What game developers can learn from the Fallout Shelter

What Fallout Shelter became a top app stores, shocked many. Many people (I among them) condemning said that on the tops of the App Store, stagnation reigns, but Bethesda came in and turned everything on its head. When the smoke cleared, I watched as a Fallout Shelter gradually disappeared from all charts, and I was like, what to think.

“What it taught us?”. Hardly anyone can doubt that the Fallout brand has tremendous power. He first attracted loyal gamers and caused organic growth of downloads in the App Store. Every Studio since the release of Kim Kardashian Hollywood, went through with it.

For the marketing in the App Store became available from a financial point of view, brand awareness is becoming more and more important. But if you leave the marketing aside, I was most surprised by the response of users on this game. It was developed by private Studio — was taken by a brand that many gamers like, and then completely changed under the model of free-to-play (F2P). We have seen many times, as all these operations ended in failure (look at Dungeon Keeper, Sonic the Hedgehog).

So whats different about this launch. Fallout Shelter never forces the user to quit game. You will always find something positive that can be done at the shelter. There are no blockers, such as energy, which in other projects literally says.

“And now youll have to leave”. But, as we have seen in previous articles in my blog (here and here), the presence of the limit for the game session need to stimulate long-term user retention. Fallout Shelter uses what I call “Flexible session”. The player enters the asylum, feels a sense of satisfaction from the game, but she slowly increases the pressure, forcing the user to enter.

Instead of an abrupt termination of the gaming session ends when the energy Fallout Shelter slowly changes the gameplay so that you simply feel that it is time to stop. This is the screen that gets every player entering the Fallout Shelter. Plenty of room, and a large amount of resources in each that you can collect.

So every time I come back into the game, users experience a sense of satisfaction. Timers production small, so that the return intervals of 5-10 minutes allows you to collect a lot of resources and get a random level rise for its residents. However, the longer the player stays, the less awards brings the game. It stimulates the users to interrupt a session.

Design sessions should be done so that the player felt that if he leave now, I will go clever. You should not force him. A good example of “pressure on the user” is Rush (“rush”).

Haste is present in the game instead of clicking “continue to receive premium-currency”, which is in most F2P games. But for Fallout the mode “rush” is not so much the monetization, and the ability to control the design of the game session. In the beginning the player learns continuously to accelerate the production in the rooms. For this, he gets the faster production of products and lids from bottles (Caps), which are a key currency.

However, the more often you use Rush, the more likely becomes the occurrence of the incident. So the more you accelerate, the greater the chance that there will be a fire or radioactive cockroaches. The longer the game session, the greater the number of rooms you accelerate, the more you risk. Thus, it becomes strategically imperative to leave the game and return to it later.

The game never forces you to leave. Just gradually decreases the value of staying in the game world. So users never feel that they are pushed out for some unknown reasons, they take a strategically important decision as to when to leave and when to stay. In reviews, on forums, disgruntled reviews we can understand that players hate timers, function pay-to-skip system and energy.

But the pacing on the game is the key to long-term retention. Without long-term retention of the game will never be able to succeed (more on this subject can be read here). So how to effectively promote the game to normal users. Try to disguise the promotion system so that they differed from traditional systems in free-to-play.

The best example of hidden mechanics is the system of missions sending residents to the Wasteland (Wasteland). This system is the mechanics version of “plant and wither” (planting and wilting) in the game Farmville, which affects the return of players. Every time a player puts any plant, it has a limitation on the term of gathering. If the player does not return until the end of this period, the whole crop dies.

In this case, he receives no value from the harvest. This mechanic for a long time did not dare to use, because many designers noticed that players just hate it because their first experience with returning to the app becomes associated with punishment, because they were not back in time. The punishment of players, at least in the form in which it exists in FarmVille today, really leads to a strong increase in the churn rate of players. But games like Clash of Clans, Boom Beach and others, gradually returned this mechanic in the game designers Arsenal.

The longer a player is missing, the more likely that it will attack. If the player attacked, precious resources will be stolen. Fear of loss of resources owned by the player is a very strong incentive to return to the game.

Fallout Shelter this principle is realized through the mission on the Heath. If the player returns to the game before a resident will die on the Heath, he loses his. How about all caps and rare gear that was collected by the resident. All of this also disappears.

Of course, the player can revive the resident, but its a fee, and eventually poured a lot of money. Smart players will build their schedule so as to avoid the death of residents. Thus, designers have to use reverse engineering to change the system step by step you progress in the game, to make it such that it was felt very differently.

Bathesda realized that they need a fair monetization scheme in respect of the players. The only suitable option is a system of Gacha/Card (more about Gacha you can read here). Fallout Shelter you dont offer to buy resources directly. This is a common technique for simulation games to stimulate the desire to spend money, when I finished a certain resource they need.

But in the Fallout Shelter are different. Instead of shopping resources that everyone hates, the game implemented a system with lunchboxes. Each lunchbox contains a random set of cards. Maps can identify resources that are “soft” currency, equipment and even rare residents.

Instead of having to count how much currency you will receive, there is a small chance to get a resident with high level or rare armor, in addition to all the resources you need. Thus, if a player pays for the items, not a currency, it develops a greater sense of satisfaction. Do you not feel that you have been deceived, instead, you feel that you play the lottery and get a reward.

Most importantly, what makes this system enjoyable for the player is the sensation of fairness, because its based on luck. Each player has a chance to get a great and rare prizes. This is fair because everyone can get a Tupperware, if you play constantly. If you play it smart, you can earn faster lunchboxes.

In addition, the experience is perceived as more fair because those players who pay, absolutely does not affect the experience of other. Fallout Shelter no multiplayer mode. And if this mode existed, then developers poured to criticism because of the benefits the payers. Since the game is single-player, Bethesda has room for manoeuvre with mechanics pay-to-progress.

Hearthstone and Contest of Champions has already shown that these Gacha systems have a huge potential for monetization. However, the revenue per download of Fallout Shelter for the last few months has been much lower in comparison with the games which are in the top of the chart by income. But when you consider the number of downloads, it can be argued that they made the best choice. Monetization methods work better, if you consider that your audience expects than what in your opinion should pay off.

Despite the fact that I praised the Shelter, she still could not resist in the chart of best sellers. And despite the initial support of the brand, in the end, the game could not stay on the top of the charts because of the lack of content, lack of stimulation of users and lack of social gameplay. All this eventually led to low long-term retention.

I spoke with the players and has concluded that actually “pass” lasts no more than two weeks. After this period no longer be new rooms, no desire to buy new residents, do not receive new content. After this period no more goals towards which to strive, but the optimization plan for your sanctuary. But for a F2P game truly work, you need to have enough content for months, if not years.

So why even think of competing with Fallout Shelter. Why should we care that these hardcore players think about our game. From the experience of Fallout Shelter it is clear that hardcore gaming audience can dramatically change the free-to-play. This audience can overnight to make it so that your game will get in the top best-selling.

This audience will likely be playing your game for months, competing at the highest levels. Studies show that most money spend on the game are not new, and those users who already have experience in games and already bought something in them. Users have money and they are willing to spend, the main thing — fairly to handle them. So if you as a developer want to get a serious target audience, then you should ask yourself, have you learned anything from the Fallout Shelter.

Source: google.co.uk/blog/startup-agency-one-way-past-founders-can-help-new-ones/

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