Dave Rohrl, founder of Visible Entertainment, and independent game design consultant Steve Meretzky presented their annual roundup of 2021’s most impactful trends and developments in F2P games.
Meretzky began with remarks on how the post-IDFA landscape and the mass of large-scale acquisitions have been associated with the slowdown in changing trends, which is typical of a maturing industry, but the duo decided to focus on different trends.
The proliferation of fusion games was correctly predicted by Rohrl in 2020, and the genre/mechanic has since become one of the most popular elements of mobile games: it’s incredibly easy to learn, applicable to various themes, and can be aligned on the desires of the players. , both to create and to destroy.
Generally, the segmentation of main and meta game loops – whether they take place on the same playing field or separately – is dictated by genres, but the merge/genre mechanism allows both main and meta games to exist both on one world and on split worlds. However, there is a definitive profitability model for merge games: one world is much more profitable than split worlds, with Merge Dragons remaining the most profitable merge game. But Meretzky ends with something of a basic truism: “The most important lesson is to innovate, don’t renovate.”
Stepping away from the merge, Rohrl began by discussing how Supercell has brought the genres to mobile, with Clash Mini, his most recent game after several years without releasing a new title, his take on autochess, a genre that found popularity with the public. and streaming but did not find its financial success escaped.
However, Rohrl details how Supercell’s mobile expertise has subtly changed its approach, including requiring players to design their team from a personal collection before battles, coupled with a finely tuned quest system. This is combined with a smaller playing field and a simplified combat system – 15 seconds to set up, 30 seconds to fight – compared to most PC auto chess games with fights lasting several minutes.
However, the early release of Clash Mini struggled to retain players and monetization rates. But it needs to improve to become a lasting mid-range flagship title. Although it has succeeded in making the genre accessible, the challenges of monetizing through the genre persist: “It is too early to say whether Supercell will turn it into a global billion dollar company. But if anyone can do it, it’s Supercell.
Meretzky correctly predicted in a previous F2P GDC roundup how mobile game advertising would become increasingly deceptive and manipulative, expressing concern over the most recent trend in misleading game mechanics and narratives. such as Merge Mansion. However, what is most worrying is that there is an increase in mobile game advertisements that directly mislead gamers – claims of increasing IQ or preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Is there a way forward? Meretzky is skeptical and said: “The real power to fight this lies with the Googles, Apples and Facebooks of the world. And there is little desire to do so. He showed a slide with lessons learned over the past two years. There was only one point: none.
Rohrl concludes with a discussion of Apex Legends Mobile, which had a strong soft launch, but hasn’t been released long enough to produce definitive data. But it does point to how triple-A titles and franchises reach the mobile audience, which is generally thought to be represented by casual games like Candy Crush and Game of War.
“Why spend so much money or effort to bring Apex Legends to mobile, and not the other way around?” This is exacerbated by looking at the top-grossing US games of February 2022, where only four of the top 24 are tied to major franchises.
However, if we look at China, Brazil and India, the pattern is different: occupy four to five of the 10 most profitable mobile games. Rohrl speculates that this is due to the lack of PC and console market penetration in regions outside the developed world and a younger player base accustomed to mobile phone games.