Squad Busters Soft launch & Global launch case study

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Supercell has announced the global launch date of Squad Busters, the developer’s ambitious new mobile game. Oh boy. I fucking love this game!

What is Squad Busters?

Imagine a multiverse of all of Supercell’s previously released games. And the characters from these games all converged into one single battle arena. This is Squad Busters.

The new mobile action game offers a unique PvP/PvE experience in which players “build and bust” Squads comprised of various characters from Supercell’s catalog of games, including Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Brawl Stars, and more.

Players begin with just a single character but can unlock additional characters to join their Squad by exploring and fighting on the map.

As they earn Coins, they can open chests that unlock these Characters and upgrade them to become more powerful.

Combat is mostly automatic, although players control the general movement of their squad and can launch some special abilities and spells.

Squad Busters 2nd beta test recap

Squad Busters finished its 2nd beta test and it’s a great game design exercise looking at the changes between the two versions. The main challenges in the first version were repetitiveness of the main mode, lack of depth during gameplay and too much luck factor in the first pick of the characters. I was able to play the game during this beta, we even recorded a podcast about it!

The luck factor was nicely solved with the addition of a reroll mechanic, where players can use a consumable to get refresh on a choice of 3 characters once per match. This is especially critical in the very first pick of the match, as the first character determines how fast you can build up your squad compared to other players. It can still end up being a lackluster starting character, but by giving players the choice to reroll, the frustration is definitely mitigated to some degree.

As you collect more and more characters throughout the match, you start to form strategies around those that were very straightforward before. Now, they borrowed the merging mechanic from the auto-chess genre, where if you collect 3 of the same characters, they merge into a stronger one than the previous version.

Not only does the new character has more health than 3 combined and has an ability bonus, but you also lower your character count as every other character costs more gold per chest, which actually goes down with the merge. So now you have some interesting choices/ risks to take during choosing your character setup during gameplay.

Squad Busters “Soft launch version “review

Character progression was radically changed. Currently, you merge these 4 stages of shards, starting from Baby form, going all the way to Ultra with a 10 to 1 merge conversion ratio.

They are upgraded through just shards and give you portal energy for the Squad journey. You can also buy a lot of shards in the shop and even unlock completely new characters.

The progression gating mechanic is chest tickets, which you need to use to open a chest. Otherwise, you can play without getting rewards. Chest tickets are the best currency sink in the game currently.

The Star Drop system from Brawl Stars was also added to the game, proving that Gacha mechanics reign supreme. This is powering the chest opening now, where each click has a chance to upgrade the chest rarity. This also nicely connects to the streak mechanic, whereby being in the top 5 gives you a direct bonus in the form of better chances of chest rarity upgrade and more shards. This essentially makes the streak saver’s second-best gold sink in the game. On the other hand, I almost threw my phone against the wall when I lost my streak due to my stupid mistake in the game. FML!

Battle Bag was also added full of consumables, where players can now not only reroll the initial characters they get from chests during gameplay but also open these chests without even having gold to begin with, with a rarity boost on top of it.

Mega units were also added as “consumable” characters, which can appear in the chest if the player has them in their inventory.

For each World in the game, there is a new collection of characters and mods.

Plaza comparison

In the 2nd Beta version, the decoration/building mechanic also allowed players to spend hammer’s currency (found during battles) on cosmetic and resource buildings. This may alleviate resource demand in the later stages of the game, as there will probably be more champions demanding more gold and elixir to be fully upgraded.

In the Softlaunch/global release candidate, there is only a placeholder!

Written with the help of Jakub Remiar

Global launch strategy

It was quite surprising to everybody when Supercell announced that Squad Busters is going GLOBAL!

First of all, there is 0 chance this was decided on day 3 when it was announced. It was already decided before this game went to “soft launch.”

This soft launch version is a marketing vehicle to build up hype and maybe fix some last technical issues. Really nice synergy effect between all games to increase the pre-registrations and give out nice rewards!

It is definitely not a proper soft launch to measure KPIs and improve builds.

