Jelly Splash vs Candy Crush: it’s all about virality

Jelly Splash is a very fun new puzzle game from Wooga that’s rocketing up the charts. It’s a cross between Candy Crush Saga and Dots, both known for their insanely addictive gameplay, and Jelly Splash doesn’t disappoint on that front. You’ll be hooked – we promise!

jellysplash

Michail Katkoff has a good post highlighting the monetization improvements Jelly Splash implemented vs Candy Crush’s implementation.┬áMichail highlights Jelly Splash’s use of virtual currency as a major reason they’ll see better monetization. This is spot-on, and explains why 85% of the top grossing games use virtual currency to monetize, and you should too.

But monetization isn’t the full story, which is what will make the Jelly Splash / Candy Crush battle (Skirmish of Sweets? Clash of Confections?) worth watching. Freemium success is a combination of Retention, Monetization, and Virality, and there’s a very complex balance.

Candy Crush doesn’t monetize particularly well on a per user basis. It has a below average ARPU index, Think Gaming’s measure of how well the game retains & monetizes players versus an average top grossing game. There’s lots of opportunity for improvement, and they wouldn’t dominate the top grossing games without something else.

Their success comes from the fact that they are a regular chart topper on the top free games list, which we estimate as 150,000-200,000 new installs daily (US/iOS). While some of this paid user acquisition, we think the more distinctive factor is the strong virality built into the game.

Candy Crush has smartly baked viral engagement into the core of their game, allowing non-paying gamers to avoid paying by sharing the game with their friends. Put differently, viral sharing and monetization are fungible. So while King takes a monetization hit, they are able to get tons of new users through viral means. In a world with steadily rising user acquisition costs, that can be a very smart formula.

Note that there’s lots of speculation here, and Jelly Splash has some great virality baked in too, which is what will make the Skirmish of Sweets so interesting. The results should provide some good data on the right balance of monetization and virality. Stay tuned….we’ll post updates as data flows through.

Becoming mobile-centric

Great thoughts (as always) from Bill Gurley about the transition to a mobile-centric world:

While he doesn’t focus on games, they’re experiencing exactly the same changes, including changes to distribution, monetization, and core design principles.