Love Nikki - a Dress-Up Game to Rule Them All
This is a guest post by Marina Yeremenko, a Senior Designer at King. Before that, Marina was a Senior Game Designer at Social Point, working on the acclaimed Monster Legends. As a true industry veteran, she's also worked for MissinGames and Gameloft too. If you like her article, please comment below and let her know!
While I was browsing through my Instagram some time ago, I got an Ad for Love Nikki Dress Up Queen. At that time I was looking for more games like Covet Fashion but with a larger gameplay variety. Love Nikki turned out to be much more than that - an RPG about fashion.
Then Pocketgamer.biz did an article about the game and I couldn’t agree more.
“Love Nikki, underneath its cute exterior,
has an incredibly deep RPG with tons of content...”
- Ric Cowley, Pocketgamer.biz.
The title was launched in US in 2017, and during the same year it hit the Top 100 Grossing on iOS. Now this is surprising because as you know very few Asian games succeed in the US. And Love Nikki was originally made in China and published by Tencent.
Aside from that, the most surprising fact is that the game was designed for a female audience with a quite hardcore meta from Japanese RPGs. Cherry on top is the anime style, that is believed to be more favoured by men in the West.
Overall, this mix would seem like a very risky idea (not to mention the sometimes random use of English), but it worked!
Revenues since launch have been growing constantly. On the graph below I marked the game’s releases in the main countries. It is clear that the anime style dressing game is popular not only in Asia but is growing fast in the US as well.
So far on all platforms it earned a Total Revenue of over $ 140 M.
The game was published by different publishers under different names: Miracle Nikki by Tencent in Asian countries (since April ’15) and Love Nikki Dress Up Queen by Elex in Western countries (since April’17)
Live Ops are another impressive achievement of the game. Every time they release a time limited event - they double their revenues (see the Monetization part).
Total Revenue Per Install shows constant growth as well. Here you can see that the Western version, Love Nikki, is almost at the level of the Asian Miracle Nikki, with the US around 5$ per install.
Moreover, the game doesn’t have any direct competitors yet. The other strong design titles such as Covet Fashion or Kim Kardashian don’t have such a rich meta and remain lower in the rankings.
So it’s clear that the game is successfully filling its niche on the market. With 2 years’ delay between the Chinese and Western versions, we can expect many more features to come, and the game itself is still seeing rapid growth. American girls definitely love it as much as Asian ones, and seem not to be afraid of the complexity of features that Love Nikki offers.
But let’s go one step at a time and see what mechanics make the game so powerful.
1: GAME OVERVIEW
1.1 STORYLINE & CORE LOOP
From first launch Love Nikki overwhelms you with its completely logical story…
So Love Nikki puts clothes at the bottom of the Maslow pyramid. This is a world where the only crime is to have an empty wardrobe. Anyway, enough on that, even though the story is strongly present in the game, it is certainly not key to their success. The key to their success lies underneath, in the game’s mechanics and their wild mix of RPG and Clothes’ Design.
Imagine a classic RPG core loop: complete quests -> collect items / XP -> craft/evolve items -> compete against others with these items. Love Nikki is as simple as that, only instead of items like armor or swords you will have dresses and shoes, instead of stats like power and defence you will have clothes attributes like cute, elegant, warm etc.
You can definitely compare the game to Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes mechanics-wise. The game is also based on collection, has linear missions with random drops, a lot of grinding to obtain items, and content is split between specific shops with specific currencies attached to different features.
Love Nikki’s Collection Meta:
However, among these, the main source of clothes for most collections is the single player missions. And this is naturally the most monetized feature in the game. Why that is, we’ll see below.
1.2 SINGLE PLAYER MISSIONS
Single Player Missions represent styling competitions between Nikki and an AI controlled opponent. The player needs to dress her up to match mission requirements.
In these missions there are two difficulties: Maiden (easy) and Princess (hard).
Both difficulties have Chapters with several missions.
Clothes rewards drop is chance based - pushing for high mission replayability
Now the reward system is again similar to Star Wars GoH - rewards have a random drop chance and are needed in large quantities. High scores in missions unlock extra rewards with smaller drop rates, and more importantly auto-complete, that makes the process of farming much nicer.
Rewards are player XP, gold coins and unique mission clothes (below highlighted (1)).
