Microtransactions, what do you think? Royal Match outearns average spend over Candy Crush in 2023

By Todd Russell Dec25,2023

To date, we haven’t covered microtransaction games much at PGM. Plenty of games with microtransactions exist, and some are quite popular, especially among mobile games players.

Will admit not being a big fan of “free” games that have and/or require at some point in progression microtransactions. Some of these games are more onerous with monetization than others. Simply, I prefer to buy a game at a set price and then be able to play it to completion and/or as much as I like without additional cost somewhere in the future.

There are various types of monetization schemes in free games and am not condemning developers that want to make money, simply saying some put me off more to playing than others. How about you?

China is concerned about over-monetization and is drafting laws to restrict certain activities in online games, which hits #2 biggest gaming company in the world, China-based Tencent:

Online games will now be banned from giving players rewards if they log in every day, if they spend on the game for the first time or if they spend several times on the game consecutively. All are common incentive mechanisms in online games.

China announces rules to reduce spending on video games | Reuters

So, microtransactions are a global concern, but what about other types of games?

Obviously, arcade games and pinball require paying per game, unless you pay a set fee on entry and then all games are on free play (this is actually my favorite way to play both these days, but finding places like this is somewhat rare). You pay per game, with quarter in, but the better you get, the longer you can play, it’s not the same as games billed as “free” that, in fact, have additional charges somewhere further down the line. If you play long enough, that is.

This brings us to Royal Match.

There are a ton of match 3 puzzle games and the quoted article below from ft.com is the first time I’d even heard of the game Royal Match (Google Play Store link). Apparently, I’m way in the minority.

With about 55mn monthly active users, it has succeeded in persuading players to spend more on average than Candy Crush’s much larger audience of approximately 160mn does, according to Data.ai. Dream Games’ investors are hoping that it can outlast other pretenders to Candy Crush’s throne, such as Playrix’s Gardenscapes and Homescapes, which briefly outsold King’s hit for a few months in 2020.

Puzzle game ‘Royal Match’ dethrones ‘Candy Crush’ from top of app store (ft.com)

Hola. 55 million active gamers are playing Royal Match? As pointed out, that’s roughly 1/3rd smaller than the amount of gamers playing Candy Crush (160 million).

Not to go all Captain Obvious here, but mobile gamers really dig these match 3 games. This stat that Royal Match has topped Candy Crush is a bit muddy, however. So, if understand correctly, the average player of Royal Match spends more than the average player of Candy Crush? That’s what I think this means. Hmm. Correct me in the comments if I’m wrong, because while this seems impressive, sales-wise, am not sure it’s quite as big a deal as having 100+ million more active players.

Have lost count of how many match 3 games tried out, but my curiosity on Christmas Eve 2023 briefly got the best of me. Installed, hit play and checked Royal Match out.

This one definitely has a snazzy, colorful interface, where there is a lot to do besides play the puzzle games, themselves. It’s level-based, has leaderboards both globally and one for our state. #1 on the leaderboard has completed many thousands of levels. It’s possible to link up your picture on Facebook and pick your own player name. All standard fare. Been there, done that.

The goal in the puzzle is to match 3 colors and use other powerups to explode/remove the obstacles in the puzzle, shown below as brown.

Royal Match is free to install and play, but like many of these games, microtransaction opportunities exist through the use of buying things that help in game using coins purchased from a shop as explained in the developer Dream’s help docs as follows:

Since you can buy extra lives, moves and boosters (power-ups), this turns me off somewhat to playing further. A review from Common Sense Media has a parental warning on the game which spells out more details of how these transactions work:

Technically, you don’t have to buy anything to play, but if you can’t complete a puzzle, it costs a life. As the puzzles get more challenging, it doesn’t take long to run out of the five lives you’ve been given. You then have to wait until they’ve replenished to play again — or will need to purchase packages of coins using real-world money so you can buy additional lives or moves. Additional coins and booster items are available in packages ranging from $1.99 to $99.99.

Royal Match App Review | Common Sense Media

Curiously, upon first playing Royal Match, at least the first few levels, I don’t see the store in the menu anywhere, but surely it appears if played long enough and/or one reaches a point where you lose a life? Then, the game must offer a store option to buy more lives, yes/no? I didn’t test that far enough when playing because again, the game just seemed like dozens of other match 3 games I’ve played.

I don’t see the attraction here.

My very limited first play of this game, only a few levels, clearly didn’t grab me the way it has 55 million other players. Another match 3 game Gems of War (free on Steam store), is an RPG that I’ve enjoyed playing much more and have recommended to other PGM members. Did not research deep enough to see how Gems of War compares to Royal Match in the microtransaction charts, but am sure Gems is listed there somewhere.

Bottom line: these match 3 games offering microtransactions aren’t going away. It’s interesting that Candy Crush has rising competition, but not surprising. Candy Crush is the mobile jewel in the recent Activision/Blizzard acquisition by Microsoft. They definitely want to increase their presence in the lucrative mobile games market and have said so on multiple occasions.

Passing this off to you, friendly gamer readers. Do you enjoy playing these match 3 games with microtransactions? Have you heard of and/or played either Royal Match or Candy Crush? Both? What do you think? I’ve spent a grand total of $0 on both games, and don’t see a future spending a penny on either of them, but hey, maybe I’m missing out. Am I? What do you think?

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