Clockmaker is not the most popular game on the market.
It is not a new game either.
Yet, we have plenty of reasons to talk about it – especially about how it monetizes.
Today, we’re bringing you a deep analysis of the Clockmaker monetization strategy and most important statistics.
How Successful Is Clockmaker?
Clockmaker is a puzzle match-3 game that has been on the market for a while. Belka Games first released it in May 2015. Clockmaker is no ordinary match-3 game. It comes with narrative elements that help the game stand out from the competition.
Following the uptick in late 2019, Clockmaker had many ups and downs. Another significant surge in downloads happened in August 2020, when they reached 900 thousand. In 2022, the game hasn’t been as successful. However, it’s still getting from 100 to 500 thousand monthly downloads.
If we look at all-time downloads, Clockmaker stands at almost 30 million.
While Clockmaker’s downloads are all over the place and have gone up and down during the last couple of years, the game’s revenue seems more stable.
From the game’s release all the way up to the beginning of 2021, the revenues have been growing. After that January 2021 peak worth more than $6 million, the revenues have been moving in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, most games are seeing losses in 2022, both in terms of revenue and downloads.
Overall, this game earned more than $230 million – which makes it a very successful game.
A factor in Clockmaker’s success is how the game advertises. Also, there are all the mechanics, gameplay, and monetization features that make the game.
All of these blend together, making it unique and profitable.
Let me take you through the game’s basics.
Your old uncle invites you to his town. Right away, you can see something is off.
The whole city is covered with a mysterious fog, the houses look just weird, and the citizens remember nothing. As you will learn, there is a villain to the story – the Old Clockmaker. Apparently, he cursed the town and all the houses in it.
As a player, you help out locals and solve mysteries. How? On the match-3 board, of course.
The uncle is also your first tutorial character. He explains everything about the city and guides you through match-3 puzzle solving.
Moreover, you will have to save houses one by one. As each house has an owner, they will give you new tasks to follow.
All in all, players can quickly figure out how the game works. Especially if they are already familiar with the match-3 concept. The tutorial is casual and simple, just like the game.
Clockmaker brings a mystical, 19th-century atmosphere.
The game is cartoonish 2D, but very detailed. Everything in the game looks old-fashioned, from the city houses to match-3 tiles, even the letter fonts.
This is not a common style in mobile games, so it can potentially drive some players away. However, if you feel like an old soul stuck in the modern world, you’re going to love it.
Moreover, you have a wholesome, bird view of the city. The color palette is dark, which adds up to the overall experience. Also, you can play the game both in portrait and landscape orientation.
The game’s home screen features a city map with all the locations to explore.
Besides that, you can see the game’s basic features:
- Gems and lives (top)
- Settings and inbox (top right)
- Events and special offers (left)
- Travel (locked, bottom left)
- Society (bottom left)
- A watch tower (bottom right)
Even though there are plenty of features on the screen, it doesn’t feel cluttered or overwhelming.
The game’s narrative plays a significant role in the user experience. It guides players through the journey and provides smooth transitions.
How Does Clockmaker Work?
Clockmaker is a meta-heavy match-3 game.
The story is what intrigues players early, and keeps them coming back for more. However, they spend most of their in-game time on the board. This is also the key Clockmaker monetization point.
Here’s an overview of some of the game’s most significant mechanics.
Clockmaker uses a traditional, and still the most popular match-3 mechanic – swapping.
There are seven different colored tiles on the board. You have to match three or more same-colored tiles in a row to get them out of the board.
If we compare it to other famous match-3 games, there are some differences. For example, in most games (Homescapes, Candy Crush) you can match tiles in a square. Here, you can’t, and it makes the puzzles more difficult.
If you match more than three tiles, you get boosters (e.g., lightning, explosions). Also, you can get bonuses (e.g., hammer, dynamite) as in-game rewards. Both of these help you complete levels with fewer moves. Moves and bonuses are also a big monetization point of the game.
