長文:以《憤怒的小鳥2》爲例聊偏中核向的休閒遊戲

原文作者:Om Tandon 譯者:Megan Shieh

爲什麼會有越來越多的休閒遊戲採用中核遊戲中常見的功能和特性?《怒鳥2》和同系列的其他遊戲有何不同?爲了解答這些問題,我們對《怒鳥》的開發團隊Rovio進行了採訪。

休閒遊戲

通常我們會把玩法相對簡單、擁有龐大的活躍用戶基礎、(與其他類遊戲相比)盈利潛力有限的遊戲稱爲“休閒遊戲”。簡而言之,休閒遊戲的受衆通常是那些不把自己看作“遊戲玩家”的人,我們稱之爲“休閒玩家”。

像《怒鳥》、《糖果粉碎傳奇》和《神廟逃亡》這樣的休閒遊戲往往帶有相對簡單的規則、無需花費大量時間、對玩家的遊戲技術也沒有過高的要求,這些特點使得休閒遊戲有別於像《部落衝突》,《皇室戰爭》和《戰爭遊戲》這樣的中核遊戲。

從遊戲設計和認知負荷的角度來看,休閒遊戲通常帶有易懂的核心迴路和相對簡單的貨幣體系。一般情況下,休閒遊戲的會話時長約爲3分鐘。此外與中核和硬核遊戲相比,休閒遊戲玩家只需承受極少的認知負荷。

然而由於以下幾個因素,休閒玩家正在走向成熟:

1)他們逐漸掌握了休閒遊戲中常見的遊戲機制;

2)長期反覆地遊玩同種題材的內容和機制;

3)由於大量克隆產品的出現,對曾經喜愛的元素不再感到新奇;

4)休閒遊戲開發者逐漸引入更深層次的設計。

據推測,在傳統休閒遊戲和中核遊戲之間,存在着大量成熟的休閒玩家!這羣經驗豐富的休閒遊戲玩家可能會想要過渡到更爲複雜的遊戲,但是他們往往不喜歡傳統中核遊戲中固有的玩法—等待計時器、基地建設、部隊訓練、經濟管理、組建部落、策略操作等。他們可能會覺得休閒遊戲太淺薄,但中核遊戲又太複雜,這樣一來,這個羣體就成爲了一塊有待填補的市場空白。

實例:《憤怒的小鳥2》

《怒鳥2》引入了中核遊戲中較爲常見的幾個特性——多種進階路徑、每日任務,PvP競技場以及Gacha機制,以此帶領休閒遊戲和休閒玩家走向更復雜、更吸引人的中核體驗。

問:《怒鳥2》在前作的基礎上添加了大量的功能和特性,其背後原因是什麼?

angry birds2(from venturebeat.com )

angry birds2(from venturebeat.com )

Henrik Lundin(《怒鳥2》首席設計師):前作的核心玩法很受歡迎,我們認爲沒有必要過多地篡改它,因此我們保留了前作的核心,同時將精力更多地集中在了圍繞核心迴路的元遊戲(metagame)上。

開發團隊在《怒鳥2》中引入了一個鳥類升級系統,然而只有一個不斷送出獎勵的線性地圖感覺有些無趣,因此我們還加入了“每日挑戰”和“競技場”功能,在進一步考驗玩家的同時增加他們所取得的獎勵和進度。

問:原作之所以備受歡迎,在很大程度上歸功於它的簡單性。當你引入這些新功能的時候,是否擔心它們會給《怒鳥2》添加太多複雜性?你是否擔心這會使現有的休閒玩家感到困惑?如果是的話,開發團隊採取了哪些預防措施來緩解這種情況?

