In-depth analysis: Is Supercell’s new tour “Cartoon Farm 2.0” or a category changer?

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GameLook report/Last week, Supercell launched the test of its new work “Everdale” in many countries and regions. Judging from the announced gameplay and details, it drew a lot of inspiration from “Cartoon Farm” and adopted any series with Supercell. The new IP that has nothing to do with has created a new fantasy world.

Although most people have heard of the game for the first time, in fact “Everdale” has been launched for some time. 11 months before the official name change test, it appeared in a few under the name “Valleys & Villages” (vest release). market.

The former name and vest of “Everdale”

Supercell’s release of “Everdale” through the vest number proves that the company’s distribution strategy has undergone new changes. Prior to this, Supercell often passed tests on the Canadian iOS platform, but now it has adopted a more structured approach. Although it may attract some attention, this approach also reduces the external pressure on the team because they can test it with real users before many reviewers deconstruct their game.

RPD revenue comparison between “Valleys & Villages” and similar games

This method allows Supercell to understand the true appeal of a game before a large number of fans rush to download and experience it. The reason why it was able to announce that “Valleys & Villages” is a “former name” also shows Supercell’s confidence in this game. . So, is “Everdale” really “Cartoon Farm 2.0” or is it a pioneer of new categories? Recently, the foreign media DOF conducted an in-depth analysis of this game.

The following is the complete content compiled by GameLook:

Is “Everdale” “Cartoon Farm” 2.0?

Like “Dream Town”, “Family Island”, “Klondike” or “Cartoon Farm”, “Everdale” is a building tycoon-themed game.

“Cartoon Farm” core gameplay

The game focuses on completing orders by collecting resources to make products. The orders bring gold coins and other rewards that can expand the resources of the town, as well as unlock new manufacturing recipes, greater manufacturing output, and so on. The core of its gameplay is very similar to “Cartoon Farm”, but there is one main difference: the game does not include transactions between players, adds villager micro-management, a manufacturing station shared with other players, and a research gameplay.

“Everdale” removes player transactions

A new shared order interface was added in the mid-game of “Everdale”

Three selling points of “Everdale”

1. Villagers

Villagers are not unique innovations unique to “Everdale”, because this feature has also appeared in “Family Island”, which is obviously also one of the sources of inspiration for the team. But what is more unique is that a villager needs to be assigned to a manufacturing building or construction site to complete the task.

The setting of villagers has brought many restrictions to the player’s progress, because the number of villagers determines the number of actions the player can take at the same time. Since this is a manufacturing game, players must complete multiple tasks to achieve a goal. In other words, the villagers are the key to determining the rhythm of the game.

The way the villager function works is that a villager must walk to a certain place and gradually grab, use, and transmit products. If the resources are exhausted, the villagers must stop during the production process or wait for other characters to complete the tasks on the product line before continuing.

This requires players to perform micro-management, and it also brings more meaning to the division of labor for the villagers. Wise task arrangement can improve production efficiency while avoiding bottlenecks. Players can also arrange the location of buildings to make resource transfer faster.

Nevertheless, “Everdale” is not simply laid out like a traditional urban construction game. It actually doesn’t make much sense to make the buildings close to each other. The efficiency reduction caused by ineffective building placement is also negligible, because the placement is unreasonable. It just means that the time of the next game is temporarily extended, and it will not bring about a major change in output or time.

Although this can be seen as a mild approach, it also seems like a missed opportunity. All players who have played urban construction games such as “Simulation City” know that when the location of the building has a greater influence, it will greatly increase the player’s investment.

It is worth mentioning that “Everdale” is not a idle game, and there is no way to automate the production in the game. Like other manufacturing tycoon games, this game requires players to often return to the game to collect tasks and reset most of the actions.

In fact, the participation needs of “Everdale” are a bit abnormal. It requires players to log in countless times a day for short-term micro-management. In the few days before entering the game, most people spend between 5 minutes and one or two hours in each game. Although this can quickly form a habit, it also leads to the loss of a large number of users, because these relatively short games do not have enough rewards. These behaviors are not about collecting the resources won by the players, but more about repetitive games of micro-management of villagers who are stuck in many production bottlenecks.

