Without a doubt, the frog is the current most popular character young the Chinese generation.
“Travel frog” is a mobile game developed by a Japanese game development company known as Hit-Point Studio, officially released in December of 2017. Exploding the social media platforms in China in January 2018
Since January 22, 2018, the number of downloads for “Travel frog” has surpassed “Arena of Valor”, “DouYin”, “Wechat” in the China app store, as the top free downloaded app. According to statistics, There were over 8 million downloads within the span of two month since the release.
As of January 25, there are also over 8 billion views for all Weibo posts related to “Travel frog”. And, Shukan Asahi has deemed the act of “raising frogs” as the never-before explosive trend.
Under the conditions of poor translations and advertisements, a frog from Japan has become the number one Internet figure for 2018, but how?
One of the contributing points for the success of “Travel frog” is due to the lack of in-game purchases, as most mobile games have more selection of in-game purchases to improve game experiences.
This mobile app specifically do not generate huge revenues or consume users life with addictiveness, and many of the in-game purchases are limited or hidden. Regardless of the in-game purchases users make, the frog will continue to bring back souvenirs and pictures. This maintains the quality of gameplay experiencing for free to play, allowing users to experience less consumerism and equality between all users whether than pay to play.
The gameplay of “Travel frog” is quite simply, a frog lives in a stone house to eat, read, makes handcrafts, and users are allowed to cut three-leaf clovers to buy travel essentials for the frog. When the frog is traveling, there is no telling to how long it will be gone, sometimes a few hours, or few days, but when the frog returns, it will bring back any photos or souvenirs from traveling.
Differing from other mobile games, the “Travel frog” have sacrificed the popular adventure and role-playing (RPG) aspect of most games, relieving users from the stress-inducing gameplays, while raising the mysteriousness and curiosity of the users when playing, as “Travel frog” have a low-level game play control to where the frog goes and what it is doing.
Under the consumerist atmosphere of mobile gaming, “Travel frog” have been a unique experience, where users don’t need to spend a lot of time and money, using the spare times to brainlessly play the game while relieving the stress, making “Travel frog” highly differential from other mobile games.
The era of Internet is the period for social media, but also come the period for isolation. For users whom are introverts pursing in emotional connection and attachments, “Travel frog” is able to satisfy these demands.
“Travel frog” is a type of stimulation game based on raising a frog, where users only need seconds to understand the current state of the frog. The game requires less to no mental capacity preparation needed. Of course, the more time you spend on the game, the more rewarding it is, emotionally for users.
The idea of raising a digital frog also triggers the practises of parenting, and also allows users to empathize with their parents as well. The game demonstrates a casual, free-spirited lifestyle for users that’s achievable in real life.
The Discovery Of Female Audiences For Mobile Games
Along with the development of games, the potential market for female users is being revealed. According to Jiguang’s statistics, as of May 2017, 54.1% of the user population from Arena of Valor in China are females, and 61.1% in Onmyoji. In both of the top mobile games, the number of female users has shown superiority against male users.
Using another trending mobile game known as “Love and Producers” as an example, the selling point of the game are the four different type of male characters that users are allowed to be in a relationship with. Within the number of users, over 90% of the users are female.
Only within one month after release, the game have quickly rose to the top 10 iOS downloads in China region, with daily revenue peaking at 2 million dollars, monthly revenue at 2-3 billion dollars in RMB, as the first prodigious mobile game.
At the same time, a mini game on WeChat, that can be translated to “Just Jump”, developed by five people, have reached 1.7 billion users, and over 50% of the users are female.
For the longest time, most games developed have focused towards male audiences with action and adventure genres, but the female consumers, time and time again have proven its potential to the industry, with “Travel frog” being one of them.
Many female users refer the frog as their child, internally role-playing as a mother, experiencing motherly love and separation from the child. Of course, the visuals and casual gameplay of “Travel frog” also attracted many male users as well, providing a one-of-a-kind experience.
As a simple and non-Chinese game, social media played a huge role for the rapid popularity of “Travel frog”.
According to analysis, several key opinion leaders (KOL) have reviewed and promoted “Travel frog” on Weibo prior to released, bringing attention to the game. Soon later in mid-January, there were quite a bit of user-generated content (UGC) on the WeChat platform through official accounts creating a viral effect, continuing to increase its exposure.
Using the advantages of social media, the high exposures of the “Travel frog” have quickly attracted a surge of users. Additionally, the United States have also experienced the similar results with the same strategy. On January 21, “Travel frog” have been listed in the top 900 free download game, later entering top 100 on the 23rd of January.
In the marketing perspective, “Travel frog” concentrated on the importance of communities, and the uniqueness of their strategy is that they began at community level marketing, quickly emerging into the Internet community, then on national level.
The popularity of the game relies heavily on the circulation of social media content, with the help of other well-known influencers to create interactions within the community, Travel Frog have met its peak.
But the marketing for “Travel frog” differs direct marketing, take “Arena of Valor” and “Players unknown battleground” mobile version (PUBG) as an example, although Arena of Valor used the large network and resources of Tencent, both of the games have opt to add on KOL stream promotion, then using the name of the influencers to create a viral effect
In comparison, the mini-game from WeChat known as “Just Jump” was able to walk to shortcut and directly make use of the WeChat platform community.
New Play style for “Jump”
From gameplay to game design, “Just Jump” is a fairly simple mini game at the press of your finger to control the jumping distance of the character to land on a box, the more boxes you land on, the higher you score.
“Just Jump” is hosted on the WeChat platform which has approximately 10 billion active users, with a little advertising and marketing, “Just Jump” have reached 3.1 billion users with 1 billion active users despite the simplicity of the game, based on statistics published on January 15, 2018.
With the wave of new users coming in, “Just Jump” have shown higher level of creative design on game play, experiences, and business opportunities. For example, as the first partners for “Just Jump”, McDonald’s have received it’s creatively designed box within the game. When the character in the mini game lands on the McDonald box, the box will transform with it’s slogan displayed and music playing, with 20 bonus points for staying on the box for few minutes, ending with animation of flying fries and burgers with bonus scores.
Another creative example from “Just Jump” is their Nike design. After landing on the designated box, the design of the box will change with “NIKE REACT”, staying for a few will have a go animation added and 20 bonus point. Because basic idea of the game is to jump, the game design have maximized the exposure of Nike shoes and expressed the brand image creatively.
Making use of the unique designed boxes of “Just Jump” with bonus points have received a lot of attention and love from users while allowing other brands to obtain brand exposures.
McDonald’s was also able to partner with “Just Jump” to promote and market their offline activities to increase brand exposures and sales.
Profit Model of “Travel frog”
The purpose of mobile games like “Travel frog” is not to gain revenue form the game itself, but for the collection of users, and once users reach a certain number, it is able to insert advertisements, product placements and more to maximize it’s marketing potential.
Something to keep in mind is that “Travel frog” have also promoted tourism in Japan, and keyword searches related to japan, travel, specialties have increased by 150%.
Of course, there will be viral mobile games from time to time in China. The real challenge is to sustain within the industry and maintain its popularity.
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