Henrik Lundin:一開始的時候,玩家會感覺《怒鳥2》與原作非常相似。Saga地圖、各種怒鳥和豬、各種章節,這些原作中都有。當玩家越來越習慣這款遊戲的時候,我們纔會開始解鎖難度稍微大一點的功能。

《怒鳥2》與中核遊戲的相似之處:

多個進階路徑

在原作中,玩家只能通過一條線性路徑來推動進度,通過闖關的方式去到下一個世界,而《怒鳥2》提供了各種平行的、相互交織的進階路徑。

玩家賬戶升級

玩家通過收集星星的方式來實現升級,升到一定的級別可以解鎖每日任務、每日挑戰、競技場模式等功能。這一機制可以激勵玩家反覆重玩關卡,直到獲得三顆星爲止。

鳥類升級

玩家可以升級鳥類,從而增加它們在碰撞時產生的破壞點。破壞點不僅可以幫助玩家獲得三顆星,而且還可以讓玩家獲得額外的子彈(怒鳥)。一旦玩家集齊了羽毛之後,遊戲界面就會提示玩家升級自己的怒鳥。

他們還可以購買像‘帽子’這樣的功能性產品(魔法道具),就像許多中核遊戲中的配件一樣,它們可以增加鳥類的破壞力,從而創造更多虛擬貨幣。用來升級怒鳥的羽毛可以通過Gacha,每日獎勵和競技場獲得。

Om:爲什麼會添加這麼多東西?

Henrik Lundin:我們想在原作的基礎上給玩家帶來更多更有趣的東西:加強遊戲角色的構建,在不刪除現有功能的前提下,爲玩家提供不同種風格的進階方式。

如果玩家喜歡遊戲中的角色,他們就更有可能參與遊戲並嘗試不同的功能。遊戲中有多種進階路徑,但是這些進階的終極目的都是升級怒鳥。這麼做能讓我們在保持低複雜度的同時,提供不同種玩法。

如果我們不把這些新功能添加到遊戲中,就很難在未來的日子裏延展出新的內容。《怒鳥2》目前的表現和狀態都十分良好,如果當初沒有添加這些功能的話,我們可能就不會有今天。

Om:玩家對這些新內容的反響如何?畢竟魔法道具(帽子)之類的東西在中核遊戲中比較常見。

Henrik Lundin:反響都很積極。推出魔法帽子以後,玩家們突然間多了新的目標。我們認爲這是一個非常積極的變化,玩家們在遊玩的時候感覺自己有選擇權,可以給自己的怒鳥選帽子戴,也可以根據自己的喜好選擇進階路徑。

彈弓升級

要想升級彈弓,玩家必須先解鎖所有鳥類。要過了第1-44關以後才能解鎖所有鳥類,這種做法可以爲玩家提供更多的獎勵和目標,同時消除了闖關的直線性,也爲玩家提供了更多趣味性和動力。

Om:爲什麼開發團隊要添加多種升級和進階路徑?如何確保玩家在不被多種選擇淹沒的前提下,理解它們各自的作用?

Måns Wide(《怒鳥2》製作總監):saga地圖非常地淺顯易懂,而且在休閒遊戲中相當有效,但是也帶有許多限制。玩家們分佈在一張大地圖的不同角落,在這種情況下要推出季度性內容就有些困難。此外,升級自己心愛的怒鳥也比單純的闖關更有趣,更能推動玩家參與。另一方面,我們每次只解鎖一個功能,而且也在努力保持平衡,避免玩家在同一時間內獲得太多新信息。

2)Gacha的引入

寶箱系統

寶箱系統在中核和硬核玩家中非常受歡迎,因爲它增加了運氣和期待的元素。《怒鳥2》的玩家每30分鐘可以獲得一個帶有獎勵的免費寶箱,如果他們想要更多寶箱,也可以通過IAP付費購買。

財富塔

這是一種既有趣又吸引人的每日獎勵機制,充分利用了行爲經濟學中的“厭惡損失(Loss Aversion)”原則。在經濟學和決策理論中,“厭惡損失”指的是人們更注重避免損失而不是獲得等價收益。

“財富塔”是一種每日獎勵機制,玩家有75%的勝算和25%的失敗可能。該功能的視覺效果是一個在每一層都會停留的電梯,每個樓層都會給玩家出示四張牌,其中的三張牌是一層比一層更好的獎勵,而另外一張牌是一隻豬,它將拿走你此前收集到的所有獎勵。在翻轉每張牌之前,玩家都有機會帶着他們已經獲得的獎勵離開。

當玩家翻到一頭豬時,可以選擇放棄已經收集到的所有獎勵或支付寶石繼續遊戲。這時“厭惡損失”的情況就出現了,玩家通常會選擇支付小額費用繼續抽卡,因爲他們不願放棄已經“到手”的獎勵,而且與這些獎勵相比,所需支付的費用似乎顯得有些微不足道。然而隨着樓層的上升,每隻豬的價格會顯著增加,玩家累積的獎勵也會越來越多,這時他們就更不願意放棄了,所以就寧願支付更多寶石來繼續遊戲…

Om:Gacha機制的靈感來自哪裏?爲什麼你覺得這種中核/硬核類機制會受到現有玩家的喜愛?

