Merge games are becoming the next big thing in the puzzle genre.
EverMerge is one of them, and it’s getting more popular by the day.
In this article, I will analyze the EverMerge monetization strategy. How does it monetize its players? Does it have what it takes to compete with the puzzle genre giants?
Time to find out.
Here’s how merge games work.
In these games, players need to drag identical or similar items and merge them together. As they do that, these items upgrade into bigger and better items.
This subgenre is getting some serious traction.
Merge games were popularized back in 2017 by Merge Dragons by Gram Games. Soon after, other games followed. As we all know, the match-3 market is dominated by a few major publishers. For this reason, smaller publishers are turning to alternative mechanics. Merge mechanic is currently the hottest one.
In 2020, the merge game market got a lot of new entrants. The most successful of them were Merge Magic by Gram Games and EverMerge by Big Fish Games. These new titles helped the subgenre grow by 131% in year-over-year revenue (Deconstructor of Fun).
However, in 2021, the merge market is already becoming saturated.
It appears as EverMerge showed up just in time to grab a big piece of the merged pie. At the moment, this game is the #9 top-grossing puzzle game on Google Play.
During its lifetime, it reached solid revenue and download numbers. According to Gamerefinery’s iOS data, EverMerge got to:
- $29,4 million in revenue
- 2,6 million downloads
The download numbers are mainly driven by the game’s smart user acquisition strategy.
However, we’re here to talk money. Let’s go over everything you need to know about the game and its monetization strategy.
When players launch EverMerge, they enter an unusual fairytale world. To create this fairytale world, the game uses a cartoonish art style.
They are welcomed by a familiar face – the Sleeping Beauty. The character does not speak in its usual fairytale tone, but in a humorous and whimsical way. This way, the game tries to hook players with its meta layers early on.
The game’s tutorial teaches players how to merge items. This part of the tutorial is short, interactive, and non-skippable.
After that, the tutorial continues, but with more liberty for the players. The tutorial is organically included in the gameplay – it works as a contextual lesson.
As players play the game and unlock new features, additional tutorial steps appear. For example, at level 4, players unlock the game’s market. They don’t have a choice – they have to visit it. This is also a part of the game’s monetization strategy.
EverMerge is set on a map of land that players can zoom in and out of. To merge items, players need to drag and drop them. All of this feels pretty simple, logical, and intuitive.
However, there is one flaw to the user experience. The map is filled out with items and everything is movable. This can result in a lot of accidental moves.
The game’s home screen comes with a familiar setup. In the upper part of the screen, players can see how many resources they have. Next, the left part of the screen consists of progression features. The right side hosts additional features for engaged players. It includes the game’s market, special offers, orders, and discoveries.
How Does EverMerge Work?
It’s pretty straightforward that the core of this game is – merging.
EverMerge players have to merge identical items together. For example, they can merge three small chests to get a medium chest. After that, they can combine three medium chests into a big chest, and so on.
This game also uses energy mechanics. Players can use energy to either skip wait times or gain more resources.
These core mechanics are a part of the big picture. Players need to constantly discover and rebuild the world. EverMerge has multiple progression layers. As players progress, they discover new map areas, build new items, upgrade their mastery, and unlock new characters.
World-building is a big part of the game. It requires players to put in their time and resources.
Nevertheless, not all items are here to be merged. Some of them work as ingredient items (e.g. candies and wheat). Players need to pick these items up and use them in their recipes.
Sounds like a lot of different elements, right? It is.
For this reason, players need to focus on balancing them all together. This is where resource management comes to light. All of this makes the game more challenging and exciting. At the same time, it boosts the game’s monetization potential.
The Meta Layers
EverMerge follows a trend of meta layers that support the core gameplay. The game includes two popular types of meta layers: character collection and narrative elements.
As players progress, they unlock cartoon/fairytale characters. When they unlock them, they become a part of the narrative. For example, they will meet a Cinderella who is now a notorious shoe designer. Moreover, they will meet characters like gnomes, Snow White, Pinnochio, Little Mermaid, and others.
What is it about these types of meta layers?
First of all, they broaden the players’ motivations to play the game. Other than that, they offer a deeper, thrilling gaming experience. This can boost retention rates and give players more to strive for. Nevertheless, they bring additional monetization options!
EverMerge Monetization Strategy Breakdown
Puzzle players prefer some monetization strategies over others.
As many as 60% of all puzzle players prefer making direct purchases. Moreover, 80% of U.S. puzzle players say they are open to in-app ads (Facebook Gaming).
That makes this audience a great opportunity to leverage both.
Which Monetization Models EverMerge Uses?
EverMerge relies on all three major monetization models: in-app purchases, in-app ads, and subscriptions.
How do they do it? Keep reading to find out.
EverMerge Monetization: In-App Purchases Strategy and Setup
The EverMerge economy consists of two different currencies.
