Monetizer

Shooting for success with Frontline Commando 2

Shooting for success with Frontline Commando 2

Alongside the likes of Eternity Warriors  and Contract Killer, Frontline Commando  is one of Glu Mobile's enduring franchises.

The original game was released in late 2011, and followed by with the WWII-themed Frontline Commando D-Day  game in 2013.

Now, however, the fixed-position third-person shooter is back in a contemporary setting in Frontline Commando 2.

Suppressing fire

As with Glu's internally-developed titles, the game offers high-quality 3D graphics and user experience, and a well integrated IAP economy.

The IAPs are based around weapons - you can equip your character with two: typically an assault rifle and a sniper rifle - each of which have four attributes you level up to gain that rifle's maximum characteristics.

Annie, upgrade your gun

These upgrades are bought either using Cash, the soft currency you earn in-game, or Gold, the hard currency you earn small amounts of in-game, but typically buy with cash. You can buy new weapons. Some are priced in Cash or Gold, while some exclusive - expensive - items are only available via Gold.

Frontline Commando 2  also has an item and a boost system. The items are grenades, medikits, drones and RPGs, which can only be bought with Gold, although you can earn small amounts. Boosts include options such as 2x damage for five minutes, or infinite ammunition.

The final aspect of the game's IAP economy are squad members. These are non-playable characters you need to level up, as well as being an integral part of the item system. Each squad member has a special skill; either using the grenades, medikits, drones or RPGs you buy.

Squad members link into the game's item system

You can have three squad members at any time, although there are 65 available in the game.

Various collections of guns, items, boosts and squad members are also made available through the game's bundling system, which includes limited time offers and randomised mystery crates.

A price of 2,900 for this bundle is the equivalent of

Lock and load

In terms of the actual game, Frontline Commando 2's  Campaign mode is all about completing short missions, which are gated via a standard energy meter.

As well as earning cash and XP for basic completion, each mission has two further conditions, such as completion within a certain time or only making headshots, which are rewarded with gold or items.

Each mission has three victory conditions and rewards

Gameplay-wise, you control a soldier who can move between three fixed positions. You - together with your AI-controlled squad members - have to shoot the incoming waves of enemies.

You can toggle between your two weapons, aiming simply with one finger on the touchscreen. There's a soft button for firing and another for hiding in cover. 

Shoot down the drone

There's also a PVP mode whereby you can attack another player's squad, albeit AI-controlled rather than synchronous gameplay.

IAP deconstruction

Looking at Frontline Commando 2  through our Monetizer lens, it uses a 6-band IAP system with an average IAP price of $35.82.

This is relative high as most 6-band games have a sub-$5 IAP option, whereas Frontline Commando 2  has the standard 5-band system ($4.99, $9.99, $19.99, $49.99 and $99.99) plus an IAP at $29.99.

This is the same as Glu's recent game Defender & Dragons, whereas its Eternity Warriors 3  went with a standard 5-band economy, while RoboCop  added a $0.99 IAP, ending up with a 7-band economy.

Frontline Commando 2's IAP options

In terms of Discounted Currency ratio (the advantage in buying the most expensive IAP compared to the cheapest), Frontline Commando 2  has a DCr of 1.6, which is the same as Defender & Dragons  and RoboCop, and within the industry standard 1.3-1.8 range.

Its Unit Currency Conversion rate is 20-32 (ie you get between 20-32 Gold per dollar spent on IAP), which is much lower than the standard 100-200 we typically see in games such as Clash of Clans. (Note this is a  purely psychological measure of how much bang the payer gets for their buck.)

This UCC rate is typically for Glu Games, though. Defender & Dragons ranges from 20-32 in terms of its hardest currency (it has two), while Eternity Warriors 3  is 22-52, and RobCop  is 20-51, albeit with a heavily discounted 51 for its introductory $0.99 IAP.

In these respects then, Frontline Commando 2's  IAP economy is typical for a Glu Mobile game.

Fighting up the charts

So much for its internal structures. Let's now look at how successful the game has been.

In terms of its Popularity - its position on the iOS free downloads charts, indexed to the US chart - Frontline Commando 2 has greatly outscored the two previous games in the franchise on iPhone, with a score of 0.43. It's also done well on iPad, with a Popularity score of 0.32.

Looking at its performance in terms of top grossing chart position (Success ratio), it's not improved on the previous games', however. Still, we treat a score of 0.01 or higher as being a commercial success.

Frontline Commando 2 vs franchise

Another ratio we've started to look at is what I call the Monetisation Efficiency (ME) score (basically Success/Popularity). Frontline Commando 2  has performed much worse than the previous games in the series.

This is because all the games have roughly the same Success score, but Frontline Commando 2  has a much higher Popularity score, so it's monetised its audience less successfully.

On Google Play, Frontline Commando 2  hasn't featured in any top grossing top 10 charts so provides a Success and ME score of zero, which is why it's not listed.

Our final score is the basic Monetiser ranking for which Frontline Commando 2 scores 300.

We treat any game with a score of more than 100 as being highly monetised. All the games from Glu Mobile that we've evaluated so far have scored more than 100.

Conclusion: Frontline Commando 2

Popularity ranking (iPhone) = 0.43
Popularity ranking (iPad) = 0.32
Popularity ranking (Android) = 0.0012

Success ranking (iPhone) = 0.01
Success ranking (iPad) = 0.01
Success ranking (Android) = 0

IAP system: 1 hard currency, 1 soft currency, energy system
Currency Discount ratio = 1.6
Average IAP cost (6-band) = $35.82

Monetizer score = 300

Frontline Commando 2  is a well presented and highly polished shooter in terms of its graphics and the user interface and overall user experience. As with all Glu Mobile games, the IAP economy is well integrated and highly monetised, both in terms of the IAP price points and the lure of exclusive in-game items, which effectively can only be purchased with cash.

However, despite being the third game in a fairly successful series, and performing very well in terms of downloads, especially on iPhone, it hasn't converted that volume of downloads and players into a higher level of success than previous games in terms of its position on top grossing charts.

Still, given the iPhone version was a top 10 top grossing game in 47 countries and the iPad version in 49 countries, we can count it a commercial success. Its failure to break the top 50 in the US on either format will be a concern for Glu, though.

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Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz 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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