從用戶體驗的角度聊《南方公園:手機破壞者》是如何盈利的

從用戶體驗的角度聊《南方公園:手機破壞者》是如何盈利的

原文作者:Matt Suckley & DeltaDNA 譯者:Megan Shieh

歡迎回到In-App Purchase Inspector,在這裏我們會以消費者的視角,定期測評一些F2P遊戲。

每期文章,我們都會考慮遊戲中IAP的誘因、壓力、它們的感知價值、IAP帶來的擴展內容還有整個遊戲體驗的評估。

最終目的就是看看這遊戲究竟值不值得我們砸錢,不花錢的遊戲體驗是否也能讓玩家感到滿足。

本期文章,我們與數據分析公司DeltaDNA合作,對改編自動畫情景喜劇《南方公園》的策略型CCG《South Park: Phone Destroyer(暫譯:南方公園:手機破壞者)》進行了盈利模式分析。

這款遊戲的發行商育碧(Ubisoft)曾被PocketGamer.biz評選爲2017年最佳手遊開發商前50名中的第41名。

“自打臉”

《南方公園》與F2P遊戲可以說是頗有淵源。

2014年,《南方公園》動畫系列在第十八季的某一集中調侃了帶有微交易系統的F2P手遊,認爲這些遊戲表面上說是免費,實際上就是在坑錢。

這事兒當時在業內引起了很大的爭議,沒想到三年後,育碧推出了一款由《南方公園》官方授權的F2P遊戲…這難免有些搬起石頭砸自己腳的感覺…

South Park  Phone Destroyer(from pocketgamer.biz)

South Park Phone Destroyer(from pocketgamer.biz)

可能是爲了緩解尷尬,《南方公園:手機破壞者》在遊戲開頭“警告”玩家:“此遊戲包含應用程序內購買與觀看廣告來獲得獎勵的選項。要關閉應用程序內購買,請調整你的設備設置。應用程序內購買將花費現實中的金錢,並會從你的賬戶中扣款。基於前述原因,此遊戲並不適合任何玩家遊玩。”

遊戲內商店

這是一款卡牌類遊戲(CCG),玩法也很簡單,與《皇室戰爭》相似:將角色卡牌拖曳到戰場上,使相應的角色加入戰鬥。

元遊戲主要圍繞的是收集新卡牌,然後將套牌升級,而這就是遊戲中鼓勵玩家花錢的部分。

我個人認爲F2P遊戲的盈利模式還可以更好地融入到遊戲世界中,儘管《南方公園:手機破壞者》在這方面本可以做得更有創意,但是不難看出,它還是不想淪爲自己曾經調侃過的那種“坑錢遊戲”。

內購商店是位於主菜單上的一棟綠色小房子,Butters是這家店的老闆。因爲商店每隔幾個小時就會送出免費卡包,所以Cartman會以一種誇張的方式告訴你這家商店有多麼慷慨。

此外,遊戲中的硬貨幣“現鈔”是可以用真錢買到的,價格從4.99美元(500現鈔)到49.99美元(6000現鈔)不等。你可以利用這些現鈔去購買付費卡包,付費卡包的售價爲150-2500現鈔。

升級

“金幣”是遊戲中的軟貨幣,主要功能爲升級卡牌。與《皇室戰爭》一樣,要想升級某張卡牌,玩家必須先集齊一定數量的同款卡牌。但《南方公園:手機破壞者》帶有一個更細節化的升級過程,玩家不僅需要金幣,還得集齊某種升級物品才能最終實現升級。這類升級物品可以在卡包中找到,當它們在商店中出現的時候也可以使用金幣購買。

金幣不難獲得,但是對“升級物品”的這種依賴會放緩玩家升級的速度,這麼做或許是爲了鼓勵他們購買付費卡包。

不過每當玩家完成一個劇情任務時,可以在10個獎勵儲物櫃中選擇3個打開,這些儲物櫃中可能包含“升級物品”、金幣或新的角色卡牌。如果開了這3個儲物櫃以後還是沒有獲得你想要的東西,可以用現鈔去打開額外的儲物櫃,也可以回去重玩這個任務,從而獲得更多獎勵。

保持簡單

PVP部分使用的也是剛剛提到的儲物櫃獎勵系統,但是在PVP模式中儲物櫃送出的是“PVP票券”,而不是金幣。這些PVP票券可以用來購買服飾、角色卡牌或升級物品。

遊戲中不包含多數手遊普遍採用的能源系統、沒有像《皇室戰爭》一樣的計時解鎖機制、也沒有花錢復活的選項。從大體上看,《南方公園:手機破壞者》在盈利模式方面保持得非常柔和。而且雖然那句警示語說遊戲中含有獎勵式廣告,但我至今都沒看到過任何廣告。