To even get to the board, you have to have at least one life unit.
Every time you fail on the board, you lose a life. This means if you’re stuck on a level and lose all 5 of them, a wait timer appears. For one life, the wait time is 30 minutes. If you dislike waiting, you can ask your friends for a life point.
Overall, the game is pretty generous with lives. You will often get unlimited lives as a reward for completing a level. However, they don’t last forever, mostly for the next 30 minutes.
Clockmaker handles progression differently than most match-3 games I’ve played.
Here’s the deal.
Progression happens across different locations. You don’t level up yourself, you level up locations. Each location (house) comes with separate puzzles to solve and levels to reach. To unlock a new house, you first need to collect items from the previous houses.
Every time a house level increases, the puzzles get more difficult. New levels come with different obstacles such as rocks and chains. Also, as things become more challenging, players are more likely to make in-game purchases.
Clockmaker Monetization Strategy Breakdown
Puzzle gamers are a specific group of players with specific wishes and interests.
As such, they have certain monetization preferences.
According to the Facebook Gaming report, 60% of puzzle players prefer making direct purchases. Moreover, 80% of U.S. players say they are open to in-app ads.
Is Clockmaker monetization set around this? Time to find out.
Which Monetization Models Clockmaker Uses?
Clockmaker monetization combines in-app purchases with subscription features.
This kind of mix is getting more popular by the day. Subscriptions are no longer limited to mid and hard-core games. Today, we can see subscription features across different genres.
Clockmaker In-App Purchases Strategy and Setup
A ruby icon on the home screen leads you to the in-game store. Here, players can find everything they need.
In this case, the offer revolves around rubies. With them, you can get extra moves on the board. Also, you can use them to buy bonuses.
You can purchase bonuses directly from the store as well, but only as a part of a bundle deal.
Pricing Structure for In-App Purchases
Here’s how the store setup looks like.
First, six highlighted offers appear – two bundle deals and three ruby packs.
The first bundle deal in the store is a Pioneer’s Pack. It costs $1.99 and comes with a 200% more tag.
Next, there is another bundle – Visitor’s Kit. This offer comes at $2.99. According to the tag on it, it is worth 50% more than the regular offers.
Bundle deals in the in-game store are always a good idea. If you have a stock of items that can be bundled and sold as a package – utilize it. The main thing to pay attention to is that the items have to come at a lower price than they would individually.
The rest of highlighted offers are ruby packs. You can get five rubies for $0.99, twenty-eight for 4.99, and sixty for $9.99.
When you click the more offers button, along with these offers, you can see three more expensive ruby offers – from $19.99 to $99.99.
Wondering if the discount tags on the bundle deals are true or just a salesman’s trick?
I did some math on the Pioneer’s Pack to check it out. As it turns out, the offer is worth roughly 52 rubies. Typically, this would cost anywhere between $8 and $9. Hence, yes, at $1.99 the offer really is worth 200% more!
Despite the great value, the bundle deals aren’t the game’s bestsellers. These are the most popular purchases:
- Pile of Rubies $0.99
- Bag of Rubies $4.99
- Sack of Rubies $9.99
These rankings suggest that Clockmaker players mostly make purchases for extra moves on the board. To do this, they only need a couple of rubies.
How In-App Purchases Really Work in Clockmaker
Setting the in-game store items and prices is one thing.
Another, equally important one is – how do players even get there?
To find this out, I played Clockmaker for six days. Here’s my playing diary.
Roughly ten minutes into my first session, the first IAP offer appeared.
It came as a pop-up upon completing a level at the uncle’s house.
It was named Best Value and brought two offers: one at $1.99 and the other at $4.99. On top of that, it brought twelve hours of unlimited lives. These offers were heavily discounted – 50% and 65%.
However, time is of the essence. The offer was only valid for an hour. This is a potential first purchase of the game for players who usually make in-app purchases.