Mission clothes are not valuable on their own and can hardly complete any clothes collection sets. But they are important as components for further crafting/evolution or customization (see the next part of the article).
Usually these clothes are needed in high quantities, which is why missions replays are so crucial, and why stamina/attempts are so powerful as gating mechanics.
Stamina and Attempts are the main blocker to progress in the game
Stamina is used to enter missions. Princess missions use more stamina and require mission attempts. On top of that, there is a maximum amount of free attempts per day. The player can buy more attempts, but that is also limited, and linked to a VIP level.
The total amount of Stamina refills per day is capped as well. So it motivates the player to enter the game several times per day and burst it, which is further enhanced by bonus stamina at strategic times (12-2pm and 7-9pm).
Both of these limits effectively prevent you from instantly spending your way to the end game, and instead emphasize returns.
Outfit Requirements motivate players to grind, buy or craft clothes
Another strong point towards grinding previous missions is to be able to enter the next one - because missions have outfit requirements. Again, in a typical RPG the requirements would say “Equip Emerald Sword” or “Use a Paladin” to enter this mission. In Love Nikki it would be “wear a cute and lively outfit” or “wear a Maid outfit”.
The game shows tips with the suggested clothes for the medium (B,C,A) and top scores (S). Normally they can be crafted from the materials the player got earlier or bought in the shop. If a player is missing any item, the game will gladly UI-lead the way over to where to get it.
Clothes Style Tags and Rarity is where the transformation into an RPG becomes clear.
The mission requirements mentioned above rely on a novelty for fashion games: the tags and rarities of clothes. Practically speaking, it is not only up to the beauty of the garment any more, but to pure stats, as described below.
Rarity (on the image (1)) - defines the value of each clothes. Represented in hearts. The more hearts there are (up to 6) - the more rare the item is. Golden hearts indicate animated clothes, and are mainly found in Live Ops.
Attribute tags (on the image (2)) - style or theme tags. Example, “Gorgeous”, “Simple”, “Bunny”, “Bohemia”.
Attribute Ranks (next to attributes) - every clothing attribute has a rank. Ranks can vary from B (the lowest) to SS (probably super saiyan) - the highest. The higher the rank, the better the clothes will perform against those specific mission requirements.
The Action Phase is a typical 2 character competition with less typical stat-based scores
Once you’ve gathered all the mission requirements, it’s time to enter the action phase, the battleground for clothes’ attributes. Here the game checks the clothes’ parameters of both Nikki and her AI opponent and sets scores if they match mission requirements.
For every mission the game has several clothes attributes multipliers. The attributes that match mission requirements have the highest multipliers.
At the end of the “fight” there is the final score represented as a grade from F to S. The player needs an S score to drop exclusive clothes parts and to unlock bonus missions.
All in all, the key point of this mode is replayability and chance-based content drops. As the rewards of the missions are involved in other game loops, such as crafting, this makes players come back several times every day to burst their stamina. Stat based gameplay and the possibility to autocomplete eventually make it purely mechanical, and allow players to concentrate on other, deeper features of the game.
1.3 CUSTOMIZE - CRAFT - EVOLVE
Sounds like the title of the famous book “Eat, pray, love”. Which is not far from the truth - customization, crafting and evolution are the other essentials of the game. As we mentioned earlier, missions can require several clothes, and some can be purchased in the shop, some obtained from other missions and some again can be customized, crafted or evolved.
Besides these three methods there is no other way to get unique high rarity content without paying.
Customization incentivises to play the PvP mode and allows you to modify clothes’ attributes
Customization is a simple recoloring of the primary clothes to change their attributes ranks. It uses color materials that can be purchased from the PvP Arena shop.
It also uses decomposition materials. Decomposition tackles the problem of accumulated clothes duplicates. It allows the player to break them down into deconstruction materials and reconstruction accessories. Reconstruction then allows players to craft unique clothes parts from those accessories.
It definitely makes it all a bit messy, but it also leads the player to discover additional depth in the game.
Here is a detailed scheme how this all works together:
After the player finishes customizing - the primary clothes will disappear. Customization is often required as part of crafting recipes, which can unlock higher rarity clothes.
