The world wants to eliminate you. You can rely only on yourself.
I’m not being dramatic, I’m just talking about a very successful game – Archero.
Just a few months after its release, this game hit the top-grossing charts across several countries and continents. The key to success? Archero monetization strategy.
I’ve analyzed everything you need to know about this game, with a special focus on monetization.
Let’s dive right in!
When a game succeeds in the overcrowded casual games market, you know it’s something special.
Archero was released in March 2019 by Habby, a new player on the mobile game market back then. However, it was new just on paper. The developers behind Archero did not lack game dev experience and know-how.
Let me run you through the game’s basics.
In Archero, you control a miniature archer slaying different monsters across different dungeons.
This game has hyper-casual, casual, action, RPG, and arcade elements. Yes, there are really that many different elements.
The game comes with a simple, hyper-casual core loop. Its overall simplicity and short learning curve put the game into the casual genre.
Nevertheless, fighting enemies and equipping your character are action and RPG elements. At the same time, the game’s setting reminds you of some good-old arcade games.
There is one specific subgenre for this type of game – roguelike. Such games include a dungeon crawl, procedural levels, and permanent character death.
Archero is all that.
Archero Revenues and Downloads: How Successful Is the Game?
It didn’t take much for the good word about Archero to spread around.
After just six months of existence, the game absolutely crushed it. It reached 29.3 million downloads and $43.7 million in revenue.
(Unless stated otherwise, the data in this article comes from an internal source).
To this day, the numbers remained pretty good – it got 68.9 million downloads and $127.7 million in revenue. Note that this is in less than two years. The game still has a long way to go.
You must be wondering, ”Who spent all this money?”
The game earned the most in the US market – 28.2%. However, Archero is equally popular in the East. The next three countries that drive the game’s revenues are South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.
Rapid success almost always comes from great advertising. To attract the right players, Habby pays special attention to its user acquisition strategy. In this article, you can read our in-depth analysis of Archero’s advertising strategy.
While UA is extremely important, the game earns the big bucks only when users actually start playing. For this reason, let’s talk about user experience, game mechanics, and Archero monetization.
To figure all that out, I’ve hit the install button myself. Here’s what I learned about Archero.
After you launch Archero – there is no special intro, you don’t see the menu first.
You are thrown right into a dungeon to play right away. With minimal guidance.
When you start playing, you learn the basics: how to move and shoot. You will figure this out in a matter of seconds.
As you play, you will learn how everything else works. Right away, you will find out you can select new abilities after almost every level. You will also meet your first Angel.
If you’re as bad as me, you might die really fast and discover there is a revival option.
When you first glance at Archero, it may seem like a plain hyper-casual game. The reason? Just like most hyper-casual games, it comes in a minimalistic, cartoonish art style. However, the graphics are a bit more detailed than the standard hyper-casual low poly graphics.
There is a good reason why the game’s background is so clean and simple. While you fight various monsters, projectiles will pop all over the screen. In these moments, your screen will be full of different colors and effects.
The game comes in portrait orientation and 2.5D graphics. This means it comes with some 3D elements in a 2D space.
Besides that, there is something irresistibly old school and console-like about it.
You don’t even need a tutorial. This fact tells you all about the game’s UX. Everyone can figure it out – it is simple and intuitive.
There are two main options: move and attack. When the archer is moving, it can’t fire. When it’s standing still, it fires automatically.
At the same time, the pace of the game is fast and gives you a real adrenaline rush.
When it comes to the user interface, it is pretty straightforward as well. While you’re not fighting monsters, here’s where you can wander around:
- World (home screen)
As in most games, the top of your screen is where you can see how you’re doing resource-wise.
How Archero Works: Main Game Mechanics
The main goal of playing Archero is to survive while crawling dungeons.
Or in other words: play → die → repeat.
This is a simple core loop, especially frequent in hyper-casual games. Obviously, Archero is more than that.
In addition to the simple core loop, it borrowed some simplified ARPG mechanics for the meta. These mechanics added depth to the game itself, but also more monetization opportunities. In industry lingo, these kinds of games are named hybridcasual games.
