[00:00:02] Jon Jordan: Whats up, and welcome to the Cellular GameDev Playbook. Thanks for tuning in for an additional episode. This podcast is about what makes a fantastic cellular sport, what’s and isn’t working for cellular sport designers, and the newest developments. I’m Jon Jordan, becoming a member of me right now; we now have two specialists. We now have Erno Kiiski, the Chief Recreation Analyst at GameRefinery by Liftoff. How’s it going, Erno?
[00:00:24] Erno Kiiski: Hello. Hello, Jon. It’s going nice. How are you?
[00:00:26] Jon: Good. Sure, good. Good to have you ever again, and really excited. We now have Sonja Skoglund, a Recreation Analyst at GameRefinery by Liftoff, specializing a minimum of in right now’s episode on Japan. First time on, Sonja, you excited?
[00:00:41] Sonja Skoglund: Oh, I’m very excited. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:43] Jon: Good, good. All the time good to have some new blood on there. On this episode, we are going to talk about seasonal occasions in free-to-play cellular video games. We spend a whole lot of time speaking about dwell ops, and there are many collaborations and that kind of factor. We’ve finished that lately in a few of our episodes. Seasonal occasions are a subset of that and include attention-grabbing challenges and thrilling alternatives. That’s what we’re going to deal with right now, and, Erno, you’re going to kick us off. You’ve been taking a look at this in some element. What do we have to take into account from a excessive degree when contemplating seasonal occasions in free-to-play cellular video games?
Several types of seasonal occasions
[00:01:23] Erno: Sure, positive. We begin by simply taking a look at what occasions we now have, particularly these days increasingly more international video games, completely international from completely different cultures and so forth. There’s nearly some seasonal occasion going someplace on a regular basis. After all, there are the large ones, particularly for the western market – Christmas, New 12 months, and Halloween, that are classically the large ones. However these days, in the event you look, in increasingly more of those video games, there’s some form of occasion operating. Some form of seasonality could be utilized and faucet into a selected subject. Many locations to dig for extra, get inspiration or use as part of your framework. Then in the event you go to the precise implementation facet and the way these occasions are. In case you have a look at seasonal occasions like Jon talked about within the intro, it’s just about like many video games, particularly within the West; they don’t seem to be essentially, in that sense, tremendous distinctive or separate out of your sport’s precise occasion framework. The commonest instances are an appropriate seasonality for a selected occasion sort operating in your sport. Or you might have an occasion loop that you’re utilizing or particular sorts of occasions which might be consistently on. However now the pores and skin, the occasion’s theme, is simply regarding regardless of the season is.
Suppose you begin on the excessive degree of what sort of occasions, particularly now speaking about within the Western standpoint first. Often, the only one is altering your UI to signify seasonal festivities. Perhaps throughout Christmas time, your menu seems like there’s winter and Santa Claus someplace. The best format of connecting the present season and the present vibe into your sport. Then perhaps the subsequent step from there may be simply providing event-related provides.
You’ve IAP provides, bundles just like the UX of that bundle or UI of that bundle is completed with a selected seasonality. Relying on the sport sort, there is perhaps some variations, for instance, skins that at the moment are Halloween-themed. Then I’d say the third step from there may be the right occasion. There are some playable content material, no matter duties, rewards, and normally all of those earlier elements having provides, having the UI modifications and stuff like which might be a part of that. I’d say that’s the primary approach that these occasions are run.
Then if we have a look at what sort of occasions there are a bit extra in-depth, I’d say the commonest these days is that this podcast’s favourite time period, battle passes. Suppose you have a look at the trendy cellular sport market, the commonest option to convey seasonality, particularly on the informal market, is by teaming that season’s one-month battle passes with a selected winter crew, Christmas crew, New 12 months crew, or Lunar New 12 months crew.
