Peter Grabarchuk

Apr 28, 2020

7 min read

2,000 Reasons Why We Are Into Angry Birds: Dream Blast

What are Match-3 games and why are they hyper-successful now?

Modern match-3 game genre was started with Bejeweled by PopCap Games in 2000. It was a computer based game which is still on the market. Further popularity of the match-3 was revived by Candy Crush Saga from King. It was launched as a Facebook game in 2013 and shortly after on other platforms. Game was successfully propelled to #1 puzzle game on mobile devices.

Since 2000 match-3 games have been deeply involved in multiple directions: core loops, storylines, strategies, mechanics, art, physics, social etc. If 20 years ago you could enjoy a paid premium (paid) puzzle game with ~100 puzzles, then now you’ll play a top puzzle game for free (or almost for free) with thousands of puzzles, and new ones are added weekly.

So, what’s a ‘match-3’ game? You are given a board with different tiles to manipulate with. Your goal — collect a set number of objects on the board. How — by swapping tiles (or tapping them or drawing over them) to match 3 (or more) in a row or other basic geometrical shape (i.e. square, T-shape, L-shape etc). In fact, match-3 games are specifically designed for 1-swipe or 1-tap gesture, which is basic and very convenient when you play on mobile devices with one hand.

Nowadays match-3 genre is top grossing in Puzzles sub-category and one of the top-grossing in the entire Games category on any game store. In top-20 grossing games you’ll find 5–7 match-3 games from King, Playrix and PeakGames. Reasons? High quality; unique storylines; original IPs; regular updates; highly-sophisticated live operations including social interactions and contests. And, last but not least — massive UA and powerful marketing attracts thousands of players daily. Although all these pros can be applied to any game genre, match-3, just like any other puzzle game, has unique qualities — it’s a small form of engagement when a player gets a smart challenge which can be mastered in a relatively short period of time (3–5 min). And it gives great volume of satisfaction in fact! It’s similar to crossword or sudoku puzzles which rule printed medias for many decades already.

What’s the idea behind Angry Birds: Dream Blast?

IP. It’s a well known Angry Birds franchise from Rovio. But this time, in my opinion, Rovio does its best in gaminizating of the three cute bird characters — Red, Chack, Bomb, along with Pigs. Trust me — if you are a fan of Angry Birds — you’ll be amazed. If not — you’ll be pleased by a new high quality puzzle game.

Mechanics. It’s a merge of free physics (Tsum Tsum by Disney) and collapse mechanics (Toy Blast by PeakGames). Such a merge gives an extraordinary feeling on the whole screen of your mobile device with twists you haven’t experienced before in any other game.

Hazards. Original obstacles make the game outstanding among competitors and give players new fresh experience after switching from classic 9x9 grids with constant swapping and cascades.

Speed. Solving process in Angry Birds: Dream Blast is very fast and blasty, much faster than in classic swap 9x9 games and even faster than in collapse games. Why? To make a match you need just tap and usually you have plenty of options for marches on the screen. Animations and physics are designed in the way to give you experience of the fast highway ride with fresh ocean breeze.

Quality. Any product from Finnish top game company is high-quality in any possible way — engineering, art, music etc. But Angry Birds: Dream Blast is made even on higher standards. You’ll especially enjoy the simplicity of UI, animations and VFX from the very first screen to the last level you can master.

Live operations. Social part is usual nowadays — teams, ranks, chats. The best part — updates with new features and puzzles :)

Success = People

Our story of crafting puzzles started many decades ago, before the computer era and mobile devices revolution. Serhiy (my dad) has created his first puzzles in young childhood. He made puzzles as a multi-generational family business with strong presence on all possible platforms (books, magazines, websites, apps and even radio shows). Wonna be amazed how wide the puzzle universe can be? Check it out on our website.

Our family has great experience working with many top game companies (Zynga, PeakGames, JamCity, Storm8, Wooga). In the course of contract and in-house work with game studios we had ups and downs, we learned a lot and got precious knowledge how small, medium and big teams operate to produce high quality puzzle games.

With Rovio we’ve been working since 2018 on several games. It’s a great experience to work with different teams organically and productively, which we have with Rovio. From Junior Designer to Studio Director — all members of Rovio team are very professional, receptive and proactive. So far Rovio team is the most dynamic and well organized game studio we have been working with. It has great knowledge of the game industry, big ambitions, very good long run, and smart approach to new ideas and challenges.

Back in 2018 we started supporting Angry Birds: Dream Blast team with 4 game designers on our team. Today PuzzleMove employs 20+ game designers — with different backgrounds, with different experiences, and from different countries. But with the same passion — craft unique puzzle experiences for enjoyment of the millions of players all around the world.

Technology is the king

In 2015 we (me and my dad Serhiy) became professional match-3 game designers. Understanding the potential demand of the match-3 market in both quality and quantity, we started creating our own tools for match-3 game design. With each new game (12+ to date) we are improving our technology to get higher productivity and quality, which other teams can’t achieve. In 2018 Zynga reached out to incorporate our technology in their development circle of four puzzle games. In our peak months of 2019 we’ve produced 400+ levels per month, 10,000+ to date.

Our team works remotely using a few tools (Unity, Spreadsheet, Slack, Git, and occasionally Email and Zoom) with most time spent in level editor. Beside improving internal tech we constantly help our partners to improve and simplify tools which gives us an edge in increasing our quality.

Beside cool tools, we’ve our own workflow where review, testing, adjusting, and again review, testing, adjusting is the key. And yes, a lot of feedback, both within the team and from clients.

It’s match-3 boom, baby!

Without doubt, the match-3 market is on the rise now. Quality of the games is increasing with each new release. Core loops and sophistication is the heart of the puzzle games now. Experiments and new mixes (i.e. meshups) are usual now in match-3 games. UA budgets are increasing. Studios invest in AI to analyze and predict players’ behavior and game’s KPIs.

Big game companies are launching new match-3 titles beside PvP, RPG, action or casino games. To name a few: Supercell (Hay Day Pop, Sweet Escapes), Nintendo (Dr. Mario World), Gameloft (Disney Getaway), Zynga (Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells). And for sure, successful match-3 game publishers increase their portfolios very rapidly: King (Farm Heroes Champions), Rovio (Small Town Murders), Small Giant Games (Puzzle Combat), Jam City (Wild Things: Animal Adventures).

At the end of the day, match-3 games are top grossing today. Many of them. For some time already #2 top grossing game is Candy Crush Saga with ~$6M daily revenue. In total sevan match-3 games are among 20 top grossing games with total ~$15M daily revenue. That’s impressive, especially when looking in the retrospective of the last 5 years.

So, everything is just starting in the match-3 market.

P.S.

Why ‘2,000’ reasons? To date, more than 2,000 levels crafted by the PuzzleMove team are live in Angry Birds: Dream Blast. And counting. See few of them below. Happy puzzling!

P.P.S.

Yeah, it’s weird, tough, unprecedented, and uncertain times we are living in now. Many unhappiness and anxiety around all of us. Here is good news — it will be over, pretty soon, and everything will return to normal, even if this ‘normal’ is new. Meanwhile we hope you’ll have a good time playing puzzles. They are fun for the whole family…or just for you alone. Take care!