Triple Match 3D, a puzzle game published by Boombox Games in April 2022, has been making waves in the mobile gaming world. So far, it reached more than 10 million downloads across both Apple and Android devices.
By August 2023, the game saw a surge in downloads, close to 800,000 in that month alone. Financially, it’s a titan, racking up more than $130 million from in-app purchases. A staggering 38% of these downloads and 75% of the revenue are US-based.
While you may think that Triple Match 3D is just another match-3 game, these numbers tell a different story.
As far as industry rankings go, it sits as the 11th top-grossing game of 2023 so far. It’s hot on the heels of Toon Blast, which occupies the 10th spot. Despite not having as large a player base as some other titles, its high revenue-per-player ratio can’t be ignored.
But what makes this game stand out from the ocean of similar games in the app stores? Let’s find out.
A Different Take on a Match-3 Game: Going the 3D Route
While match-3 games have been around for what seems like eons, Triple Match 3D adds a distinctive layer – literally. The game takes the tried-and-true match-3 formula and propels it into the third dimension. The difference is not just cosmetic; it deeply impacts the gameplay and the strategies players need to employ to conquer the board.
The uniqueness of Triple Match 3D’s 3D mechanic serves as a unique selling point that sets it apart in a crowded market.
The 3D subgenre is still relatively fresh, and developers are just beginning to explore the gameplay possibilities. You won’t find the crushing competition that populates the 2D match-3 space, a battleground filled with industry titans like Candy Crush, Royal Match, and Homescapes.
This makes Triple Match 3D a bit of a rare gem, providing opportunities to advertise and acquire players in a less saturated field.
The move to 3D not only offers gameplay innovation but also brings with it marketing advantages. The differentiation from 2D games provides a compelling narrative for user acquisition campaigns, making it easier to catch the eye of potential players who are overwhelmed by the plethora of 2D options.
Simple, But Addictive Gameplay: A Blueprint for Engagement
On the surface, the gameplay of Triple Match 3D might seem almost too simple, but there lies its genius. The game presents players with a pile of three-dimensional items stacked atop one another.
Match three of the same items to clear them from the board.
Sounds simple enough, but this basic concept is masterfully executed to create an addictive experience.
Easy Onboarding: The Importance of First Impressions
For game developers, the game offers a valuable lesson in user onboarding.
A straightforward tutorial ensures that players can effortlessly grasp the basic mechanics within the first few levels. This low entry barrier is an excellent way to minimize churn at the early stages.
Strategic Layers: More Than Just Matching
Another aspect to consider is the introduction of goal items – specific items players must match to complete a level.
This element adds a layer of strategic thinking to the gameplay. Players have to balance clearing out the board to reach the goal items while also keeping an eye on the clock.
Progressive Increase in Difficulty: A Nuanced Approach to User Engagement
When it comes to retaining players, getting the difficulty balance right is critical, and Triple Match 3D nailed this.
The game smartly starts off with levels that are almost too easy, serving the dual purpose of drawing players in and making them feel accomplished. The psychological impact of this shouldn’t be underestimated when we’re designing our own games.
The Subtle Art of Difficulty Scaling
The game’s progression isn’t strictly linear or exponential but employs a more nuanced approach. Levels tend to gradually ramp up in complexity, and then a notably challenging level appears. That level also gets a badge indicating it’s a challenging one.
But the level after, however, is not more challenging but rather tends to be a bit easier. After that, the difficulty once again increases gradually.
This type of difficulty curve is a valuable lesson for us in keeping player engagement high. It punctuates periods of smoother sailing with intense challenges that disrupt any onset of monotony. This undulating pattern in difficulty levels keeps players on their toes and maintains a dynamic user experience that helps to prolong interest.
Layering Complexity: Items and Objectives
The escalation in difficulty is primarily tied to items and objectives.
As players progress, they’re faced with more items in the pile and items that are increasingly similar in shape and color. This effectively raises the bar for what’s required in terms of concentration and pattern recognition.