Your battle cross season is now teamed with a selected crew, like Gardenscapes, Offended Birds Dream Blast, Redecor, and Klondike Adventures, to call a number of. That’s how they use seasonality. Then, for instance, if the sport has skins, they may have one beauty merchandise relating to that crew and seasonality and so forth. Then the identical mentality goes to the entire different various kinds of occasions that you’ve got operating in your sport. After all, this relies so closely in your sub-genre sort of sport. In case you have a look at the informal market for example, a whole lot of the Western market, the US market particularly, is predicated on informal video games, puzzle video games and so forth. You’ve your widespread occasion varieties there.
For instance, I’d give the scapes video games and these Match3 meta video games, one of many widespread occasion varieties is to have these foreign money occasions. They’re that you just simply pay your normal ranges, earn an occasion foreign money, which you need to use to buy occasion gadgets from the shop, after which use these to embellish your own home or backyard or that metallic layer you might have within the sport – A standard option to convey seasonality into the video games.
Then we would have a separate occasion space or island with a seasonal crew. This typically happens in Match3 video games with that meta, particularly Match3 video games like EverMerge and these kind of video games the place you might have an space you’re constructing. Then typically, how they run their occasions is that you’ve got a separate occasion financial system, separate occasion island, after which that’s Christmas Island, for instance, for that interval, and you employ that.
Then, for instance, Islers are one style; that’s how they function dwell ops or dwell occasions. The commonest approach is to have a separate Isler financial system, which is separate out of your major development financial system. Nonetheless, you might have an occasion island, and okay, now we now have a New 12 months Island. I’d say these are among the key methods. Within the West, the commonest option to convey seasonality is to regulate, reskin, and make the most of your already current occasion frameworks and occasion varieties that you’re operating within the sport. Then simply to be trustworthy, use the seasonality to focus on that battle cross season or that particular sort of occasion.
[00:07:59] Jon: Good. It’s attention-grabbing, I suppose, how there’s all these things happening in these video games already, they usually all the time kind of have to have this cadence of change happening there. Really, over time, it doesn’t make sense to place seasons as a part of that, and typically you might have these IP collaborations, which will also be blended up. I assume we’ll get right into a bit extra element about what seasonal occasions are considerably higher than others or one thing a bit about that.
I imply, Sonja, how has it labored in Japan? Japan has, within the historical past of gaming, been very, very centered on cellular dwell ops. That’s the place a whole lot of that finest apply and stuff got here from. Japan has a distinct calendar and possibly a great deal of occasions I’ve by no means even heard of. Are you able to give us a taste of what seasonal occasions appear like for the Japanese market and that are a few of their larger occasions?
What seasonal occasions appear like within the Japanese market
[00:08:52] Sonja: Sure, positive. There are a few variations to the Western market. We see a whole lot of the identical stuff that Erno was speaking about using an current framework after which simply placing on the seasonal spin on the whole lot you’re doing in your common occasions. Along with that, there are a few variations. I believe the most important factors, I consider, are one as you mentioned that the most important holidays are fairly completely different.
Some are distinctive or unknown to many of the western world, and a few, just like the New 12 months, are the identical all over the place. New 12 months is well known all over the place, however the traditions are fairly completely different. Then one other factor is that the largest occasions typically, I really feel within the Japanese markets, are centered round these massive holidays, and the largest ones are New 12 months’s and Golden Week. These are two holidays which might be centralized. All people has break day from college and work. This break day may be very treasured and uncommon.
It’s fairly simple as a result of it’s so centralized; it’s fairly simple to focus your occasion and your entire sources as a developer on these durations as a result of you’ll get centralized income from them. And in addition as a result of many individuals have free time and shall be taking part in. They’re additionally anticipating that there’s going to be a giant occasion throughout Golden Week, they usually’re already used to those annual massive seasonal occasions.
[00:11:28] Jon: Are you able to clarify what Golden Week is and when within the 12 months it’s? I don’t know. I’ve heard of it, however I don’t know.