本作採用的是軟性營銷手段,做法也非常直接:如果你想要額外的卡牌,那就得付錢。但是遊戲中不存在只有通過充值才能解鎖的東西,充值與否你都能在遊戲過程中解鎖它們,而且你還可以在iOS選項裏自行關閉內購。

數據分析公司DeltaDNA指出:

本作繼承了劇場版《南方公園》的趣味性,也許是由於此前對F2P遊戲的批評,在製作自家免費遊戲時他們顯得更小心翼翼。

遊戲中包含了現代CCG普遍帶有的一些機制和一個與《皇室戰爭》相似的開放戰鬥系統。不過難度曲線上升得相當快,在玩了幾天的PVE任務和PVP模式之後,感覺要再獲勝很難。同樣,卡牌蒐集和升級的過程看似簡單,但要升級到2級以上需要很長很長的時間。

雖然從未明確指出,但是玩家可以重玩之前玩過的PVE關卡來獲取更多升級物品和貨幣,不過將卡牌升級到3級的過程感覺就是無止境的刷刷刷。

除此之外,開發者對盈利模式的推動力度極小。在遊玩的前期,只出現了少數幾個特惠包彈窗,這些特惠包裏包含了大量卡牌和一些升級物品,感覺還是蠻慷慨的。

玩家需要花10美元購買“現鈔”,然後再用現鈔去購買這些卡包,沒花完的現鈔還可以用來花在各種任務上,也可以儲存起來以備將來之用。開包的這個過程是挺有趣的,但最終你會發現並不是所有特惠包都含有金幣,然而金幣卻是升級卡牌時的必要材料。

除了購買優惠包以外,現鈔還可以用來做其他事情,比如立即更新“PVP卡包”或開啓額外的儲物櫃,但購買卡包似乎是性價比最高的選擇,不過我更建議你去購買那些含有金幣的卡包,而不是那些不含金幣的特惠包。

問題是:遊戲不會特地引導玩家去卡包商店,所以玩家可能會將現鈔花在性價比較低的地方。在這種情況下,對盈利模式的輕度推動不僅隱藏了遊戲的完整趣味性,而且還讓玩家失望了——遊戲沒有告訴玩家如果他們卡在某個地方,其實是可以走另一條路的,不一定非得刷PVE。

總而言之,遊戲不錯,但是難度上升得太快,需要刷任務這件事可能會在第一週內失去某些玩家的興趣,而對盈利模式的假裝不在意,反而會對那些不主動探索卡包商店的玩家產生負面影響,從而使留存面臨風險。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Welcome back to the In-App Purchase Inspector – our regular look at free-to-play games from the consumer’s perspective.

In each instalment, we consider the incentives or pressure applied to make in-app purchases, their perceived value, the expansion offered by IAPs and the overall value of the experience.

The end goal is to see whether the game makes a good enough case for us to part with our cash, or whether players are content – or engaged enough – to ‘freeload’.

This time, in collaboration with analytics company DeltaDNA, we’re bringing you even more monetisation analysis.

For this special IAPI Extra, we’re taking a look at Ubisoft’s South Park: Phone Destroyer, the CCG strategy game based on the animated sitcom.

Publisher Ubisoft was named 41st in PocketGamer.biz’s list of Top 50 Mobile Game Developers for 2017.

Full circle

South Park has an interesting history with free-to-play games.

In 2014, the animated TV series took on the business model in typically uncompromising fashion, with an episode that featured the line “Freemium: The ‘mium’ is Latin for not really.”

It was a source of much debate within the industry and it was always unlikely that this would be forgotten when, three years later, Ubisoft launched an officially licensed South Park mobile game with a free-to-play model.

South Park: Phone Destroyer addresses this elephant in the room immediately, with a warning message that reads: “This game contains both in-app purchases and the option to watch ads for rewards… in-app purchases cost real money and are charged to your account and for those reasons this game should not be played by anyone.”

It’s a bold move and one that sets the tone for a game that is self-referential and tongue-in-cheek in regards to its own business model.

Go shopping

The game itself is pretty simple, effectively a CCG in which cards are dragged onto the battlefield to bring new characters into the fight – rather like a pared-back Clash Royale.

This means that the metagame focus is on gathering new cards and upgrading your deck, which is where spending is encouraged.

