Mobile Games and Their Sequels – Are Sequels Loved Less?
Over the years mobile games have changed. One of the largest trends has been the switch to the freemium model for monetization purposes. Sequels of paid apps are now often published as free and many free games have removed ads in favor of in-app purchases.
Using the Apptentive Love Score, we looked at 10 popular mobile games and their sequels to which ones were loved more compared to the other. We also wanted to see what trends emerged that related to the increase or decreases in the Love Score from one game to the next..
Mobile Games vs. Their Sequels
Plants vs. Zombies and Plants vs. Zombies 2
Popcap‘s Plants vs. Zombies was a major hit when it was released for iOS in 2010. The original game came with a price tag of $.99 and can still be found in Apple’s Top Paid iPhone Apps more than four years later. Plants vs. Zombies received a Love Score of 72, one of the highest scores for any mobile game and 26% higher than the average Love Score for games in the Apple App Store.
In 2013, the sequel, Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time, was released. The sequel came without a price tag and instead drove revenue following the freemium model commonly seen these days. PvZ 2’s Love Score of 60 is large drop from the original and only 5% higher than the Apple Store average for games.
While still higher than average, a review analysis of Plant vs. Zombies 2 shows less customer love due to the change in monetization strategy and some commons bugs that continue to plague customers throughout each update.
Where’s My Water? and Where’s My Water? 2
Where’s My Water? was released by Disney in 2011 as a $1.99 and after a single day moved to the top of the paid apps chart in the App Store. Two years later, Disney released Where’s My Water? 2 and like Plants vs. Zombies 2, switched from being a paid app to being free and more heavily pushing in-app purchases.
A score of 48 for Where’s My Water? 2 creates the largest differential, good or bad, for all of the games on this list and is 16% lower than the average iOS mobile game. Reviews are filled with unsatisfied customers who opposed tactics revolving around social shares and in-app purchases in order to continue playing.
It is unknown whether Disney is making more money off of the sequel, but the amount of customer love has severely dropped off damaging Disney’s reputation on mobile.
Temple Run and Temple Run 2
Temple Run was released in 2011 by Imangi Studios as a free to play game and instantly became a classic inspiring hundreds of games to follow in a similar style. Temple Run’s score of 71 places it at the top of loved mobile games. The in-app purchases are entirely focused on enabling you to run farther and reach a higher score, yet never inhibit how much you can play.
In 2013, the sequel Temple Run 2 was released following the exact same monetization method and found similar success. Through a review analysis, the updated graphics on Temple Run 2 are an extreme improvement, but common bugs causing the app to lag or glitch seem to be common.
Both games are loved by their customers, but Temple Run 2’s updated graphics are causing performance issues that seem to ruin the experience for many of their customers.
Infinity Blade and Infinity Blade II
Late in 2010, Infinity Blade was released with a $5.99 price tag, but that didn’t dissuade people from downloading it. Compared to free games, customers have high expectations for pricier apps and Infinity Blade did not disappoint as clearly shown by its Love Score.
One year later, the first sequel Infinity Blade II was released and instead of following the freemium model which was just emerging at the time, the price actually increased to $6.99. Clearly targeting their current happy customer base and aiming to keep them happy, developers Chair Entertainment and Epic Games didn’t follow methods that seem to slowly alienate customer bases in other titles.
Overall, Infinity Blade is a prime example proving that there is still space for paid games in the App Store.
The Room and The Room Two
The puzzle game, The Room, was released by Fireproof Games in 2012 as a $.99 title and became a major hit. It’s sequel, The Room Two, was first released for iPad in late 2013, and garnered almost as much praise as the original.
For all game titles and their sequels, no pair scores higher than the combined Love Scores for The Room and The Room 2. The sequel did not disappoint and is clearly loved by it’s customers giving it the highest score for a game sequel, even with the $2 increase in price!
Cut the Rope and Cut the Rope: Experiments
All of the Cut the Rope games have been extremely popular and it all started with the original $2.99 title released in 2010 by ZeptoLab. With a Love Score of 71, the original Cut the Rope sits at the top of the most loved games of all time.
The first full sequel came with the $1.99 release of Cut the Rope: Experiments in 2011. It would be interesting to know what kind of results came from lowering the price by a dollar, but either way, the Cut the Rope series has been providing quality entertainment that people love across the whole series.
Real Racing and Real Racing 2
In the summer of 2009, Real Racing was released by Firemint at $2.99 and was immediately a commercial success. Sitting a little lower on the Love Score scale than the previous mentioned titles, Real Racing clearly saw room for improvement.
Firemint was clearly confident in their ability to create a great sequel as they released Real Racing 2 in 2010 at a more expensive install price of $4.99. The improved gameplay and better content was a success and resulted in a higher Love Score than the orginial. Real Racing 2’s score of 68 places it 19% higher than the average game and 5% higher than Real Racing.
Paper Toss and Paper Toss 2.0
The first game on many smartphones, Paper Toss, was developed by Blackflip Studios and released as a free game in 2009. As an ad-supported game, Paper Toss profited from a single in-app purchase that removed the in-app ads.
In 2011, Paper Toss 2.0 was released as a free to play game with an in-app purchase to make it ad free. The game added further in-app purchases, but ones that only enhanced gameplay instead of being required in order to continue playing.
Paper Toss is an extremely simple game and that simplicity may hamper the fanaticism and love of the game. However, the similar level of love for the second title clearly shows they know what they’re doing over at Blackflip.
Galaxy on Fire and Galaxy on Fire 2
Fishlabs’ Galaxy on Fire was released for iOS in 2009 as a free game, but had originally been available on feature phones running on Java for 4 years and was heralded as one of the finest 3D space games in the market. While the original only sits 7% higher than the average games with a score of 71, it was setting the stage for future success.
In 2010, Galaxy on Fire 2 was released and proved to be a drastic improvement over the original with amazing graphics and better gameplay. While originally released as a paid download, GoF 2 became a permanently free game in 2012.
The increase in Love Score between the two games is the largest between any original and sequel and really shows a company cultivating a strong community for their games.
Mega Jump and Mega Jump 2
Mega Jump quickly became an iconic game in 2010 when it was released by Get Set Games. It is a free game with in-app purchases to buy boosts and new characters. The simple mechanics of the game made it very popular and a great game for killing time.
The sequel, Mega Jump 2, was released in the beginning of 2014. With four years between games, the developers at Get Set Games seemed to have gone down the wrong path to creating a game as popular as the first. The 14 point drop in Love Score places the sequel 12% lower than the average games in the Apple App Store and marks a severe drop from the original.
Making A Mobile Game That Is Loved
Gameplay, and performance are clearly the most important items for creating a successful game and one that is loved. Games that have drastic improvements to gameplay like Galaxy on Fire 2 see a large increase in customer love. Through review analysis, performance bugs result in immediate negative feedback, frustrated customers, and can quickly turn fans into upset critics.
Monetization methods also seem to have a large factor on how much a game is loved. As the potential revenue from the freemium model, shown clearly by Clash of Clan’s success, is an alluring prospect for development shops, it often alienates the customer base and results in a game that is loved less.
Switching to the freemium game strategy is very attractive, but games such as the The Room Two and Infinity Blade II show there are still successful opportunities for being a paid game, even as a sequel.
You can find a mobile app’s love score here.
What do you think of trends between mobile games and their sequels? Have you noticed any other changes that may have affected how much a game is loved?