超休閒遊戲的崛起(一): 劃定不同遊戲類型之間的界線

原作者:Guest Author 譯者:Willow Wu

本文是系列文章的第一部分,預計會有三篇。

自2008年App Store登臺以來,手遊市場百花齊放。

多虧了各種各樣的助攻因素,10年之後App Store成了超過76萬遊戲的歸屬地,這麼龐大數量真的是值得琢磨琢磨。

經過時間的歷練,有三大類遊戲(雖然大家對它們並沒有劃分得那麼清楚)在手遊中脫穎而出——休閒類,midcore和hardcore。手遊行業基本上也是這三類遊戲當領頭羊,通過這三種遊戲就可以判斷玩家的偏好。

在這個系列文章中,我會說明爲什麼我認爲除這三大類型外,還有一種遊戲類型正蓄勢待發。

但是首先,在這篇文章裏我想說說那些曾經的日子和我們所處的現狀。

big fish casual game(from bigfishgames.com)

big fish casual game(from bigfishgames.com)

App時代的黎明

還記得用翻蓋手機和功能手機的黑暗年代嗎?或者你不記得了?距離App Store問世已經過去很多年了,有些年輕的開發者們也許除了智能手機,其他東西都不知道。

好吧讓我告訴你,想當年,手遊還是小小的java應用,下載來的格式還是 .JAR。至於分銷的話,都是國家通信公司在掌控,制定規則。而且並不存在標準化——確實啊,畢竟不管是硬件還是軟件都很分散,而且盈利也是主要通過電信公司的收入分成。

問題當然就是沒有幾個玩家會特地去下載遊戲,所以如果你是手遊發行商,那就得和電信公司做好工作,因爲做成默認app就是成功的唯一辦法了。電信公司就像是守門人,如果你通過不了他們,那麼你連機會都沒有。

但意思不是說這就是那個年代手遊開發者的唯一麻煩:用Java開發遊戲不是什麼有趣的事,不同的電信公司有很多不同類型的手機,設計方案需要對應不同平臺,而且移動硬件設備功能也是非常差,因此,在遊戲玩法、畫面和音效上限制條件非常多。

毋庸置疑,2008年App Store的出現對app的發展和分銷有着革命性的意義。突然之間,開發者們只需要考慮兩種設備(初代iPhone和iPhone 3G),一條全球分銷渠道還有好用的開發工具。

收入分成也有了標準。用戶們可以很容易的找到、下載他們的app。當你回顧這個時刻,感覺真的像是新時代的黎明,各種新發明、新設備相繼爆發。

休閒遊戲:快餐式遊戲成爲熱門&IAP的黎明

就在這種環境下,第一個手機遊戲在iOS上發佈了。業內支持者很快就開發出了像Super Monkey Ball (Sega)和Spore Origins (EA)這樣的遊戲,而且在APP Store發行時,Steve Jobs還把它們放在了的相當顯眼的位置。

當時大部分的遊戲都是付費下載,起步價爲69美分,應用內付費(IAP)是不允許的。2009年,Rovio是第一個利用觸摸屏功能賺錢的工作室,2012年Angry Birds的下載量就要超過10億了。

接着,IAP功能開通,Candy Crush和King成功地從Facebook平臺移植到移動平臺,引入了社交功能還有十分吸引人的meta遊戲,有效地教會了大批用戶怎麼通過IAP完成微支付。

Candy Crush Saga是西方休閒手遊市場中早期的IAP先鋒之一。

這些先鋒們定義了我們現在在移動設備上所說的“休閒類遊戲(casual)”。他們的主要遊戲特徵就是玩法比較直接,而且學起來也非常容易,這就吸引了一大批玩家。

Midcore:複雜盈利機制的出現

之後在2012年的夏末,Clash of Clans的出現再次改變了手遊行業。Supercell認爲可以把現有的遊戲理念(遊戲邦注:比如農場、反塔防)移植到另一種平臺上,玩家可以專注在時間相對較短的流程上。

在此階段,吸引人的meta遊戲、觸屏的自適應控制、簡易的遊戲設計一齊把手遊行業提升到一個新高度。

當時,midcore遊戲推動了異步多人遊戲和社交功能的進一步發展,掌控了虛擬經濟。

在經銷方面,行業內出現了可拓展的新銷售渠道,在那個時候,頂級的遊戲開發者們做的事就是想盡一切辦法獲取用戶:他們的用戶獲取團隊明白瞭如何使用交叉推廣、廣告平臺很多Facebook尋找新玩家。

同時,盈利方式變成了虛擬經濟和全屏廣告的結合體。

Core

好了,接着就是core類遊戲,它的主要特徵就是流程少,玩家也沒有那麼多,但是轉化價值極高。雖然midcore和core之間的分界線是所有類別中最模糊的,而且還有些交叉領域,這裏我要說的是Game of War或者Empires and Allies這樣的遊戲。

這些遊戲在2013年開始火起來,這時候手遊的已經非常普遍了。安卓也後來居上,多虧了先進的硬件設備,那些極其複雜的手遊才得以實現。

Core F2P遊戲要如何成功盈利?Game of War就是一個非常好的例子。

除此之外,由於core遊戲的玩家有上百萬人,社交功能就變成了盈利的基本要素。Machine Zone創始人Gabriel Leydon稱Game of War是一個“高度結構化的Facebook”。

考慮到前期對遊戲投入的時間,玩家不得不花錢。如果不花錢,那麼他們就會功虧一簣,淘汰出局。由於Game of War不限制規模,遊戲中永遠都不會缺少交易,而且這些交易通常都非常划算,在玩家改變主意之前,性價比會不斷提升,就如同這篇Game of War的分析所說。

Core類遊戲的盈利很大程度上是靠那些砸大錢的玩家——遊戲所具有的複雜性和精緻程度能夠留住這些土豪,而且有傳聞說就算是普通消費玩家,他們的年平均消費也有550美元左右。

Core類遊戲的盈利狀況已經到達巔峯,兼具了複雜的虛擬經濟、抽卡機制、社交誘因還有活躍的社區管理。

還有其他類似我上面說到的遊戲,它們每一個都是手遊玩法領域的先鋒,製作這些遊戲的公司創造了巨大的商業價值,身價都高達數十億美元。

現在的問題是:我們是否完成了手遊類別的進化工作?我認爲答案是否。

確實,我認爲還有一種能造成轟動的遊戲類型將會出現,或者它還處於自我革新的階段。

在下一篇我會告訴你它是什麼。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao
This article is part one of a planned three-part series.

