SSSnaker & Habby hybrid casual case study

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The player has to attack monsters and maintain a winning streak to determine their level-up outcome and gaming. The game includes attack, defense, upgrades, streak, and equipment. As soon as the player enters the game, they are directed to the main battlefield where they are shown a brief tutorial about how to navigate the snake, how to attack, what diminishes its health, and what kills it

On March 18th, 2023, Habby, the company behind Archero and Survivor.io global launched another bullet from their hit making machine called SSSnaker. If you have been following their portfolio you could see a clear pattern to their success, which is also why they were able to be successful with Survivor.io. 

Yeah, exactly. We have been talking about the hybrid casual approach from Habby for a while. Check our podcast about survivor.io below:

Survivor.io global launch on two & a half gamers podcast

Let’s look at UA, Ad monetisation & dive deep into Habby’s metagame framework.

USER ACQUISITION & NUMBERS

When we discussed the Top 10 revenue countries on the podcast, Taiwan was on the top spot with US on the second and South Korea third. But that changed in the last few days.

This is only in-app revenue. As Felix calculated, they make an additional 40% ad revenue on top of what we see. SSSnaker peaked at $187k in IAPs and decreasing slowly now. Game made $120k/day in 4 days after the global launch. Survivor.io was already making $240k/day 4 days after global. Feels like this game won’t be anywhere close to the success of Survivor.io. Still very very very interesting case!

When global launching a game, it’s important to have a full team on the UA, analytics, and creative team. Habby has everything, especially a very good creative team. But what happens before the global launch? A Soft launch! 

SSSnaker Soft launch

Looks like they softlaunched the game last year in February 2022 in Italy, France and Germany. Not that much was happening, they pushed new version out in October 2022, run some UA added UK into the mix, made few hundred dollars. Then again, new build live in November, same thing.


Nothing unusual. Until January 2023 when they added Indonesia and Phillipines to run som tech tests (I would assume) and added Canada & Australia.

Global launch UA channel mix

Surprising things here little bit. They are running everything out there, even Twitter!

Looks like the biggest channel is Ironsource, then Google (well, youtube especially) then Unity.

But when we look more closely, on Apple the biggest network is Applovin + Google.

Ironsource is the biggest channel in terms of spending on Android.

Applovin is the biggest spender on iOS.

  • We can see both videos and playables in their creative mix. Again playable has the most share of impressions!

Google

  • They started scaling on Youtube. Very big on iOS.
  • Using mainly long-form 30+ second videos + some static images.

TikTok

  • hah, not as big as TikTok spend with survivor!

Unity 

  • Started relatively big, especially on Android.

Where do they spend the most currently?

Creatives – the most interesting part of this global launch!

OMFG! Soooooo many different creatives. Let’s go over them one by one. Love it! So many different twists to the creative concepts. Looking into the Mobile action ads gallery for a creative research. These are the types of creatives they run:

UGC

Altered gameplay

Hypercasual 

Mass battles

classic gameplay

EDM music with mass/altered  gameplay

Creative examples – UGC!

Wait a second. The last UGC video feels different and little bit weird. Hmm, but there is more of that …

Yeah, I know what this is—high efficiency and creativity. These last three videos are made with AI-generated people. Can you see a difference? I spotted this right away since I use this as well in some of the videos we produced. AI-generated “UGC content” perform on pair with “real” people. Good luck, influencers!

Creative exapmples – Mass Battles

Mass battles are my favorite concepts. I used them in many of the games I ran before. It always works great!

More creative examples

Last UA words

Not as excited on the UA side as with survivor.io, although the creative concepts are fucking amazing!

Lots of different takes on altered gameplay and even hypercasual mechanics. Lots of emojis, music, subtitles, TikTok voice + AI generated people are used in the creatives.

Good job!

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SSSnaker Ad monetisation Strategy

SSSnaker has a very similar ad monetization strategy compared to Survivor.io which we discussed in detail on #31 of 2.5 Gamers below. In total, there are six rewarded ad placements inside of SSSnaker. Four ad placements are visible as part of the FTUE with another two placements that become visible after completing the first world.

Store Ad Placements

As part of the store SSSnaker has 4 Rewarded Ad placements. One rewarded ad opens a Normal Box that’s on a five hour cool down timer. The second rewarded ad unit opens a Super Box which on a 4 day cool down timer. The third is a 20 gems for free Rewarded ad placement on a 2 hour cool down. Last but not least there’s a dynamic ad placement for gold where users are encouraged to click for free gold to earn more gold by watching a Rewarded ad for even more free Gold.


That means as part of the FTUE the max amount of Rewarded ads a user can watch is 4 RV impressions. Once a player reaches the second world two more Rewarded Ad placements become visible for the user. One placement is a rewarded ad placement for revival which I suspect is the most popular ad placement in the game as you tend to die quite a lot in this game.

The second rewarded ad placement that becomes visible at the start of the second world is a quick earnings booster which allows you to earn rewards for watching a rewarded ad.

40% Ads revenue ($65k/day)

In total that means that by the second world a user can watch 6+ Rewarded placements depending on how many times users choose to revive themselves in the main game play. If we combine the FTUE IMP/DAU along with the IMP/DAU after the first world in my experience we’re looking at an average IMP/DAU of 3.8 with an ad viewer rate of 65%. Taking the average eCPMs for rewarded videos for the same time period and combining it with SSSnakers active user base that gets an ad revenue of around $65k/day. Meaning that about 40% of SSSnakers total revenue comes from Rewarded Ads.