The problem of short single game time has also appeared in other construction games, but in many similar games, players can schedule multiple actions so that they can return to the game at longer intervals, allowing players to sleep. In “Everdale”, this design does not exist, so players need to operate intensively. In other words, “Everdale” does not allow players to plan their game time, but requires players to often return to the game to solve production stagnation caused by various bottlenecks.

In addition, the design of the villagers also adds a personal element to “Everdale”, because the players will have an emotional attachment to them. Each villager can be customized, such as through decorative props, specific potions, and customization and plot systems that may be added in the future.

The challenge is that this function of villagers may not be able to scale: “Fallout: Refuge” also added personal investment in characters, but as players get a large number of characters, it is easy to ignore such progress.

2. The valley

Similar to “Legend Store”, the player’s town is distributed in a valley shared by multiple players. There are multiple community buildings in the valley. Players can cooperate and invest resources to promote its development.

For example, there are some community-manufactured buildings that allow players to assign villagers or resources to create more valuable products. Merchant ships that provide manufacturing orders can be jointly completed by the community (similar to “Cartoon Farm”), and there are research centers that unlock new upgrade options for the valley. Completing merchant ship orders and community building tasks requires a separate token. This token is accumulated over time, which means that all players in the valley need to make their own contributions.

The game also provides a reputation system to offset the loss of being kicked out of the valley. This is a permanent progress system that continues to increase (reputation) by completing helpful community tasks. It will continue to unlock rewards, similar to the trophy system of “Wild Brawl”, some prestige rewards allow players to complete multiple orders and create more things in the valley station.

However, compared with the loss of spending a lot of resources to develop the valley and being kicked out, the rewards brought by the reputation system are not so attractive. From the perspective of community gameplay, players should have better reasons for cooperation, not Worried about being kicked out of the community.

Another missed opportunity is that players are currently unable to trade with each other. For this reason, players cannot customize their production, or lack specific resources to promote progress. This removes many related choices for the research tree system and town configuration, because players will eventually need to work hard to get everything by themselves. In the end, each player’s town will look similar, and all players will focus on the same things.

The lack of specialization and trading breaks people’s illusions about a simulation game. The game economic system designed by players is limited to what they can do. This game is very intuitive in terms of balance, but players play It doesn’t look so creative.

Player transactions may be added to the game in the future, but considering the compact design of the game’s economic system, the transaction system will also be severely restricted. It is difficult to bring about specialization of player production, because this will bring a lot to the established game progress. Big change.

3. Research system

There are two research skill trees in the game: one is used for town improvement, which requires a villager to set a timer; the other is used for valley improvement, which requires the player to complete a series of production orders.

Buildings, upgrades, new products and other enhancements all need to be studied in advance. In “Everdale”, the research function is not similar to other simulation games. It does not allow players to freely choose upgrade points to bring uniqueness. In this game, it is just a function that brings production bottlenecks and player rhythms.

It needs to be said again that the feeling of studying the tree system is an excellent idea that has not reached its full potential. In strategy and RPG games, skill trees can often lead to meaningful decisions and uniqueness of player skills. But in “Everdale”, the only decision is which promotion the player wants to get first. Finally, all the skills will be unlocked, and the only thing players can decide is which aspect of the improvement to complete first. At least for now, the research system has not been able to bring more help in the game.

Key product success factors

Finally, the more critical factor is how the game scales. There is no doubt that Supercell can attract a large number of players at a reasonable cost, retain users through existing and new content, and most importantly, it can be monetized. After all, the products that Supercell has released are billion-dollar masterpieces, and everything else must be done during the test period before being released.

Marketing and distribution capabilities

There are no surprises here. Although the charming cartoon art style looks a bit low and young, the cute fantasy style has been proven to work in mature user groups (such as “Merge Dragons”, “Evermerge”, “Dragon City”, etc.), let alone this It is the style that Supercell is best at.