Crafting is a key way to get rare clothes, and recipes have many layers that create mid term goals
Crafting is another way of getting unique clothes. It does make a lot of sense that to create clothes you would need different elements to be assembled together. But in Love Nikki sometimes you need pants, socks and hair to make a dress !
Complex crafting recipes will ask the player to craft/evolve/customize, to buy, and to farm in missions several required clothes components. In the end game some recipes can take a week to complete. Also the requirements for some low rarity items can be excessively demanding.
The main blockers that occur to complete a recipe are the Princess missions daily limit and lack of Star Coins to purchase recipes or to customize any of the components. Given that the recipes and customization products are purchased in the Arena Shop (see Stylist Arena), it integrates yet another mode into the loop!
Evolution is another way of using clothes duplicates to create rare items
Clothes evolution increases rarity of the item and improves it visually:
When the player evolves an item it might change its attributes, or increase their rank. The Maximum evolved item is usually a part of the collection set. Very often only Princess dropped items can be evolved to higher rarity.
After evolution the game always leaves the player one unit of the “material” clothes. To get a 5 hearts rarity clothes the player obviously needs to evolve several times.
- Step 1: The player would need 6 copies of “Higanbana” hair from Princess missions to evolve to a “Geisha - Rare” hair.
- Step 2: And she will need 4 copies of “Geisha - Rare” hair to get 1 “Geisha - Epic” hair.
- Step 3: To get 21 copies (6+5+5+5) of “Higanbana” hair will take on average a week, with the chance based drop rates and the amount of Princess free attempts.
Summing up, Crafting - Customization - Evolution are strong components of the collection meta, since they provide unique rare clothes that allow players to complete clothes sets.
Each action boosts monetization in different ways:
Evolution depends on farming clothes duplicates in missions. Which boosts stamina and Princess attempts purchases.
Customization is highly dependant on PvP Arena shop and its currency. This makes players go battle on a daily basis and spend on extra PvP attempts.
And Crafting is made to rule them all - complex recipes require customization and evolution, and this boosts spending even more.
Each feature creates an awesome daily routine of both playing and spending hard currency (diamonds) or real money.
1.4 PVP - STYLIST’S ARENA
I mentioned the Stylist’s Arena as a source in the crafting section: it is a stats based PvP mode - the only source of Star Coins. It is highly popular because of its shop with recipes and customization materials.
The mode has Leagues, Seasons and leaderboards like in any other mid-core game we see nowadays. But direct competition starts only when players get to Top 20, which is when they are directly visible in the leaderboard.
The mode is asynchronous and casualized, integrating perfectly with the daily routine. The player is motivated to play regularly because the Star Coin rewards are strictly controlled and there are never enough to complete crafting or customization.
The PvP gameplay is not innovative, but it takes only 5 minutes per day to play and is rather rewarding
The Action phase is very similar to the single player missions, only instead of NPCs there is someone else’s Nikki. Each match will have a randomly selected theme out of the themes pool. It works exactly like restrictions in missions.
To beat the opponent, normally a player should put on as many clothes matching the theme as he/she can. The game gives hints as to what score the opponent can get, so this gives a fairly clear idea of what to expect. There is an option to autoplay if the player already entered this theme before. For that reason, once you’ve played each theme one, playing all 5 free attempts is exceedingly fast.
^ Free Attempts are the main limitation to farm Star Coins
The player gets 5 free Arena attempts every day. More attempts can be purchased for 20 lipsticks only 3 times per day for non VIP players. Usually, this amount of attempts and 5 Star Coins per victory will allow you to purchase one low rarity recipe or one customization material per day. For high rarity clothes, you would need much more.
Leagues are casualized with no possibility to fall out of the league during the season, but the main battle is between Top 20 players for higher rewards. There are 5 leagues where the player can become a Stylist of different star “rank”. Every league has a fixed amount of star ranks that are earned for PvP wins, similar to Hearthstone. Players can’t drop out from the league (or lose a star) during a season, making it very casual.
The competition takes place across weekly seasons. At the end of each season players will get rewards according to their league or position if they are among the Top 20 players, consisting of Star Coins, Diamonds and Gold.
Rewards are heavily differentiated between the league and the top 20 players. This is the main driver to become a Top 20, as just the 20th position can double the rewards compared to leagues.
