Build a Queen is a hyper-casual game that hit the app stores in August 2023, courtesy of Supersonic in collaboration with Polystation. It’s not just another drop in the ocean of mobile games – it’s trending with more than 17 million downloads, and all of it in just a brief span of two months.
What exactly has Build a Queen done right to hit the sweet spot with players around the globe?
Build a Queen: Hybridizing Hyper Casual Gameplay
At its core, Build a Queen is a hyper-casual game and an endless runner, mirroring the simplicity and addictive fun similar to other games in the genre like High Heels by Zynga.
Here’s a snapshot: the objective is pretty straightforward and fun – players have to collect the correct body parts and clothing items while controlling a female avatar racing down a track.
Each level throws a fashion challenge, showcasing an outfit that players need to precisely match by grabbing the right items marked in green and dodging the wrong ones marked in red, such as scissors that snip off the avatar’s hair.
Before players dive in, a brief guide – a simple video coupled with a one-sentence explanation – sets the stage, ensuring players aren’t left scratching their heads.
Despite the unpretentious mechanics, the game adds a layer of competition. Players race against another avatar, not real-life players, adding an exciting edge.
The cherry on the top?
The avatar breaks into funny dances on completing a level, adding a humorous, light-hearted touch to the victory.
While rooted in hyper-casual foundations, Build a Queen doesn’t shy away from experimentation.
It incorporates hybrid elements and various meta-layers aiming to amp up engagement and stretch retention.
Because of that, we can also categorize it as a hybrid casual game.
At first glance, the game appears like a random mishmash of different elements. It’s also a weird and somewhat bizarre game thematically and visually. But somehow all of it comes together to create a fun experience for casual players looking to pass the time.
In the next segment, let’s dig deeper into the elements that Build a Queen blends into its gameplay, maintaining the hyper-casual spirit while infusing some fresh elements.
Rudimentary Narrative Meta-Layer
Build a Queen adds a simple but engaging story twist.
As players move through each level, a man, known simply as “him,” waits at the finish line. He’s not just a figure; he’s part of a light and fun love story built into the game.
After every level, a relationship bar fills up a bit.
Players see the friendship with “him” grow from just friends to good friends, and later, bloom into romance. The goal of the added story is to make players more hooked and make them curious to see how the relationship will grow as they progress in the game.
When players reach a new stage in the relationship, they get to make a choice in how they interact with “him.” They can pick a free option or watch a video ad to unlock a different choice.
While adding a narrative meta-layer is a great idea, in Build a Queen, it seems lackluster and overly simplified. But this goes to show that even if the narrative and choices are basic, it still helps to keep people playing because they want to follow the storyline.
Working Towards Rewards
Apart from the fun core gameplay and the light narrative twist, Build a Queen has another strategy to keep players coming back – the allure of special rewards.
As players complete each level, they inch closer to unlocking a special reward. This feature adds an extra layer of excitement and anticipation.
Take the first reward, for instance – a lava lamp. It’s not just about collecting items and growing a relationship; players also work towards earning this funky, retro item.
Why a home décor item you wonder?
Well, this game also has a home and décor meta-layer, but more on that later on in the article.
One of the many things that Build a Queen gets right is introducing customization elements at the perfect time.
Reaching level 4 brings a delightful twist for the players – it’s dress-up time! Players get to add a personal touch by choosing items their avatar will wear. It’s not just about racing and collecting anymore; it’s also about creating an avatar that reflects their style.
The game goes a step further by allowing the addition of makeup to the avatar. This feature accentuates the personalization aspect, giving players more agency and creative freedom in the game. The possibility to make the avatar more ‘them’ makes the gameplay experience more immersive and engaging.
And it doesn’t stop there.
At the end of the customization process, players are presented with an option to upgrade their avatar’s outfit.
This upgrade is smoothly integrated into the game, accessible through a rewarded video ad. It’s a subtle, non-intrusive way of intertwining monetization with game mechanics while offering players an enhancement for their avatar.
Design & Décor Meta
After the fun of dress-up at level 4, Build a Queen presents players with another engaging feature – a home to decorate.
Once players unlock their new space, given by their in-game love interest, they embark on a journey of personalization. The game introduces cash, the main game currency, essential for buying furniture and decorations.
This new phase offers players long-term goals and keeps them coming back.
The aim to earn cash for home decoration gives more purpose to level completion, making every victory not just about progression but also a step closer to achieving a dream virtual home.
