Monopoly Go!: x1.5 Revenue From LiveOps

Nikita Baikalov and Andrei Zubov from AppMagic explains the success of Monopoly Go! in detail.

Coin Master’s dominance in the social casino genre is over. In the first quarter of 2024, Monopoly Go! outperformed its main competitor by a factor of 2, generating $336 million in IAP revenue. The success lies in many factors and a few of those you probably know from many other deconstructions this game has deservedly received. Yet, there is still much to learn from Scopely’s approach.

While admiring how the company actively, if not aggressively, acquires traffic utilizing the advantages of the original IP, it is easy to overlook the extensive effort it takes to retain such a large mass of players. The LiveOps of Monopoly Go! have played a crucial role and can provide the industry with many valuable insights.

How does the concept of a board instead of a slot machine allow to better combine events with core gameplay? How does one give players a break from the core experience without breaking their flow? Can a single twist to the existing formula lead to a revenue boost of 55%? All the answers can be found in this research.

After reviewing all the top games in the casual casino genre, we came to the conclusion that they often copy certain elements from each other. This applies to LiveOps as well. However, Scopely’s creative decisions have enabled Monopoly Go! to perform significantly better than others. To illustrate these decisions, we compared Monopoly Go! directly with its main competitor and former leader of the genre—Coin Master by Moon Active.

Monopoly Go! Destroying the Monopoly of Coin Master

Let us look briefly at the basics of the social casino genre, also known as casual casino. The core gameplay of the genre is based on the thrill of randomness and the flow of continuous on-the-move spending, typically through slot machines, dice, or wheels. The spins, rolls, and throws generate soft currency, which can then be spent in the meta gameplay, most often represented by straightforward renovation mechanics with no choices involved.

An important element of the meta is the social component: in addition to building, players can steal soft currency from each other and destroy each other’s buildings to slow the opponents’ progression. This mechanic boosts short- and long-term retention and is deeply integrated into the gameplay of Coin Master and its followers, including Monopoly Go!. It allows players to antagonize each other and seek out revenge, while also motivating to launch the game more often to replenish protection shields and fight back.

The success story of Monopoly Go! is well-researched; therefore, we will only outline the basics here. First, let’s acknowledge the value of the Monopoly IP. According to Scopely, leveraging the Monopoly IP results in a very low cost per install (CPI), allowing the company to spend less than a quarter of the lifetime revenue on UA and achieve marketing recoup rates within 120 days.

Looking at the download charts, we can say that Monopoly Go! has been proactively purchasing traffic since its launch with one straightforward goal—to secure the game’s position at the top and beat the ever-dominant Coin Master. The latter, on the other hand, is way past the peak UA activity observed from 2018 to 2020. After so many years on the market, you can no longer acquire new players as efficiently. The scale of the game is still more than enough to prevent Coin Master’s copycats from threatening its market share. However, competing with a rapidly growing hit powered by original features and a well-known IP is much harder.

Using data from our LiveOps and Updates Calendar, we have analyzed the events of both games and are ready to share our findings. And it all starts with Scopely’s unfair advantage.

Board Game vs. Slot Machine: Monopoly IP Paving the Road to Richer LiveOps

When you first launch Monopoly Go!, it strikes you immediately just how seamlessly traditional casual casino events and activities are integrated into the board game format. However, as you continue to play, it becomes clear that this goes beyond mere cosmetic adjustments. The differences between Monopoly Go! and Coin Master in terms of event strategy are well-illustrated in our LiveOps & Updates Calendar.

The first thing that might catch your eye is the length of events in Monopoly Go!. Although both games usually have 6 to 8 parallel events at the same time, Monopoly Go! has a greater number of short-term ones that change throughout the day. Such stacks of short-lived irregular events might appear chaotic and confuse players. That is not the case, however, since the game manages not to overwhelm but rather feel generous and entertaining instead. This approach further engages the players and boosts short-term retention by promoting multiple daily logins to avoid missing out.