The amount of Star Coins is still more controlled, so that the Top 1 gets only 4x versus the top league, but rewards are far more generous with Diamonds and Gold: 8x and 5x vs the league. In addition to that, the game keeps the same gold and diamonds amounts within the same league, but constantly increases Star Coins. These are clearly the main incentive to move upwards.
Generally, this mode becomes really necessary when the player needs to craft/customize a lot for participating in missions, or to complete clothes collection. But the game still managed to keep it casual and automated so that fits well inside the daily routine.
Moreover, the game strongly controls the amount of Star Coins that can be earned at the end of every season and on daily basis. Even a Top 20 player would need to spend several seasons to farm for a rare outfit.
For example, being the Top 1 player awards 500 Star Coins and can buy 1 crafting recipe of a 5 hearts “Puppet Grice” dress. But this is only the recipe, the item after that needs to be crafted from different high value clothes, bringing the grand total to 2660 Star Coins, or 3+ weeks farming with daily earnings!
With the quantity of outfits the game holds, it would be a shame not to have a mode to showcase them: enter the Competition! This is a regular global contest, where participants submit an outfit that matches the Competition Theme.
Competition themes can be mind blowing, like “My First Skirt”, “A Miraculous Vow”, “Lanterns And Sweet Dumplings”...
Competition is made specifically to boost spending in Time Limited events (see the specific section). Usually it matches the theme running in parallel in the Live Ops, and is an occasion to showcase the items you’ve won/earned/paid for.
^ There is no fee to enter and players can change the outfit any amount of times during it, but the score resets if they do so.
Players get score points when others vote for them, tough a part of the score seems to be given by the system itself depending on the clothes you wear: this basically ensures that the most recent and desirable clothes are clearly visible.
Rewards consist of a unique currency and a shop with exclusive content, which seems to be the rule for every feature
At the end of every competition, players get rewards based on their positions in the global ranking. The main incentive besides competition is to get Crystal Roses - the currency used in the Competition shop.
The leaderboard is % based, and rewards are given by ranking ranges, with extra rewards given to the TOP 20 players (the biggest difference this time is on the hard currency).
Here non-unique currency rewards are considerably lower than the ones in the Arena. But the mode is still very valuable because it gives actual unique clothes and not just recipes. But it will require to be top 1 of several competitions, because one dress in the shop costs about 198 Crystal Roses.
But, I don’t find dresses from the shop particularly attractive or excessively rare. Crafting is a much better source for those.
1.6 STYLIST ASSOCIATIONS (CLANS)
Finally, what is an RPG without a social structure? Associations is the answer - a social clan feature, that allows players to cooperate for completing Association missions and to enjoy exclusive content.
The feature adds an extra progression layer for players, allowing them to level up their associations and progress in missions Acts. This requires all members to be active and dedicated every day.
Associations have a complex loop where players can buy unique sets from the Association Workshop for mission currency, buy items from the Association shop for Association coins, buy boosters for the team, and compete with other Associations on a weekly basis.
Associations Core Loop:
The feature is primarily connected to the main game loop by the Association Workshop and Association shop, which award (had you guessed it?) unique clothes. But to buy anything from those shops, players first need to complete association missions.
Association missions require cooperation to be completed, but are competitive on individual rewards
Every member has 5 attempts/day to play missions, and this doesn’t use up the player’s main stamina.
The main difference is that the missions need to be completed by several clanmates. They also have a high score target. This is why one mission can take several days to complete.
Completing a mission awards 3 types of Workshop Accessory Items (earrings, necklace and bracelet), that are then used as currencies to buy new clothes in the Association Workshop.
Once the entire mission is completed, every team member gets an extra amount of Workshop Accessory Items.
Daily Rankings make members play every day and spend on extra mission attempts. In daily rankings, the Association needs to hit mission score milestones to get daily prizes: Association Coins, Gold and Stamina.
There is also an individual ranking that is based on the total score contributed by each player. Top 4 players get extra Association Coins, which naturally prompts internal competition and spending. Association Coins can be used in the Association Shop where players can buy exclusive clothes or random customization materials.
The unique content of the shop can be evolved into very rare items. But the trick is to get the item you want because the shop has random clothes rotation. And free refreshes are limited per day.