Since the App Store first debuted in 2008, the mobile games landscape has flourished.

Thanks to various enabling factors, nearly ten years on, the App Store is home to over 760,000 games – a volume that is quite amazing to ponder.

Over time three rough categories (with admittedly blurry lines) have emerged within mobile gaming – casual, midcore, and core – that define players’ tastes and generally speaking dominate mobile gaming.

In this three-part series, I will cover why I think an addition to these categories is on the horizon.

But first, in this installment, I’d like to cover where we’ve been and where we are now.

The dawn of the app age

Remember the Dark Ages of flip and feature phones? Or perhaps you don’t? The App Store is old enough that some younger developers may have never known anything other than smartphones.

Well let me tell you, those were the days. Mobile games were small Java apps that you downloaded in .JAR files. In terms of distribution, the national carriers maintained walled gardens. And there was no standardisation – indeed both hardware and software were massively fragmented – and monetisation was chiefly through carriers with different revenue shares.

The problem of course was that few users went out of their way to download games, so if you were a mobile game publisher, getting “on deck” with the carrier as a default app was the only way to succeed. Carriers were the gatekeepers, and if you didn’t get past them, you didn’t stand a chance.

But it’s not like that was the only problem if you were a mobile game developer back then: building games with Java was no fun, there were literally dozens of different handsets across multiple carriers that had to be designed for, and mobile hardware was extremely underpowered, so the limitations on gameplay, graphics and sound were many.

The introduction of the App Store in 2008 of course revolutionised both app development and distribution: Suddenly there were only two devices (the original iPhone and iPhone 3G) to design for, one global distribution channel and robust tools to develop with.

Revenue share was standardised. Discovering and downloading was suddenly easy for users. When you look back at that moment, it really was like the dawn of a new era in terms of the burst of innovation and creativity.

Casual: “Snackable” mass appeal and the dawn of IAPs

It was in this environment that the first games were launched on iOS. Industry stalwarts moved fast to develop games like Super Monkey Ball (Sega) and Spore Origins (EA), which were highlighted on stage by Steve Jobs at the App Store’s launch.

Most games were paid downloads that started at 69p, and IAPs were not allowed. In 2009, Rovio was the first studio to really figure out how to capitalise on the touch screen with Angry Birds, which by 2012 would notch over a billion downloads.

Then when IAPs were introduced, with Candy Crush, King managed to transition from Facebook to mobile, introducing social hooks and an engaging meta-game, effectively teaching a large user base how to make micro-payments through IAP.

Candy Crush Saga was one of the early pioneers of IAPs in the Western casual mobile market
These pioneers came to define the category we now call ‘casual’ on mobile devices. Their products were characterised by relatively straightforward and easy to learn gameplay and appeal to a broad audience.

Midcore: the advent of sophisticated monetisation

Then in the late-summer of 2012, Clash of Clans changed mobile gaming again. Supercell understood that it was possible to migrate existing game concepts (farming, reverse tower defense) onto a platform where players would engage in relatively short sessions

In this phase, the engaging meta game, the adapted controls for touch and the delivery of a simple, recognisable design pushed mobile gaming to new levels.

Then there was the fact that midcore games moved asynchronous multiplayer and social features to the next level and mastered virtual economies.

In terms of distribution, new scalable marketing channels emerged and the top game developers during that time pushed the envelope in terms of user acquisition: their user acquisition teams figured out how to use cross-promotion, ad networks and Facebook to find new players.

Meanwhile, monetisation became a flexible hybrid combining virtual economics with full-screen ads.

Core

Then there’s ‘core’ titles – games that are characterised by fewer sessions and users but conversion at high prices. While the lines between midcore and core are the blurriest of all the categories, and there are crossovers, here I’m talking about games like Game of War or Empires and Allies.

These games started to take off in 2013, as mobile became ubiquitous. Android caught up and incredible complexity in mobile games was possible thanks to advancements in hardware.

Game of War is a prime example of how to succesfully monetise a core F2P game
Not only that, but as core games connected millions of people, social networking became a foundation for monetisation; Machine Zone founder Gabriel Leydon called Game of War “a highly structured Facebook”.

Time commitment to the game forces players to spend money; if a player doesn’t spend money, they’re out. Because Game of War is infinitely scalable, deals are constant and generous, and they become more valuable until players convert, as outlined in this analysis of the game.

Monetisation of core games is highly whale-driven – depth keeps its big spenders engaged and average paying users are rumored to spend about $550 annually.

In core, monetisation has reached its apex, combining complex virtual economies, gacha mechanics, social incentives and active community management.

Games like the ones I’ve mentioned above have each been pioneers in mobile gameplay, and the companies that have built these games have created massive businesses valued at billions of dollars.

The question becomes: in terms of the evolution of mobile game genres, are we done? I think not.

Indeed, I think another blockbuster genre is emerging, or rather is re-inventing itself from an earlier incarnation.

I’ll tell you what it is in Part two of this series.(source:pocketgamer.biz