One of the reasons why such natural implementation of short-term events is possible is crafting the core gameplay around a stylized game board from Monopoly. To progress along, players need to accumulate event points, and Monopoly Go! offers a neat solution: the spaces on the board are covered with event markers. Thus, there are always 40 slots for potential event currency placement on the screen (vs 9 in Coin Master), which gives more flexibility for the LiveOps.

For example, back in February, both games featured Valentine’s Day events. However, this date also coincided with the Super Bowl 2024: one of the most media-covered sports events in the United States. Monopoly Go! responded promptly and dedicated an additional event to the championship, which would have been much harder to balance in Coin Master. In Monopoly Go!, you can just place event currency on different tiles, making the journey even more rewarding. In Coin Master, if you add several event currencies inside the slot machine, you can create an illusion that the events are crowding each other out: you appear to have more possible combinations and, therefore, a smaller chance of being lucky and getting three in the row.

Efficiently managing such events and celebrations is crucial for any LiveOps team. The joy in the air has a magic power to open player wallets with a whoosh. That is why, having the capacity to organically integrate more special events like this into the core gameplay makes the LiveOps particularly lucrative!

Balancing a casual casino game, creating the right flow, and improving the LiveOps is an extensive topic, and we cannot possibly cover it all with just one article. If you wish to learn more, let us know, and we will prepare separate in-depth research for you!

Event Mechanics, Content Reuse, and the Art Of Balance

Casual casino games often introduce LiveOps early on to compensate for the usual monotony of core and meta gameplay, and the events quickly become one of the key daily motivators for players. Typically, Monopoly Go! offers up to 8 simultaneous events. Main events last for several days and are displayed at the top of the screen as progress bars, providing players with clear goals and valuable rewards for achieving milestones.

In Monopoly Go!, certain events might include competitive or cooperative elements: some are based on the core mechanics, while others offer new experiences that we’ll describe later. There are also short-term events and bonuses that last from several minutes to several hours and are much less variable in terms of mechanics than the main event. All the events are placed as separate widgets on the main screen, allowing players to monitor their progress without leaving the screen.

Such close ties to the core gameplay are one of the most important things for LiveOps in casual casinos. The majority of revenue comes from selling additional moves for the core gameplay, be it dice rolls or slot machine spins. Monopoly Go!’s core gameplay offers simultaneous progression in all the active events and requires players’ attention only to reward them for reaching certain milestones.

However, there is still a need for a break. As addictive as the spinning casino mechanic is, the lack of varying experiences might bore the players and create a feeling that the game has nothing to offer. This is where the hardest part of the balance comes in, and Monopoly Go! excels at it.

Events like Prize Drop, Valentines Partners, and Cash Grab offer new gameplay situations that are enough to justify moving away from the core gameplay for some time.

Coin Master, on the other hand, actively reuses mechanics from the core and meta gameplay in its events. Focusing on redesigns rather than mechanical novelties certainly reduces production costs, benefiting the business’s economy. However, it increases the risk of players losing their flow and questioning the value of repetitive events that are too similar to the core gameplay. Moreover, even minor events in Coin Master often require screen transitions, which might pull the players out of the flow if the rewards for leaving do not justify the interruption.

Coin Master’s events reusing its core and meta mechanics:

The lack of gameplay diversity can significantly affect the performance metrics. A notable example is Dice Dreams: another game in the same casual casino genre. While Dice Dreams does not threaten the market dominance of Monopoly Go! and Coin Master, it still shows a decent performance and has its audience. In March 2023, the game saw a significant boost in revenue metrics after launching a new pet-themed event. This change caught the attention of many, including teams behind Coin Master and Monopoly Go!, who quickly introduced similar mechanics in their games.

The core mechanic involves a wheel of fortune that, when spun, awards points and fills a progress bar. While the Coin Master event was heavily inspired by that of Dice Dreams, Monopoly Go! took it further. Rather than simply moving a token along the path, Monopoly Go! required players to bake a cake—not alone but with another player from their friend list. This event isn’t monetized directly; however, to progress, players must earn event points through core gameplay, encouraging additional move purchases. And the moves are featured in nearly every offer.