Active users

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As always, special thanks goes to Mobile action for providing the insights! You are awesome!

Habby – the hybrid-casual hit making machine

Last year (2022) September-October were the best months for the whole company. Making whooping 37 Million USD/month. This is only IAP revenue and based on our assumptions (and calculations), they could be making 40-50% more on Ad revenue. Survivor.io being the biggest hit so far. We also recorded a podcast about their recent global launch of SSSnaker:

In today’s mobile F2P gaming market, where (unfortunately) 99% of games fail or don’t reach enough scale to be profitable, the key is to have multiple shots on goal at a fast frequency. Looking at their strategy, there are two key elements they use – Unfolding gameplay and metagame framework. Let’s look at the first one now – the Unfolding gameplay.

You can quickly see the principles behind this browser games, paperclips where you will be first making innocent paperclips, and then a few hours later, you will be destroying the galaxy

The Unfolding gameplay

After they found their first success with Archero they have been perfecting this setup to this day, as we can see looking at their newest game. Not all games on their portfolio follow these patterns, so we are gonna explicitly look at Archero, Survivor.io, Punball, Kinja Run, and SSSnaker. 

After the initial install, these games all look like hyper-casual games. They all strictly follow the rule of one button control in the form of a joystick, which controls the player’s character. You are immediately thrown into gameplay action, which is intuitive to control and get immediate enjoyment. After your initial run, you are taken to the main menu, and you upgrade your character through the passive system, the only unlocked system at that time.

As seen in the screenshots, at this stage the game looks very simple, even though we can expect some more systems under the locked icons. Player then continues the main loop and the situation repeats. At some point the game unlocks equipment inventory and slowly drops more and more features on the player. But we are talking multiple days of sessions, not your usual 20 minutes tutorial which unlocks the whole UI on you afterwards.

Below we can see how the UI is slowly filling with more and more features and systems. You can see how my SSSnaker has progressed after a few days, but I still haven’t unlocked all of the main features that the game has to offer. On the other hand, here is my Survivor.io account which is pretty much fully unfolded compared to its initial stage we have seen here before. Another example is seen with the Punball progressed account.

This process makes sure that the player’s attention slowly shifts from mastering the core gameplay into RPG progression of his character. In the end you are upgrading multiple systems and playing different game modes to get more power into your character and move onto the next stage. On the UI below we can clearly see that this is not anymore the hypercasual game we have started with. It morphed into a very heavy IAP driven Roguelite ARPG.


This enables Habby to widen the UA funnel getting hypercasual-like reach and CPIs. This principle is an upgrade to the usual hypercasual pipeline where small studios send prototypes to the publisher, which then tests the KPIs and picks the ones with the best metrics, and then pushes them with UA. Habby not only does this, but they actively change the feature pacing of these prototypes to fit their unfolding gameplay formula. They slot the core gameplay into their metagame framework, which is a tried and tested progression of a rogue-lite Action RPG. Let’s look into detail how this transformation works. SSSnaker was published by Habby but developed by Yiduo Games under the former name of Snake Master.

You can play the game through an old build APK on Android if you want to see the differences for yourself!

The first big difference is the equipment progression. In the original game there is just a simple upgrade sink compared to the 6 slot equipment gacha which is one of the main pillars of the metagame framework. It is presented in every one of these games.

Survivor.io even went so far that they doubled the inventory right after global launch, probably to immediately get more spend depth into the game as they saw the amazing global launch numbers.Same gacha system progression applies also here.

In the first session of Snake Master, you could already select a different snake with different rarities to collect. In SSSnaker this feature is unlocked somewhere around day 4 if you play a lot. This was changed to fit the unfolding formula as RPG elements are pushed for later in order for players to focus on mastering core gameplay.

Another staple of the framework is the idle generation mechanic. Not only does it incentivize sessions, but it further reinforces the roguelite nature of the gameplay. Progression of roguelite games is based on the principle that even though you always start your new run from level 1 character you get resources into permanent upgrades that carry over between the runs. As the game is based around Player versus environment difficulty, this assures that eventually you progress even in chapters you are stuck in or can’t deal with the mechanics. Your stats grow so high that the content that was hard to get through will eventually become easy with your permanent upgrades. This makes for a very approachable and “casual” progression.

As seen on the big UI layout of Survivor.io image we have shown before the monetization and live-ops systems are the last to unlock in their full force with all the battle passes, achievements, subscriptions, daily quests, daily rewards, piggy banks, offer systems and event systems.These are again universal for the whole framework.

All of these progression layers such as talents, equipment, additional hero characters create very deep IAP and Ad economy spend depth that is similar to a midcore RPG.

This whole process enables Habby to focus on their metagame framework, improving even the older games as it is compatible. In the meantime they continue testing  prototypes of different core gameplays from different studios to get the best KPIs to slot into their framework and keep up with their very fast release frequency fueling the “hit machine” and getting multiple shots on goal. You could say that Habby are the true masters of “HybridCasual”.

Check out the full SSSnaker review 

Anything that we missed?

This deep dive was brought to you by two & a half gamers – Jakub, FelixMatej

Oh wow! You made it until here! You must be very engaged. I like that type of players.. Ehm, people!

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