HenrikLundin:因爲既有趣又令人興奮,所以隨機獎勵機制一直都非常受玩家歡迎。我們利用視覺呈現的方式清晰地展現了寶箱的作用。其中非常重要的一個部分是,當玩家開啓寶箱的時候,所有的獎勵都會以一種醒目的動畫效果自動加入到它們所屬的地方。這種做法可以幫助玩家瞭解Gacha機制的作用和好處。

Om: Gacha機制的參與率高嗎?

Måns Wide:“財富塔”對《怒鳥2》帶來了巨大的影響,特別是在寶石消費方面。直至目前爲止,平均30%的硬通貨都花在了這裏。至於參與率嘛,這個不好說。因爲在“財富塔”推出的一個月後,我們又推出了一個新的開始界面(非常重大的變更),因此也不好推算。
Om:《怒鳥2》的目標是吸引並帶領現有休閒玩家走向中核?還是吸引中核玩家來玩這款遊戲?

Henrik Lundin:《怒鳥》本身就是一個具有大衆吸引力的品牌,我們想要製作一款所有人都能玩的遊戲,從而保持《怒鳥》的大衆吸引力。從延展性的角度來看,我們認爲“提高深度”對我們自己和玩家而言都有好處。但是在這方面,我們肯定是一步一腳印地慢慢前進,不會一下子就來個360度大轉變。

我們想要讓《怒鳥2》顯得平易近人,同時也想確保遊戲深度足以滿足大多數玩家,於是我們在這兩個想法之間找到了一個很好的平衡點。《怒鳥2》最棒的地方就是,很多東西都是可以選擇的。玩家可以在所有內容中,選擇自己喜歡的東西去玩。

帶領休閒玩家走向中核需要花上幾個月的時間,但是隨着這些玩家的演變,我們認爲《怒鳥2》是進入中核市場的一個絕佳途徑。

3)競技場和社交功能

每3個小時,玩家會收到一張允許讓他們進入競技場的票。在競技場中,玩家在一場非同步戰鬥中與其他玩家對抗,獲得破壞點數最高的玩家贏得比賽。

Om:競技場戰鬥顯然是用來增加社交屬性的一個重大舉措,社交方面的目標是否透過這個模式實現了呢?

Henrik Lundin:競技場模式在《怒鳥2》中扮演了兩大角色。第一個角色是加強遊戲的社交方面,與其他玩家交互並且感受對戰的樂趣;其次是給那些喜歡競爭的玩家們提供一個可以一決高下的地方。我認爲,即便是那些偏休閒的玩家也能在競爭中獲得樂趣,因爲每個人都喜歡獲勝的成就感!

競技場模式中的玩法與遊戲中的其他部分基本一致,唯一的區別在於玩家比的是雙方的最後比分。這就意味着與傳統玩法相比,競技場模式的門檻並沒有明顯高出許多。在競技場中獲勝的玩家可以提高聯賽排名並且獲得額外的優質獎勵,從而進一步推動玩家參與。

Om:《怒鳥2》未來還會推出哪些新特性?

Måns Wide:現今的中核玩家傾向於動態的在線運營內容,我們將在遊戲中增加更多緊迫感,並增強對社交和合作機制的關注度。

Om:對休閒領域的其他開發者有什麼建議?如何在這個擁擠的市場中脫穎而出?

Henrik Lundin:首先,休閒並不意味着膚淺。成功與否取決於你向玩家展示信息的方式,以一種玩家可以理解的方式去接觸他們,這樣他們就不會感到迷失和困惑。

其次,遊戲壽命很重要。當你在設計一款遊戲的時候,確保這款遊戲能夠在未來的日子裏擴展並且長期吸引玩家。

在過去的休閒遊戲中,90%的體驗都是圍繞核心玩法。我相信在未來的日子裏,元遊戲的質量將會得到進一步提升。

Om:《怒鳥2》的成功歸功於哪些因素?