The introduction of this new event and the refinement of its mechanics proved to be the right move. The launch of Baking Partners was followed by a noticeable increase in the game’s revenue, which we can immediately see in the LiveOps calendar: a 55% spike post-event!

Given its successful performance, developers at Scopely are strategically choosing not to schedule this event on the regular. Instead, they use it quite rarely, often reserving it for special occasions like Halloween and Valentine’s Day Eve.

What about Coin Master’s take on the event? Being largely inspired by Dice Dreams, it lacked originality and did not perform as well. To understand why Monopoly Go! did better, let’s compare how the core event mechanic is implemented in both games.

In Dice Dreams, players could feed and grow their pet, setting a clear goal and adding a psychological layer to their progression. Monopoly Go! uses different instruments but achieves a similar psychological impact. Players consistently see how much more they need to invest to reach the next baking milestone and complete the cake, but most importantly, they feel responsible for finishing the baking. The players bake 4 cakes with 4 different partners and need to diversify their contributions so that no friend feels abandoned.

When it comes to Coin Master, there is no additional layer of psychological motivation: only a fortune wheel and a progress bar. Considering that there are other events with a fortune wheel in the game, the new event just fails to capture significant attention.

Friendship Is Money: How Co-op Can Sometimes Beat PvP

As previously mentioned, the social element significantly defines the casual casino genre. That is why it is especially important to take a look at how Scopely and Moon Active treat social LiveOps in their titles.

At first, it seems like Coin Master does it better than Monopoly Go!, offering players a greater variety of competitive events with different mechanics, including, for instance, 1×1 PvP. Monopoly Go!, on the other hand, limits its competitive element in LiveOps to simple leaderboards.

However, it seems like Scopely’s strategy was to move away from competitive events and focus on cooperative ones instead. Though the original Monopoly is well known for its ability to break families and destroy friendships, Monopoly Go! chooses the path of generosity, praise, and positivity. Yes, your friends sometimes end up on your board and make you pay rent if you land on their tile—snatching your soft currency. But isn’t this minor expense worth having a picture of your friend on your board?

Remember the earlier examples of players getting event currency along with the soft currency, not instead of it? Remember how going to jail or paying taxes might still be rewarding? How do you bake your cakes together with your friends? This is the thing about Monopoly Go!. The game wants you to feel good 99% of the time.

For example, in Coin Master, players have three chances to steal others’ coins but face four possible stashes, with one typically empty. This can lead to disappointment after getting a “no coins” message on the screen. In contrast, Monopoly Go! offers a less frustrating mechanic. Players face a selection of 12 vault doors, behind which lie small, medium, or large piles of gold. Players continue opening doors until they find three matching treasures. The least favorable outcome in Monopoly Go! is simply winning a smaller prize, which can feel less disappointing than making a futile attempt to steal and then losing altogether.

Another example is destroying the shields of your friend. If you happen to bump into a friend’s shield while hitting their building, Coin Master gives you ~x4 lower reward, while Monopoly Go! offers ~x2 less gold: way less punishing. The same approach applies to LiveOps as a whole: Monopoly Go! even introduces its first events earlier than Coin Master does to give more content to the players and boost engagement earlier on.

It’s important to consider how specific player interactions align with the overall mood and vibe of your game. Monopoly Go! reduces the stress associated with losing, cultivates a spirit of generosity, and encourages collaboration among players, promoting a strong sense of community. Of course, PvP mechanics are still a great way to engage players, and we might see Scopely implementing them in the future, but the current focus on constant winning and co-op can teach us a lot.

Monopoly Go! tries to be a generous friend, always throwing in additional events and cash multipliers, as well as reducing the amount you may lose. Most importantly, it allows players to be friends. And this, in turn, is likely to affect how the players try not to let each other down during Partners events and how they trade their cards (yes, there are card trading systems in both games, and each of them has their own Facebook Trading Group: 8+ million people each!).

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