Rubies are the game’s premium currency. As such, this is the only currency players can purchase by using real money. With rubies, players can get almost anything they want from the game. For this reason, the game is pretty stingy with them.
They come in six different offers at price points ranging from $1.99 to $99.99. When it comes to the number of offers, six is the industry standard. These different price ranges cover different groups of players, from low to high-spenders.
Coins are the game’s soft currency. With coins, players can buy different supplies and buildings. The game gives out plenty of soft currency to players as they play and progress. Nevertheless, players can buy coins by using the premium currency.
It’s interesting that the best-selling offer in this game is not the cheapest one. EverMerge’s most popular offer is a pack of rubies at $9.99 (Sensor Tower, free data). This tells us that most of the game’s paying players are mid-spenders. It also suggests that they have an even higher monetization potential.
How In-App Purchases Really Work in EverMerge
Setting in-game store items and prices well is important. However, it is equally important how the game presents the offers to the players.
To find this out, I played EverMerge for seven days. Here’s what I found out.
When I first started playing EverMerge, I quickly leveled up from zero to level three. In this phase, the game is incredibly generous with everything – even the premium currency. For the first ten minutes, I didn’t feel anything lacking.
The first situation where I was missing something happened somewhere on level three. I was missing some ingredients to fulfill an order. Luckily, I still had some rubies to use, so I did.
This way, the game gives players a taste of using the premium currency.
A few minutes later, the same thing happened and – I was out of rubies. Therefore, my only choice was to go to the store and get them.
This was a soft introduction to the game’s monetization strategy.
On my second day of playing, I unlocked the game’s “market”.
The market gives players a chance to spend coins and rubies. It also uses a popular technique to attract them there – a free chest.
Later on, I wanted to harvest wheat. This is one of the situations where the game includes wait-timers. Beforehand, they were set to seconds or minutes. Now, the wait time got way longer – three hours. Of course, the game allows players to skip the wait time – it costs 99 rubies. In this situation, the game lurks players who are impatient and want to get things done immediately.
Nevertheless, this wait timer does not limit a player’s session. They have plenty of other things to do in the game. As such, this monetization feature isn’t something that converts a lot of players. However, it segments those who skip from those who wait. This way, the game can later approach these players with the offers tailored to them.
On this day, I reached level five. As I was wandering around the map, I discovered a special offer on undiscovered land.
The offer brings players the opportunity to unveil new pieces of land and get extra items. It comes at $4.99. This kind of offer appeals to players whose main motivation to play is exploration. These players are also called Treasure Hunters (GameRefinery). They prefer games that give them new areas, items, and other things to explore.
Without it, it will take a lot of gameplay to unlock this area. Players that crave access are extremely valuable for the game. The ones that convert this early to gain access are players with whale potential.
As I kept playing, I unlocked a new fairytale character – Puss in Boots.
Right after that, the first pop-up in the game appeared. It was the game’s Starter Bundle (rubies and coins). Instead of $6.99, the offer was discounted to $4.99. Also, it was time-limited to four days.
It’s a well-known fact that getting a player to spend for the first time is an incredibly difficult task. This is the main purpose of this offer. For this reason, the starter pack has to be attractive. EverMerge does this well by combining three factors:
- Creating a sense of urgency
- Offering a discount
- Bundling items together
There is one thing that is rather bold about it – the price. It is higher than most starter packs I’ve seen in puzzle games (e.g., $1.99 in Homescapes). Nevertheless, the offer appears fairly late in the game. Usually, starter packs appear in the first or second session. Obviously, this game delays pop-up offers until players are really engaged with the game. Only then does it give them an attractive offer like this.
On this day, I progressed to level six. A few minutes later, a new pop-up appeared – a Hero Boost offer.
The offer brings a pack of purchasable items at $3.99 for 24 hours. It’s interesting that this offer does not contain premium currency. It promises that the players will be able to unlock new heroes easier. As such, it aims for players that are focused on the meta-layer of the game – the hero collection.
At this point, my progress slowed down so I was still on level six. At one point, I spotted something new on the map.
It was another offer to access a piece of land – Treasure Island ($8.99).
These kinds of offers don’t come as pop-ups because they don’t target a wide player base. They are here for those players that are engaged enough to look for them.
On my last day of playing, I reached level seven. This was a very important signal for the game.
At that moment, I unlocked the game’s subscription offer named the Gnome Rush.
It works as a battle pass and comes in free and paid versions. Free-to-play players can only get rewards from one track. The second one is reserved for those with a Golden Ticket. Its value is approximately $5, which is the genre standard. However, it comes with one key distinction – players need to use premium currency to buy it (600 rubies).
This way, the game encourages players to buy bigger ruby packs. Since bigger packs are more valuable, it is possible that players will to go for them. For this reason, players will MAYBE spend a couple of bucks more than they would to buy the subscription only.
