Japanese RPG card battler Blood Brothers has been a huge hit both in Japan and in the U.S. At the Game Developers Conference yesterday, DeNA’s Yuji Shimizu, producer of Blood Brothers, revealed to the audience what makes Blood Brothers so successful.
“The secret to Blood Brothers is special events,” Shimizu says.
Shimizu adds that events have essentially doubled the average revenue per user (ARPU). He equates player participation to more sales.
“Players have to participate in the event in order for you to get sales,” he says. “That’s the secret.”
In the free-to-play social game for iOS and Android, the player is put in the shoes of a warrior turned vampire on a journey for revenge. Players progress through the game by completing quests. Users are tasked with building a five character card deck optimally for battle. Characters gain experience in automated battles in which their skill are activated by chance. Characters can increase in skill level through a fusion mechanic, allowing players to combine characters to make new or stronger characters.
“If you have an event running one week out of the month, a player will get bored,” he says. “This eventually leads to losing players. Also, if you run the same types of events every time, that’s boring too.”
Events in Blood Brothers range from cooperative raid boss battles, special tower dungeons with a different tower for each skill level (beginner, intermediate and advanced), and player versus player (PvP) battles. Shimizu says PvP events are the most popular in the game. Just like in the single player experience, users build a deck with five characters and fight another person’s five-character deck. Players earn event points by participating and also winning during an event. Shimizu described the game of basketball as a metaphor as to how the users earn points to rank higher in events.
“Everyone keeps going for the points until the whistle blows,” Shimizu says.
There’s a few aspects that make events in Blood Brothers successful like running events for just one week (3-4 times per month), different event types (competitive and cooperative), special environments and enemies, limited rare items and rankings and alliances.
Shimizu described five key design points for events in Blood Brothers which were leaderboards, separation into groups, incentivizing effort, one match per day and rewarding effort. First, the game rewards the top echelon of players with special characters and more. For leaderboards, the developers divide users into groups based on skill levels, placing players of a particular skill level in their own leaderboard. The successive wins a player racks up, the more points they receive. Also, players can only play one match per day, and are matched with opponents of the same skill level. Lastly, users are rewarded with a promotion in rank depending on how well they played in a particular event.
Shimizu says Blood Brothers has reached No. 1 on the top grossing Android apps chart in 33 countries, and the game has been downloaded 10 million times to date. Shimizu adds that ARPU has increase every single month since release as well.
According to our traffic tracking service AppData, Blood Brothers is the No. 3 top grossing app on Android in the U.S. and the No. 39 top grossing app for iPhone.