Let’s go over the basic mechanics that make players keep playing the game. Over and over again.
When you play Archero, your main goal is to beat your own high score – and reach the next chapter. Something like constant self-improvement.
Chapters consist of stages. There are up to 50 stages to climb until you reach the next chapter. Naturally, each new one will be more difficult and comes with new, fresh content.
At the same time as you’re unlocking chapters, you’re increasing your adventure level. This happens while you play and gain XP points.
Every time you kill enemies in Archero, you gain coins – the game’s soft currency. Once the whole room is cleared out, you get to pick it up.
Besides coins, playing can get you the game’s hard currency, gems. The game is a bit stingy with gems, so you will have to try a little harder.
You need coins for upgrading your character with talents. If you want to speed up the upgrades, you can use gems.
Next, talents are resources that will permanently boost your stats. Instead, you will invest some coins and get a randomized upgrade. Another permanent resource you gain from the game is equipment.
During gameplay, you choose short-term resources – abilities. You can pick between three random abilities and create your own attack/defense strategy. However, these resources reset with every new attempt.
Energy is not only an important game mechanic but a monetization feature as well.
Every player gets a standard amount of 20 energy. At the same time, every new attempt takes away 5 energy. Believe me, you will keep attempting, and eventually, you will run out of energy.
What happens then is wait time.
It takes 12 minutes for one energy refill, so it will take four hours until you get a full refill. If you’re super into the game, you will dread wait times. For this reason, you have two options:
- buy energy with gems
- watch an ad
Both will result in coins going to the publisher’s pocket.
Every time you enter the dungeon, you start with nothing. Everything you have is a basic shot and your talents.
As you keep playing and killing enemies, you get to choose abilities that make you stronger. You are confident, brave, you slay them like a master…
And then suddenly – you die. NOOO!
At this point, it is really hard to just give up. If you die, everything will reset and you’ll have to start all over. The revival option is your only salvation – and also another important Archero monetization point.
However, this is not the only mechanic that takes part in this game’s money-making process.
In the next section, we’ll cover the rest.
Archero Monetization Strategy Breakdown
Archero’s developers are well aware that their casual audience is most likely to spend $0 on a game like this.
However, when you have the know-how, you will find a way. Here’s what Habby’s CEO, Stefan Wang (for AdMob) thinks on the subject:
“More than 90% of users are unable to get the full paid experience.”
“Games like Archero usually rely on IAP to earn revenue, but low in-app purchase rates are a challenge.”
How did they manage to overcome these challenges with Archero? Keep reading to find out.
Which Monetization Models Archero Uses?
When you’re in a market with strong competition, relying on IAP only is risky. Habby knows this, so they’ve decided on a hybrid monetization model.
Another thing they know is that players don’t really hate in-app ads. There is even one particular type they actually like – rewarded video ads.
Generally, in-app purchases combined with in-app ads expand the audience that the publisher will be able to monetize. This way, you don’t let a small group of players, i.e., paying users, decide your game’s fate.
It gets better.
A few months after the game’s launch, Archero added a subscription offer to the mix, further diversifying the game’s monetization. Let’s go over everything.
Archero In-App Purchases Strategy and Setup
First, let’s cover the in-game shopping experience.
When you enter the Archero shop, the first thing you see is a one-time special offer. It offers four different resources bundled together. This is meant to be every player’s first purchase that gives them a taste of IAPs.
The standard offer is just below and contains gems and coins.
Here, gems are the premium currency. You can use them for all sorts of things. In most cases, the reason will be to buy more energy. In the beginning, you will have plenty of gems. As soon as you get used to them, bam, you have to wait. If you don’t want to stop playing at that moment, your only choice is to buy some.
Gems can also be used to revive your archer, purchase scrolls, and coins. Oh and let’s not forget every gambler’s favorite – loot boxes.
You will occasionally get gems from playing (adventure level increase, stage rewards, etc.). However, it won’t ever feel like you have enough.
Coins are the basic progression currency. The game is much more generous with coins than with gems – you get them for killing enemies, from the wheel of fortune, etc.