I generally feel that free-to-play monetisation can be better embedded and contextualised within game worlds, but while South Park: Phone Destroyer could probably have been more creative in this regard, its efforts remain above and beyond what most free-to-play games are doing.

The in-game shop is represented on the game’s main menu as an actual building, with Butters as the shopkeeper. Cartman makes exaggerated reference to the shop’s generosity, in reference to the free card packs it gives away every few hours.

But if you’re popping by to spend actual money, hard currency Cash is available in bundles ranging from $4.99 for 500 to $49.99 for 6,000. In turn, this Cash can be used to buy Premium Card Packs ranging from 150 to 2,500 Cash.

Levelling up

South Park: Phone Destroyer’s soft currency is Coins, the primary use of which is to upgrade cards. In much the same way as Clash Royale, cards here can only be levelled up when a certain number of duplicates have been collected.

But here there’s a more granular upgrading process alongside this, requiring a combination of Coins and specific materials – found in card packs, or bought using Coins when they appear among the shop’s rotating stock – to upgrade individual attributes.

Coins are available readily enough, but this reliance on upgrade items can slow down the upgrading process, presumably to incentivise the purchase of premium card packs.

However, upgrade items can also be earned – along with Coins, or new character cards – when the player is given the chance to choose to open three reward lockers out of a selection of 10 after completing each story mission.

If you don’t get what you’re after in this lucky dip, additional lockers can be opened using Cash. Going back to replay these stages after completing them – each has 15 tiers of difficulty – will also yield improved rewards.

Keeping it simple

The same locker-based reward system exists for the game’s PvP component, but it’s a different currency that gets dished out: PvP Tickets.

These can be used in their own section of the store to buy outfits, character cards and upgrade items.

But mostly, whether it be through genuine vision or being boxed in by South Park’s strident takes on F2P in the past, Phone Destroyer keeps things very light monetisation-wise.

This is best summed up in the absence of some industry-standard techniques: no energy system, nor even a Clash Royale-esque timed unlock process and no option to pay currency to revive in failed battles.

Indeed, despite the warnings, I’ve yet to even see a rewarded ad.

The sell is a soft one and remarkably straightforward: if you want extra cards, you pay money. If not, there’s more than enough opportunity to progress without doing so.

Extra Extra
For this special In-App Purchase Inspector Extra, analytics company DeltaDNA has provided more deep analysis on South Park: Phone Destroyer.

South Park: Phone Destroyer is a fun game that takes the spirit of the franchise in its stride and perhaps due to the show’s past criticisms of free-to-play it is clear they have been mindful in how it’s implemented here.

The introduction to gameplay eases players into the usual modern CCG mechanics and a fairly open battle system akin to games like Clash Royale. However the difficulty curve ramps up fairly quickly and within a couple of days’ play some PVE missions and particularly PVP feel insurmountable.

Similarly, the card upgrading and levelling process seems simple at first but upgrading beyond level 2 takes a long, long time.

Though it’s never specifically pointed out, players can replay previous PVE levels to farm the many upgrade materials and currency needed, but getting cards to level 3 quickly becomes extremely grindy even though there’s no annoying energy mechanism to limit play.

Packed in

That said, monetisation is only very lightly pushed. There were only a handful of pop-ups during the first few days indicating a special offer pack is available and it sounds pretty generous giving a large number of cards and some upgrade materials.

The cost requires buying $10 of in-game currency but the leftovers can be spent on a variety of tasks or hoarded for the future.

Opening the pack and seeing all the cool cards was a fun experience, but you suddenly realise afterwards that not all of these packs include coins which are needed to upgrade and level up your new toys to make them actually competitively usable.

In-game currency can be used in areas other than packs, for example to refresh PVP pack availability or open extra lockers for level completion rewards, but it seems like packs are the best value option – though it may be wiser to go for the packs that include coins rather than some of the special offer card packs.

‘The catch here is that players aren’t specifically directed to the pack shop, so may end up spending their currency on the less productive areas.

This is where the light approach to monetisation not only undersells the game but also lets the players down – by shying away from pushing monetisation, the game is missing an opportunity to let players know there is a route they can take if they get stuck, the alternative being that they are at greater risk of churning.

Overall, there appears to be a solid game here but the difficulty spikes and grindiness are likely to turn off less determined players within the first week and the lighter touch monetisation actually works against the players who don’t explore the Pack Shop off their own initiative and puts retention at risk as a result.’ (Source: pocketgamer.biz  )