Adding a dash of surprise and continued engagement, Build a Queen includes special levels, like the “grow an egg” stage.
This one is a bit weird, but bear with me.
So the love interest presents the player with an egg, kicking off a unique level where the aim is to nurture it to hatch. As players move down the track, they collect items and the egg grows.
Upon completion, players are rewarded with a twist – the egg hatches into a turtle, becoming the player’s new in-game pet.
This unpredictable aspect of Build a Queen keeps the gameplay fresh while players are on their toes and eager to discover what other surprises lay in store as they progress through the levels.
Even as the game dabbles in the bizarre and unexpected, it contributes to the game’s distinctiveness and charm. The various meta-layers, including the special levels, may appear basic in design and graphics, but they align with the hyper-casual game genre.
Focus on Ad-Based Monetization
Build a Queen focuses primarily on in-app ads.
However, in-app purchases are present in the form of a no-ads option and bundles that include no-ads, game currency, and skins. No ads option is permanently placed in the game’s menu, as a button.
When it comes to interstitial ads, they appear fairly frequently, as is the case with most similar games.
There are also ads present in the game menu – it’s a small window where ads are played. But a big focus is also on rewarded video ads, a format players tend to like because they get rewards.
Rewarded Video Ads
Players can opt into watching ads and get various perks in return. For example, multiplying the winnings after a level, and acquiring certain game items from the shop.
A version of rewarded ads also appears during gameplay. During the track players run on, there are also options to watch rewarded video ads.
In another instance, players have the option to stop and help a little girl while running on the track, which triggers an ad. After watching the ad they’re brought to a separate track full of dollar bills they can collect as a reward.
When losing a level, players can go again or watch an ad to get ahead.
As I mentioned before, when players choose what to say to “him”, one option is free, while the other is behind a reward ad.
Simple User Acquisition Strategy: Video + Playable Ads
When it comes to making a splash in the crowded mobile gaming market, user acquisition is paramount, and Build a Queen has adopted a straightforward yet effective approach: leveraging both video and playable ads to attract new players.
Why Gameplay Ads?
The use of gameplay ads is a strategic move for Build a Queen because its gameplay is both funny and weird, easily catching the eye of potential players.
When people see the quirky, unexpected elements of the game in these ads, it sparks curiosity and interest, compelling them to download the game.
The Power of Playable Ads
But the game doesn’t just stop at video ads.
Playable ads are another potent tool in the game’s user acquisition strategy. Playable ads allow potential players to experience the game and get a hands-on feel of the fun gameplay.
This interactive ad format is incredibly engaging, often leading to higher conversion rates as users get to experience the game firsthand before deciding to download it.
Ad Networks and Geographical Reach
According to AppMagic, Build a Queen predominantly utilizes two main ad networks for its user acquisition campaigns: ironSource and Unity. These platforms provide extensive reach and reliability in delivering engaging ads to potential players across the globe.
A closer look at the ad impression data reveals that the majority of these impressions are concentrated in Brazil, Russia, the United States, India, and Indonesia. This geographical insight is valuable for optimizing ad campaigns for the most impactful reach and engagement.
Build a Queen: What Could Be Improved
While Build a Queen is undoubtedly very successful, considering how many people have downloaded it, there’s always room for improvement to ensure sustained success and player satisfaction.
Cohesion Among Meta-Layers
One noticeable area for improvement is the cohesion among the various meta-layers. Presently, they feel somewhat disjointed and affect the seamless flow of gameplay.
The interactive story level, in particular, gives off an air of being a last-minute addition, lacking the polish and integration seen in other game elements.
Polishing the UI/UX
Despite the genre’s inclination towards stylized art styles and straightforward interfaces, elevating the UI/UX design could significantly enhance the gaming experience.
A more polished and intuitive interface can make navigation and interaction more seamless and enjoyable for players.
Addressing Content Concerns
Feedback from the player community highlights some discontent, particularly among women, the main target audience for this game.
In reviews, some players express discomfort with the game’s central theme of dressing up to impress a male character. Others, on the other hand, don’t mind it.
Build a Queen undoubtedly stands as a light-hearted, amusing game perfect for passing the time. These types of games are easy to produce and have a high ad revenue potential, making them an attractive choice for many developers.
However, taking steps to enhance the cohesion of meta-layers, improve UI/UX, and address player feedback on game content can propel Build a Queen and other games like it, to greater heights.
Data source: AppMagic. Get 3 days of free access to all AppMagic’s features, as well as 10% off, by clicking on this link.