This game is facing a field with high ARPPU competitors. It does not have a strong IP or a clear advantage that can bring lower CPI costs than its opponents. Therefore, to achieve success, it needs to rely on a relatively high LTV to gain a firm foothold.

Monetization system

Monetization in “Everdale” relies on convenience. The game economy system has brought bottlenecks, and time-limited orders and social pressure have brought a sense of urgency, which will lead to repeated small consumption, such as buying missed resources or items.

You can only buy consumables, you cannot buy permanent additional workers like in Clash of Clans, because they are closely related to the compact economic system of making games. Sales of key products in other manufacturing games are also missing. For example, you cannot expand the product sequence or skip production time. Obviously, the people who designed the “Everdale” economic system are very afraid of giving players freedom, and we can’t actually say that the planning is wrong. However, a game that is more player-friendly would be better.

In the design of the game economic system, the biggest problem is that the economic system feels too normal, and the player’s decision-making cannot deviate from the standardized progress. You can’t be “smarter” than the game. You can only accumulate slowly or pay to reduce the “liver”. Spend”.

The lack of uniqueness makes players have fewer reasons to interact with each other, and makes their game decisions less meaningful. It brings the same experience to the player, and the user’s decision is only the time required to slightly change a particular achievement.

In the end, the strict restrictions on progress also highlight a problem with this small cell structure. The strict restrictions on the player’s degree of freedom seem to be to make the economic balance better, and to be controlled within the range that the small team can manage, rather than letting The game is more interesting and meets the player’s wishes.

Engagement and retention rate

We believe that the game is very enthusiastic in the short term, and it may be surprising if the short-term retention rate is not good. However, in my personal opinion, the practice of requiring continuous input from players in the early stages of the game is somewhat abnormal, which may eventually lead to the loss of players.

However, the most critical issue here is not short-term retention, but whether the game can attract players in the long-term. The strategy of “Everdale” is to start with a very simple gameplay, and then gradually show the depth of the game to players through the valley and more production systems. There are also greater risks, such as the more advanced gameplay (no expertise, no trading) mentioned earlier, which means that they may not be able to fully achieve their long-term goal of attracting players.

The player’s long-term goals are also somewhat vague. Unlike incentivizing players to build their small towns, the game seems to rely more on social pressure to keep players engaged in the long-term. After dozens of hours of gameplay and construction investment, players are afraid that reducing their participation will lead to being kicked out by people they don’t know in the community.

Game director Lasse Seppänen once said: “Everdale” is an easy-to-play Buddhist game, so you don’t have to worry about being attacked by others.

As a producer, Supercell’s choice of human needs to be part of the group is a very good design; as a player, the personal feeling of this game makes use of human weaknesses more than other competing products. Frankly speaking, “Gold Coin Master” did the same. However, Supercell has always occupied the moral high ground in the design of the free model.

Yes, you will not be attacked in “Everdale”, but you may face a worse risk: being removed from a community, which undoubtedly poses a big threat to the “relaxation and comfort experience”.

If you want to become a category changer, how should Everdale be improved?

Under the current circumstances, the game does not seem to have enough depth nor too many degrees of freedom. “Everdale” hopes to bring an interesting collaborative experience, allowing people to build their own town in a relaxing valley. But in fact, players need to do a lot of micro-management and endless tasks to complete, and they can’t even decide when to return to the game. Coupled with social pressure, players have limited choices, either “liver” or “krypton”, otherwise they will face the risk of being abandoned by the community.

If you look at the performance of “Valleys & Villagers”, its revenue per download is much lower than similar products. Of course, this comparison may not be fair enough, because the real monetization system of “Everdale” has not yet been finalized. However, it is worth noting that players either can’t find a reason to consume, or it is difficult to keep it for a long time.

Even so, it is still too early to say that “Everdale” failed, and the subsequent development of the game may bring a big turn for the better. However, this may require Supercell to return some control to the player.

“Everdale” itself has advantages. For example, its participation in the early game is very strong, and the test can be announced publicly, which also shows that Supercell sees the potential of the game (probably because of the high user participation data).

