Cookie Clickers

Not an idle games expert? Here’s everything you need to know!

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Idle games: a new gaming frontier

Hello community, we’re back with a new blog entry! We know it’s been a long time since the last blog entry, but we’re finally here to make up for the lost time.

This time around, we’ll talk about a new game genre that has had great success in the last few years, especially among young people: idle games. But what are they? How do they work? If you’re not an expert, keep reading: you will surely have learned a little more by the end of this article!

Definition and main characteristics

Generally speaking, we define idle games as all those games that do not need constant interaction from the player to progress but are perfectly capable of continuing to run independently in the background, which is why they are also known as background games. Other names often associated with them are incremental games, self-playing games, clickers, and the like – you get the gist. The idea behind it is to click or tap on the screen to get resources that the player can later spend on upgrades to increase the number of resources produced both automatically and by clicking.

Therefore, idle gaming is quite flexible: it can be done actively (clicking) or passively (waiting for resources to accumulate or getting rewards for returning to the game). The most important thing is that at least some of the game mechanics need to occur idly, while the player is not playing, to be part of the category.

In most idle games there is no “game over”, but rather the possibility of starting a new game, which resets game progress in exchange for benefits on the next playthrough, such as the ability to store resources faster than the first time or similar features. This means that players can keep playing as long as they want … there is no real end to the game!

Fun fact? As explained in an article of Quantic Foundry published by Nick Yee (here’s the link to the original article), these games take inspiration from two games born to make fun of already existing game mechanics: Progress Quest by Eric Fredericksen, born as a parody of MMOs like EverQuest, and Cow Clicker, a satirical game created by Ian Bogost.

(Source: Progress Quest)

(Source: Cow Clicker)

Progress Quest poked fun at the monotony of having to grind to level up by having the game do that on its own, while the whole point of Cow Clicker was clicking on a cow every 6 hours to collect “Mooney”. From these two games descended Cookie Clickers (sounds familiar?), which combined both idle and click mechanics.

Clickers, minimalist, zero-player … what’s the difference?

As described in the book “The Pleasure of Playing Less” by Alharti et al., we can use different names to refer to this category of games based on the amount of interactivity required, which can range from little to none. Broadly speaking, we can identify three types of idle games:

  • Clickers
  • Minimalist games
  • Zero-player games

Clicker games require the highest amount of interaction since the player needs to tap constantly on the screen to obtain resources; minimalist games, on the contrary, try to reduce the number of actions the player can perform by decreasing the activities available or in general by minimizing the interaction, which gradually becomes less and less required. At last, we have zero-player games, characterized by the fact that they do not need the player’s involvement at all. They are capable of running in the background on their own, ready to be picked up at any time.

But why do idle games work?

Think about it: in idle games, you make money (or resources that work like money) by basically doing … nothing. You can quit the game whenever you desire knowing that when you will come back, you will have more money than when you left. Pretty neat, right?

At the same time, though, as underlined by Mindstudios’ article, idle games still provide a few challenges to the player, mostly because upgrades get more expensive as time goes by. This means that the player needs to become more strategic about purchasing upgrades, trying to figure out which ones will be more profitable in the long run and which are the best combos. As for the main reasons for the success of this category of games, Aaron Le Conte in his article “Idle Games, Everything You Need to Know!” summarized them as follows:

  • The player feels rewarded for his inactivity and for coming back to the game
  • A sense of continuous progress in the game
  • Less physical input is suitable for lazy players
  • Trophies and achievements help the player feel accomplished
  • Upgrading conveys a sense of growth (people like watching numbers increase)

Best idle games (mobile or PC)

At last but not least, here is what we are sure you were actually waiting for: a list of what we believe to be the best idle games around. Let’s get started!

Cookie Clickers (mobile)

Well, we are obviously going to be biased since our favorite idle game in the clickers category is actually our own game: Cookie Clickers.

The game is pretty simple: you need to bake as many cookies as possible by tapping on the giant cookie in the middle of the screen. The faster you tap, the more cookies you bake! When you have enough cookies you can decide to buy upgrades that will help you bake even faster, like the “AutoClick” or “GrandMa” upgrades. Like a true idle game, upon returning to the game the player can collect the cookies baked in his absence. Also, a few golden cookies will drop from the sky every now and then and give the player extra points when caught in time!

