It’s one of the biggest breakout hits for years, and Turkish studio Dream Games already has a second game in soft launch: Royal Kingdom.
It was released on iOS and Android in April in the UK and Canada and on iOS only in Turkey. The Philippines was added to the mix a few days ago, and new levels are being added every two weeks.
Just from those soft launch markets, Dream Games has earned over $1m to date from 900k downloads, giving it an early cumulative RPD of $1.17, again according to Appmagic.
Royal Kingdom is a complimentary game – a match 3 puzzler with the same look, feel and cast of characters as Royal Match, but its meta is more geared around PvP competition.
So figure out how it works, we asked King, Electric Square and Bear Hug veteran Tom Froud, founder of game design, product management and creative strategy services firm Ludoforma, to take an in-depth look at the game.
“It seems clear they see an opportunity targeting more midcore and male players,” he tells us. “I fully expect it to do extremely well – we’ve seen the ‘scapes games perform well together without cannibalising so there’s no reason Royal Match and Royal Kingdom can’t coexist and thrive.”
Froud says the new game can offer churned Royal Match players a reason to re-engage, and dedicated users can get more of what they love. But PvP and other midcore design elements make it different enough to work as a companion game.
“Cranking up the direct competition would likely drive greater engagement from the core and male audience,” says Froud. “It’s likely this will leverage the player level or rank for matchmaking and leaderboards which would drive engagement and monetisation.”
Froud describes the game’s balancing as “impeccable” and “unbelievably good at getting players to a close fail state.”
“This makes them much more likely to spend coins to continue, and when this is part of their play loop they will eventually run out of coins and monetise,” he continues. “It is also completely viable to just reuse levels in both Royal Match and Royal Kingdom which is amazing for the content treadmill.”
He notes that there’s a greater emphasis on the streak system in Royal Kingdom and that meta progression “is much more expansive and impressive” than Royal Match. “Every addition you make to the environment makes a strong visual impact – sometimes in Royal Match all you get is a vase.”
Another subtle observation: many PvP stages are not ‘true’ PvP, or involve attacking a castle like in Empires & Puzzles. This makes competition more palatable to casual players, says Froud. “We’re seeing this as something of a trend – games like Monopoly Go took the versus aspect of Coin Master and softened it to great success.”
“So where PvP in Match Masters feels very personal and quite aggressive, Royal Kingdom feels whimsical and playful but it still keys into that desire to want to retaliate when someone attacks you – or just want to destroy other people’s shit.”
Other new design tricks include rewarding more skilful play with more soft currency and giving players levelling.
“I would expect this level of granularity and approach to rewarding more skilled players in a more midcore game, but not in a casual game,” adds Froud. “Again Dream are catering to a more core audience, whilst possibly also banking on the casual market wanting more to think about.”