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5 Features That Helped Popularized Mobile Games in China and the US

11 May 2021Ellavie Ichlasa Amalia

One of the features that makes mobile games popular in the US and China is the gacha system.

Every country has its own unique gaming culture. For example, most Indonesian are first introduced to the internet through smartphones. Hence, most Indonesian gamers are mobile gamers. To maximize their income, developers can implement features that specifically target the market’s taste. For example, for Chinese gamers, playing games is a way to socialize with friends. As a result, co-op and PvP features are sought after by Chinese gamers.

To find out what features in mobile games will interest gamers, GameRefinery analyzed 200 of the most popular iOS games in China and the United States. Here are five features that boosted the popularity of Mobile games in the US and Chinese markets, as mentioned by VentureBeat.

1. Gacha in RPG Games

Gacha, or loot boxes, is one of the features commonly found in mobile games, especially RPG games. Usually, games with gachas often introduce a wide array of characters to play. Popular RPG games usually have specific gachas for characters, pets, weapons, and so on. One type of gacha that is often applied by game developers is an exclusive gacha with a set time limit. Therefore, players can only get the special characters/weapons/pets during the runtime of the gacha event. Exclusivity of items is, indeed, one of the reasons why gamers are very willing to buy in-game items.

You need orbs to get new characters in Fire Emblem Heroes. | Source: US Gamer

Another method that developers use to encourage players to buy loot boxes is by offering bonuses. For example, if you buy 100 orbs/gems for gacha, you will get a discount or extra orbs/gems. Examples of popular RPG games that use the gacha model are Fire Emblem Heroes and Genshin Impact. At first, the gacha system was popularized by Asian developers. However, recently,  the popularity of gacha games has been rising amongst Western gamers.

2. Cosmetic Items: Skins and Accessories

If the gacha model was popularized by Asian developers, cosmetic items were made popular by Western developers. Initially, cosmetic items were found in many shooter games. Today, in-game cosmetics such as character costumes and emotes are present in many mobile games, even casual games. As the name suggests, cosmetic items only serve to enhance the appearance of the characters in the game. However, gamers are still willing to spend money on cosmetic items because these items allow them to express themselves. Just like the gacha model, developers can also offer special skins or cosmetics for a certain period of time to encourage players to buy these items.

3. Guild

The guild feature plays an important role in maintaining the loyalty of mobile gamers. The guild system can be implemented in mobile games in different ways. For example, guilds can be used to unite players and make them cooperate with one another. Conversely, guilds can also be used to force players to challenge each other. Interestingly, nowadays, the guild system is not only used in RPG games but also in casual games like Homescapes. Games like Cookie Run also have a guild feature.

The guild system in Homescape was very simple during its first release. Guilds only allow players to chat and give lives to each other. Over time, however, the guild feature continues to improve and get updated. Today, the guild system in Homescapes also allows members to assist each other in obtaining rewards. Furthermore, Playrix, Homescapes’ developer,  also added a Team Tournament event or a competition between guilds.

Honor of Kings is a Chinese game that applies a double guild system. | Source: VentureBeat

Interestingly, games from China implement their own “double guild” system. Apart from the standard guild system, the double guild system broke the guilds down into smaller divisions. The smaller number of members allows players to forge closer relationships. One game that uses the double guild system is Honor of Kings.

4. Battle Pass

In the past year, the battle pass has become one of the most widely adopted features by mobile game developers. After Fortnite popularized the battle pass feature, many mobile game developers jumped into the trend and mimicked Epic Games. Playrix is ​​one of the developers that implement the battle pass feature on their casual puzzle games. In Homescapes, the battle pass will provide various boosters for players. The Chinese PvP game Battle of Balls also followed suit and launched their battle pass feature. In Battle of Balls’ battle pass, a player can choose a friend to contribute to the progression of their own battle pass.

5. Collaboration Events with Other Games

Creating a collaboration event is one way for mobile game developers to engage with their player base. Normally, this event will only be held for a certain period of time. For games that have many playable characters, developers can also introduce new characters during the event.

Dragalia Lost’s income dramatically increases when there is a collaboration event. | Source: VentureBeat

One example of a game that holds a collaboration event is Dragalia Lost from Nintendo. In April 2019, Dragalia Lost held a special event with the Fire Emblem franchise. The event features a PvE campaign that focuses on narrative as well as exclusive characters, such as Alfonse and Marth. After that, Dragalia Lost also held a collaboration event with Megaman. In that event, players can get Megaman and other exclusive equipment. They also, very recently, had a collaboration with Monster Hunter.

Translated by: Ananto Joyoadikusumo

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