In our opinion, whether to go global or be cut depends on whether “Everdale” can fulfill all the core promises: a valley where player towns can interact and trade with each other. Each town feels unique. Instead of being the same.

We believe that the game can achieve this vision by pursuing three main goals:

1. Increase product specialization and player transactions

This means that players will make choices about the products they can make in their own towns, which will differentiate the towns between players and bring about meaningful and willing cooperation between players.

For example, the specialization between players can be achieved through the research tree system (choose 20% more wood or clay output), or provide different starting maps.

Perhaps Supercell is more worried about transactions between players, because this feature actually destroys the economic system of Cartoon Farm. However, this is not an unsolvable problem, especially for a company with a large number of talents in the game industry. Not allowing players to trade has a knock-on effect, which has weakened many of the core ideas in “Everdale” (city optimization has become meaningless, and research functions have become meaningless).

2. Make valley investment safer

One helpful approach here is to allow players to create a private valley for their friends to bring a safe space, just like building their own tribes in Clash Royale.

It is also a good idea to add a “tyranny check” function to the valley management, which can prevent crazy community leaders from kicking people indiscriminately. For example, people can only be kicked after they are approved by the elders or the voting system. Without the right to supervise, everyone in the valley may be kicked at any time.

In the valley, the game needs to add opportunity cost decision (with exclusive research promotion, participation in exclusive activities) in order to trigger different views and discussions among players.

However, at present, it is dangerous to discuss an action plan in the valley that is different from the current leader.

3. Break the monotonous “liver”

This game lacks some elements in head simulation games such as “Simulation City”, which can be achieved through unexpected activities: weather environments that have proven or negative effects on the growth of different resources, and a faster acquisition than ordinary methods. A limited-time scene of a certain resource, a merchant that allows resource exchange to visit, a young deer that can be raised as a pet, or a pack of wolves that can provide fur. These are designs with surprise elements, which can break the monotonous behavior of brushing resources, divert the player’s attention, and make the game more dynamic.

“Everdale” adds limited-time events. The only limited-time event we see in the game (Sheep Escape) feels more like proving a concept than an event that really attracts players. They are divided into multiple stages, but are very similar to the existing system of the game:

The first stage is mainly to complete orders, the second and third are to allocate villagers to complete limited-time production. The event reward is a 24-hour resource output bonus, which does not feel very unique.

Finally, its appearance brought more pressure to players, allowing players to cooperate with other people in the valley, but it did not affect the normal dynamics of the game, nor did it bring any emotional feedback.

From the current point of view, the participation players of “Everdale” have nothing to do with what they are interested in building or manufacturing. It is more that they need to micro-manage product production bottlenecks. This approach should not be hated.

The first sight of “Everdale” reminds us of “Northgard” released on mobile devices a few months ago. The latter is a similar worker management game with multiplayer gameplay. However, in “Northgard”, players can have special choices from the beginning, and there are multiple ways to progress, such as conflict, expansion, or trading.

“Northgard” resets the progress through different seasons, so the players’ progress is not linear, and the town needs to be reduced in size. Such reset play also appears in “Fallout: Refuge” and “Sim City: Construction”.

More importantly, “Northgard” does not limit the player’s game time. You can play directly until the battery is empty, then charge it and play. This is a simulation game that challenges players’ thinking ability, rather than forcing them to perform micro-management. When the reset happens, this game can bring real emotion to the player.

Why are you saying “Northgard” here? After all, it is a paid game designed for different users. However, using this game as a comparison is mainly because it feels more energetic in terms of player feedback, and the current state of “Everdale” is more like a better-looking appointment system, very mechanized and soulless.

We believe that if you want to revolutionize this category and create the next billion-dollar masterpiece, Supercell needs to increase player freedom, transactions and more collaborative gameplay on the current basis. It cannot be a “revised competitive game” “Or “a mixture of multiple game ideas.” This means that “Everdale” faces this terrible design challenge, such as building an in-game economic system that is more like “EVE Online” than “FarmVille”.

This Article is curated from Source and we only provide the English version of the Story.

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