[00:11:34] Sonja: Sure, sorry. After all. Sure, so Golden Week is a collection of three particular person days or days off and public holidays. I believe it modifications a bit bit by the 12 months, nevertheless it’s someplace between the tip of April and the start of Could. It’s a couple of week’s nationwide vacation.
[00:12:08] Erno: Can I ask, as a result of I don’t know, the place does it come from? What’s the heritage of Golden Week? Why are they celebrating it?
[00:12:18] Sonja: Effectively, there are these, as I mentioned, separate particular person days that every have a distinct trigger to rejoice. One is, I believe, Youngsters’s Day, and so forth. It’s a cluster of small nationwide holidays.
Seasonal occasions: in the event you’re not doing them, your rivals are
[00:12:44] Jon: It’s an attention-grabbing level you introduced up there, which is why seasonal days are essential for all video games and companies to consider. Nonetheless, a few of them aren’t a lot. Halloween is a cultural occasion that, over the past 20 years to develop into a world occasion. Then you might have these extra embedded into society the place persons are on vacation.
That’s a key factor, earlier than video games, as a result of usually, when persons are on vacation, they’ve extra free time, which implies they’ve extra time to play video games. This can be a vital monetary alternative to generate more cash off your gamers as a result of your gamers aren’t at work.
Perhaps in the event that they’re youthful youngsters, they’re sitting round boring household environments going, “That is boring. I don’t need to be right here.” They’re taking part in video games extra. That is an attention-grabbing monetization facet of seasonal occasions you may get from dwell ops. Nonetheless, these are fairly massive alternatives, aren’t they, to have the ability to get folks spending after which perhaps they’ve saved up cash. If it’s a vacation season, I suppose it’s all the time famously placed on Boxing Day, this huge spike of recent iPhones or new gadgets approaching board and other people spending there.
Fairly attention-grabbing. That’s why sport builders must be doing it as a result of in the event that they’re not doing it, then their rivals are. Everybody doing it in all probability means nobody will get a aggressive benefit, however you’re dropping on the market in the event you’re not doing it.
[00:14:31] Erno: Sure, and I’d say it’s additionally fairly attention-grabbing, particularly I’d say as I discussed, many of the video games which might be massive within the West, they appear to be following simply the framework, and it’s fairly, in fact, it’s when it comes to sources, all of it is sensible. Particularly these extremely engaged video games, you might want to be extremely engaged whenever you’re taking part in the sport. You actively need to play the sport, and there’s not that form of a grind.
Simply an instance that involves my thoughts is Genshin Impression, which is that this huge motion RPG sport that doesn’t have any automatization choices and so forth. Then when tying this to the areas of the 12 months folks have probably the most time, Genshin Impression all the time has the largest occasions simply. They don’t all the time have a giant occasion. However the largest occasion of the 12 months, a minimum of for the previous couple of years, has all the time been dwell in the course of the summer season. That’s the largest occasion; they all the time convey probably the most content material. It’s loopy the Dwell ops. Anyway, their most vital spike of stuff to do occurs in the course of the summer season when persons are on vacation.
Can there be too many seasonal occasions?
[00:15:53] Jon: I ponder in the event you undergo some seasonal issues. We’ve talked about Chinese language New 12 months, which is a bit completely different to Western New 12 months, or like a month out, however I assume folks know easy methods to cope with these. Can there be too many seasonal occasions? In case you’re a Chinese language sport, you’re in all probability going to go for the Chinese language New 12 months as a seasonal occasion. Would these be too shut in the event you did New 12 months, like Western New 12 months after which Chinese language New 12 months? Do you suppose there are solely so many season occasions you are able to do? Do all the opposite stuff that’s happening in video games as properly?
