Building an ever-growing game community properly is the dream of all game developers. Players feel at home when they connect with other players of the game. And as they foster deeper connections, they feel like a part of the game, eventually leading them to spend money and more time on it. That’s when a game has reached the sweet spot of player retention and monetization.
To players, a game is like a virtual world – where they log in at the end of a long day, to catch up with pals from all over the world. That familiar ‘Oh you’re finally online’ from Player8851 or that colloquial ‘Good morning’ from Noobmaster69 – these are the heartfelt semblances from real life brought into the online space.
In this article, we’ll be analyzing how mobile strategy games like Infinity Kingdom deploy community building strategies, as well as strategies to encourage spending in its mobile game. The eventual goal is to build a gaming community without spending extra money, while increasing the revenue of a mobile game.
What is Infinity Kingdom’s gameplay like?
One mobile strategy game that we’re going to analyse is Infinity Kingdom. Infinity Kingdom has over 1 million app installs on the Google Play store, and has a collective rating of 4.6 stars. Not bad for a mobile strategy game that is often accused of being pay-to-win.
If you’re still unfamiliar with Infinity Kingdom, let’s dive a little deeper into its gameplay. Infinity Kingdom is a mobile strategy video game set in a fantasy-themed medieval world. You’re the lord of your village, and you’re tasked to build up your own village and command a strong army to attack the evil gnomes in the land of Norheim. Players are randomly given a faction (Ydvia, Vitas or Ruslan), and can join alliances and attack other villages for resources. The game also allows players to unlock and collect over 50 immortals, these are basically heroes from medieval folklores (think along the lines of Julius Caesar and Merlin), and together with your troops, they form your army. These immortals are assigned an element, and are grouped into them – fire, water, light, darkness, earth, wind and lightning.
And if that isn’t enough, you can even add on a dragon to your army. There are 7 different dragons, each one from an element. Everything in the game can be levelled up, from buildings to the troops, immortals, to their equipment, their skills and not forgetting the dragons.
So you can see that the game has many monetization elements baked into its gameplay. By spending their in-game currency, gems, players can purchase speed-up items to construct faster. They can also purchase immortal shards, which unlocks a new immortal when it accumulates till 60.
Players who have played the game gave mixed reviews about the game. The positive ones include:
Fans of the game appreciated the graphics and immortal characters (which are inspired by medieval folklore) in the game.
And like all games, there are bound to be negative feedback. Some are as follows:
Players find that the whales are the ones who eventually dominate the game with their overwhelming power. The lack of rules of engagement during PvP is also a turn off for some players as they lose their progress in the blink of an eye.
So it seems that overall, Infinity Kingdom is performing well as a game, with players spending money on a recurring basis. And like all games, a thriving community is important for both retention of players, and for encouraging players to spend money on the game. Because without a community, no one plays and no one pays.
Now let’s dive into analyzing how mobile strategy games deploy community building and monetization strategies effectively.
1. Legitimize players to make some game rules
One interesting way Infinity Kingdom has created its community (and made some good money at the same time) is by simply giving the power to a group of its most powerful players. By legitimizing players to chart the rules of the game, they’re giving the powerful players a greater sense of belonging and pride in the game. This makes them feel that they are in control and have power over the other players who have to abide by their rules.
And if any other player hates the enacted rules, they are spurred on to take control by spending more money to level up their troops and castle, and eventually overthrow the current powerful players of the game.
Overall, this simple strategy encourages spending, and makes the top players stick around for much longer. Imagine a kingdom where what you say is the law, who’d want to give that up, right?
Infinity Kingdom has in-built game mechanics that makes it easy for the top players to set the rules. In one of in-game events called ‘Contention of Relics’, the winning alliance gets to crown a player the king.
This player has the power to bestow titles such as ‘Prime Minister, ‘Minister of Treasury’, ‘Minister of Defense’ and ‘Minister of Justice’ to other players. These titles also grant benefits such as an increase in resource production, or a decrease in damage received. The player crowned the king will also feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride, as this will be recognised by all players throughout the server.