Mia Lähteenmäki (Rovio用戶研究實驗室):

遊戲設計師在相關領域的技能和經驗,適應現有知識的能力;

開發出一套適合這款遊戲的設計原則,從而長期保持遊戲設計的持續性;

Angry-Birds-2(from toucharcade.com)

Angry-Birds-2(from toucharcade.com)

傾聽並理解玩家的想法,開發團隊參考的不只是分析數據帶來的結論,我們也會從其他渠道獲取並分析信息。舉個例子,包括產品主管在內的開發團隊一直活躍在我們的粉絲網站和社交媒體上(如Facebook),可以說他們很瞭解玩家對遊戲的看法。

總結

透過以上分析,我們可以得出以下結論:

“玩家逐漸演變成熟”是一種不斷上升的趨勢,開發者們可以通過溫和的方式在休閒遊戲中引入中核特性,從而帶着休閒玩家過渡到難度更高、更有競爭性的玩法。

以一種休閒玩家可以理解和接受的方式在休閒遊戲中加入中核機制,這種做法可以延長休閒遊戲的保質期限,爲遊戲添加更多的延展性和深度,從而創造更多的沉浸式體驗。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Why and how are casual games pivoting towards mid-core features? What differentiates Angry Birds 2 from all the previous Angry Birds games? For the first time a close chat with how the team at Rovio built Angry Birds 2 and what led them to make those bold design decisions.

Casual Games

Casual games is a relatively new genre that was arguably kicked off by PopCap when Bejeweled launched on browsers in 2001. The true growth of the genre was enabled by Facebook and driven by Zynga’s FarmVille and other Ville-style games. The third and largely ongoing growth started in 2012, when King took its popular Facebook game Candy Crush Saga to mobile. Today, when we talk about casual games, we tend to mean games with relatively simple gameplay, substantial active user base and somewhat limited monetization potential compared to more advanced games.

In short, casual games are generally targeted at people who may not traditionally consider themselves as gamers.

Casual games like Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga, and Temple Run are typically distinguished by simple rules, reduced demand on time and limited need of skills demanded from the players. These characteristics sets casual games apart from competitive resource management oriented games like Clash of Clans, Clash Royale and Game of War. From a game design and cognitive load perspective, casual games have a straightforward core gameplay loop and simple currency sinks. In general, the session lengths in casual games are around three minutes. In contrast to more ‘core’ games, casual games also require players to do very less cognitive load management.

Why casual games and gamers might be maturing?

In an article published in early 2016 I speculated how masses of casual game players have come a long way since the early days of mobile games. As time has passed, casual games have been improved with new content and features. While we still play the same ‘old’ match-three, infinite runners and hidden object games, these games offer more deeper experience than their earlier version did 6 years ago.

I believe that casual gamers may be maturing due to:

1) Mastery of same old game mechanics.

2) Longevity and familiarity of playing the same genre and mechanics repetitiously.

3) Wearing off of the novelty value due to a flood of clones.

4) Introduction of ever deeper designs by game developers.

“As speculated, in between traditional genres now seemingly exists a massive pool of matured veteran casual player base!”

How to design for maturing casual players

This mass of matured veteran casual players may want to make a transition to more intricate gameplay but may be wary of high entry barriers, grinding, wait timers, base building, troop training, managing economies, social pressure of clans, cognitive load of making strategies that conventional mid-core games need (See mid-core loops above). All of which casual players hate. This can lead to a vacuum creation.

In short these veteran casual players may find the climb of casual games too SHALLOW, but mid-core too STEEP!

But this gap between casual and mid core genres can also be a window of opportunity!

Let’s look at how some top Devs. have successfully identified this gap and are experimenting to engage this audience.

Rovio Entertainment

Rovio Entertainment has seen unprecedented growth this year by experimenting and evolving it’s holster of casual games.

