Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion: Analyzing The #1 Hyper-Casual Title of Q1 2022
The mobile game market is flooded with hyper-casual games.
Numerous developers publish new hyper-casual games every day, hoping theirs is going to become THE GAME.
Sadly, most of them fail.
There is a fine line between a successful and a not-so-successful hyper-casual game, and only a few games cross this line.
One of these games is Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion by Homa Games which became the most downloaded hyper-casual game in Q1 2022.
In this article, we’re bringing you everything you want to know about this game. This includes the great, the good, but also the not-so-good.
Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion: The Numbers
Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion is one of those games that became a success soon after it was launched.
Here’s how it all happened.
Homa Games released the game on January 17th, 2022. Only a month later, on February 17th, it already made the top 10 in free chart rankings. The game remained in the top 10 for longer than a month, all until March 21, 2022. At its peak, the game reached the 3rd position in the free chart rankings (AppMagic).
Quite a long trending period for a hyper-casual game, right?
All of this led to some impressive results.
In the first three months of 2022, the game has gotten 51.4 million downloads (AppMagic). Thanks to these numbers, Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion became the most downloaded hyper-casual title in this period.
Most of these downloads came from developing countries like India, Brazil, and Indonesia (PocketGamer). What does this tell us? These markets may not be the most lucrative ones, but they sure have the power to set market trends.
Current Rankings and Revenue
The initial trending period for this game has ended. In April, its average top free chart ranking was 29. At the moment of writing, it is at the 37th position (AppMagic).
This may sound negative, but it’s actually good for this game type.
The fact is, months after its release, the game still averages in the top 40. When it comes to hyper-casual games, it’s not easy to achieve this kind of stability.
However, when it comes to revenues, things could be better.
Even when the game was peaking in downloads, its revenues weren’t equally impressive. The best top-grossing chart ranking of this game was 11,443 in March (AppMagic).
In April, the download/revenue ratio was even more disappointing. With 11 million downloads, the game only earned approx. $ 5 thousand (Sensor Tower).
There’s a reason for all of this, and we’re here to unveil it.
Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion: Overview
Now that you’re familiar with the game’s numbers and what makes it so relevant, let us introduce you to the game itself.
Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion falls into the casual (hypercasual), arcade, and puzzle (merge) genres.
On Google Play, the players rated the game with 4,2 stars. In the App Store, it comes under a different name – Merge & Fight. It also comes with a better, 4.6-star rating.
How does the game work exactly? Here’s a detailed overview.
This game’s title gives players a general idea about the game. It really does consist of some merging, fusion, and dinosaurs!
The core mechanic of the game is merging. When players drag and merge two or more items together, this results in a new, upgraded item.
This mechanic has been a big mobile game trend for the last couple of years. However, the majority of famous merge titles are casual games (eg Merge Dragons, Merge Mansion, EverMerge).
What makes this game special?
Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion is simpler than all of these popular merge games. It comes with low-detail graphics and a stylized art style. Players don’t need an extensive tutorial to start playing it, they can figure it out in a matter of seconds.
All of this puts it into a separate category of hyper-casual merge games.
Put simply, Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion can be described as a game of merging and battling.
The game takes place on a battlefield. In it, players need to assemble a team to fight against the AI enemy.
There are two types of characters in the team – warriors and dinosaurs. By battling, players earn currency (coins). They can then use the currency to purchase new characters.
Whenever there are two identical characters, players can merge them into one. With every merge, the characters become more powerful. For example, plain warriors can turn into giants, which can later be turned into magicians. By merging dinosaurs, players can unlock powerful dragons, etc.
Besides merging their fighters, players also need to place them strategically.
Winning the battle, of course.
Once the players set up the team and start the fight, they can’t affect the battle anymore. The battles are automated and end quickly.
The typical onboarding process in mobile games is victorious and rewarding. This is a well-known best practice almost all developers apply to their games.
In this game, this is not the case.
At Homa Games, they’ve decided on a radically different approach – all players lose their first battle. It is impossible for them to win because they only start with one dinosaur, while the opponent has both a dinosaur and a warrior.
From this negative experience, players learn how the game works. This could be described as “learning things the hard way”. In this case, being different from the majority is not necessarily bad. From a player’s perspective, this can make them more eager to play the game and start winning.
After the defeat, players need to interact with a couple of tutorial pointers. Thanks to this, they can gain a couple of easy victories.
As players progress through the game, the opponents gradually become more powerful. This always keeps them challenged and motivated to make their team stronger.
By merging, players unlock new characters that get added to their card collection. This type of collection system is another trending mechanic developers use to make players feel accomplished.
Another important strategy the game uses is gradually increasing the cost of acquiring characters. In the beginning, the characters are cheaper so players can afford them after every battle. Later on, their prices go from hundreds to millions of coins, and the players cannot afford them as frequently as before.