2. The game should encourage players to create social ties, outside of it
Just like how friends in real life enjoy each another’s companionship, so too can players of the game forge similar virtual companionships. Some players even take things one step further by forging ties outside of the game on platforms like Twitch and Discord. These social ties are important, as it keeps everyone in the same group rooted in the game. The game is then viewed as a common topic amongst the group, and it acts as a barrier to people leaving the game for good. When a player considers leaving the game, feelings of guilt and betrayal may arise as he is not only quitting the game, he is also quitting on his group of friends. And the longer a game retains its players, the higher the likelihood of them spending more on the game.
Infinity Kingdom specifically has several ways for players to connect outside of the game. They publicized their social media links in the game, from Facebook to Discord, and through these social media links, players can seek out the other players’ social handles.
Another means by which Infinity Kingdom encourages social ties is through its alliance notice board. Players have free reign as to what content they’d like to include on the notice board.
Here, you can see how an alliance in Infinity Kingdom has listed their own Discord server link. This gives players the opportunity to connect in an environment outside of the game, and maybe blossoming the virtual relationship further.
Positivities aside, this strategy may however act against the game instead. Once these players form a tight-knit social group, and if they get bored of the game, they may move onto other games.
And because the influence between members of the group is strong, a player leaving the game may eventually cause the entire group to leave the game with him. And with that, lose out on the monetisation opportunities.
3. Create a common player enemy (or enemies) in the game server.
Just like in real life, we sometimes seek drama in our lives for entertainment. Drama also keeps things interesting and refreshing. And in a mobile game especially, the drama created from a detestable player is a clever way of keeping things interesting in the game. Whether the detestable player is seeded or organic, it doesn’t matter – as players won’t be able to tell the difference. Imagine an obnoxious guy walking up to people and spilling all sorts of twisted theories and vulgarities. This will surely incite the anger from everyone around him.
And as more and more people chime in with their anger statements directed to him, they feel vested and interested to know what happens next. Will the protagonist win, or will the crowd effort of the other antagonists quell his crazy behavior?
4. Bridge the language barrier
Games are played by players from all around the world, and they all have their own different native languages. A player from France would be comfortable in speaking French, while a player from Indonesia would be comfortable in speaking Indonesian. The trick is to get everyone to understand each another, no matter where they come from.
One ingenious way that Infinity Kingdom does this, is to integrate Google translate into all forms of text from other players. And by tapping the blue translate icon, the foreign language is neatly translated into the player’s main language that he originally set on his device.
By allowing players to understand each another, it destroys the language barrier, and it paves the way towards a more friendlier gameplay when players communicate with one another more. So a player from France may now join an alliance owned by a German player, all made possible when the language barrier is overcome. And the more communication happens in the game, the better it is for forging stronger community ties.
5. Make teamwork the cornerstone of game play
One sure-fire way to make sure players group up and play together is to have elements of game play that require compulsory team work. These can take the form of teaming up to kill high level bosses, banding together to raid high level cities or even weekly battles between the alliances.
The rewards for accomplishing these team-related tasks should also commensurate with how difficult it is to co-ordinate and lead a team into accomplishing the task. For example, the rewards for assembling a team of 30 to accomplish a quest should be much higher than one that requires a team of 5.
In Infinity Kingdom, such team-based tasks include teaming up as an alliance to conquer a major capital city, teaming up as an alliance to battle other alliances from other servers in ‘Illusion Battlefield’, and even for smaller tasks like a regular PVE raid or a PVP fight, players can band and fight together in a feature called a rally.
6. Empower the leaders of alliances to make collaborative decisions together
Just like how the leaders of various nations hold conferences and summits in real life to discuss issues that span borders, so too, should alliance leaders of the game meet to discuss teething topics in a diplomatic fashion. By talking things out instead of drawing swords, the overall gameplay becomes a more pleasant one for all its players.
In Infinity Kingdoms, representatives from the top 5 alliances from each faction are housed in the same Discord server off the game. There, they discuss and create rules that players have to abide by when playing in their server. And the game developers of Infinity Kingdoms seem not to mind that power is now distributed across its top players.
For this particular server in Infinity Kingdom, some rules that the alliance leaders have created include:
1. No player is allowed to attack another player in an alliance.
2. No player is allowed to attack troops gathering in a resource tile.
3. PvPs are only allowed during server-wide events, and in certain areas of the maps.
4. If a player breaks any of the rules, he is subjected to punishment – a free for all attack by anyone and everyone for a stipulated number of hours.