This is the basic store setting. After a while, three chests are added right underneath the special offer. These chests are loot boxes and you will need gems to open them. From that moment on, luck takes the wheel.
Pricing Structure for In-App Purchases
Besides WHAT the offers are, it is equally important HOW they’re structured, so let’s talk about prices.
The one-time bundle offer comes at $1.99. The offer claims it comes with “4x value” and the regular price would be $7.99. I was curious if this was true so I did some math to check it out. As it turns out, the numbers are just right. Integrity check passed.
Next, gems come with six different sizes and price points. They range from $0.99 all the way to $99.99.
Coins come in three different packs, and you can’t buy them with real money. You can earn the smallest one by watching an ad, while the other two can be bought with gems.
The store’s offer is well-made, and nothing can confirm it better than sales data. Here’s an overview of the best selling IAPs in Archero.
- Battle Pass $4.99
- Value Pack for First Purchase $1.99
- Pile of Gems $0.99
As you can see, two of the store’s offerings made it to the top three. You can also see that most players are likely to invest smaller amounts in this game. We’ll cover the Battle Pass later.
How In-App Purchases Really Work in Archero
In theory, a lot of games seem to have well-done monetization.
Yet, you can only truly see it when you play the game. How does it blend with gameplay? How often do IAP offers pop out? How do prices vary?
Let me answer all of these questions. Here is my player journey – 7 days of playing Archero.
On my first day of playing Archero I kind of, well, sucked.
Therefore, one of the first things I discovered was the revive option. To make myself a little stronger, I upgraded my talents a bit and whoops, I was out of coins. Then, I was offered to buy them with some gems.
Next, exploring the home screen brought me to a gift box that contained a First Purchase Reward. What this means is that you will get additional value for any kind of pack you decide to buy.
During this session, I got a bit hooked so I spent all my energy. Then, I discovered that you can either buy it with gems or by watching an ad.
After I ran out of coins again, I got a pop-up saying You must need this!. The offer was for 39,000 coins. It came at the price of $0.99, and it is six times more valuable than the usual offers.
This was particularly interesting because, in the game, you usually can’t purchase coins with real money.
On day 3, I reached Adventure level 3.
With almost every kind of progress, you will see some new monetization features. In this case, three different loot boxes were added to the game’s store.
In this session, I noticed a notification next to my gift icon so I went to check it out.
Besides the First Purchase Bonus, they’ve added a Daily Pack offer. It consists of three different offers and they are valid for 24 hours.
At Adventure level 6, another pop-up appeared.
I was offered a 100x weapon scrolls at $1.99. This item is used to upgrade weapons, something only those playing for a while would understand.
On Day 6, I finally made it. I finished 50 levels and got to Chapter Two.
Besides a bunch of rewards, new abilities, and challenges, this also meant – new monetization features.
I went to check the in-game store and three completely new offers were added:
- Chapter 2’s Pack at $6.99
- Outfits (use coins)
- Coupons for hero outfits (use gems or real money)
Another new feature that I unlocked with completing a chapter was the game’s Week Pack. It is placed right next to the Daily Pack and offers three packs, priced from $1.99 to $9.99.
In my last session, I found out that the monsters in Chapter 2 are much tougher than those in the previous one.
Finally, I lost almost all energy by attempting to progress. This is when that special IAP offer from the game’s store appeared – but this time as a pop-up.
Archero Subscription Offer: Battle Pass
Unfortunately, I did not play the game long (or good) enough to unlock the Battle Pass.
Nevertheless, let’s go over everything you need to know about Archero’s subscription.
- Battle Pass is unlocked by reaching chapter 2, stage 26
- Players complete Daily Quests
- A Battle pass season lasts for 13 days and contains 30 levels
- There are two versions: free and premium ($4.99)
Just like with all battle passes, the main reason to play it is to earn extra rewards. If you want even more, you will purchase a premium Battle Pass.
Archero In-App Ads
Archero is the type of game people play to pass time and have fun. Just think about these kinds of situations – on a bus, in a doctor’s waiting room, on the toilet, etc.