How does Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion Monetize?
As mentioned before, the numbers suggest that this game has the potential to make more money than it currently does.
Where does this potential lie in?
Let’s go over the Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion monetization strategy to find this out.
Like most hypercasual games, this game displays ads for a living. Yet, it does not follow the typical “here’s an interstitial between every level” approach.
The game monetizes with a blend of rewarded video, banner, and interstitial ads.
Rewarded Video Ads
Rewarded video ads are the bread and butter for Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion. The game includes several different rewarded video placements.
Here’s an overview of how and when they appear.
- End-of-game multiplier. Players win or lose a level and earn some coins. There is a screen featuring a lucky wheel to multiply their winnings from x2 to x5. The moment players tap it, the wheel stops, making them feel in charge of their earnings. To claim the reward, they need to watch a rewarded video ad.
- Characters for free. Players run out of coins and want to get more dinosaurs or warriors. At that moment, the only way to get them is to tap the “free” button and watch ads. They can do this until they fill up the whole board.
- Offline earnings multiplier. Players leave the game to do whatever they want. In the meanwhile, offline earnings pile up. If they want, they can double them by watching an ad.
- Extra currency. A dragon randomly appears and flies over the battlefield before players start a level. If they tap the dragon, they get a chance to earn some “extra cash” by watching an ad.
In this game, watching rewarded video ads is the only way to upgrade. In the beginning, it’s possible to progress without watching them. But as the levels get more difficult, watching ads becomes a necessity, not an option.
Almost the entire time players play the game, there is a banner ad on the bottom of their screens. Different dynamic banners alternate in this position.
The placement is non-intrusive and most players won’t mind it. Some may even not notice it due to the “banner blindness” phenomenon.
Do you know how hyper-casual games usually have annoying interstitial ads all over the place?
Well, this game keeps things moderate.
When players first start playing, they won’t see an interstitial ad all the way up to level 6. From then on, these ads appear when players tap to claim the coins they’ve earned.
As players progress, the ads start appearing more frequently (after three or four battles). For this type of game, this is still pretty rare so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
In Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion, there is one single thing players can purchase – a “remove ads” offer.
The offer comes with a $ 2.99 price tag. It does not specify exactly which types of ads it removes from the game, which makes it a bit unclear.
Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion: Analysis
Before we share some of our own thoughts on this game, let’s see what the players say about it.
Here are two reviews from the Google Play Store that include some of the players’ most common complaints.
“In general is a fun game, but the ads are ridiculous. You will have to watch a video literally after every fight, so you can get coins and upgrade your fighters. But the most annoying thing is when video not available comes up. “
“I paid to get rid of ads only to realize you still needed to watch ads to level up quickly. “
Are these complaints justified? To find this out, we put ourselves into the players’ shoes and played the game all the way up to level 50.
The players’ complaints about rewarded video ads in this game are completely justified.
Here’s the thing.
Rewarded video ads are usually the players’ favorite ad format. The players love them because they are optional and they bring them rewards.
However, in this game, they feel mandatory. The longer players play the game, the more ads they need to watch. There is literally no other way to progress through the game. After reaching level 30, playing the game basically turns into long ad-watching sessions.
On top of that, it is true that the rewarded videos are frequently unavailable. We’ve experienced this at least ten times in the game. This could be fixed by monetizing through multiple ad networks.
There is nothing wrong with all the different types of rewarded video ads in this game. In fact, all the ad placements perfectly blend with the game.
The biggest problem is – there is no other option.
In this game, players can’t get a premium user experience and simply enjoy the game. Even if they want to pay to make this happen.
You may be wondering: “What about the IAP offer”?
This offer does not solve the players’ biggest problems. The thing is, a lot of players purchased the “remove ads” option. Once they got it, they felt tricked. As it turns out, this purchase only removes interstitial and banner ads from the game.
Suggestions for the Developer
We can see why this game gets so many downloads. The gameplay is fun, addictive, and it is based on trending mechanics.
Even though some players complain about it, progression and level difficulty are not particularly problematic.
However, the game’s monetization strategy could be better.
The concept of forcing players to watch rewarded video ads simply isn’t a good idea. There has to be some kind of way to play the game without this frustration.
For players who are willing to spend money on the game, there has to be a way out.
In our opinion, this game could benefit from including IAP offers. Even though this is not typical for hyper-casual games, this game seems to be complex enough to make players want to spend money on it.
For example, the game could offer things like:
- Purchasable characters
- Piggy bank feature
- Purchasable boosts (eg healing potion)
With options like this, players could progress without having to watch rewarded video ads. Then again, this wouldn’t make things too easy for players. The outcomes would still largely depend on their strategic decisions.
Merge Master – Dinosaur Fusion: Over to You
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