If you’re looking to make a mark in mobile development chances are you’ll be considering how to implement competitive play in your game. Competition is one of the best ways to boost retention and keep your players engaged and can be delivered via a number of direct and indirect ways.
A stalwart feature in titles like Clash of Clans, Mobile Strike and Game of War: Fire Age, asynchronous multiplayer’s popularity amongst the highest-grossing mobile titles has in some ways established it as the de facto style of direct competitive play on the small screen.
Especially popular in the strategy genre, asynchronous play allows players to interact and battle with each other, yet does not rely on both players being online at the same time. In games such as Clash of Clans it is entirely possible to conduct a raid on a player currently offline, with data stored on the servers used to decide the outcome of any battles. On mobile this approach minimises the potential frustrations caused by signal dropouts, which can prove an issue in real-time competitive play that relies on all players being online together.
The nature of this style of direct competitive play can also boost long-term retention amongst players. When a player knows they can come under attack and lose their resources even if they are offline, it can encourage them to keep regularly checking in on the game and commit more
time to it.
Previously limited in its implementation due to technology and mobile internet speeds, real-time competitive play is now becoming more and more popular in the upper echelons of the app store. The likes of Clash Royale and Miniclip’s 8 Ball Pool offer direct competitive play that is instant, engaging and brings a similar kind of experience to console and PC multiplayer.
Despite its increasing presence in mobile however, developers still have to consider connection problems and how to handle them when implementing real-time competitive play into their games. As technology and internet speeds continue to advance however, it will become more and more feasible for fast-paced real-time multiplayer to become a standard feature in mobile titles.
A modern-day take on the arcade high-score tables of yore, leaderboards are one of the simplest ways to introduce a competitive element into mobile games and thus feature in a countless number of titles. Though simple to implement, their means as a tool for retention can be fairly limited due to the sheer number of players involved. It’s all too common for players to invest a significant amount of time into a mobile game for the reward of placing 200,000th in the world.
The problem of insurmountable challenge for the top places can be tackled somewhat with the use of social leaderboards, usually integrated with social media accounts to give players an idea of how they stack up against their peers.
Titles such as Fantasica Online set challenges for players on a weekly basis, with rewards and incentives for successful completion. These challenges are often, but not always tied into the leaderboards and help boost retention by offering rewards, keeping gameplay fresh and setting small, achievable goals for players.
Regardless of what approach you eventually chose for your game, competitive elements are a sure-fire way to help keep your players happy and engaged on mobile. Implementing these features can be a challenge though, with the need for a separate backend component often representing a significant technical barrier for developers.
With ChilliConnect however, competitive play becomes a lot easier to implement and you can quickly and easily add social, competitive elements without having to write or operate your own servers. To find out more, you can sign up for free, or get in touch with our team.