EverMerge Monetization: In-App Ads
EverMerge is the kind of game that people play to relieve stress and pass the time.
Because of its sheer nature, getting players to spend is hard.
The majority of EverMerge’s player base is non-paying. For this reason, Big Fish Games also included in-app ads in the game.
Which Ad Format Is Used in EverMerge?
This game plays it safe – it uses rewarded video ads.
Rewarded video ads are the most popular ad format of all. According to DeltaDNA, 82% of developers use them. There are many reasons for this.
First, players actually like this ad format. Some of the reasons for this are that they are opt-in and don’t interrupt gameplay. It gets better – rewarded video ads can boost in-app purchases by 6x! (IronSource).
All of this makes them a natural fit for games that monetize with in-app purchases.
How Frequently Do Ads Appear?
In EverMerge, rewarded video ads appear pretty late in the game. During the first few sessions, players aren’t even aware of the option.
Here are three rewarded video ad placements I stumbled upon during my playtime.
Rewarded Video Ad Placement #1
The first rewarded video appeared when I reached level six.
I was in the game’s energy shop when I discovered a new offer. In addition to buying energy with coins, I could also buy energy by watching an ad.
These energy packs are the smallest ones, but still valuable. This is a great offer for free-to-play players. They are probably saving up coins to buy other things from the game, so this offer comes in handy.
Rewarded Video Ad Placement #2
I was building an upgraded house when a wait timer appeared. The wait time was more than two and a half hours.
Then, the game gave me a completely new option – to skip wait time by watching a rewarded video ad. It was either that, spending gems, or simply waiting.
In this kind of situation, waiting feels like a setback. Building an upgraded item like this is a big in-game accomplishment. Therefore, players want to see the fruits of their labor as soon as possible. As a result, it is very likely that they will want to watch a rewarded video ad.
Rewarded Video Ad Placement #3
The third rewarded video ad option came out of the blue. And I mean literally.
A video icon started flowing across my screen. Players can watch an ad and get a free item in return. They can choose between three items, or simply get them all.
This placement is great because most of the time, players lack at least one resource. If this offer brings it to them, it’s a real-life saver.
Overall, this game’s ad placements are unobtrusive and completely optional, which is great.
User Retention in EverMerge
Retention rates tell you a lot about your game’s quality and growth potential.
For this reason, retention and monetization are two things you should always observe as a whole.
One of the things you have to keep track of are the average retention rates in your genre.
Sit back, we’ve got them.
Here are the average retention rates for top puzzle games (GameAnalytics’ Benchmarks+).
The top 2% of puzzle games retain about 53% of players on the first day. After 7 days’ time, about 30% of them keep playing. On day 28, the numbers remain pretty high – 21% of players remain.
When it comes to the top 25% of puzzle games, they typically keep 32% of players on day 1, and 11% after 7 days. These games have a harder time keeping players after 28 days – only 5% of them keep playing.
Does EverMerge’s retention strategy belong to the top of the genre?
Here’s an overview of the main methods EverMerge uses to retain its players.
EverMerge has plenty of things to notify its players about. This includes things like timer countdowns, lottery, energy refills, free chests, etc.
All of these are valid reasons to send out push notifications. The game sends them out moderately, up to three times a day.
Their content is solid, BUT it’s always identical. When players receive these notifications, it doesn’t feel like they’re talking to them specifically – they lack personalization. As a result, they are less likely to engage with them.
Other Retention Strategies
Retention methods include everything a game does to challenge, entertain and reward its players. This includes all kinds of additional content the game regularly adds.
Here are some other retention strategies that can be found in EverMerge:
- Live events
- Daily objectives
- New meta layers
- Daily rewards
There is one thing that is missing from this game’s retention strategy – a social dimension. Players can only log in with Facebook and play across devices. This is about everything this game has to offer on the social plan.
EverMerge has no PVP features, social interactions, or any kind of relationship system with other players. This is the game’s main growth opportunity. Including any of these features would positively affect the game’s player retention. And consequently – EverMerge monetization.
EverMerge Monetization Recap
I’ll just say it – unlike a lot of puzzle games out there, EverMerge is not pay-to-play.
EverMerge monetization is focused on players who want more from the game.
Here are the best things about its monetization strategy:
- Combining three revenue streams (in-app purchases + in-app ads + subscriptions)
- Offering time-limited special deals
- Placing rewarded video ads where players need them
- Offering additional content to purchase
- Occasionally using pop-ups to promote IAP offers
- Additional monetization via the meta layers
- Including a battle pass feature
Wrapping up On EverMerge Monetization
One thing is for sure, the EverMerge monetization strategy follows industry trends. Its subscription offer and the meta layers prove this. However, the game is still young and has some space for improvement.
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