Let’s be real, there is only a tiny percentage of such players that will decide to make in-app purchases. Yet, even casual players will want to enjoy as much gameplay as possible.
This is why Habby included in-app ads in Archero. With one key characteristic – the game will never force you to watch them.
Which Ad Format Is Used in Archero
Archero uses the most popular ad format among players – rewarded video ads.
The reason for this is simple. As Habby’s CEO says: “Gamers understand the transactional nature of this type of ad”.
“I only have to play an ad and I will get really cool stuff in return. I don’t even have to take a glance at it”.
This is how most players feel about the rewarded video. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that 68% of players like this ad format (Techcrunch).
Some other reasons why players love this ad type is that they don’t interrupt gameplay and are opt-in.
From the developer’s perspective, rewarded video ads naturally fit in with in-app purchases. One of their biggest advantages is the fact that they can actually boost them. Up to 6 times, according to ironSource!
In fact, 4 in 5 mobile game developers believe they work even better in a hybrid model than on their own (Walnut).
With all of this in mind, it comes as no surprise that this ad format is the most popular one. Besides that, it is really flexible – you will find it across all genres, from the simplest hyper-casual games to hardcore titles.
Archero Rewarded Video Ads: How Frequently Ads Appear
In Archero, rewarded video ads can be found all over the place.
They come as boosters, as a revival option, but also appear in the game’s store.
In fact, they are treated as one of the in-app purchases and often come listed alongside them. The difference? The only currency you need to spend is your time.
Here are all the ad placements I came across during my 7-day journey.
Rewarded Video Ad Placement #1
The first rewarded video ad in the game I saw was in the in-game store.
It came with the sign “free”. What this means is watching an ad will earn you the smallest pack of coins – 900 of them. I spent 35 seconds of my time, engaged with a playable ad a bit, and earned my reward.
Rewarded Video Ad Placement #2
Once a day, you can open a loot box by watching an ad. Just watch out, you might get hooked since they are quite addictive.
Rewarded Video Ad Placement #3
A lot of players are concerned about running out of energy. This is also something that a rewarded video can fix.
You can watch up to 4 ads a day, and each brings you 5 energy. This means 4 extra sessions.
Rewarded Video Ad Placement #4
I’ve already mentioned the game’s daily offer – Daily Packs. There are three offers, and one of them is a rewarded video offer named Supply Pack.
Naturally, it comes with fewer resources than purchasable offers. But if you compare the offers, you will get to realize something amazing. The cheapest IAP here comes at $0.99 and gives out 100 gems. The free one gives out 30 gems. This means watching an ad is worth about $0.30!
There you go, a good reason to log in every single day.
Rewarded Video Ad Placement #5
At level 4, I stumbled upon the first lucky wheel in the game.
After trying my luck once, I was offered to watch a rewarded video for another spin. You can watch up to 5 of these a day.
Rewarded Video Ad Placement #6
After dying for who knows which time on level 8, something changed.
Up to this moment, I could only revive my character with gems. But now, I also had the option to revive it by watching a rewarded video ad.
User Retention in Archero
Retention and monetization go hand in hand. They both influence each other, so you can’t afford to neglect one.
How well is Archero doing in terms of retention? Let’s go over some numbers to find out.
- After one day, Archero keeps 58% of players
- A week later, 31% keep playing
- After 30 days, 13% of players are kept
This may not seem like much, but this game has better retention rates than most casual games. Even the top 2% of casual games have a lower day 1 retention – about 50% (Benchmarks+ platform).
When you think about it, Archero is all about repetition. How does it not bore players in days’ time then?
Habby put in quite an effort to prevent this. Here are some of the retention features that make players come back to the game.
Trying Out Your Luck
Archero comes with a ton of luck-based features. During gameplay, you will stumble upon lucky wheels – a good old gambling classic. Every time it spins, and gradually slows down, the anticipation hits in. After you receive a random reward, you will likely want to give it another spin.
Outside of the gameplay itself, there are more features based on luck. For example, when you’re upgrading your talents, a cursor decides which one you will get.
