Creative is an advertiser’s best opportunity for a competitive advantage in social advertising. Soon, the combination of Facebook’s and Google’s Media buying automation with Apple’s removal of IDFA will make ‘winning’ creative ﹘the five percent of Facebook videos that are successful﹘of paramount importance. Here we break down match 3 puzzle games with competitive trends & creative recommendations, so you can learn from their creative best practices.

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Match 3 Puzzle Games Competitive Analysis

  • Competitors: Competitors: Fishdom, Gardenscapes, Homescapes, Mansion Blast, Home Design Challenge, Wildscapes, Slices, Township Farm & City, Wordscapes, Clockmaker, Meow Match, Home Design Makeover, Jelly Juice, Lily’s Garden, My Home, Paint by Number, Sweet Road, Vineyard Valley, Brain Out, Candy Crush, Cookie Jam, Disney Magic Kingdoms, Fashion Blogger, Fashion Boutique, Museum Story, Sweet Escapes, Tropicats, Tropic Trouble, Choices, Dragon City, Episode, Hustle Castle, Lost Island, Merge Dragons!, Party in My Dorm, The Simpsons, Covet Fashion, Klondike, Minecraft, Clash of Clans, June’s Journey, Panda Pop, Manor Cafe, Home Blast, Hidden Resort
  • Top Competitors: Match 3 Toon Blast, Farm Heroes Saga, Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Toy Blast, Candy Smash Mania, Jewel Crush, Jewel Fever, Candy Blast Mania, Candy Pop, Sugar Blast, Cookie Jam Top Match 3 game.
  • Top Competitors: Building Matchington Mansion, Homescapes, Gardenscapes, Township, Fishdom, Coin Master
  • View competitive videos here

Match 3 Puzzle Game Trends

  • Puzzles: Locks & Gates and other puzzles that challenge users to free a game character (Fishdom, Gardenscapes, Homescapes, many others)
  • Picker Videos: 3D or 2D situations with pickers, often resulting in disastrous fails. (Township, Sweet Escapes, Manor Cafe, many others)
  • Hidden Items: Videos or still images that contain hidden items the user must find. (Meow Match, June’s Journey)
  • Design Challenges: Tasks that must be completed within an allotted time or budget. (Design Home, Sweet Escapes)
  • Real Player Gameplay: Split screen featuring a player and gameplay. (Jelly Juice)
  • Female-Centered Vignettes: Women overcoming adversity and men behaving badly in soap opera situations. (Lily’s Garden, Choices, Vineyard Valley, My Home: Design Dreams)
  • Choose Your Adventure: Series of situations where you choose between two actions. (Choices, Episode)
  • Game Controller: Picker that mimics a game console, guiding character through levels. (Candy Crush, Hustle Castle)

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Match 3 Puzzle Game Trends (cont.)

  • Lifestyle and Gameplay: Showing lifestyle footage and gameplay that matches image (Toon Blast, Farm Hero Saga)
  • Gameplay + Side Character: Gameplay elements leaving the screen to interact with character (Candy Blast Mania, Candy Smash Mania, )
  • Mixing gameplay with narrative: Storybook narration, Coloring book style (Bubble Witch Saga))
  • 3D effect: Characters “floating” above gameplay (Farm Heroes Saga)
  • Funny but still cute: Evil character getting hit by gameplay, mentioning how you can’t get weight by playing candy games (Candy Blast Mania, Bubble Witch Saga))
  • Incorporating game to solve a problem: Using gameplay to find the key to escape a room (Candy Smash mania)

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Player Motivations

Sample motivations for playing:

  • Stress relief
  • Complete levels or beat score
  • Killing time
  • Escape from “real life”
  • Socialize with friends, family, or other people

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Player Motivations

The Most Common Primary Motivations for Women are Completion and Fantasy:

  • For women, Completion (get all stars/collectibles, complete all missions) and Fantasy (being someone else, somewhere else) are the most common primary motivations, while Excitement (fast-paced, action, surprises, thrills) and Challenge (practice, high difficulty missions) are the least common.
  • These gender differences seem to align with stereotypes, but as we’ve pointed out before, age differences are often just as large if not more so.

Completion is the Most Low-Risk, High-Reward Motivation:

  • One finding that surprised us was consistently high Completion (get all stars/collectibles, complete all missions) placed across all the charts. Whether we’re comparing gender or age segments, Completion is always in the top 3. In this sense, Completion is a very low-risk, high-reward motivation.
  • It helps explain why games that emphasize Completion, such as Pokemon Go, can be so broadly appealing across different demographic segments, especially when these games also steer away from motivations that are more volatile and polarizing, such as Completion.
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Source: Quantic Foundry, 7 Things We Learned About Primary Gaming Motivations From Over 250,000 Gamers

Player Motivations

Here’s an illustration of what such a motivation map looks like for mobile puzzle games (games like Candy Crush, Pet Rescue, or Bubble Witch):

  • The data tells us that puzzle game players would like to have more Immersion and Creativity in their games. This could provide an explanation to the success of titles such as Gardenscapes or Homescapes, which provide players with some light narrative and decoration options

Puzzle Players, broken down by clusters:

  • 55% of players (Completionists and Solvers) are quite happy with their games as they are
  • 25% of players (Explorers and Designers) are where the narrative/decoration opportunity lies
  • 20% of players (Champions) are interested in a more social puzzle game
  • Written by Ishai Smadja, Product Manager @ King // Player of Games // Contrarian

Concept: Faux Hidden Items Gameplay

Faux “relaxing” games are interrupted by exciting interactions/fights between characters:

  • Begin video with slower games like hidden items or word games, with a header like “Find 5 Bats”
  • Characters breakthrough painting as others chase with a (baseball) bat

Competitor/Share of Voice:

  • N/A

Player Motivations:

  • Decorative/creative opening could attract puzzle players

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Concept: Locks and Gates

  • New 2D animation style
  • Try characters in “How to Loot?” where a lock releases sweets or allows her to escape
  • Test “What’s Next?” vs FAIL – to appeal to new users Leverage “dumb ways to die” assets

Competitor/Share of Voice:

  • Gardenscapes: 96%
  • Homescapes: 36%

Player Motivations:

  • Engage puzzle players who want to complete challenges

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Concept: Connect The Dots

Create videos where finger connects dots to create Matchington characters:

  • Simple background
  • Engages viewer’s curiosity
  • Can speak to game truths like Clockmaker’s “We know you’re tired of Match-3 ads..”

Competitor/Share of Voice:

  • Sweet Escapes

Player Motivations:

  • Targets player need for creativity and narrative in games

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Concept: Serial Storytelling

Serial storytelling style:

  • Soap opera clichés and adult situations to capture the attention of the 25-54 female demographic
  • Minimal scenes (“UP” style opening)
  • Rival characters fighting over a love interest
  • Female characters overcoming odds and bad male behavior

Competitor/Share of Voice:

  • Lily’s Garden: 91% SOV

Player Motivations:

  • Targets player need for narrative in games

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Concept: Perilous Situations

  • Rescue situations: Feature characters. Leverage pop culture, movies, or just mini-games
  • Character holding rope bridge (Indiana Jones)
  • The character holding a clock (Harold Lloyd)
  • Dumb ways to die concepts
  • HS/GS “in a theme tied to the game”

 

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