[00:16:33] Erno: Effectively, I can begin this one once more; Sonja, you’ll be able to proceed from there, however I believe it’s been attention-grabbing to see, particularly the Lunar New 12 months. It additionally goes a bit hand in hand. From my standpoint right here in Finland, the Lunar New 12 months exterior of video games wasn’t that massive of a factor 5 or 6 years in the past. However in the event you look these days, look, there are a whole lot of celebrations. Even in Finland, in Helsinki, there are Lunar New 12 months celebrations, and you may see them within the metropolis. You’ll be able to see it way more than what you used to.
I believe it additionally goes hand in hand that these occasions develop into increasingly more related or seen within the video games within the completely different geography and so forth. A minimum of Lunar New 12 months is among the larger ones. Nearly all of the video games these days have some Lunar New 12 months occasions. Sure, as I discussed, there are a lot of alternative ways, and one thing all the time occurs in some cultures. So so much to select from for positive.
[00:17:53] Sonja: Sure. From the Japan crew, we frequently joke about the way it appears the Japanese will grasp on any chance to rejoice, give some supply, or present logging bonuses. We joke about these half-year anniversaries or quarter-year anniversaries of the sport. A minimum of within the Japanese market, it feels just like the customers are used to or predict these spikes in content material and anticipating issues to be applied seasonally or in an occasion format. That’s the way in which I really feel. From my expertise within the Japanese market, I don’t suppose there could be too many occasions.
Discovering alternatives in smaller seasonal occasions
[00:19:02] Jon: Perhaps the Japanese market may be very, as you say, very centered on these frequencies of occasions, isn’t it? Going again to what you have been saying, Erno is perhaps for video games; the seasonal occasions that work properly and develop over time have apparent cultural resonance, which could be demonstrated in video games. Chinese language New 12 months or Chinese language Lunar New 12 months is as a result of yearly, it modifications. There’s a distinct animal. You’ve a fairly sturdy, that is the 12 months of the, no matter it’s, ox, tiger, rat, it’s a distinct theme yearly. In distinction, Christmas is troublesome as a result of Christmas is Father Christmas and snow, which is identical yearly. We all know what it’s, nevertheless it’s not essentially exhilarating in a approach that’s a distinct animal for Chinese language New 12 months may very well be.
[00:19:56] Erno: Sure, it’s fairly a very good high quality in that sense, particularly if you concentrate on we’re speaking about video games in any case, after which you might want to take into consideration completely different themes and alternative ways to create the occasion or make it attention-grabbing or make various kinds of skins or no matter. With the Chinese language New 12 months, it’s the ox skins on your characters or one other rat pores and skin. Particularly that one, it fits as an occasion for cellular video games. It’s a very good level.
[00:20:31] Jon: I believe an analogous factor; I believe we talked about Halloween clearly works properly thematically for plenty of video games as properly as a result of it has, as I say, in coloration scheme, however then there’s fairly a broad mixture of stuff you are able to do inside Halloween. You’ve pumpkins and stuff, nevertheless it has fairly a variety of characters you could possibly be placing into video games, and so any sport with fight parts or stuff like that. Even in Match 3 video games, you could possibly have finished that. It really works out properly.
I believe that’s one of many causes you might have these native occasions that work properly globally: they’re so versatile in how you are able to do them. In distinction, there’s one other one we had right here. Perhaps up for dialogue, I believe it’s one thing to speak about right here, however one thing like April Fools’ Day is culturally fairly attention-grabbing, however in the event you mentioned, what does April Fools’ Day appear like, then there’s not any apparent factor we might say, would there? It’s fairly arduous to implement April Fools’ Day in a sport.
[00:21:33] Erno: That’s true, however I believe a few of our crew wrote a weblog submit about completely different implementations for April Fools’ Day. It’s an occasion. Often, the occasions aren’t massive, nevertheless it permits for some weird wild stuff as a result of the day is like that; you might want to idiot somebody otherwise. That provides you artistic freedom for that at some point, which is kind of attention-grabbing. It’s not so restrictive, perhaps like Christmas. It’s all the time that snow and Santa, such as you talked about.
