Hopeless Game Review – Put Some Coins In Your Game

Hopeless is a relatively new game by Upopa – a small but highly talented team. The game has really good art and despite being a bit dark and scary it’s a lot of fun to play. compelling and engaging game play is a great start for a game. Hopeless features a variation on whack a mole.

Core gameplay – kill or be killed

The basic function of the game is vey easy to pick up. You are playing a Blob – a small creature that seems to be made out of light. The game takes place in a 2.5d plane and as monsters are approaching from the sides of the screen you kill them by tapping them quickly before they catch you. If I had to compare it to something, it’s somewhere between whack a’ mole to kill the boss.
While the game is easy enough to pick up, there is almost no visual feedback of progress and since we are talking about an endless session type of gameplay, after 5 minutes of continuous game play I started wondering what’s next.

Economy setup – add some coins

There are basically 3 things to buy in this game:
  • Survival mode – a variation on the game play you can buy for $1
  • 5 Game upgrades – each sold for $1 or unlocked automatically when reaching enough points
  • Buying packs of blobs you can call as reinforcement
The most basic thing missing from the core loop is some sense of virtual currency that will allow an economy of consumables. This is key for getting users into longer term engagement and is also the basis for great monetization.

Store design – Reviewcommunicating value to the user is crucial to engage him in the practice of buying ingame virtual goods.

The store button is clearly located which is a great start. The design of the store is compelling and the navigation is straight forward. The one thing missing is more clarity about the value for the users – “some ginger monsters” really doesn’t tell the user a lot. After purchasing the item, I still couldn’t tell the difference from the original game play.

Virtual goods and pricing analysis

Selling blobs as consumables is a good starting point. The blob packs range up to $4.99 while they could potentially go up to $19.99 just so put the other items into perspective. According to Apple, the biggest selling item in the game is the Survival mode pack. This brings up too issues:Selling consumables is a great start for your in-app purchase strategy. Hopeless can benefit from some fine tuning.

  • The blobs sales needs improvement – the value needs to be clearer and the user needs to be exposed to the option more.
  • The survival mode is priced too low – $0.99 for a whole new game mode is low. Hopeless could make more revenue by using the Survival mode for game play diversity and sell items that help users make progress.

Killer monetization moves

Since the game already has the concept of “lives” implemented in it – the blobs can be accumulated, it’s pretty easy to add a replenishment and consumption model on top of it. You get blobs when you wait and you consume them as you play. This mechanism has proven to boost revenue for almost all games that use it.

Upgrades as a revenue opportunity

The game already has a character implemented – this is a good start. It means that the developer can build an economy of upgrades on top of it. You can easily imagine different types of blobs each having specific attributes they might have: light radius, recharge rate, response time and accuracy. Complement this with a wide variety of virtual goods that change these attributes. Headlight level 1, level 2, … and the same for the gun.
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