Why do people play Game of War

If you haven't played Game of War you should. It represents a genre which kickstarted f2p in Europe. Among the originators was OGame, Tribal Wars, Travian, Ikariam, Grepolis and more. They all follow the same principles invented by a game called Planetarion - which failed to monetize as f2p wasn't invented back then.

And believe me every single game I mentioned is better than Game of War. So why do people play it and why is it so successful?

Game of War violates pretty much any f2p fair play rules. When you log back in after some days absence you have to close sales pop ups like crazy. Generally this game tries to sell you something at every corner of the UI. And it gets on your nerves, it disturbs game play. It is bad.

But it makes tons of money.

Why? Several reasons.

It was a first mover. Game of War was one of the first games of that successful genre being on mobile in a pretty solid quality.

It is a whale hunting game. The conversion of the game is bad but the ones who pay do so in exorbitant value. From stats I know it is by far the game with the highest average spending per paying user (ARPPU). Note: the value shown in the link is average YEARLY spending. Note 2: Some games excluded like Puzzle & Dragons which features a higher but only in Japan. Lets stick to world wide.

It is attractive to new gamers who don't know better. Yes. This. This is the prime reason. You should know that most gamers on mobile are new to games. This is a fact. So when they play Gamer of War they simply do not know the better ones. The the competition is either copying the bad style of Age of War or isn't known to them due to less marketing spend.

And the operator of Game of War knows this and puts their marketing where the new gamers are: on TV. TV ads attract a lot of users who aren't experience much in games. And when they are attracted ti strategy games they might try Game of War. The bad things of the game like the push to sales and pop ups are just something they think is normal. They accept this. Experienced gamers wouldn't. But those are the minority compared to the vast size of the mobile market.

There you have it. Game of War is successful as most of their players are new to games but fascinated by this successful genre. Competition is fierce. There are literally hundreds of these games in the App stores. And many of them are better. Some company make their living out of them like Kabam or Plarium.

The sad side story? German f2p publishers established f2p in Europe with this genre pre 2010 but lost the lead 60% market share (!) as they were too slow to move to mobile. Very sad.


Why Apps might be dead (Update)

We remember. Years ago we called them Programs or Software. Since Apple launched the App Store we call them Apps, even on PC or other devices. Even the TV now has apps. Researchers forecasted the Web is dead, as its content and interaction move to App's of the provider instead. This is already happening as statistics prove (google for access numbers of mobile for Google, Youtube etc.)

Now Apple opened maps, messenger, Fotos and more of their apps to developers, allowing them to develop plugins. In my opinion Apple isn't doing this for fun, they are forced to do this.

The trend is less App switching. We have so many apps now that people simply no longer want to switch between them. Like going to maps to look for a restaurant, reserve in another app, book an Uber in their app to drive there.

This also explains the incredible value WeChat and Line have now. Check this out:


This means WhatsApp is under pressure. The big secret of those new chat programs in Asia is their plugins. You can do everything inside the chat you normally do in Apps. In fact in China WeChat is so massive that if you aren't in WeChat with your service you virtually don' exist.

Facebook looks into this direction with their Messenger, but WhatsApp seems to sleep regarding this matter.

We'll see. the world of apps is changing again.

How this effects mobile games? Well, the first games making millions are inside WeChat. The other way around works too: why isn't your chat and clan chat no in those chat apps instead doing your own? There is my hint.

(Update) Techrunch well written article on the Messaging War:



I am wondering .. a f2p Masterclass a good idea?

I play with this idea since some time and wonder how large the interest would be. Assume I do a 2 (or 3?) day Masterclass in f2p design covering all topics from monetization, system design, KPI optimization, Event design etc.

Of course the content would differ from the workshop you can find on youtube. That one was rather basic, this one is a designers in depth thing.

Would that be something you would be interested in? I would book a conference room in a Hotel you can stay and negotiate special deals. The evenings would be spend to mingle and talk about our favorite topics. Timeframe would be sometime mid/end of July. Or maybe the weekend before Gamescom?

The goal of the workshop would be to give you the weapons to properly design f2p games or optimize yours.

If you are interested shoot me an email and how many people would like to attend and what special interests you would have regarding topics and way how the master class would work.

Contact: teut986@gmail.com


The Damned App Store (Update)

Both of my versions (Amsterdam and Asia) of my talk for Casual Connect are online:

Asia / Singapore:

Europe / Amsterdam:

The video of the panel is also online now about Asian vs. Westenr mechanics:



Update April 2016

I have been at Quo Vadis Developer conference in Berlin and it was a blast. I did my "The Damned App Store" talk which I will repeat at Casual Connect Asia in May - just in case you want to see it. Singapore is awesome, come visit! I will also be part on a panel which talks about "Asian game mechanics and the West".

The video of my talk will be online sometime after Casual Connect, so be patient.

