Monetizer: Odyssey, Boom! Tanks and Freak Tower

Monetizer: Odyssey, Boom! Tanks and Freak Tower

Following on from my speech at the Develop in Brighton 2013 conference, we're now running a weekly column called Monetizer.

You can see previous columns here, and we're posting screens showing the different techniques we come across on our Tumblr page.

As for the concept behind Monetizer, it's an attempt to quantify the opening 5 minutes or so of significant free-to-play games to check out the early user experience and monetization techniques.

It's still a work-in-progress, though, so certain aspects are being tweaked, but that's okay, because it's about the process of analysing F2P games, not about rigorous scientific results.

You can read my handy explanation of what it's all about here.

1. Odyssey: Age of Gods (Glu Mobile)

In terms of this Monetizer column, I'm trying to get back to basics, by which I mean doing 'quick and dirty' analysis.

Because - as tends to happens - the more games I've been looking at, the more details I've ended up investigating. That's not a bad thing for high profile games, but I also want Monetizer to be useful in ranking what we might call 'non-significant' games, so this column is about the 'quick and dirty' analysis of several games.

The first is iOS turn-based RPG Odyssey: Age of Gods.

Published by Glu Mobile in the west, it's developed by Korean outfit TalentWalker.

I'm not going into too much details - you can check out the video for the first 5 minutes of footage - other than to say this is a very Korean game that hasn't been well localised for its new market. Basically, it's totally confusing.

So let go straight to our three core metrics.

In terms of success, the game hasn't entered any top 100 top grossing charts, so its Success number is 0.

Looking at the Currency Discount ratio, it's a low 1.1

Its Monetizer ranking comes out as 70, which is below our 100 ceiling for a highly monetized game.

This is interesting as although Odyssey: Age of Gods scores a high 7 in terms of its currency confusion (the different layers in which it gets you to spend money), its minimum IAP of $0.99 (most Glu Mobile games start at $4.99) scales back what otherwise would have been a very high score.

2. Boom! Tanks (Codemasters)

UK publisher Codemasters hasn't released a lot of mobile games - let alone F2P games - but is gearing up to the market.

Boom! Tanks takes the monetization techniques of drag racers such as CSR Racing and Fast & Furious 6, applying them to simple and fast head-to-head tank arena shooting. Effectively it's rhythm-action gameplay combined with tank collection, customization and upgrading.

Codemasters has added a couple of new elements though. One is a VIP club, which if you join gives you more soft currency for each mission you complete. You join simply by making an in-app purchase.

(Note, I immediately spent $0.99 to get this benefit.)

Something else worth noting is that as with Fast & Furious 6, as soon as you finish the tutorial, Boom! Tanks offers you a timed-limited deal to get a higher level tank than you can buy with the default soft funds provided. This is something that typically demonstrates a very high level of monetization.

Anyhow, to the numbers...

In terms of success, the game was only released on 12 September so it's early stages, although the iPad version has already entered the US top 100 top grossing.

Nevertheless, the Success number for both iOS hardware is still small - 0.005.

In terms of Currency Discount ratio, Boom! Tanks has two hard currencies. For gold, the ratio is 2.2 (high), while for cash it's a more standard 1.5.

(It's also worth noting that Codemasters is using some uncommon transaction amounts such as $3.99 and $59.99.)

Looking at the Monetizer ranking, because the game offers a hard currency purchase immediately after the tutorial is ended, it ranks 395, one of the highest values we're yet seen.

3. Freak Tower (GungHo Online)

Japanese developer GungHo Online is now well known for being worth more than Nintendo on the basis of the Japanese sales of one game - Puzzle & Dragons.

It's not trying to be one-trip pony however, as the western release of Freak Tower shows us.

The iOS game is a combination of Tiny Tower's building sim (collecting people, putting them in flats and getting them to work in retail), with a Godzilla mode where monsters try to climb up to the top of your tower and destroy it.

It's a really nice game, with a wacky art style and - something I especially like - the ability to employ your Facebook friends in your tower.

No lunchbreak for my Eli Hodapp...

It's also one of the few games to give a loading screen warning about IAP costs, and then also has several onscreen warnings when you actally try to spend money through its store.

But to the numbers...

In terms of Success, Freak Tower has been a total commercial failure (scoring 0), as it's not gone top 10 in any country's top grossing chart. The iPhone version peaked at #25 in Japan, while the iPad version got to #293 in the US.

Looking at the Currency Discount ratio, it's a high 3.3.

But in terms of our Monetizer ranking, the largest IAP transaction is only $29.99 and it only has one hard currency and one soft currency.

All combined, this means the Freak Tower scores a mere 5.

That's the lowest score we've ever seen. It's almost if GungHo has made an anti-commercial game. We guess it doesn't need the money.

Maybe Freak Tower is more a labour of love.


Odyssey: Age of Gods
Success coefficient (iPhone) = 0
Success coefficient (iPad) = 0
Monetizer coefficient = 70
Currency Discount ratio = 1.1

Boom! Tanks
Success coefficient (iOS) = 0.005
Monetizer coefficient = 395
Currency Discount ratio = 2.2 (gold), 1.5 (cash)

Freak Tower
Success coefficient (iPhone) = 0
Success coefficient (iPad) = 0
Monetizer coefficient = 5
Currency Discount ratio = 3.3

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.


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