Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Analysing GC/DC and Million Arthur Core Loop, Monetisation and their Comparison

Some time back I was reading this Game Analytics blog. It basically writes about how freemium games monetise. There is a core loop going on in these games that keeps the players coming back as well as time-based restriction that can keep player interested due to the constant short burst of playing time. GC/DC and Million Arthur was not discussed yet (closest card game analysed was Rage of Bahamut/Marvel: War of Heroes) so I will attempt to write about the core loop of those games as well as the way they monetise. For those interested, that blog has done Puzzle & Dragons(I'll be focusing more on DC than GC actually)

DC/GC Core Loops
1) Quest (get tickets)/Clan Event Quests -> Hunt-> Quest (get tickets)/Clan Event Quests

2) Quest (get tickets)/Clan Event Quests -> Hunt/Coliseum -> Quest (get tickets)/Clan Event Quests

It is a really simple loop that we are constantly "in". This simple design makes it very easy for people to pick up and play but IMO might also make it boring quickly. Second loop is an alternative play-style where you leave out Coliseum but Coliseum (PvP) is one of the main part of the game and leaving it out takes away much of the game. I will go as far as to say that Coliseum is "marketed" as the main thing about the game. Therefore, when people fail to do well or realise the "cost" to maintaining good results in the Coliseum, they may quit the game.

Million Arthur Core Loops
1) Explore/Story -> Gacha -> Explore/Story

2) Explore/Story/Gacha to get more cards -> "Colliseum" battles -> Explore/Story/Gacha to get more cards

Million Arthur is not as simple as it seems to have many options in the game. However, the UI design makes navigation bearable unlike other games trying to emulate it. I actually only play in the first loop almost all the time and I still find the game enjoyable. You can get cards by exploring alone which is rewarding enough for me. Gacha machine is not that important for me other than for card collecting purposes (I have not used Gacha in the SEA version so far and is progressing fine) and I don't think it will if I stick to Core Loop 1.

Addition: You are able to get cards from defeating encountered faeries and awaken ones has a higher chance of dropping higher rarity cards.

DC/GC Monetisation
- sell Energy Drinks/Potions to replenish Stamina
- sell Elite/Special Tickets for a chance to get Rare cards

In GC, Energy Drinks were used to grind for Coliseum tickets (weekly time constraint) during the early days I played; not sure if it changed later. In DC, while you can still use it to grind for tickets, I believe Clan Events became the main selling point for those drinks, provided you get an active Clan. This is due to the time constraint nature of the Clan events. I also think that it makes the game a lot more time consuming.

In DC/GC, you had to hunt for the Rare cards. While it is a unique way of getting cards for a Card Battling game, I think it gives people the impression that their "hardwork" in getting cards deserve rewards for higher rarity of cards, no matter what the games advertise about the non-guarantee chances. Although you can have Gacha machines like Puzzle and Dragons/Million Arthur where people are still complaining about the low high rarity drop-rates, I think the hunting aspect worsens it and make the experience more discouraging.

You might also get multiple copies of the same card and while GC later introduces Rebirth system, DC and GC primary had a trade system in place. That system itself created a whole lot of problems; from the illegal real-money trading to scamming.

Million Arthur Monetisation
- sell separate Pots to replenish Stamina and Battle Cost
- sell a card cover that can protect your card fragments from getting stolen in PvP
- sell a package of pots and Tickets for a chance to get Rare cards

Million Arthur has time constraint mechanics from events, coliseum to faerie and story battles. I never very focused on PvP for card fragments so the card cover protection was not crucial to me. Unlike DC/GC where you can purchase a single ticket, Million Arthur sells them in bulk (10, 11 for first purchase) for a higher price. Note: higher rarity cards are still not guaranteed. I think it might lose out some revenue due to that choice in pricing. As of now, Million Arthur is higher than DC in the iTunes Top Grossing Charts. Update: I used up all my free gacha tickets to discover they do sell single gacha tickets.

Million Arthur has in place a Rebirth system from the start; you can limit break a card a number of times to increase its maximum stats.

In Summary, DC/GC, Million Arthur and most, if not all freemium games have some kind of loop going on in the game to keep players going back to the game. Through my above analyse, I also realise why I enjoyed Million Arthur as a more casual card collecting game while DC/GC turns out to be mainly focused on Coliseum (PvP) focused, thus more time constraint and consuming IMO. I find this Core Loop discovery to be very interesting and it may help in solving your freemium game addiction problem, if any. Next time you find yourself spending too much time in a freemium game, take a step back and try finding out the Core Loop and Monetisation strategy of the game.