Boosters: Aiding but not Dumbing Down
To offset the increased difficulty, the game introduces various boosters that players can use. These aid but don’t trivialize the challenge, preserving the delicate balance between accessibility and complexity.
For game developers, understanding when and how to introduce such gameplay aids can be crucial for maintaining a satisfying player experience without making it feel like a cakewalk. If you’re looking to develop a game that has long-term retention at its core, the methods employed by Triple Match 3D are worth serious consideration.
Clever Use of Boosts: Guiding User Behavior and Monetization
The way Triple Match 3D employs in-game boosts is strategic. It introduces them in a way that enhances gameplay and lays the ground for monetization.
The boosts are rolled out gradually, ensuring players are eased into the concept without feeling overwhelmed.
Introducing Boosts: A Lesson in Pacing
The introduction of boosts is paced out across levels. Starting with the Fan boost after level 6, which shuffles the board, the game steadily adds more. By doing so, it helps players get accustomed to the new elements of gameplay. This is a useful practice to note, as it can help in avoiding cognitive overload for players while introducing new mechanics.
Variety of Boosts: Player Experience and Strategic Choices
The boosts themselves offer a range of effects, from the Magnet, which collects up to three goal items, to Undo, which removes the last item from the match bar. This adds another layer of complexity and strategic choice for the players.
Later boosts like Lightning Storm and Clock Booster are not just added to the selection but also incorporated into the gameplay, as they can be collected from the pile of items.
Hook, Line, and Sinker
Initially, the boosts are free to try.
However, as players advance, these boosts require in-game currency (coins). Players get coin rewards regularly, but it takes time to collect enough for boosts, nudging players toward in-app purchases instead.
This approach is an effective way to allow players to become accustomed to the helpful effects of boosts, increasing the likelihood that they will make in-app purchases later on.
Resource Management: The Bar and Coins
Another noteworthy point is the game’s match bar, which fills as players select items. When this bar runs out of space, players must spend coins to clear it, adding another layer to in-game resource management and monetization approach.
Rewarding Users to Keep Up Engagement
In any successful mobile game, the reward system is working behind the scenes to keep players engaged. Triple Match 3D leverages this aspect to perfection.
The game is abundant with rewards and perks, making sure that the players always have something to look forward to. But it’s not just about keeping players happy; it’s a multi-faceted strategy aimed at both engagement and monetization.
A Variety of Reward Types: Daily, Weekly, and Milestone-Based
Triple Match 3D offers an assortment of rewards that keep coming at players from different angles.
Daily gifts keep them logging in, with the grand prize available after six days. Weekly challenges, which unlock after level 11, offer additional engagement opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Star Chest and Level Chest provide tangible benefits for in-game progress, dishing out boosts and coins when certain milestones are achieved.
Extra Lives and Crown Rush
Even the core gameplay mechanics get in on the action. Extra lives serve as a powerful reward, mitigating the frustration that can come from failure. The Crown Rush feature is another stroke of genius – it rewards players who win levels without losing a life by starting subsequent levels with boosters.
Monetization Through Rewards: A Double-Edged Sword
All these rewards serve a dual purpose.
While they offer immediate in-game benefits, they are also cleverly tied into the in-app purchase ecosystem. Players get accustomed to the helpful boosts and plentiful rewards, so when they eventually run out, the psychological groundwork has been laid for them to make a purchase.
Offering Relevant and Timely In-App Purchases
In-app purchases, when done right, can be a win-win for both developers and players. Triple Match 3D showcases this balance exquisitely. It earns its impressive IAP revenue through a blend of clever timing, attractive offers, and psychological nudges.
Timing Is Everything: Introducing IAPs at Key Moments
The introduction of IAPs is meticulously timed to correspond with the player’s journey. The ‘No Ads’ offer is the first to pop up, appearing after level 5.
This offer is also permanently present as a button in the game’s interface.
Later, as the game’s difficulty ramps up and the player’s stash of coins starts to dwindle, a variety of IAP offers make their entrance.