However, most players will probably feel like they don’t need it this early. In this phase, completing match-3 levels is still quite easy.
On this day, I was completing levels at another house. A few minutes into the session, a pop-up appeared.
This offer was named Great Deal and came with lower price points than the previous one. I could pick between two ruby offers at $0.99 and $1.99. Plus, the purchase offered 6 hours of infinite lives. The discount rates here were even higher than in the previous offer, 65%, and 75%.
Players had more time to decide on this one – 12 hours. This is a period in which the levels got slightly more difficult. Therefore, having these low-priced offers available is a good idea to try and convert new players.
A few minutes into my login, bam, another pop-up appeared.
The pop-up highlighted a black cat. It brought three special offers of rubies plus boosters.
They came at $2.99, $1.99, and $0.99. Here, the discounts went from 65% to 80%. This offer was valid for 12 hours. The strategy here was to offer even more choices at different price points.
Buying all three offers brings the most value, as well as a black cat helper. The cat brings minor perks but also works as a cosmetic addition that might convert some players.
Just as I logged in, a pop-up quickly reminded me of the “cat offer”. It was only purchasable for a couple more minutes.
It didn’t take long for a new offer to appear.
After an unsuccessful level attempt, a Pioneer’s Pack offer appeared. If the players were not into cats, they might like this one better. It comes with a dog helper! It seems like the game is relying on people’s affections towards animals to help push in-app purchases.
This bundle offer came at $4.99. Just like the previous ones, the offer was tempting and valuable – it came at a 50% discount.
At the same time, it was very different. The thing is, you could only buy it at that moment. Quitting the offer meant losing it for good. This is a good job of creating a sense of urgency.
On this same day, I got a message in my inbox saying: New Travel Season! Get ready for even more interesting adventures and incredible prizes. This was an intro for the game’s subscription offer.
This day got me – nowhere. All of a sudden, the levels became really hard to finish.
I spent a lot of time and a lot of lives trying to complete them. This time, there was not even a special offer to help me out with that.
Somehow I got past the difficult level. However, the next ones were difficult as well.
After failing a level, the Pioneer’s Pack appeared again. Obviously, it wasn’t really a one-time opportunity. Upon declining it, a new monetization-even feature appeared – a Clock Safe.
The Clock Safe is an event that appears every week and lasts for 4 days. This is the game’s piggy bank. When you pass levels in the game and collect rubies they are added to the safe. When you collect enough rubies in the safe, you can buy them at a special price – $1.99. The more rubies you collect, the more valuable the offer becomes.
This works great for engagement as well, as it encourages players to intensively play the game during the time the offer is active.
Day X: Travel Season
Even though the game announced it, I did not get to experience the game’s Travel Season.
A travel season lasts for 4 weeks. During this time, players need to complete daily and weekly tasks, and their efforts will be rewarded. This is the game’s subscription, a type of battle pass.
Purchasing the Gold Pass at $6.99, you get exclusive rewards. This is a pretty high price point for a subscription offer. Especially when you compare it to the top games in the genre. For example, a pass for the Homescapes’ subscription offer costs $4.99.
Clockmaker In-App Ads
This game’s app store description claims this game contains ads so I was expecting them.
However, it doesn’t. Not anymore.
The thing is, the game never had ads before. At the beginning of 2021, the developer decided to give it a try.
But then the reviews began.
“I used to love this game until they added all the ads. I just deleted it from my phone. Too annoying.” – DM Healing.
“The reason for only 3 stars now is the ads. There are way too many. I don’t mind the ones that give a bonus—that I chose to click on—but the pop-up ads are too disruptive and ruin the game.” – Katya1030.
Apparently, the ads experiment didn’t work, as they were quickly removed from the game.
“Thank you for getting rid of the ADS !! You guys actually listen, that’s a first! LOL.” – Elizabeth.
Most of the player reviews were clear about one thing – they hate interstitial ads. However, that’s not the case with rewarded video. Most of the reviews suggested they are okay with this type of ad.