Rovio rose to fame with launch of its iconic smash hit Angry Birds title in December 2009, the game with its simple mechanics and ease of use on mobile enchanted masses of casual players and opened the world of games to many first time gamers, across the globe! The game was also boosted by the rise of iPhone and App Store. The game was simply perfect for the iPhone screen.

Let’s see how Angry Birds has evolved casual games and gamers towards mid-core features – with Angry Birds 2, having multiple progression paths, daily quests, Arena and Gacha.

Unlike its predecessor, Angry Bird 2 pushed the boundaries of what Rovio had to offer to casual players both in terms of content and mechanics, thereby introducing masses of casual players to more intricate and engaging mechanics commonly found in mid-core games.

Q & A with Rovio team:

Om: The number of additional features that AB2 offers compared to AB, what was the design thinking behind making such a dramatic change?

Henrik Lundin (Angry Birds 2 Lead game designer): With the initial design of Angry Birds 2, we knew that the core of Angry Birds works very well and tampering too much with it wouldn’t make much sense. Therefore we chose to keep the fun core intact and instead focus on the metagame around it.

“Knowing that we were making a sequel to a game downloaded billions of times, we needed to build something that we could expand upon for years to come. “_ Henrik Lundin

A system for leveling and improving the main characters of the game, the birds, hence felt very suitable for the game. Having a leveling system like that requires meaningful features that support that progression and just having a saga map with constant rewards felt very linear and uninteresting. That’s why the Daily Challenge and Arena features got added, where the players are put to the test to further increase their rewards and progression.

Om: When making such drastic changes, were you ever worried that it might add layers of complexity to the essence of what made the original title such a hit? Were you worried that it may perplex your existing casual player base? If yes, what precautions you took to mitigate it?

Henrik Lundin (Angry Birds 2 Lead game designer): When a new player started the game, our goal was that it should feel very familiar to classic Angry Birds. They had their saga map, they had the birds and pigs and they progressed through different chapters. As the player gets more used to the game we start unlocking features that are slightly more complex.

Something that might make Angry Birds 2 stand out from other games with higher complexity is our specific design aim for very spacious user interface.

“Features are not hidden behind menus or in long lists, they are all exposed and playful in their words which contributes to a more approachable user experience” _ Henrik Lundin

If players feel like they rather play a certain feature over the other we are not stopping them from doing so, every player is different in how they consume their entertainment.

AB 2 Similarities with Mid-Core Loops:

Multiple paths of progression : Unlike its predecessor, where players had a single track linear progression path of beating a set number of levels to move to next world, AB 2 offers a variety of parallel and intertwined progression arcs.

a) Player account Level Up

Player levels up by collecting stars. This account level is used to gate features such as the Daily Quests, Daily Challenge, and the Arena mode. Account level incentivized the player to replay levels till they are three-starred.

b) Birds Level Up : Crafting, Fusion & Components

Players can level up birds increasing the destruction points they generate upon collision. Points not only allow to get that coveted three-star-rating but they also contribute to getting the additional bird to sling.

As soon as players have enough feathers to upgrade a bird, they are prompted to do so, similar to character levelling up in mid-core games like Marvel Contest and Star Wars : Galaxy of Heroes.

Players can also buy functional goods like hats, which are much like fitting components in many mid-core games which multiply birds destruction power also creating more currency sinks. Levelling up requires feathers which are earned through gacha and daily rewards.

Q & A with Rovio team:

Om: Was the switch to evolving birds and introduction of light crafting and fusion mechanics purely driven by F2P nature of the game? Or were there any other reasons to introduce this mechanics?

Henrik Lundin (Angry Birds 2 Lead game designer): With Angry Birds 2 we wanted to give the players more than just a saga map. We wanted to:

Focus more on the characters of the game

Offer different flavors of progression without removing any of the previous features.

If the player cares more about the characters they are more likely to engage with the game and try out different features. In the game there are several vectors of progression, but in the end they all feed back into improving your birds. This helps with keeping the complexity low while still offering a variety of features to play.

If we wouldn’t have added these new features to the game, it would be very hard to scale and expand upon. Today the game is doing very well and is in a healthy state, that might not have been possible unless we branched out early on._ Henrik Lundin

Om: How did the players respond to all these change, as birds also have functional aspects of component fitting (Hats) more typical of Mid-Core games?