On average a player from a very active association can obtain 185 Association Coins per week. That will leave her/him with 2-3 items from the association shop.
Association Library - a booster shop
The main purpose of the Library is to give a boost to the Association’s growth, which increases the Association’s level. It will mainly use Association Coins. Which is a difficult choice: making members spend for the clan rather than buying clothes in the association shop for themselves.
Association Level is a rather interesting feature, because level-ups increase both the limit on missions/day attempts and more importantly the limit on the amount of members. The level increases by accumulating Association Growth points, obtained by completing association missions and doing actions in the library.
Overall, the feature is mainly focused on team cooperation, and internal competition rather than external.
The main emphasis is on the unique content in the Association Shop and the Workshop. Here they stepped away from the typical “one new currency per mode” and added four. The 3 Association Accessories add granularity to mission rewards and make it more difficult to complete some suits, and Association Coins push for active daily play.
Daily Ranking and Association Level are the most interesting features. One plays on short term goals and requires rather easy actions to contribute (overall keeping players active on daily basis), while the other increases the max cap of players in the team, which will eventually boost their activity longer-term.
Part 2: MONETIZATION
2.1 MONETIZATION LOOP
To those who read this far - kudos and a quote!
"I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet."
- Carrie Bradshaw
And this is the very principle that Love Nikki follows - making sure players invest in their virtual wardrobes. And you know, spending money in this game feels extremely rewarding!
From the very beginning of the game, they give away amazing (and rare!) first login suits. The player starts feeling the power and beauty of rare clothes and next time she/he sees a suitable offer, she will purchase it. And she will not call the game greedy, as the added-value of each purchase is very high.
The game monetizes through different mechanics, but the most interesting part is knowing what girls buy the most in Love Nikki.
The key elements in the Monetization loop:
Here you will notice that the Competition feature is absent when comparing to the collection meta in Part 1. This is because Competition doesn’t monetize on its own, it instead provides bragging rights. But what does is the Gacha, or Mystery House, as it is called in the game.
2.2 TOP GAME SELLERS
Let’s go into details on these elements, starting with a ranking!
Top 1. Stamina
Since the player needs to replay missions constantly to farm clothes and there is a random chance to get each - stamina is the most used currency for this. In a way you can argue that energy is the true “gacha currency” of the game.
Top 2. Princess missions attempts
On top of stamina limits, the player has only 3 attempts for every Princess mission. It is crucial to buy more attempts, because with their chance based drops, farming for rare items can be extremely long.
Top 3. Arena Attempts
The player always needs Star Coins to purchase crafting recipes or materials. The amount needed usually exceeds daily earnings with free 5 attempts, as we explained earlier. And if the player doesn’t want to wait for the PvP season to end - she/he will certainly buy extra arena attempts to farm the currency.
Top 4. Mystery House (gacha) tries
Mystery House is a gacha divided into 3 tiers. Low tier gachas have a free try every day, Premium ones every 48h.
They are split as follows:
- 1st tier is purchased for Gold Coins (soft currency) with 1-5 rarity clothes;
- 2d tier is 60 Diamonds/try (~1.2$) with 3-5 rarity clothes;
- Premium tier has two gachas, Porch of Mystery and Corridor of Clock, that feature different very rare sets. Costs 150 Diamonds/try(~3$).
Gachas also have shops attached to them that act as hedging mechanics. These Shops introduce new types of currencies:
1st and 2d tiers drop Crystal Shoes, to directly buy certain clothes from the gachas
Premium tier gachas drop specific currencies and have individual shops. You can buy all the items from the featured sets there, with persistence.
To get a Premium gacha costume can be very long or expensive. For example, a player gets 1 jade currency for free every 48h. To buy the Flower in Mirror suit in the gacha shop, the player would need 295 Jades currency = 590 days or spend 885$ if she/he is particularly unlucky.
These are the most effective features that the game monetizes on. On top of that, they will boost these core monetization features with an additional layer of permanent features, the most important one being the VIP.
2.3 MONETIZATION BOOSTING FEATURES
VIP Experience - The multiplier
The VIP is also an important feature, enhancing the experience of engaged paying players, but it is mainly a multiplier on top of the previous loops.
The player becomes a VIP after making a Diamond purchase or a purchase of IAP packs that give VIP tickets.
