One of the biggest gaming phenomenons we witnessed in 2017 was certainly the rise of Player Unknown Battlegrounds and its innovative Battle Royale-mode that gave us a fun, original and thrilling take on the FPS/TPS-genre. It was only a matter of time when the mobile scene would have its own adaptations of Battle Royale and in the last month or so we’ve seen totally new Battle Royale-only games (Rules of Survival, Knives Out), older games spicing up their PvP-mode selection with Battle Royale (CrossFire) and even non-FPS games introducing Battle Royale-inspired playing modes (Battle of Balls).
The common denominator with these games is obviously their country of origin, China, where A) esports and competitive gaming enjoy massive popularity and B) people have been hammering FPS-games on PC for ages and know their de_dust inside out. It is thus no surprise that Chinese publishers have been leading the charge in adapting Battle Royale to mobile with NetEase in the forefront with Rules of Survival and Knives Out, while Tencent has relied on updating its Chinese FPS-hit CrossFire to meet the Battle Royale-standards as well as gearing up for the official launch of PUBG to the mobile.
From a game feature perspective, it is always interesting to follow how new types of games keep on evolving and whether they can influence and disrupt the overall market. Rules of Survival and Knives Out were clearly launched in a hurry to gain the first-mover advantage and at the current state are obviously still trying to figure out where to go from here.
Here at GameRefinery – where we track 200+ features for the top-grossing games in multiple markets – we have been monitoring these games closely and would like to offer some data-based pointers on possible future feature updates for KO and RoS. Even though the following suggestions have been made keeping the US market in mind, many of these feature changes would also have a positive effect in other markets as well.
Taking the Smart Way for Creating Content
Naturally, one has to be very careful when tampering with the meta-side of things in highly competitive games such as KO and RoS, especially in markets such as the US. On the other hand, leaving the game’s preparatory part totally no-frills can be risky in today’s mobile scene that is transitioning towards a meta-heavier market. At the current state, both games are mimicking the original PUBG on PC, and thus have a light meta revolving around collecting decorative items such as apparel and accessories.
There are options available to increase the content and the complexity of the meta without meddling with the core game balance, though. Here’s just a couple of examples:
1. Characters. There is no reason why a competitive game couldn’t have a set of cool and exciting characters that players could relate to à la Honor of Kings. Making some characters rarer than others is also an effective way to increase their value.
2. Combining material Items. An easy way to increase content is to simply split existing content into material items. By collecting these items or character pieces players would then be able to fuse them together to get the real deal.
Step-up the Gachas
It took a while for the PUBG-clones to roll out monetization, which main focus is on their single permanent gacha. Expanding the amount of content in the games would go hand in hand with increasing the number of different gachas the games could have. For example, those material items or characters could easily have their own gacha pools.
Give Players Reasons to Come Back
It is easy to see how NetEase is clearly testing out different things with these two games when you take a look at their player retention mechanics. For instance, KO has an extensive daily quest and reward system with progression elements that are notably absent in RoS. For both games, however, improving the gachas would create room for handing out free gacha spins e.g. once a day and/or every three days.
Live events are obviously an important part of almost any game aiming to climb up the charts nowadays and while both games are off to a good start with their Christmas events (that contained e.g. event-only exclusive items), adding characters to the game would open doors for introducing event-bound versions of them (i.e. the likes of Christmas Pikachu in Pokemon Go).
To Sum It Up:
In terms of game design, the case in question illustrates well how game features should not be regarded as individual separate pieces that one can just arbitrarily be throwing here and there. Instead, features are often very much intertwined and it is easy to find yourself in a situation where you need to take a step back and look at the bigger, more holistic picture. For example, in our setup, we need the right content to make gachas work, which in turn has to be well-implemented in order for the appointment mechanics to make sense.
What’s your take on the future of Battle Royale on mobile? Curious to know more about game features and how they can be harnessed to make your game succeed? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line and remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn to get the feature perspective to the mobile market!