Henrik Lundin (Angry Birds 2 Lead game designer): The reaction from our fans have been very positive whenever a new engaging feature is released. When we released the hats into the game there was suddenly new goals for the players and they got to choose how their birds should look like.

We think it as a very positive change to have a sense of choice when playing, no matter if it’s how their birds look or if they rather play a certain feature over the other.

c) Slingshot Level Up To level up the slingshot player first needs to unlock all the birds, which requires beating first 44 levels, this creates more rewards and goals for mid level players removing linearity of just beating levels with added incentive.

Q & A with Rovio team:

Om: It seemed like the design team added multiple level up’s and progression path which are intertwined? What was the motive and incentive behind them, how did you ensure players understood all these different paths without getting overwhelmed?

Måns Wide (Angry Birds 2 Executive Producer): The saga map progression is easy to understand and quite effective in casual games, but it has a lot of limitations. It’s hard to push seasonal content when all the players are sitting at totally different places in a huge map. Also, focusing on progressing the characters seemed like a logical move since people really relate to the birds. Leveling your beloved bird-makes is more rewarding than just moving from level to level.

As what comes from protecting players from becoming overwhelmed, we unlock the features one at a time. We also try to balance the game so that the players will never get too much new information at the same time.

2) Introduction to Gacha

Gacha systems are a huge hit with mid-core and hard-core players as it adds an element of luck and anticipation which a lot of players find thrilling, immense success of social casino games with a casual player base is also a strong testament of how thrilling luck based features are for the players.

AB 2 makes use of this in 2 ways.

Daily chest and reward mechanics which offers players a free chest with rewards every half an hour and conditioning and habituating them to free rewards and paid premium chests if player wants more items.

2. Tower of Fortune: This is an interesting and engaging daily rewards mechanics which makes great use of behavioral economics principle of “Loss Aversion”

In economics and decision theory, loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains

“Tower of Fortune” is a daily reward mechanics with player having 75% chance of winning and 25% chance of losing, each floor of the tower gives player 3 rewards and one chance of losing all previous and current rewards if he chose a card with a pig on it, but as you can see in example above, once player has racked up multiple rewards from subsequent rounds and he encounters a pig, the cost of losing the rewards he has accumulated, is much greater than what he needs to pay to continue playing, this leads to a situation of “loss aversion” where players are less likely to let go of what they have already earned by paying a small fee/fine rather then let go of all that they know they have won for sure.

Q & A with Rovio team:

Om: What was the inspiration behind introducing gacha system to your casual player base audience? Why did you think such a mechanic will be a hit with your player base?

Henrik Lundin (Angry Birds 2 Lead game designer): Random based rewards have since long proven to work on games, as it’s both fun and exciting for players. Having several ways of progressing in our game, using different resources, it made a lot of sense to introduce gachas to the game.We have definitely taken considerable measures to be very clear about gatchas.

We take care to visualise clearly the opening of a chest so players understand what is going on. An important part of our interface when opening these chests is that all rewards are automatically added to where they belong with a clear visual animation.

This helps players understand why they got the resource and what it is good for. If that would not have existed we could have ended up in a situation where players received rewards that were both unclear in function while also just taking up space in some inventory.

Om: What was the player response to chests and Tower of fortune in terms of engagement?

Måns Wide (Angry Birds 2 Executive Producer):

“ The Tower of Fortune had a huge impact on the game, mostly in terms of gem spent. As it is now, 30% of all hard currency is spent in there”_ Måns Wide

In terms of engagement it’s harder to say since we pushed the new start screen – a huge change in the game – about a month after introducing the Tower. So it is not trivial to see what’s the root of the positive trends in terms of engagement and retention.

Om: What do you think of our hypothesis? Was AB 2 targeted at engaging and maturing the existing casual player base? Or did you plan to make it more appealing to mid-core users as well?
Henrik Lundin (Angry Birds 2 Lead game designer): Angry Birds in general is a brand with a broad appeal, that is something we wanted to keep intact by making the game approachable for everyone.