If you are curious to find out more, our game is available on mobile for both iOS and Android 😊

My name is Mayo (PC and PS4/PS5)

For the clickers category, but available only on pc and PS4/PS5, there is also My name is Mayo by Green Lava Studio.

(Source: My Name is Mayo)

The concept, as for all clickers, is that of tapping on the big mayonnaise jar in the middle of the screen to open the flask. Unlike Cookie Clickers, however, no upgrades are available to facilitate or automate clicks, you must reach the goal manually! On the other hand, it is possible to unlock achievements as you reach a certain number of taps on the screen or you can unlock fun facts or stories (tales of romance, anecdotes, etc.) which are released piece by piece. The more you tap the more you uncover!

Surely a strength of the game is the customization: the player can customize the jar of mayonnaise, dressing it as a rockstar or making it become another sauce, such as ketchup, for example.

AdVenture Capitalist (PC and mobile)

Available for both pc and mobile, AdVenture Capitalist is a game developed by Canadian studio Hyper Hippo as a satire against capitalism.

As a money-making simulator, your goal as a player is that of building a financial empire starting from a lemonade stand. From this single stand, you have to press a lemon button to make the profit meter move until it delivers money to your savings. After having earned enough money, you can buy other stands to increase the profit or even hire managers to manage said stands. After having built enough lemonade stands, you can move to a new business, and so on and so forth.

To increase earnings, it’s possible to buy time accelerators and other upgrades, as well as clothing and accessories for your character. Pretty nice, huh? Capitalism simplified.

Fallout Shelter (PC and mobile)

Speaking of idle games, an honorable mention goes to Fallout Shelter by Bethesda Softworks. It’s a free-to-play installment in the Fallout series, created for mobile gaming and later adapted for pc, too.

In this installment, you have to create your own vault and become an overseer of its inhabitants. You need to take care of water, food, and power, with the ultimate goal of increasing inhabitants and therefore the number of rooms in your vault. In order to obtain extra resources, you can send some of your inhabitants to explore the wasteland and then craft items with the materials they come back with (if they manage to survive the trip obviously). Ah, you also have to try to keep them happy by having them marry, pursue personal goals and find them their ideal job… not so easy in a post-nuclear world, right?

As underlined by Alex Rowe in his review of the game, what makes Fallout Shelter an idle game is the fact that there is no real difficulty to speak of: the game progresses by itself, you just need to check what the inhabitants are doing every now and then and try to provide them with what they need. It’s great if you want to relax!

(Source: Fallout Shelter)

Idle Miner Tycoon (mobile)

Lastly, we have Idle Miner Tycoon by Kolibri Games. Similar to AdVenture Capitalist, this is a mobile simulation game in which the goal is becoming an industrial tycoon.

To build your empire you have to make investments to extract as many resources as possible: gold, coal, ruby, moonstone, amethyst, crystal, jade … and many others! You can automate your workflow by hiring managers to increase the motivation of your miners and make them work even while you are not playing – if you like offline gaming and idle cash, this is perfect for you. To expand your empire and therefore your profits, also, you can buy and manage different mines and by completing seasonal events and event mines you can gain lots of money and upgrades to boost your production. Not bad, right?

Well, we have reached the end of the list! What do you think? Will you give a chance to idle gaming? Let us know in the comments!

We hope you found this article useful and that it helped you learn something more about idle games. Remember to subscribe to our blog if you want to stay updated on gaming curiosities!

See you next month!

5 Growth Hacking Strategies for your App or Mobile Game

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What kind of Growth Hacking strategies exist, and how can they be applied to your Mobile Game Marketing?

This article originally appeared in Italian on MD – Digital Marketing Blog.

In our previous article on Growth Hacking we’ve talked about its difference from Digital Marketing and why it can be the perfect strategy for Companies to grow their audiences with 0 (or very little) budget.

Today we’re going to talk about several kinds of Growth Hacking strategies, and we’ll give you 5 useful advices to adapt them into your mobile game marketing strategy.

There are many examples (find here 20 awesome cases) of how growth hacks have helped very well-known Companies to get successful results on the market, Facebook, Quora, Uber and Twitter being the most outstanding ones to keep in mind and to replicate.

But, what does it mean having a growth hacking strategy?

Simply stated, it means to input more and output a lot more. Growth hacking is about finding those little hacks that make a huge difference in reaching your Company’s goals.