[00:22:13] Sonja: One factor that got here to thoughts about this was that, as you mentioned, it’s troublesome to say what April fools appear like. There aren’t these materials traditions or objects that you would be able to construct the occasion round. My third level from the variations from the East is that this materials facet and the colourful materials and concrete traditions that individuals affiliate with these holidays and occasions. Folks do many issues or use them in actual life, like many objects you’ll be able to make the most of to construct a totally separate occasion space.
I really feel that within the East, this can be one motive they have an inclination to do that extra within the East. They have an inclination to construct distinctive playable content material across the massive occasions. One instance of this was the Fireworks Competition, a practice in August the place folks go to their native village space and luxuriate in a fireworks spectacle, perhaps organized by the town.
That is in actual life and since it’s in August and it’s very popular. Folks gown in yukatas, that’s conventional Japanese summer season clothes. A part of the custom is that the neighborhood turns into very lively, they usually have these cubicles the place you should buy meals and seasonal meals or play small video games, like fish, small gadgets from a pretend pond or no matter. Then on the finish of the night, you gaze on the fireworks together with your family and friends. There’s so much to do in actual life, so much to purchase, and so much to make use of as materials objects. These could also be simpler to remodel into an occasion house with all these particulars. The yukatas work as skins, clearly, or equipment or no matter.
[00:25:11] Jon: Curiously, you talked about fireworks there as a result of, within the UK, we now have Bonfire Night time or Man Fawkes, which is simply after Halloween. One of many attention-grabbing ones the place it was fairly outstanding within the UK and nonetheless is in varied locations, however Halloween overshadowed it. Equally, if there’s a UK-based sport, you could possibly think about this V for Vendetta look sculpted from our tradition there. There is a chance there.
I assume as a few of these are the cultural, seasonal occasions that everybody on this planet is aware of, that also supplies the chance for folks to make use of a few of these extra native ones, however use that as differentiation to different video games. The issue is that it could work properly for the UK market, which is pretty small, however would folks in North America learn about Man Fawkes Night time? I assume it’s attempting to see, mess around, see how that works together with your sport and the place your viewers is. One other factor that brings me onto is that I believe these could be highly effective for retention, monetization of current audiences. Will we consider these are helpful for gaining new audiences? I assume with collaborations, that’s a factor the place you’re bringing in a brand new IP, and you need to use that to market the present sport and herald new folks as a result of, clearly, you all the time want to herald new folks right into a sport. Do we predict seasonal occasions work for that, or as a result of all video games are doing them, it’s powerful to get a aggressive benefit there? What do you suppose, Erno?
Utilizing seasonal occasions to convey variety to your sport
[00:26:49] Erno: Sure, I assume, within the massive image, it’s in all probability like that. It’s fairly completely different in that sense, like, collaborations, such as you talked about. Nonetheless, as talked about within the earlier dialogue, there may be increasingly more of this variety of various cultures and cultural seasons that you just convey to your sport. Let’s say you’ll have Ramadan, for instance. A Ramadan occasion, after which you’re a one who celebrates that, and also you see that “Okay, this sport is included in that as a part of their occasion framework.”
For instance, I do know that Brawl Stars from Supercell is broadly bringing completely different seasonal occasions and cultures and showcasing that to particular audiences. It’d assist to extend that sense of belonging. Or particularly if it’s a sport, as per your dwelling overseas, your seasonal occasion can be celebrated within the US model of the sport. I’d say to some extent, however I don’t suppose the influence or the way in which to make use of it for brand new consumer acquisition isn’t as important as for collaboration, for instance.
[00:28:13] Jon: It relies upon a bit bit on the sport. In sure video games, one which involves thoughts is Subway Surfers, which modifications its location each month. If you have already got that vibe, you could possibly play the seasonal occasions, which turns into one other advertising factor as a result of you’ll be able to think about the various things. Different video games would do Rio Carnival, the place you’ll be able to think about, we’re going to Rio. It does work, however I assume that’s tougher to do, and it’s extra particular on the precise sport title.