And it’s really a nice sight to behold when players actually abide by the rules set by other players, and not coded into the game by the game developers. Of course, the enforcement by the alliances has to be upheld to dissuade rule breakers, and this is usually done by the alliance commanding team (also known as the Officers) onto their members.
5 proven methods to encourage players to spend more in any mobile game
Community building tactics aside, the game needs mechanics that encourage players to spend more money in order for it to be sustainable and to make a profit. There are many tactics deployed by many games to do this, and the strategies outlined below have proven to be working in Infinity Kingdom.
7. Glorify spenders and give them fame
Players usually get a high from spending money in-game, especially from the game bonuses that comes from it. Instead of waiting 3 days for a building upgrade, spending money may shorten that long agonising wait to a few seconds, this provides them with instant gratification.
From immediate unit upgrades, to epic weapons and legendary armor – the rat race for the strongest army or the strongest base never stops. And the urge to want to top the power charts is one of the main reasons why players fork out cash for in-game bonuses.
Another reason why players spend money is cosmetics. Having a unique skin or display makes them stand out from the other mediocre players, and makes them recognisable and popular amongst their alliance or group of friends.
Games can tap on these innate human behaviour and psychology by giving more of what these gamers seek – fame and glory. The root cause of players wanting to spend more, be it for power or for cosmetics – wanting to be well known and recognised. The lack of this (or the difficulty to attain this) in their real lives possibly made them turn to games to seek this out.
And there are some interesting methods that games can deploy to fuel their feelings of glory. Here, we’ll take a closer look at how Infinity Kingdom does it so well.
7.1 3 ways that Infinity Kingdom glorifies its spenders
1. Everyone in the guild/alliance gets a reward when a guild member spends money in the game.
Infinity Kingdom made it such that whenever a player spends money on his own character, everyone in the entire alliance benefits from it by receiving a chest of resources, with the amount of resources in the chest scaling up and down, according to how much the player spends. The player’s name is also publicly broadcast in the pop-up window when members of the alliance proceeds to claim the chest.
By doing so, members of the alliance knows exactly who spent money, and by how much. And whenever the entire alliance benefits by receiving a huge chest of resources, it usually ends up with players calling for a mini celebration. This is a way to congratulate the spender on unlocking a rare unit, and also to thank the spender for providing them with a big reward.
2. Going one step further with cosmetic items.
Apart from character skins (or in the case of Infinity Kingdom, castle skins), the game goes a step further with what they do with cosmetic items. They also provide players with the option to purchase skins for unconventional parts of the game – these include character profile frame, character text boxes and character emojis. While spending on these items do not directly boost the player’s power, these eye-catching cosmetic pieces gives the player an opportunity to stand out.
3. Broadcast server-wide announcements whenever someone unlocks a rare character (whether they achieved it through spending money, or otherwise).
Glorifying spenders is only 1 part of the equation, game developers should also consider methods to encourage spending. And one way to do that is to give players a taste of the fame that comes when they eventually spend money.
One way that Infinity Kingdom deploys is a global announcement system that automatically broadcasts a congratulatory message whenever a player unlocks a rare hero, whether or not he did so through spending money or otherwise. These heroes are still attainable through the free-to-play method, but takes a much longer time. Nonetheless, by giving everyone a shot at fame, it pleases both the players who spend and those who don’t.
This balancing act gives the assurance that even if players don’t spend money, there is still progress in the game, albeit at a slower pace. And without spending money, there is still a shot to fame – just that these shots come once in a blue moon, and last for a shorter time. Perhaps after tasting this bite-sized portion of fame, players are hungry for more, and this could kickstart their habit of spending money in the game. The goal is to not drive players away because your game is a spend-to-win type of game, while pleasing the spenders at the same time.
8. Have game mechanics that tap on a popular human emotion – Impatience
Most mobile strategy games bake in a waiting time when upgrading units or buildings, and the higher the level, the longer it takes for them to upgrade. This game mechanic is purposely so, to weed out the higher level players from the rest. And sometimes, the excitement and desire to reach a higher level becomes too much to handle. The result? Players start spending money to speed up the upgrading process.