“Eat like a bird and pooh like an elephant”, Guy Kawasaki (former Apple employee)

Eat like a bird

There are different kinds of strategies that could be implemented, according to the business nature and the given objectives:

  1. Integration Hacks: Facebook Connect has allowed many services to grow their audiences. By allowing its users to post the tracks that they’re listening to on Facebook, Spotify has grown to be the big player that it is today in the streaming music sector. King, by creating social games where people could ask for and give lives to friends, leveraged one of the 6 rules of persuasion, consensus. It allowed people to discover that their friends were playing and their location on the map, which got them more involved in the game.
  2. Community Hacks: getting to know the precise target you’re referring to, allows your strategy to be very focused. For example, if you’ve to promote an innovative service, you know you’d better be looking for early adopters and trying to engage them during contextual occasions that refer to other innovative services, engaging already established user-base that you know could be interested in your own service.
  3. Invitation hacks: exploiting your existing user base (if you have one) to invite new users to your platform is always one of the best hacks. Examples of the success of this strategy are from Dropbox, that grew through the mantra: “Invite for storage”. Existing users were rewarded with additional storage space as long as they invited new users to join the platform. In mobile gaming, all incent sharing tools can get you incredible results, because users are incentivized to invite friends to get something they care about in the game, while spreading the word about the game among all their contacts. Our Cookie Clickers is the perfect example of this!
  4. Embed Hacks: YouTube became the largest video platform because they allowed 3rd party websites to embed their video player onto their own site, while YouTube’s competitors failed because they wanted not to lose all the traffic onto their own webpage. Same thing for Twitter: an embedded Tweet brings the best content created on Twitter directly into your article or website, ready to be retweeted or quoted.
  5. Engineering Hacks: develop software that will automatically develop growth, like bots. Paypal developed a bot that automatically made transactions on Ebay to become the most popular payment method on the site. Being the most popular, it made people believe that Paypal was also the best and most trusted, making it the no. 1 payment method on Ebay.

Talking about applying these strategies to games, we have to get very creative and to use available tools in a different way to get better results, because competition has become really aggressive, and it is close to impossible to launch a mobile game without a proper marketing budget.

The Growth Hacking tools we’ve get used to during past years (FreeAppADay, AppGratis etc.) are not working as well as in the past, and probably the growth hacks that are working today will not be effective within a few months. The advice is simple: always keep your ear to the ground and your eye on analytics, because the market is constantly changing as well as human preferences and consumption behavior are. The targets we aim for are constantly moving too, thus we have to continuously check the analytics to understand what has been hiding behind these numbers.

5 good advices for your mobile marketing strategy are:

  1. Entering emerging markets: localize your game in less competitive countries, where it’s easier to get visibility in games’ categories, and less downloads are necessary to reach high positions in the App Stores leaderboards. It could be a great way to start conquering the market and collecting user information and gameplay data to optimize your future campaigns.
  2. Social hooks: all Social touch points into your game are fundamental tools to give impulse to WOM (word of mouse/mouth) between users and to let them share the game in exchange for some kind of benefit. You’ll get two results, increased user engagement and higher LTV (Life Time Value) because users are encouraged to play with (or against) their friends.
  3. Use Deep and Differed Deep Linking: thanks to deep linking you could drive users right deep inside your app and target them better. Then, recognizing them and treating existing users separately will help you to better communicate with them and improve their engagement.
  4. Using promoted in-app purchases as boosters: everybody likes promotion and discounted prices! The same is for discounted in-app purchases in-game. Making regular promotion or special one linked to a special event or period (like Christmas bundle for example) could lead to crazy increase in revenues for IAP (and also a strange kind of income, like this campaign to buy “Nothing for Something” during last Black Friday).
  5. Influencer marketing (ATTENTION: “big” budget required): not really a growth hack due to its cost, but still the perfect way to reach the right target. It is implemented by video contents made by YouTubers who already have an important user base to refer to. Services like Gameinfluencer.com could help you scale the charts by asking many different YouTubers to review your game and to publish the video to their audiences. The problem is that such a strategy is costly but they guarantee a certain minimum number of views.

In the next article we’ll talk about how to set a process to conduct growth strategies in a very analytical and practical way, with the aim to get the maximum result from insights and tests.

We’ll look at data and real case studies from our launches and we’ll reveal some insights about secret tools.

Thank you!