Sonja, you mentioned there couldn’t be too many seasonal occasions in Japan. However typically, is there success in these occasions, do we predict? There can solely be so many due to all these different collaborations and restricted version occasions. Are we getting peak seasonal sport occasions, or is that too pessimistic?
Methods to match seasonal occasions into your current occasion calendar
[00:29:17] Sonja: That’s a very good query. I assume it’s some steadiness between having some seasons the place seasonal occasions are again to again. For instance, if you concentrate on Christmas, it’d begin already, like Halloween within the autumn after which remodel into Christmas early on. I assume many Christmas occasions are very long-lasting, after which straight after that comes New 12 months, after which, relying the on the 12 months, the Lunar New 12 months isn’t to date behind. Perhaps winter is when there are holidays again to again, however there’s additionally potential to have the occasions again to again, and persons are in all probability anticipating that additionally. Then perhaps summertime folks produce other stuff to do as properly.
[00:30:22] Erno: I assume you understand, what I talked about, like, within the very starting concerning the completely different ranges of occasions that you would be able to have on how completely different corporations use the varied seasonal occasions to various levels of occasions, and so forth. If in case you have a giant Christmas or New 12 months occasion however for minor seasonal stuff, for instance, Oktoberfest or one thing like that, then you might have an IAP bundle for that, not that massive of an occasion for tying to completely different stuff.
That’s, I believe, like Brawl Stars, for instance, what I discussed earlier, they may have particular pores and skin for minor seasonal stuff, however then they’ve formal occasions for Christmas and playable mode for like a Christmas mode and stuff like that. Completely different kinds of how deep your occasions are and the way deep seasonal stuff you’re constructing for various kinds of occasions. It is going to in all probability want testing and testing and attempting out “is that this resonating for my viewers this kind of a seasonal occasion, or is it not? Or ought to we simply have a suggestion on it or one thing like that for example?”.
[00:31:40] Sonja: Then additionally, after we checked out collaborations and seasonal occasions collectively, it appeared that among the examples that we discovered have been examples the place there have been these larger seasonal occasions reminiscent of Christmas, for instance, after which a smaller collaboration put along with that which had a shorter period, however which might be using the customers which might be already there due to Christmas. Or is perhaps folks would possibly come to the sport to play the collaboration after which proceed the longer-lasting Christmas occasions. Issues like that.
[00:32:23] Jon: That’s a very good level. Good. I’ve to say the one factor that annoys me about seasonal occasions, primarily about Christmas ones, is when you might have a Christmas occasion after which it’s nonetheless mid-January, and the Christmas skins are nonetheless there. It’s like, “No, it’s not Christmas anymore.”. Perhaps that’s simply me being a grumpy outdated man.
[00:32:42] Erno: Effectively, it’s the identical, particularly as Sonja talked about that it’s already Christmas occasions that begin coming from Halloween. In case you have a look at begin dates, retailers are beginning to play Christmas songs early in the true world.
[00:32:59] Jon: Sure, precisely, mirroring actual life. Beautiful. Good. Thanks very a lot, Erno and Sonja, on your experience.
[00:33:08] Erno: Thanks.
[00:33:09] Sonja: Thanks.
[00:33:09] Jon: Sonja, for approaching for the primary time. I hope you loved it, so come again.
[00:33:14] Sonja: Undoubtedly. Thanks.
[00:33:15] Jon: Thanks for watching and listening nonetheless you might have been consuming the podcast. Bear in mind, in each episode, we’re speaking concerning the cellular video games business, probably the most important a part of the $200 billion annual video games business. It’s a fascinating space, actually fast-moving. A few of these monumental billion-dollar video games are international within the viewers and interesting. I hope you subscribe to the channel and are available again subsequent time to see what we’re speaking about. See you subsequent time.