3/16/2014

Disney's Frozen Free Fall - a cold engagement

Most video game studios would call an app with an average grossing placement in the top 100, a success. This is the situation for 'Frozen Free Fall' a match 3 app based on Disney's latest animated picture, Frozen. With a global recognized theme and IP like Frozen, isn't a grossing placement of at least top 25 to be expected? 



BUT THEY MIGHT JUST WANT TO GIVE A GOOD F2P EXPERIENCE AND CARE LESS ABOUT THE MONEY!?

No, sit down! With a similar gameplay, IAP, and monetization strategy to Candy Crush Saga, I think most would agree that Frozen Free Fall was made to make money. They even have an IAP disclaimer on initial launch of the game. 



With an IP like Frozen, you preemptively know that making an app for mobile and tablet is going to provide a significant amount of installs. One might argue that even cross promotion would be redundant as most players, old as young, should be instantly intrigued by the app icon and the name Frozen, and they expect a good game - they saw the motion picture on the big screen - so an interactive experience should be blowing minds right? An appcrimes disclaimer before diggin' in should be that this is not a post meant to trash nor point out how terrible Frozen Free Fall is - it is a post how the game could have been better! 

 Here is why Frozen Free Fall is doing worse than one might would have expected!

1. No Story
Upon launching the app you are presented with nothing but a level selection, similar to every other level based match three (Candy Crush Saga, Jelly Splash, Juice Cube etc) 
No introduction to any characters, helpers, items, objectives, tasks. Of course players aren't to expect a 6 min how-to play mobile video games, but at least the back story. Why should the player engage in this? It is like the developers just assume that the player has tried this type of thing before and no explanation is needed, but what does that say about this game? 

Go play it!
It is just like the 15 other match threes you have installed right now

Don't slack in engaging your player! It does not matter if you copy a gameplay 1:1. Engage your players! If you don't care why should they?

2. Characters vs. Power-ups
In every level of Frozen Free Fall the player can choose (if multiple) a companion to 'help' the player in the upcoming level. This is essentially an effective way to make the player care about the power-ups/consumables through the characters we know and love from the film. But with no introduction people are more likely to ask the following questions: 


Who is this kid? 
Where are the familiar faces?
Can I play Anna or Elsa or Olaf?
Why is our relationship status at a companion level? 
Do I have a choice?

To not failing in underlining the point here, it should be said that this is in no way a bad idea. Using your IP to making people care is crucial if your IP has a higher value than zero virtual dollars. The problem here is that the link is broken or not even forged to begin with, in connecting the players to the power-ups/consumables and characters/companions.




Why should the player care about the Ice Pick or the Snowball at this point. The doubt is a direct cause of the lack of story provided in the beginning of the game experience.   You might think; so what? but Power-ups and consumables is a massive percentage of the overall income in these types of games - and with this large an IP - why make that into a disadvantage? A bad story expected to be to good is worse than just a bad story - and Disney is loosing revenue because of it. 

But mom, Its Princess Anna's torch!  




3. In this fantasy world - stop unlocking

You get the picture now, Frozen failed at bringing the magical world into their App [developed by Mobility Games] 

In an abstract world like Candy land in candy crush, odd things might happen - well you almost expect em to - but in a predefined world through the movie Frozen there is not a lot of wiggle room to introduce new elements. One should at least be careful in doing so. So unlocking Anna after completing a level that had nothing to do with her does not really make any sense - just like unlocking Elsa in the next level makes just as little sense. 



Don't misinterpret. It is not hard to see why this is done. The feeling of progression needs to be constant in these type of games to ensure a player is constantly reengaged through unlockables, gift, currency, lives - you name it. Well it does not work in this case. Earlier we established that the consumables are conveniently linked to the characters to give them more POW! and make players more likely to purchase some, but introducing them in a storyless completion of a level makes the business plan transparent and unattractive.  


So do not waste the IP, the potential is huge. Not being in the top 25 overall in the U.S, 4 months after launch, with this large an IP might not be considered a crime, but Disney is robbing them self. 







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