Bundled Offers: The Psychology of the “Great Deal”
The Beginner’s Bundle is particularly fascinating. Priced at $4.99, it offers both coins and boosts and creates a sense of urgency with its “limited-time” label.
In the same pop-up, players are also offered the Find Bundle, which is priced at $9.99 for the same set of items as the Beginner’s Bundle. The goal here is to make the Beginner’s Bundle seem like a great deal and nudge users to make that first purchase.
The Small Coin Pack, although modestly priced at $1.99, emerges as the top-selling and most popular IAP offer.
Why Bundles Work
Bundles create a perception of value for money.
They give the player multiple items at once, making it seem like they’re saving money compared to buying those items individually. This feeds into the consumer psychology that loves a bargain, thereby making bundles one of the most attractive types of IAPs. It’s the classic “buy more, save more” scenario, and it’s just as effective in a mobile game as it is in a retail store.
Effective User Acquisition Strategy
User acquisition is at the heart of any successful mobile game, and Triple Match 3D is no exception. What sets this game apart is its finely-tuned strategy that not only attracts a broad spectrum of players but also ensures they stick around.
Choice of Ad Networks: The Big Two
A majority of the game’s advertising impressions originate from two primary ad networks: Google AdMob and Facebook. It’s a strategic choice that aligns well with the game’s primary markets. With 31% of ad impressions coming from the U.S., followed by Germany, the UK, France, and Italy, they’re targeting countries known for high player engagement and spending.
The Video Advantage: Creating an Emotional Hook
While many games opt for a mix of ad formats, Triple Match 3D leans heavily into video ads. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. The video ads serve dual purposes: to excite and to educate.
Enhanced Reality: The Glamour Shot
The first type of video ad is a glamorized version of the game. It features a 3D cylinder pile of items that spill out as they’re matched. Though it’s not an exact representation of the gameplay, it serves its purpose by capturing the viewer’s imagination and promising a satisfying experience.
If you’re aiming to dazzle your potential players, this is how it’s done.
Simplified Gameplay: The Soft Sell
The second type of video ad takes a different tactic. It presents the game’s items neatly arranged on shelves, making it easier for players to envision the matching process. It’s an attractive proposition for those who prefer straightforward, uncomplicated gameplay.
Also, it’s a great example of utilizing current ad creative trends for casual games, as many puzzle games, and particularly 3D puzzle games, are utilizing shelves as a part of their ads.
Triple Match 3D: What Could Be Improved?
As with any successful game, there’s always room for improvement. Triple Match 3D has garnered an impressive following, but several aspects could propel it into a whole new league of profitability and user engagement.
Aesthetic and Usability: The Need for Polish
Let’s start with the user interface and overall aesthetic appeal. While functional, the game could undoubtedly benefit from a design overhaul. A polished look and feel can contribute to user satisfaction and increased session length.
Gameplay Complexity: A Richer Experience
Adding extra features or meta-layers could introduce more depth to the gameplay. For example, elements like branching storylines, or unlockable characters and settings to keep the player base more deeply engaged over the long term.
Live Events: Engaging the Community
Live operations, or liveops, can create dynamic and engaging environments. Adding more special events, time-limited challenges (like the ones in the photo above), and seasonal themes can all serve as powerful motivators for players to return.
Player vs. Player (PvP) Elements: Competitive Thrills
Implementing PvP competitions could ratchet up engagement and monetization in a big way. Players get to challenge one another, perhaps even wagering in-game items or currency, adding a layer of excitement that’s hard to replicate in single-player modes.
User Acquisition: Doubling Down on Success
Triple Match 3D could go even bigger with more investment in user acquisition campaigns. After years of experience in the UA field, we’ve found that diversifying ad creatives, exploring new conceptual directions, and even broadening the range of ad platforms could all contribute to accelerated growth.
If you’ve found a good formula, why not scale it up?
What are your thoughts on these areas of improvement? Feel free to share your insights.