Strategy MMO title Million Lords, from Million Victories is a mobile title many have grown familiar with since its release in 2019. Back in June we saw Million Victories secure $6.5 million in funding in an effort to establish themselves as a leader in the mobile market and continue to boost its Million Lords title.
In July, Million Lords underwent one of its biggest updates as 3D graphics and PvE elements were introduced into the game. This coincided with the massive milestone of Million Lords reaching two million downloads.
We caught up with Million Victories CEO Benoît Ducrest to discuss the journey of both Million Victories and its flagship title Million Lords. Ducrest also shares the process behind the game's big 3D update and what's coming next from the team.
Pocketgamer.biz: Tell us about the early days of Million Victories and your intentions starting out.
Benoît Ducrest: We started Million Victories for a reason - to make MMO games that everyone could play. For our first game, we wanted to make a strategy game that we would love playing, free of all the cluttered systems we often see today. When we started the playtests with real players, their feedback completely exceeded our expectations. They just couldn’t stop playing the game and go back home! We knew we had something special.
We shared our vision and managed to raise more than $10 million along the way while we worked on improving and gradually adding to Million Lords.
We used to be at an average of 30 minutes daily in playtime per player, but today, players spend an average of two hours daily in the game.Benoît Ducrest
On our journey, major game-changing improvements and decisions were made for Million Lords, like adding a season system and competitive leagues to the game. These changes improved the player experience, translating to even better retention and monetisation. We multiplied our ARPDAU by ten and today, we are sitting at around $3 on average.
This also translates to our community, which is one of the most engaged and active in the mobile strategy game genre. When we launched the game, we used to be at an average of 30 minutes daily in playtime per player, but today, players spend an average of two hours daily in the game. That’s no easy feat nowadays, where every app is competing for our attention.
How has Million Lords grown since its launch?
The game has a special place in our hearts as not only our first project but also the project that carried us this far.
We had a slow start working on our own, sitting at around 10k monthly players in 2020, but thanks to Million Lords’ strong KPIs, we were able to close a seed fundraising with Griffin Partners in 2021, which helped us breach one million downloads while doubling our revenue and active users.
We started ramping up scaling efforts while closing another round of funding with Eurazeo and Griffin partners along the way in March 2023. With this influx of investments, we are currently scaling the game, which recently reached two million downloads in a fraction of the time it took for us to make the first million while maintaining 200k monthly players, which is definitely very exciting for us!
It’s like managing a big city with 200,000 strategy game fans worldwide and ensuring they are having the best experience. It’s really humbling to see our project take such proportions.
What is the size of your team right now?
As the game rose in popularity, we needed to hire more and more talented people. Today, we have a multicultural team of 30 people from diverse creeds and beliefs, which is one of the reasons for our creativity.
With Céline, my co-founder, our goal was to hire not only the best and brightest for this project but also those who fit our company’s culture, which is based on respect, originality, and ambition. I am happy to see it turned out to be such a gender-balanced and diverse team throughout all units, from development to marketing, our artists and all those in support roles.
We do everything in-house, from development to publishing and marketing, which makes us that much more proud of our work, especially when we accomplish milestones like revolutionising the genre.
By going full 3D, we are beating the industry’s biggest players who just simulate it through 2.5D techniques.Benoît Ducrest
The game received a major update from 2D to 3D. Why make the change?
After revolutionising the 4X concept by basically going back to the roots of what makes a strategy game fun and engaging with Million Lords, we also wanted to revolutionise its appearance and we felt that right now, when we are getting an investment influx, is the right time.
The number of players enjoying Million Lords is ramping up and we feel the new refreshed 3D look will help us reach even more true strategy game fans. Plus, I feel everyone likes seeing their favourite game getting better graphics, so we took on the challenge. We are all excited about this new look over here!
By going full 3D, we are beating the industry’s biggest players who just simulate it through 2.5D techniques. After overcoming them on the technical and visual aspects, we also plan on surpassing them in terms of player number and revenue as well!
And what was the development process like? Revamping the game into a 3D world.
Seeing the game’s success, we wanted to take Million Lords to the next level and revolutionise the game, as we knew this would stimulate the game’s ongoing growth even more!
It was really a daring challenge. Not many studios would have taken this risk to change a game that was already performing incredibly well! We also had to be inventive in order to bring both quality and performance to all players. But challenge and ambition are in our DNA, so we took the risk.
I’m glad to say we overcame that challenge with flying colours, as 3D is a huge success. The team is of course responsible for this accomplishment, but we couldn’t have done it without the massive support of our players. We involved them early in the process, and they gave us incredible feedback and suggestions that we were able to incorporate into the game.
We are so happy to see that the 3D version of Million Lords is not only more beautiful but also runs even better than it did before. I’m so proud of our team, which was able to bring our vision to life.
Moreover, the early numbers are very promising, as we are seeing an Improvement in our ROAS by up to 20% and player playtime by 7%, which is only the beginning.
The update isn’t all visual, it added new features too. Can you tell us a little about those and what you hope these changes will mean for the game?
Improving visual features was crucial for us, but enriching the gameplay was equally important.
Which is why the update also comes with two new major features. The marauder enemy camps, which are a PVE feature and a new top league, the Legendary League.
We are very glad to see players love interacting with each other through PvP, which is Million Lords’ core, but we felt that AI-controlled enemies and objectives would be a great addition that would appeal to a broader audience while adding some variety to the gameplay loop. This feature also serves as a support for PvP competition since loot from this new feature will help players in their campaigns against others in the game.
As for the new league, with things accelerating right now, we also observe players wanting even more competition as more people join the game. That is why we introduced a new top rank league that brings new mechanics and challenges for our most competitive and engaged players, those who don’t shy away from intense challenges.
We want our players to realise we are committed to improving the game and adding new exciting features for the foreseeable future.
We believe that Million Lords has the potential to exceed 100 million downloads and generate more than a billion USD.Benoît Ducrest
Finally, is there anything else that Million Lords fans should know about or anything upcoming for Million Victories?
First of all, we would like to thank our passionate community to which we owe all of this. Their engagement and investment in the game is what shaped the game into what it is today.
As for our future plans for Million Lords, the goal is to keep improving the game and bringing it to its highest potential. We plan to continue improving the game and acquiring new players. Given our current growth and KPIs, we believe that Million Lords has the potential to exceed 100 million downloads and generate more than a billion USD.
We are also working on a very exciting new project with the same approach as we did for Million Lords: starting with a successful core genre, we redefine it by removing the boring stuff, adding never seen mechanics and simplifying the controls to make it more fun and appealing to everyone.
We are still at the prototyping phase, but what we have already feels incredibly fun and fresh. I can’t wait to share it with our community and new players!