How to soft launch a mobile game in 2024? Benchmarks & Real data inside!

How to soft launch a mobile game in 2024? Benchmarks & Real data inside!

How do you soft launch your game in 2024? Did something change? Of course, YES! Although the soft launch framework generally has not changed much, some aspects of the process are done differently. Launching a mobile game takes loads of work. After months of development and production time, the soft launch period comes.

What about User Acquisition?

There is a big overlap with Brawlstars; let’s take inspiration from that game. Brawl Stars just surpassed March revenue, and it’s definitely going to earn more than $80 mil a month in IAP revenue.

Countries

US specific campaigns
KR only – fully localized

  • Metro + TV ads similar to Last War or Rush Royal

DE specific (DACH)
JP specific

Tier1 bucket – FR, IT, PL, ES, BR, CA, NL
Tier2 bucket – TW, CZ, TR, UK, BG, HK
ROW

Platform split

70% iOS vs 30% GP based on the Softlaunch data

But wait? Isn’t iOS dead? Ehm no. Just shut the f*ck up if you don’t know anything about UA. It’s embarrassing.

Anyway, the iOS – SKAN conversion schema

  • Revenue schema based on the D1 payments (spend depth)
  • Special offers and season passes are top IAPs based on the CA store

UA channels

TikTok should be absolutely the biggest channel. Remember the We are Warriors case study? Sam was talking about the TTCC videos and going a bit “viral” on TikTok.

Tapping into the TikTok Creative Challenge to source UGC-style creatives directly from the creators themselves. TTCC is a TikTok Creator Monetization Program that empowers creators to craft brand ads that bring their unique and authentic perspectives to the forefront.

To expand into global markets efficiently, prioritize the production of creatives in local languages, emphasizing the importance of preserving an authentic TikTok experience for users in different regions.

Leverage the TikTok Creative Exchange program, specifically reaching out to creatives in languages such as Korean and Japanese. You know where I am heading with this, right? I already mentioned KR and JP as a standalone strategy, + TTCC is super big in the US. So here we have the 3 biggest GEOs covered..

Also, to give you some context, TikTok is currently one of the best-performing channels, especially on iOS. This brings me back to the 70% iOS budget split I mentioned before.

AppLovin

  • iOS mainly with playables (But real playables, not the shitty playable used in Brawlstars)
  • D0 IAP ROAS -> D7 IAP ROAS campaigns
    US+T1 then WW
    JP + KR separately
  • GP should follow shortly after

Google

Based on Google Ads transparency, they run both iOS + Android campaigns on Google for Brawl Stars.

So we have 3 big spenders + 4 smaller ones:
Meta
Moloco
Mistplay
Mintegral

Creative strategy & concept ideas

Who would win? 

10 different units on the left vs. 1 Fused or Mega unit on the right

Mass Battles (A.K.A. running away from the battle)

Multiplier (gates – might be a bit of a stretch) mechanics 

Narrative / story-driven

Progression-based Day1 vs Day100? 

Brawl Stars inspiration

Noob vs pro? 

Lame gameplay vs super high-skilled gameplay

UGC shit

Humor

I love the Chicken Simulator video from TikTok. Exactly the fun they could use.

@squadbusters

It was a joke, Squad Busters is still landscape 🫣 The big news is we’ve added 100% more chicken action! 🐓 Welcome to your new favorite chicken simulator! #squadbusters #chickensimulator

♬ original sound – Squad Busters

Final Words

Start with 250k/day and scale to 500k/1mil and then to 2mil/day based on actual numbers. We don’t know the payback or the retention yet, but based on the retention profile from Supercell games, this game should FLY HIGH, let’s look:

I intentionally left Influencers in the channel mix. They are a special category in this case. There is already the #supercellpartner program with incentives and promo codes. This would include Alternative UA channels with Mall takeovers and more branding exercises/activities.

Brawl Stars Demo also suggests this whole strategy could work.

Check out the Squad Busters review

What do you think? 

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