessons. (more…)
DeNA reports new earnings record with $2.04B in revenue and $775M in operating profit for fiscal year 2012
Japanese mobile-social gaming juggernaut DeNA today reported 52.3 billion yen (approximately $528 million) in revenue for its fourth quarter of 2013, a 22 percent increase year-over-year, while operating profit rose 3 percent from the same quarter of the previous year to 18.2 billion yen ($184 million). For the 2012 fiscal year, the company set a new earnings records with revenues of 202.5 billion yen ($2.04 billion) and 76.8 billion yen ($775 million) in operating profit, up 38 and 28 percent respectively.
“DeNA’s full-year revenues and operating profits increased for the ninth consecutive year, representing growth every year since the company went public,” said Isao Moriyasu, President and CEO of DeNA, in a statement. “We will continue to pursue aggressive growth worldwide for our mobile internet business, especially in the mobile-social games sector.” (more…)
Capcom today reported net sales of 94.1 billion yen ($952.8 million) and 3 billion yen ($30.4 million) in net income for the 2013 fiscal year, which ended March 31, 2013. Compared to the Japanese gaming company’s yearly results in 2012, net income was down in 2013 by 55.8 percent and net sales were up 14.6 percent.
Notable mobile games included Minna to Monhan Card Master, which is distributed on DeNA’s mobile-social gaming network Mobage, continued to show growth, citing the increase in smartphone market penetration as the growth driver. Resident Evil: Outbreak Survive on Japanese mobile-social gaming giant GREE’s platform continuously acquired new users. Both titles “enjoyed membership” eclipsing two million each. Mobile game developer and publisher Beeline’s Smurf’s Village “has securely built stable sales over a long range.”
Capcom’s digital content business, which includes console, mobile and social games businesses, posted revenues of 63.6 billion yen ($644.3 million), a 6.4 percent uptick year-over-year, while operating income fell significantly year-over-year by 45.2 percent to 7.1 billion yen ($71.5 million).
Capcom estimates 97 billion yen ($982.1 million) in net sales and 12 billion yen ($121.5 million) in operating income for the next fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. The company plans to achieve its forecast by directing its development resources to the development of online games (mobile, PC online and downloads for consumer games), which is a growing area, and by launching major titles such as Monster Hunter 4 and Lost Planet 3 focused on the domestic and overseas markets respectively. (more…)
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