Next directly after CC Asia are the German Developer Days in Frankfurt which we are attending.

And then finally a pause ... preparing my move here to Berlin during Summer. Maybe Scott Foe forces me to come to Casual Connect USA, we'll see.


Mobile Game Development vs. AAA

So many developers think Mobile development is so easy. Reason being that many games are smallish casual games. But here is the thing:

Nah. Let a friend explain it much better, thank you Seppo for this summary on Facebook:

Seppo Helava
Dear fellow game devs, those of you who work on console/AAA games: You may think mobile is trivial compared to what you're doing. And in some ways you're right.In some ways you're very, very wrong.
It's a different set of problems. But to do a mobile game-as-a-service, at scale, keeping them successful for multiple years, is *significantly* more complex than most linear console games.
Graphically probably a lot less intense in most cases (though not all).
Logically probably a little bit simpler as well, depending on the game (*in general*, there are significant exceptions).
Design-wise? Same or harder, because of the need to design in growth, evolution of the mechanics over significant time periods, and factor in most of the business/monetization in fairly direct ways.
Management/production-wise? *Significantly* harder. Rallying a bunch of people to a ship date is intense, and extremely difficult - to the point where basically no one in AAA gets it even marginally correct. But shipping new content on a weekly basis, ensuring 99.99% uptime, balancing stuff to not break the game overall even after years of updates? You're taking on the risk of shipping live content every week. The difficulty of that vs. shipping once at the end isn't comparable. It's a totally different problem but it's just as hard *or harder*.
So, I'm not saying Mobile >> console/AAA. But I'm saying that if you don't appreciate the complexity and difficulty of shipping a game that's successful and lasts multiple years, that's because you're not aware of what goes into it. Dismiss it at your peril. This is a skillset you will almost certainly have to learn in the next decade, and if you think it's easy, you'll be dead.


Microsoft takes a dangerous path

If you have followed Microsoft since the release of Windows 10 and the XBox One you might have noticed a fundamental shift in strategy. Not many realize what the reasons are.

The first step was pressure for their prices of Windows. Others started to give away their OS for free, mainly Apple, and mobile does the same. So Microsoft gives away Windows 10 for free for all Windows 7/8 and Vista users. This hurts their financials but the important goal of Microsoft is different: to regain control of their OS ecosystem. The PC is as big as it is because there is a whole industry making money with it. Software, Hardware, Services, you name it. Without it the PC wouldn't have taken over the world. And all these industries make money without Microsoft seeing any share of the revenue. None.

Over time this ecosystem became fractured. In countries where the average salary is low pirate copies of Windows dominated. Locked out of updates they also locked themselves out of software that requires certain Windows versions or updates.

So one goal was to unify their ecosystem making it easier to regain control.

Two things made this possible:

First: the app store which they implemented poorly (ask developers trying to sell or update, its a nightmare) and where they try to mimic the mobile app stores or Apples (which btw failed as well, ask Companies trying to sell over the Mac OSx App Store).

Second the data mining. Windows 10 is a data leak for users. Microsoft collects tons of data and spies on you everywhere. They want the same power Google has. And yes I bet the NSA is happy as Microsoft is known to collaborate with them - a unified ecosystem is so much easier to spy upon. But that seems to be ok now and the NSA drama isn't popular anymore.

Now they announced to unify the XBox one and PC gaming ecosystem as well. In other words if Microsoft locks down game sales to their App Store only the world will experience drama. And yes they can do this. Its their eco system. Valve is worried as this attacks Steam directly and they saw it coming, hence their effort with Steam machines. Check interviews with Valves CEO.

Tim Sweeny, founder of Epic, maker of the Unreal engine, has clear words for this danger:


If you ask developers working for Microsoft or you have sources inside Microsoft the situation is even more dramatic. Under the new lead games no longer are a priority. In fact Microsoft was thinking to get rid of their XBox department but the fear that competitors might buy out the things was big. So they integrated it into their other department which dreams about having a Settop box under your TV (note that movies etc are their priority, not games). If you read the history of the original XBox this fight was inside Microsoft years ago.

So here it comes. Microsoft will force all PC's to install Windows 10 by giving it out for free and stopping support for all other versions.

Microsoft will force all Software vendors to go through their App Store taking a share.

This includes games. Good bye Steam.

Next the Xbox One will be a PC Settop box soon instead a dedicated gaming platform. Including hardware updates - which leads to the fact that it will fail bad as somehow Microsoft forgot why initially consoles failed (Atari VCS time) and why the ecosystem worked when Nintendo changed it.

In the end PC gaming is in danger. In fact all of the PC is. As its strength was its open Software and Hardware ecosystem. Microsoft starts to copy Apple - in a bad way. Again no innovation. Just bad copies.

Dire future under the new Microsoft lead. Do not complain when it happens. As I Teut you so.