There are tons of benefits to becoming a VIP and they extend with the higher VIP levels. They never expire and cannot be lost.
These benefits mainly affect core loop actions (more rewards, more stamina recharges, higher attempts purchase limits) and are focused on making player sessions longer and more enjoyable, as well as status in the friend leaderboard.
To get to the last VIP 15 a player would need to spend 5,500 $. Though the amount might seem large (and it is), it still is eventually capped, making it less powerful than other mechanics described before.
Daily IAP Packs - The conversion offers
Finally, there are also daily packs with different prices and content.
Some are so attractive (with a low price or containing gorgeous suits) that it guarantees conversion, you just can’t say no to it.
They really take care of making useful and valuable offers. The players, and I am one of them, don’t feel it is a waste of money. Because you don’t just get a suit and complete a part of your collection, you also get diamonds to spend on the core loop or an event, and VIP tickets that give permanent bonuses and more.
So, we’ve gone through the main monetization features. But the game wouldn’t get this amount of revenue without the one feature to rule them all. This is the one that gives the best clothes, the most unique experience and boosts engagement - welcome Live Ops!
2.4 LIVE OPS & COMPONENTS
Time Limited Events (TLE)
The Event system is remarkable. Every event has a different gameplay and grants the most beautiful unique outfits.
Normally, each event will push different parts of the core loop and boost the top sellers even more. They will almost always rely on a new energy and a new event currency, making their balancing that much simpler while keeping everything clear.
These are the usual types of events the game rotates:
Core Loop Missions - Events based on existing Maiden and Princess missions
- Event currency will randomly drop when playing Maiden or Princess missions.
- There can be several event currencies like for their Valentine’s Day event. Each currency is used to buy a different suit.
- Here the limitation is Stamina, which of course pushes players to buy it even more.
Side Gameplay - Events with new Single Player missions
- It has 5 missions with a story and 5 free attempts/day per mission. For diamonds you can buy 1 additional attempt an unlimited amount of times.
- Every attempt drops Event Currency, and the event will feature several suits that can be purchased with it. So the player has a choice. Normally, a very engaged player can buy one cheaper suit without paying.
- In the Joker & Diamond Mask event they wanted to add an element of player impact to increase engagement - so you could win a 50% discount for one of the suits answering a quiz correctly.
Side Gameplay - Event with PvP 2vs2 matches
- The player is matched with a random partner on every attempt. Then they are matched versus 2 other players in a PvP match.
- Victories and losses grant 5 or 3 Event Currency. Event suit parts can then be purchased with the event currency you won.
- The limitation is on the 5 free attempts/day, that can be refreshed any amount of times for diamonds.
Side Gameplay - Predict The Winner event
- The player needs to predict who out of the two opponents will have the higher score for the selected theme. Themes alternate.
- Again, for a correct prediction you get 5 Event Currency, for a wrong one - 3. Event suit parts can then be purchased for Event Currency.
- As usual there are 5 free attempts/day and no limit to buy new ones for diamonds.
- The Event also adds a global ranking to introduce a slightly competitive layer.
Milestone Reward Events - For the payers!
- Every 24h the player gets a free try to “Explore”. The player can buy any amount of exploration tries for diamonds.
- Event suits are granted once the players have accumulated enough explorations to reach the event milestones.
- In the Ghost Gather event there were 5 event suits that were randomly given per milestone of event currency. A specific rare outfit was guaranteed within the first 3 milestones.
- This type of event is focused on payers. In the Ghost Gathering event, to reach the last milestone and get the last suit, the player would need to spend about 99.99$.
Ranked & Milestones - The most hardcore events with mixed mechanics
- There are several suits that have different requirements to be obtained.
- For example, in the Haunted Night event, there were some suits obtained by reaching milestones of Event Currency, which dropped in Maiden and Princess missions.
- So the event pushed to spend on stamina.
- Another suit was given to those who achieved specific ranks in the Event Leaderboard, which pushes competition a lot, as it creates one of the only barriers to collection: whatever amount you play/pay, it depends on how high others will be. But it also means unlimited spending potential.
And a 3rd part of the event was purely paid - a gacha that ran in parallel promoting one more suit of the Haunted Night theme - Shutendoji. There were no free tries and the price was in diamonds. 50% discount was given only for the first draw, the next ones cost 100 diamonds.