At the moment there are no ads in the game. However, it might be a good idea to try again – with rewarded video ads only.
User Retention in Clockmaker
Players need to be constantly entertained, challenged, and surprised.
Only when this is done well, they will maybe become paying users.
Let’s take a look at the Clockmaker retention rates. On the first day, the game successfully keeps 29% of players. After a week, the numbers are cut to 13%. On day 30, 7% of players remain.
The numbers place it in the top 25% of puzzle games. These games have average retention rates of 32% for day 1, 11% for day 7, and 5% for day 28 (Benchmarks+).
Clockmaker is putting in a lot of effort into retaining players. Let’s go over the game’s main retention strategies.
This game has so many in-game events it is hard to keep track.
At every moment, there are at least two events on your home screen. Sometimes, there are as many as four.
Some of the events are ongoing, some are temporary. There were the Lantern, Clockville Express, Buried Deep, Cryptex, etc. No, really, it was hard to catch up with all of them.
With all of these events, you always have a chance of winning extra rewards. They are all different themed and some have a mini-game feeling. Others even encourage you to finish a level on the first try, which can impact in-app purchases.
The downside? So many events at once can feel overwhelming.
Just like with events, the game is going big with mini-games as well. Not only are there many, but they are wildly diverse.
Here are just a few examples.
On my second day of playing, a Crystal Ball pop-up appeared. It displays a vision of the town’s future. Luckily, you have control of the vision. Your riddle-solving helps kids put out a fire, cross a river, etc.
A day later, there was bingo.
Bingo is actually a combination of an event and a mini-game, and it’s quite an interesting concept. You collect bingo balls, mark your numbers and win prizes in real-time bingo. However, to play bingo, first, you need to collect bingo balls. They appear on the match-3 board while you play the regular levels.
Mini-games are always a welcome feature to break the repetitiveness of the match-3 concept. Therefore, it is definitely a good idea to include them every once in a while.
Every day you log in, you get to claim your daily gift.
Right away, you’re in for some daily excitement. The gifts depend on a game of luck. You need to spin a machine that will give you a random reward.
Push notifications are a powerful retention tool. At the same time, they are a double-edged sword.
They need to have a purpose and clear value. Otherwise, they are basically spam.
During the time I played Clockmaker, I stumbled upon three types of push notifications:
- Daily gift notifications
- Event notifications
- Lives restored notifications
The game’s push notification strategy is well-done. It’s great because the content is mixed up around different in-game events. Another good thing is their frequency – the game sends out 1 to 3 notifications per day.
Even though the content of the notifications was fun and engaging, it has some flaws.
First, they lack personalization. This could be done by adding my in-game username. The second flaw is sending out identical content. For example, I received several daily login notifications that were exactly the same.
Besides these retention features, there are some others worth mentioning such as guild features, social media features, personalization, and in-game rewards.
Clockmaker Monetization: Best Practices & Suggestions
This game doesn’t have the perfect monetization strategy. No game does.
However, its rising revenue chart is telling us it is doing a lot of things right. Here are some of them:
- Combining two monetization models (in-app purchases+subscriptions)
- Listening to the users (removing the ads)
- Making special offers valuable and diverse
- Using in-game events to push in-app purchases
- Including a piggy bank feature
Of course, there are some things that could be done better.
The first one is obvious – players being stuck on a level a few days into playing. This will make almost every non-payer frustrated. Making things challenging is one thing, but making them impossible feels like pay-to-play. Rewarded video ads would be a good solution to help non-paying players out in these types of situations.
The second one is the timing of the special offers. They appeared at times when using them was not necessary (at the beginning). Yes, introducing IAPs early is a good practice, but not so many are necessary for the first few sessions.
Final Thoughts on Clockmaker Monetization
As you can see from this analysis, Belka Games is actively looking for the best Clockmaker monetization strategy. From what it looks like, they are on the right path to finding one.
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