Shuffle Cats — A Gateway Drug to Gambling

Often times we see F2P games relying heavily on their theme to stand out, due to a rather simple gameplay — and King’s Shuffle Cats is no different — but here’s an example of what happens when you neglect theme and end up openly becoming a straight up hunt for Whales.

Shuffle cats have this early 1900’s back-alley theme similar to Disney’s Aristocats and reminded me of the gang of alley cats lead by Scat Cat. This — mixed with the traditional cute King visuals — sets up for a really interesting game. And the Tutorial starts out great.

But while games like Candy Crush’s name delivers in the sense that the player will continuously be in a world of candy, in Shuffle Cats the theme doesn’t even bother, to stretch further than the first play session. After the tutorial end, the player is suddenly no longer presented with the concept of levels that King is so known for, which makes you wonder why the game even started out with the initial 13 levels.

The player says goodbye to the well-known level system and is taken to Lucky Lane — a place where only currency of the Soft and Hard kind and addictive behaviour is allowed access. Cats and Narrative is banned from this place and King kindly asks you to hang your immersion in the theme of the game in the wardrobe as well.

Essentially Shuffle Cats discards all initial retention mechanics that should pull the player back into the game. The Characters, Walter (Antagonist)& Montie (Helper) and that chubby merchant cat called Bob now plays zero part in the game — and new characters are not introduced.

Even the Player’s own progression through levels now has zero value because players are matched with real player opponents, and matched only by the amount of Soft Currency they are willing to Gamble with.

The player’s progress is reduced to the amount of soft currency and the only way to progress is to gamble your own progression — but no worries purchasing hard currency can directly be traded for soft currency.

Shuffle Cats end up being like a Gateway Drug to Gambling, but not a very good one. I predict that King will see long term revenue only from Users with a super addictive gambling behaviour, because the game sure doesn’t tip your average player over the edge.

It feels like King are using its theme to lure player into Casino — and you might argue to which degree that is the case for a lot of F2P games out there. The problem here is that Shuffle Cats only bothers to spend 15min doing so. Obviously King looked at the analytics and revenue numbers from Shuffle Cats on and thought it will do well on mobile — and it might — but if the Creators doesn’t bother investing in theme of the game, why should the users?

Top Grossing chart on iOS for Shuffle Cats, the first 4 days after launch in the UK and the US.

With a game with such a focus on currency and that type of aggressive monetization strategy, it should say something about the quality of the game that haven’t been able to breach top 150 in the UK and top 200 in the states and without having access to the numbers, I would expect the % of conversions to paying customers is below benchmark of a King game, independant of it’s actual revenue.

originally posted on