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Pearls of Atlantis Update – A Labor of Love

I have an update on Pearls of Atlantis, a mobile game published by Legacy, hopefully of interest to both fans and mobile game developers. But first, a bit of history.

As described in this blog post back in October 2022, Legacy first launched Pearls after a two year development process. Since then, we have been adding features, improving the UI, redoing the flow of how players access the different game modes, and trying everything we can think of to improve retention and monetization.

So how is Pearls of Atlantis faring out there in the hyper-competitive world of casual puzzle games?

It’s taking longer than expected to gain our footing, for sure. Before Pearls, Legacy never developed a FTP game; luckily, our long time development partner, Alder Games, had relevant experience. Through trial and error and a crash course in game analytics, we’ve had some success and some continuing frustrations. Let’s start with the good news first (because that’s how I roll).

 

  • We have massively improved the gameplay in Pearls since launch. The puzzle play has always been awesome and unique, like an upside down bubble shooter with physics. The main changes in the game are related to all the new gameplay that surrounds and supports the puzzle play—multiple new events, like Score Challenge and Bottomless Trench, more missions and new levels each week, daily puzzles, decoration mode, etc.

 

 

  • We have increased the channels of distribution and platforms on which Pearls is available. The mobile versions are available in the iOS and Android stores, the FTP PC version is available in the MS store and on Steam, and Switch/PS5/Xbox versions are in the works for later this year. We are in active discussions to expand our mobile game distribution outside the Google Play store and in other countries.

 

  • The game is already cross platform, but here is where our strategy differs from most competitors. We created an HTML5 version of Pearls. We had to limit this browser friendly version to just the puzzle gameplay, for size reasons. Another difference is that it monetizes with ads, not IAPs. The HTML5 game is generating more revenue than we expected, plus there are strategic benefits. First, we are building the game brand with exposure to thousands of new potential customers without onerous UA costs. Second, we have persuaded our distribution partners to allow us to promote the mobile version from within the browser version. and guess what…it’s working! We have definitely improved the quality and quantity of organic users who come to the mobile app stores via the HTML5 game. Third, an important advantage of having a robust HTML5 version is that it opens up additional distribution channels like cars and airplanes, both of which we are pursuing.

 

 

  • Following common wisdom, we concentrated first on improving our retention numbers. We’ve pulled every lever we can think of at this point, but always happy to take advice if anyone out there has any suggestions?? On the other hand, we have had some immediate and gratifying results from recent attention paid to monetization. The changes in the game have been small so far but have paid big dividends. When expanded across all the new game versions, monetization changes have made a substantial difference in revenue generated. As dumb as this sounds, I wish we would have turned our attention to making money sooner!

 

 

Now for the “eh” news.

  • I wish that D1 retention was higher. Our retention numbers currently sit at around D1 – 35%, D7 – 17%, and D30 – 15%. When we started this project, I would have been thrilled with D1 35%, but expectations have risen. On the other hand, our D7 and D30 retention is great. It is very clear to us that if a player likes the basic gameplay, they stick with the game. But many of our players come to Pearls expecting a typical match-3 game with mermaids, and that is not what they get. This is why I am so excited about using the HTML5 version to drive customer to the mobile stores. These players know what the game is about because they have already played it.

 

  • I wish more people were playing Pearls. We went through the same frustrating experience of most small mobile game developers, where we wasted too much money on consultants and user acquisition campaigns. Truthfully, we didn’t know what we were doing. Now, we are taking a break from UA ads, but as soon as you turn off the spigot, your DAU freefalls. Our 1,800 active users are growing in number through our guerilla marketing efforts on our website, through customer newsletters, social media and of course the HTML5 game, but I wish we could do more. Maybe soon.

 

 

So now you’re up to date on Pearls. If you are a customer/fan, you may be wondering if I would make the same decision again, to spend almost four years on a game that is just now beginning to monetize successfully?

The answer is unequivocally—yes. This is exactly what making games is like these days… an initial launch, constant improvements using data analytics, and persistence. And we have been blessed with the absolutely best development partner in the business, Alder Games, that is equally committed to the game. I love this game, it is a labor of love, and eventually, just maybe, it will pay off.

      

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1 thought on “Pearls of Atlantis Update – A Labor of Love”

  1. Old Grumpy Game Guy

    I’m happy for you that you created your own game. However, since it is free to play, I won’t be playing it. I don’t like those kind of games and therefore I just avoid them.

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