This comes in the form of using cash to buy in-game speed-up items that significantly reduce the waiting time required when upgrading buildings or units. This concept also applies to other aspects of the game, including:
1. Troops that take time to heal up and get back into battle.
2. Resources that take time to accumulate for harvest.
3. Movement deployment of troops that takes time when moving from 1 location to another.
For players who are impatient and are unable to suppress their desire to overtake players, they’d be the one who end up spending money to hasten this process. Game developers can take a leaf out of Infinity Kingdom’s book, and deploy waiting time mechanics interspersed throughout gameplay to create more monetisation opportunities.
9. Rank the players’ power and progress publicly
Also known as a leaderboard in traditional real life games or contests, it allows all players to keep tabs on where they currently rank and how their opponents rank. By introducing a leaderboard concept in a mobile strategy game, takes the competitive nature of the game up a notch. As players of the game grow more competitive in nature, it encourages spending as players would want to constantly outrank one another for the top spot in the leaderboard.
Infinity Kingdom ranks players globally on 8 categories – Alliance Power, Alliance Faction Power, Alliance Level, Lord Honor, Lord Power, Strongest Troop Power, Total Troop Number and Castle Level.
There are micro leaderboards too, such as within the alliance, alliance members are ranked for Alliance Activity, Tech Donations, Alliance Help, Lords Defeated, Wall Destruction and Garrisons Defeated.
And on a personal level, players are also ranked on how well they perform in PVP battles in the arena (a friendly way to engage in fights with other players).
As you can see, a single game can have more than 1 leaderboard within it, each one ranking its players based on different categories. By doing so, it encourages players to spend more time in the game trying to get themselves to a good ranking in all aspects of the game where a leaderboard is present. This is an indirect way to encourage spending, as it appeals to the competitive nature of how humans are, and the desire to be seen and ranked as first on leaderboards.
10. Show that you care and value your players
Players always appreciate a personal outreach from the game development team of games that they like or have been playing for a long time. These outreach can take different forms, some popular ones include:
1. Inviting players to test out new launches before it is rolled out to everyone else on the server.
This is a win-win situation for both the game development team and the players. On one hand, you are showing that you value the players by giving them a priority sneak peek of the upcoming new content.
On the other hand, these players who are testing out the new content patch form a network of game testers, and can help the team weed out any bugs before it is rolled out.
2. Respond to written requests from players, and show that you care
Players absolutely love to be heard, especially when they’ve been playing the game for a long time and feel a vested interest in its future development roadmap. They’re usually armed with suggestions (and complaints), and if they do write in, they’d want their suggestions to be taken into consideration. What they suggest usually impacts the direction of the game, or simply makes the game a better gaming experience for everyone.
These players who take the time and effort to write to the game development team are of a different league, one to be valued and loved. These players are usually the die-hard fans of the game, and you, as the game developer, have to keep them happily playing (and spending).
Address their concerns promptly by reassuring them that you’ve heard them. Don’t worry – whether or not you do implement their suggestions, they usually wouldn’t mind.
Infinity Kingdom takes this a step further, by broadcasting these player suggestions to everyone, and addressing them publicly. This does 2 things – one, it shows all the players that the game developers take player feedback seriously. Two, it makes the players who write in feel important as their suggestions have been broadcasted to everyone.
11. Make use of opportune gameplay moments to show a paid offer to players
In the heat of the moment, players – or people in general – tend to lose control of their emotions and are more likely to make decisions on the fly. This happens when other emotions cloud their judgement, these include anxiety, anger, sadness and of course, happiness. Game developers can tie up monetisation opportunities to moments in the game when a flurry of emotions would overwhelm the player. This vulnerable moment would motivate the player to spend money if timed correctly.
In Infinity Kingdom, anger often fills a player when he gets his village destroyed by another player. At the other end of the spectrum, a player would feel excited and happy when he finally unlocks a rare immortal. The game then takes advantage of these windows of emotions by showing the player an offer.
A ‘Gift of Revenge’ package comprising of resources and power ups to help the player take his revenge on the attacking player is offered.
On the other hand, a ‘Gift of Immortal’ package comprising of power ups and experience bonus items is offered to the player to help hasten the level up process of the new immortal.
Both these examples tap on the player’s emotions at that opportune moment, hopefully encouraging him to make a purchase. The trick to executing this well would be to show an offer that is too hard to resist, and making it expire after a short period of time.
For players of Infinity Kingdom reading this, the game regularly launches a bunch of redemption codes that offer you gems and resources for an instant boost. Check out the full updated list here.