“As we are introducing more mid-core features to the game, it is our responsibility to make it understandable even for casual players” _Henrik Lundin

We believe that creating more depth in the game is good for both our players and ourselves in terms of scalability, but we’re definitely taking baby steps into the mid-core features. For example, there is little inventory management in the game, meaning most of the flows in the game are streamlined towards the player progressing. If our players take part of an event, they’ll gather resources and improve their birds – it’s not more complex than that.

There is always a fine balance between keeping the game approachable but deep enough to satisfy most of our players. The best part about the game is that it’s all optional, our players can choose to spend their time in the game wherever they want without being blocked from other content. It might take months for a casual player to change their playing behaviour to a more mid-core style, but as they do I think Angry Birds 2 is a good gateway into the mid-core market.

3) Arena and social features

Every 3 hours, the player receives a Ticket, which allows them to enter the Arena. In the Arena, a player goes head to head against other players in an asynchronous battle of Angry Birds
Q & A with Rovio team:

Om: Arena battles were clearly a big move towards adding more social attributes to the game, do you think that objective was achieved with this mode?

Henrik Lundin (Angry Birds 2 Lead game designer): The Arena in Angry Birds 2 played two big roles in the game. The first was definitely to make it more social, seeing other players and having fun playing against another player. The second, but maybe the most successful, reason is to give players who like to compete a place to do so. I believe that even a player who is more casual can get a thrill out of knowing they play against someone else, and feeling great when they manage to win!

Competitiveness exists in everything we do in our ordinary lives, so it’s all about how you present the challenge to the player. In our game you play a level just like any part of the game, the only difference is that you play against your opponent’s final score. This means that there’s no great barrier to overcome making it more accessible. As the player wins they can climb in leagues and earn good rewards for it, further encouraging players to engage with the game.

Om: What are the future trends that you see for your casual and mid-core players, what new features can we expect from AB 2 evolution in future?

Måns Wide (Angry Birds 2 Executive Producer): Dynamic live-ops content engages players in mid-core games nowadays. We’ll add a lot of urgency to the game; stuff that happen HERE and NOW! With the clans and global leaderboards it makes sense to put more focus on social features and collaboration.

Om : Any advice to other Developers who are building casual games, to leverage engagement, social and monetization aspects of their game in this crowded space?

Henrik Lundin (Angry Birds 2 Lead game designer): I would start by pointing out that just because a game is casual doesn’t necessarily mean it’s shallow. Everything comes down to how you present information to the player in an approachable way so they don’t feel lost and confused along the way.

“When you’re creating your game you should design for it to live for years, that means you have to have smart systems in place that can scale and engage players for a long time. In support of that I would not look too much in the past way of making casual games where the core game was 90% of the experience” _Henrik Lundin

I believe that future games will have a much stronger meta game that can stand on its own feet, only to be enhanced by a fun core game. When players start engaging in an interesting meta game, by playing a fun core game, you will have a very good game on your hands!

Om: What would you call the secret sauce for success of Angry Birds 2?
Mia Lähteenmäki (Rovio User Research Lab): To me it seems that Angry Birds 2 team does have a secret sauce indeed, and I see there three major ingredients. At the general level they are domain expertise, systematic learning and understanding users. It is however possible to identify these ingredients more closely:

1) The game designers’ skills: Game genre skills and ability to adapt from existing knowledge of games. They have been able to distill all this into something totally new for this specific game and game genre.

2) Developing design principles: When they are developing new things and making iterations to make game work better, they have made efforts to develop them as learnings. As a consequence, they have been able to develop a set of general design principles that work for the game, some of which has been discussed above. This also helps keeping the game design consistent now and in the future, when new features are introduced.

3) Understanding and listening to players: This happens not only through analytics insights, but also by seeking understanding through other channels. For example, game development team, including product leads, have been active on our fan sites and social media like FB. So if you go and ask them what they players think about this or that, they are able to answer.

Conclusion:

From the analysis above we can safely conclude:

1) Players maturing is a rising trends, it is possible for devs. to mature and transition casual gamers into more mid-core & competitive gameplay, via introduction of mid-core features in a mild and phased manner for ultra casual games.

2) Casual game developers can extend the shelf life of their games and add more scalability and depth to create more immersive experiences by pivoting to mid-core features in an accessible and acceptable way. (Source:gamasutra.com  )