Product Teardown 07 -TLBB 3D

Last year, Changyou.com published TLBB 3D, a martial art MMORPG mobile game, adapted from a PC client game. The game generated $15m per month. This is the first successful mobile title Changyou made. The game is quite different from the mid-core mobile games we see in app store.

Given the huge financial success of this game, in this article, we will deconstruct and analyze the game.

First of all, we should notice that this is a MMORPG game. The player chooses a character and develops the chacarter as he/she explores the game. So in its core, it’s a RPG game.

Core loop

The game is built around a traditional RPG core loop: take quest( advance plot) -> kill monsters -> get exp/rewards -> upgrade/craft. then advance plot again. As players advance plot, he levels his character up and choose the way he wants to develop his character. This can be seen as the main story line. There are some key milestones( levels) along the way.

To keep users from advancing too fast and also to increase game’s life cycle, there is also a minor quest loop, such as PvP, dungeons. etc. Users are usually asked to go into minor loops to get exp/rewards to advance to the next level.

Retention

Goals

The core loop immediately creates 2 goals for players: (1) experience the full storyline; (2) become the best play in your league.

MMORPG games usually have great long term retention because of the engaging storyline and also, the time/efforts/money players put in create a lock-in effects.

Session Length Control

Unlike traditional mid-core mobile games which have a careful session control, TLBB doesn’t control session length. This will create a problem: If a session is too long, players may not have enought time to finish it, or even if they could finish, players may become tired between sessions. To avoid this problem, TLBB uses an autopathing method: you simply click the quest and the system will automatically leads you to the right place immediately.

This is a clever way to create a game that can be played by users anytime anywhere. However, this also takes the most fun part( at least for some players) — exploring the game world — out of the game. So after playing a while, it could become repetitive.

The battle session is carefully controlled around 1~ 2 mins.

Overall, I think the long term retention for the game may not be that great.

Monetization

TLBB uses gold as hard currency. In general, there are two categories to consume diamonds

One time / Permanent purchase

(1) VIP account: VIP account provides users additional service, such as more energy points recharges per day. There are 15 levels. A user need to spend 2000 dollars to reach VIP level 12. Based on the calculation, I think a user need to spend $200K to reach VIP 15.

(2) Customization for avatars.

Repeat purchase

(3)Lottery and Pay-to-win: I believe bulk of revenue comes from this type of transaction.

Basically, the game adopts the same monetization strategy as thunder fighter. You can refer to the analysis in that article. The idea is actually simple: to advance the plot, you need better equipments to win the battles. To get the equipment, you need to go into the battle and win it. At some point, you are stuck and cannot advance. The only way to play the game is to pay. Also, to craft and upgrade the equipment, you need to pay.

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