Social gaming has taken another new turn in the past year with a change in direction of genre towards mid-core games. Whilst we’ve seen a host of Western developers and gamers alike embrace the genre, how is it performing in the Southeast Asian markets? But, first and foremost, what is a mid-core game? Let’s see…
Will someone please explain mid-core to me?
Ok, here goes, mid-core games can indeed be puzzling. They’ve often been described as somewhere between a casual game and a hard-core game. Here’s my definition for those of you still in the dark. The unique mid-core factor lies in combining an immersive gaming experience with the accessibility of casual gameplay. This means that you don’t need to be next to your smartphone for hours on end, you can pick up and put down the game whenever you want. It has been designed for those who don’t have a huge amount of time to spare but still want an in-depth gaming experience.
The growth of mid-core gaming parallels the growth in mobile and tablet usage. The cross platform accessibility coupled with good graphics on an iPad-sized screen make for a high quality gaming experience. The mid-core games are often seen to monetize better – possibly down to the immersion factor but also down to the demographic of the user. We see a fairly even gender spread for midcore games as opposed to a largely female casual gamer and largely male hardcore gamer. The age demographic is, however, slightly older which suggests a better chance for monetization than amongst the younger players under the age of 24.
For these reasons, several game developers are switching to making midcore games. You might have heard of Zynga’s foray into mid-core gaming, releasing titles such as War of the Fallen to try and shed some light on its otherwise murky-looking future in social gaming. Developers such as Kabam, Wooga and Supercell are also producing mid-core titles with great success rates.
When it comes to rankings, mid-core games tend to have a slightly smaller audience compared to casual games but they monetize better thus putting them higher in top grossing applications and lower in free application rankings.
Ok, got it. So, is anyone actually playing mid-core games?
Well, yes, let’s look at some figures. How are mid-core titles received in the South East Asian mobile markets? I’ve done some delving into the iOS markets and found that midcore titles are actually doing pretty well.
Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore see just under half of the top ten iPhone games represented by mid-core games. Meanwhile, in Thailand and in Indonesia, the top 10 table is dominated by mid-core titles. The market for mid-core games in the southeast region of Asia is therefore pretty similar to the Western market – in the US iPhone rankings, Clash of Clans, MARVEL War of Heroes and Hay Day came in as the second, third and fourth games respectively.
|1||Candy Crush Saga|
|3||Clash of Clans|
|5||MARVEL War of Heroes|
|6||Injustice: Gods Among Us|
|8||Blood Brothers: RPG|
|9||Despicable Me: Minion Rush|
|10||FANTASICA – TCG card game|
iOS Top Grossing Games in Indonesia (metricsmonk)
|1||Candy Crush Saga|
|2||Clash of Clans|
|3||MARVEL War of Heroes|
|5||Minecraft – Pocket Edition|
|6||Big Fish Casino|
|8||Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North|
|9||The Simpsons: Tapped Out|
|10||The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth|
iOS Top Grossing Games in United States (metricsmonk)
Out of all the countries I looked at, every single one had Clash of Clans by Supercell in the top five iOS Grossing games. This is probably the most famous mid-core game on the market so I thought, since everyone’s playing it, I’d take a closer look at the reason for its success.
Yes, I saw that too! So, what’s all the hype?
Well, let me tell you more about Clash of Clans and its Finnish developer, Supercell and then you’ll see what all the fuss is about. It actually comes in at first or second place in top grossing iPhone games in six out of the seven countries I looked at (however, it was only number three in Indonesia) which is incredible news for its developer.
So, what’s the secret? Well, did you know that Supercell killed five previous games before deciding that Clash of Clans was the one they wanted to keep? Their attitude means they want nothing but the best and they really are data driven. Analysis shows that if a game doesn’t have traction right from the start, it won’t be a huge success, no matter how good you are at smoothing over the cracks. Nevertheless, it takes courage to throw away months of work and a high level of commitment to start again from scratch. Imagine doing that five times.
Well, that’s what Supercell did and they finally settled on Clash of Clans where their focus is keeping players engaged and adding strategic elements to the gameplay. For instance, when attacking, users can choose where they place troops on enemy land. This is a step forward from a more basic combat style system that we saw in games such as Backyard Monsters which adds complexity and increases immersion whilst showcasing Supercell’s innovation. Supercell wants to take you by the hand and lead you deeper and deeper into their mid-core world.
Supercell builds on this immersion through their downtime mechanics. When you’re waiting for structures to finish building, you can move objects around within the game. “What’s the big deal?” you might ask, “I can do that in FarmVille too”. And to that, I answer simply, “Why would you?” In Clash of Clans, there’s a reason to move things around, an objective to fulfill in your gameplay – to defend yourself against future attacks. As a result, users are also more inclined to make micro-transactions to better protect themselves which increases monetization.
Despite your best efforts to fend off attacks, you will probably have to face defeat at some point, but never fear, the “replay” feature lets you review the exact path your enemy took! This gets you thinking about which strategies to implement to battle-proof your village. Players wishing to create an impenetrable fortress will inevitably find themselves shelling out cash in the process making Supercell richer than Uncle Scrooge. Whilst you could spend an unlimited amount of time perfecting your village and strategy, the beauty of Clash of Clans is that it is also asynchronous, meaning you don’t have to be constantly logged in to make progress. There is sufficient downtime to let you put the game down and continue life in the real world. But you might not want to…
Ok, ok, when can I play it!?!?
Hold up, I’m almost done! So, to sum up, mid-core gaming is the next genre users want to see more of and that many developers are trying to embrace. They certainly have a lot to live up to if they want to compete with Supercell who have two fantastic games in the top 10 iOS rankings. Mid-core gaming has taken the world by storm. I’ve shown you the facts and figures, Southeast Asian markets love the mid-core offering and this is reflected by a heavy presence of the games in this market. Mid-core gaming is like a good pizza, everyone wants a slice.