Each time the player would get a random suit piece or a duplicate making the suit cost around ~19.99$. Getting all the suits matters immensely to collectors, so you have to add this one to the list!
Summing up the main types of Live Events visually (excluding extra content like the gacha in the Haunted Night event):
Users Shop - The Paying User Shortcut
During the Events, the game launches offers in the User Shop to purchase event currency. Event Currency packs cost real $ and have a purchase limit.
It is very convenient to buy them to be able to obtain up to 2 suits (given the purchase limits), which would be only half of the event’s content.
An important rule: paying never completely replaces playing.
IAP Recharge Events - The added bundle offers
And lastly, from time to time they launch the so-called recharge events, which should be familiar to any Asian RPG player. These are mainly IAP offers with suits that match the theme of the Event running in parallel.
These can provide a headstart in the Competition, as well as simply motivating collectors (which are the vast majority of players), to add it to their shopping list.
Since it is a direct purchase of a valuable suit, it works rather effectively. For Valentine’s Day, they managed to almost double their revenues with the Suit recharge + Time Limited Event combo.
Overall, the amount and diversity of Live Ops is huge, and the impact on revenues is consequently massive.
The events change their content and gameplay every week, and the game makes the rewards that good that they will push players back into the collection loop every time.
This is where the game shows its true power: all the choices they made in the game loop, in the visuals, and in the features are what enables the amount and quality of Live Ops they run. And it is key to their success and strategy.
And now that we’ve gone full circle, it’s time to conclude, and answer the main question:
Is Love Nikki setting a new fashion trend for female orientated games? Yes! And for these reasons:
It's Innovative and knows its audience
- High In Ranks: The game easily holds it’s spot in the Top 100 US Grossing charts due to its novelty: the combination of Fashion & RPG is new in the West.
- Wide Audience: The game was able to bring more hard core elements than its competitors and still hit a wider audience: since May last year, Love Nikki’s US downloads are 1.6 times those of Covet Fashion!
- Conquered All Markets: Love Nikki managed to score a big success in China, South Korea and Japan as well as in the US thanks to local publishers and versions of the game using content adapted to market preferences.
It has unlimited possibilities and no theme boundaries for content creation
- Broad Theme: Due to the fantasy anime style the game doesn’t have a limit in the variety of clothes they can create.
- Fast Production: 2D art style is well chosen to make gorgeous outfits that both look appealing and are fast to produce.
- Content Variety: The game uses effects, background elements, crazy accessories (like wings), and pets to diversify its content and make each suit more special and creative than the previous.
It successfully fuses Hard Core RPG & Casual Fashion Mechanics
- Styles Become Stats: they managed to transform styles and themes into tags and ranks. Here the fashion game becomes pure calculations and logic.
- Crafting Routine: crafting new clothes becomes a daily routine. It requires playing PvP, Single Player and buying in shops.
- Casual Competition: the game kept PvP simple and automated, but still created a real need to play it on daily basis.
- All Inclusive: every feature contributes to the final wardrobe collection and has exclusive shops with their own unique currencies and content.
Live Ops boost the core loop monetization and double revenues
- Magic TLEs: Every event has different mechanics. And they effectively boost the top monetizers and feature the most rare and beautiful suits.
- Vanity Reinforcement: Players are also motivated to participate in Live Events thanks to the Competition usually running in parallel, where they can show off their newly earned rewards at the top of the leaderboard.
- Themed IAP Packs Matter: They are smartly putting some content in the TLEs and part of it in the offers. They belong to the same theme and this matters enormously for collectors...
- Fast Events Production: They are able to make a new large event every week. And it usually has different gameplay. And it usually features several new suits. Bravo!
And if that wasn't enough…
Recently the game added a house decoration mode. It is too early to judge the results and they didn’t yet add all the planned components, but it is fair to say that Design Home should watch their backs.
Is it a sign of more to come?
All in all, It looks like there is a huge market for more hardcore female games and minimal competition.
The days when “Female audience” would mean little more than Candy Crush or Farmville in the eyes of developers are clearly over, and it will be interesting to see more companies developing games like this: mixing different core and casual mechanics together, with a distinctive female target.
Let's wait and see!
Written by Marina Yeremenko.