Since the release of Clash Royale many have disregarded or fell deeply in love with the game design and mechanics. Skeptics assumed that this game couldn’t stay a top the gross rankings due to its simplicity while others claimed that a synchronous game play experience is a game changer for games going forward. Needless to say, Clash Royale after 1 year of release remains a top the top grossing world wide and this post highlights 3 reasons why you ‘just’ can’t put this game down, and while others fail to clone the success of this title.
1) Loading Time
As the market shifted to studios using out of the box game engines and the constant demand for advance analytics SDK’s to be placed into the source, what top management or developers fail to understand is that for every plugin, or sdk that is integrated into the build, this ‘extra’ , ‘light’ source jeopardizes the loading experience 0.01 millisecond a request.
Impact of loading time with Free Engines
Free engines are great for small teams that don’t have the time to create their own tools for game development. The trade off for using third party engines or tools is that the lead engineers at times will never be able to understand why certain bugs are being created if the problem lies in the engine. What this means is that engineers are required to create hacks, or work around so that that, ‘these’ bugs don’t show its face in the build. In lamen terms, its like painting over a crack in the dry wall so that the tenants don’t see it but the problem actually lies in the how the house was built. Maybe it’s a plumbing problem or the foundation wasn’t setup properly causing the loading beams to bend. Whatever it is, submitting the ticket to the engine developers in hopes to get an answer to fix these lower level problems is a pipe dream as your game is always running on schedule and you can only control what’s in front of you.
Hack’s and quick fixes again don’t necessarily solve problems but only mask it, leading to compromising possible performance issues.
The top grossing apps in tier 1 countries are assumingly making over $20 Million / month in revenue. The pressure to maintain this position means that nothing can be compromised and every little detail in your game must be vetted with the user experience in mind. That being said, unfortunately loading time is something that gets put in the back burner versus other ‘visible’ feedback that management can provide.
It takes literally seconds for Clash Royale to load and start swiping through the game to figure out what you want to do. Others games unpackage asset data and are forced to watch loading screen after loading screen before they retrieve all your experience. For what i will always call a boredom busting platform (mobile) the instinctive choice to choose to play Clash Royale is not only because the game play is great, but i know that i don’t have to wait 10 – 20 secs for the game to load and these seconds are very valuable for every mobile gamers sanity.
2) The grind before viable PVP
“How many crowns do you have?”
This usually kick starts the conversation about the player’s skill level in the game, and the follow up question is if they monetized or not.
This game is marketed and communicated to users as a pvp synchronous game where your skill has everything to do with how far you can progress in the game. One thing players don’t understand is that Supercell only makes pay to win games. And Clash Royale is no different. The only thing Supercell has done is balance the game at ‘End Game’ which maybe only 2% of the players can achieve. You can literally complete Clash of Clans in a couple of hours if you spend thousands of dollars on the game.
If you look at the level progression on a castle and character basis. Each level gives and avg. about 7% – 10% advantage over a player. A 7% – 10% advantage is a massive disadvantage for any 1 v 1 battle no matter how good you are.
What this means is that, inevitably the more you play or the more you pay the further you can get in the game. What Supercell does very well is mask this player progression with a Arena layer that pushes players to aim for smaller objectives. These objectives are tied to new character unlocking.
Higher Arena = New Characters to unlock
These granular objectives allows players feel like they are progressing through the game via skill and not just the power band.
Having a player level advantage over your opponent effectively means that you have a 9% advantage from the start. More HP, more castle damage. Players can tolerate this as the first reason demonstrates great user experience as Supercell allows players to play real people 5 – 10 seconds after they fire up the game. This is something no game can actually compete with at the moment.
Early and mid gamers compete with their total crown level but these achievements are masked with the concept of skill but in actuality the game is designed so that players are motivated to achieve higher arena levels to unlock more champions. Which equates to more of a diverse deck customization option and also the ability to earn more characters to level them up. Which is a valid value proposition to players. Similar to how PVP system are designed with mmo games, the grind is to obtain the armor first than balance around the full armor set pvp arena. Not many actually reach this point as over 90% of players are stuck in the grind where the game feels and look great but not balanced for the grind but for end game pvp armor sets, and not many actually reach this which explains why not many players actually enjoy the PVP portion of an MMO game. Nonetheless this system is still a proven model in executing a fun pvp model with a grind element to it.
The difficulty with designing out a fun PVP experience is creating a progression based system all while keeping the game, feel balanced or is balanced. One thing Clash Royale does very effectively is balance for end game. I say this because when you take a look at the top tier Clash Royaler’s and their deck. The deck diversification in the top ranks and the variance of the cards chosen is a snap shop on how well every card is viable in end game.
May 2017 top decks represents the many permutations a player can choose from to compete in in end game. Meaning there isnt a visible overpowered card that these top players lean to achieve their rank. This is extremely impressive task for a game that constantly releases new cards on a monthly basis.
3) Game Session
As i say time and time again, Mobile Game will always be a boredom busting platform, one form or another. Whether it’s waiting for a friend at a train station or doing your daily number 2 in the Jon these moments is like the drafting moment for apps. Which app gets fired up first. Based on the time session, the product offering based on how much time a user has, at that moment is extremely important though this ‘selection’ process. Mobile sessions are usually broken down into, ultra short sessions (5 secs) , short sessions (5 Min) and long sessions (5 hours). Clash Royale has effectively developed an application that players can boredom bust no matter which play session.
Ultra Short: Open up Chest
Short: Play 1 PVP Battle
Long: Participate in Events / Complete your daily Missions.
Addressing these time sessions makes Clash Royale a candidate for selection on all the different time sessions a user is currently looking to void