Monetizer: Heroes of Dragon Age

Monetizer: Heroes of Dragon Age
When it comes to proper card-battling games, I don't have a clue.

But I'm very interested in the mechanic and so happy to see westernised versions of the highly popular and lucrative Asia genre hitting app stores.

To-date, I've enjoyed Kabam's Heroes of Camelot, although eventually stopped playing because there wasn't enough new content. (Apparently, Kabam is going to fix this in 2014).

Currently, I'm also playing the DeNA-published (on Mobage) and SuperSaga-developed Heroes & Havoc, but our focus today is the EA/Bioware Heroes of Dragon Age.

Coming up trumps

It's pretty easy to spot how card-battling gameplay is being repackaged for western audiences.

Building on the hero meme from MOBA games like League of Legends, all three of the games previously mentioned have the term 'Heroes' in their titles.

Unlike games such as Heroes of Camelot, Heroes of Dragon Age does away with cards, however, at least as a graphical element. Instead, you have a squad of five heroes, which are displayed as if they were 3D figurines.

Battles take place automatically; your only input is the ability to trigger the use of time-dependent Runes, combined with minor issues such as Hero selection and formation i.e. whether a character is in the front or back row.

Level 'em up

In terms of monetisation, as with all card games, Heroes of Dragon Age is all about buying new characters. These are either low level characters that you combine (or consume) with your Heroes to level them up, or higher level characters you swap into your squad.

Playing through single player mode and multiplayer battles rewards you with Gold - the soft currency - and XP. 
Completing entire single player quests or grinding each individual battle until you have mastered it also gets you gems - the hard currency. Interesting, you can't convert Gems to Gold.

As you'd expect, you can buy low level characters with Gold and high level characters with Gems. 

There's also a one-off Rare character that can be bought as a $1.99 IAP.

The only other in-game resources are Stamina, which is used for multiplayer battles, and Energy, for single player quests. Once you've used up these resources, you pay with Gems for a refill or wait.

Doing the business

Digging down in the game's economy, it uses a typical six band IAP range for Gems, which ranges from $1.99 to $99.99.

Looking at the Discount Currency ratio (how many more gems you get per dollar spent comparing the minimum IAP to the maximum), is also a fairly standard 1.4.

Heroes of Dragon Age has been relatively successful; since its 16 October release it's gone top 10 top grossing in 18 countries on iPhone and 22 on iPad.

In the US, its top grossing position has been #27 for iPhone, #27 for iPad, and #14 for Android.

Breaking these down using our Success metric, we get

iPhone = 0.009

iPad = 0.011

Android = 0.02

Anything over 0.01 we treat as being a commercially successful game.

Standard procedure

As for the Monetizer ranking, Heroes of Dragon Age's standard IAP economy give it a score of 80. We treat anything over 100 as being highly monetised.

There are a couple more things to mention, however.

Heroes of Dragon Age is a good example of early-stage reciprocity as it gifted players with a rare Dark Revenant character as an "early access exclusive".

More worryingly for EA, though, over the past couple of days, the game has been suffering from stability issues, ranging from requests to reload to the failure of the store to connect to iTunes. At least that's been my experience.

Conclusion: Heroes of Dragon AgeSuccess ratio (iPhone) = 0.009

Success ratio (iPad) = 0.011

Success ratio (Android) = 0.02

Currency Discount ratio = 1.4

Monetizer score = 80


A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.


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Gregan Dunn
Thanks Jon, appreciate it.
jon jordan
sorry, I used the wrong brackets and the comments system seems to have deleted them

The Success metric is pretty simple. It's the...

(Number of countries a game goes top grossing top 10 / No. countries it's top 100)

- this gives a basic momentum ratio -

all divided by the peak position in the US top grossing chart
jon jordan
Hello Gregan

The Success metric is pretty simple. It's the...

[Number of countries a game goes top 10 top grossing/No. of countries it's top 100]

- this gives a basic momentum ratio -

all divided by the peak position in the US top grossing chart

As I originally pointed out, obviously I'm using the US as it's the largest market and also comparable to western Europe, but for certain games it would be better to replace the US with China, or Japan or Korea.

In terms of the Monetizer metric, that's slightly more complex, but you can read all about it here

I'll also remind everyone that Monetizer is a process, not set in stone. All games are analysed in the same way for consistency - of course - but I'm always looking at way of improving the analysis.

And the final point - it's a tool that I hope helps me draw broad comparisons between games. It's not a replacement for a more detailed playtest.
Gregan Dunn
Also, how do you calculate the Monetizer score?
Gregan Dunn
How do you calculate the success metric Jon?
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