Finally, there are loot boxes with special, rare rewards. Opening them will cost you the most, and this is one of the things that makes them extremely exciting.
Choose Your Own Destiny
On your dungeon path, you will meet Angels and Devils bearing gifts. When you meet an angel, you get to choose between two “blessings”.
Of course, the devil is less generous. You will need to sell your soul to get something in return. Okay, not really your soul, but you will get an offer to trade something, e.g., your HP, in exchange for an ability. This one is optional, so you can reject it.
The same goes for choosing between abilities. All of these features have a great psychological effect – they allow you to find and craft your own winning strategy.
Ultimately, all of this positively affects user engagement and retention.
If you need the motivation to log in to the game every day, here it is.
There are all kinds of daily quests for you to fulfill. For example login to the game, open a chest, watch a video, upgrade equipment, make a purchase…When you complete one, you can claim your reward – XP points.
Another daily feature involves daily login gifts. All you need to do is come and claim them. Here, you can get gems, scrolls, sapphires…
At the time I was playing Archero, it was Valentine’s season. The game did not miss out on this, so a special Valentine’s event appeared on my home screen.
All you need to do to complete the event is play and collect resources. Besides normal resources like gems, you will receive special materials – love letters and roses. If you collect enough, you can redeem them for a more valuable reward.
5 Things You Can Learn From Archero Monetization Strategy
Now that we have all the important monetization elements covered, let’s focus on the best ones.
Here’s an overview of the top 5 Archero monetization practices you should consider for your game.
Use Hybrid Monetization
Why rely on just one revenue stream? When a game is based on in-app purchases, this doesn’t mean you have to give up ads. The key to making a great hybrid model is balance.
Archero achieved balance by using unobtrusive IAPs and the least intrusive ad format – rewarded video ads.
Habby strategically organized the two, and it’s all about the placements. In the in-game store, they are listed together so the players always know where to find them. Separately, they never come as pushy and annoying, but rather feel as helpful and optional.
Treat Ad Watchers Well
There is such a thing as too many ads. Even with rewarded video ads.
In Archero, there is just the right amount of them. You can find them in different places and use them for different things. In most placements, you can watch up to 5 ads until you hit the limit.
They only appear as pop-ups during gameplay, when players need assistance the most (revive option or spin the wheel). Ad watchers will also be motivated to visit the game’s store since some ads appear there as well. Snooping around the store might even turn some of them into paying users.
Use Occasional Pop-Ups
Constant pop-ups will ruin even the world’s greatest game ever.
In Archero, IAP pop-ups only appeared in three out of seven long sessions. For this reason, I didn’t find them intrusive or annoying.
During gameplay, you will never get an IAP offer because it would interrupt it. The only monetization feature that pops up during gameplay are rewarded video ads.
When it comes to IAP pop-ups, they only appear while you’re wandering around (e.g., upgrading talents and equipment).
There are no IAPs at the start of the session, after stage completion, and other, more aggressive strategies found among similar games.
Monetization Should Follow Player Progress
As you’re progressing through Archero, you will always come across fresh monetization features.
You start with a standard store offer, daily packs, revival options, etc. As you play, the offer gets more diverse. I’m not just talking about different bundle deals with new resources and price points.
The game gradually adds features like loot boxes, outfits, coupons, and even the battle pass. Everything a fully engaged player might wish for.
Embrace Subscription Monetization
Archero is definitely keeping up with the hottest industry trends.
Months after the game’s launch, they’ve added a subscription offer to the existing model. Typically, battle passes are not something you would expect from a casual game. But as I already mentioned, Archero is much more than its casual loop.
For a battle pass to work, it has to have the right pricing and progression system. In this case, it comes at a relatively low price, $4.99. Meanwhile, the total value of the pass is roughly $150.
Does it pay off then? The fact that the Battle Pass is the game’s bestseller tells you everything.
Archero Monetization: That’s it?
There is no such thing as a perfect monetization strategy – but Archero monetization is definitely set on the right path.
Want to craft the right strategy for your game? Make sure to get in touch with us!
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