The massive multiplayer action game Agar.io was huge hit the summer of 2015. The simple and addictive game was initially launched for browsers, getting much attention on Reddit. July 8, 2015, Miniclip published the game on iOS and Android. It instantly took off, as you can see in the chart below. The game has been a top-ranked game in over 40 countries, including the US, Australia, Canada and the UK.
From July 7th — July 22nd, the game was the #1 download on iPhone and featured multiple times in Apple’s Best New Games section.
The aim of the game is for your cell to get bigger by eating other cells. These cell avatars start small but grow each time they devour pellets and other player cells. This creates a competitive nature where players strive to become the biggest cell while avoiding being swallowed by the competition.
Agar.io has been a viral success, but what features have been put into the game to help spread the word? We took a closer look at the game to learn more about the in-game growth aspects, as well as suggesting a few of our own.
Dissection of Agar.io
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What You Can Learn from Agar.io
Among the dissected games, Agar.io is by far our favorite because we could play with other people. Massive Multiplayer Games have a very strong driver for growth in itself, and Miniclip has shown again that they know how to create great multiplayer games. Although there are no direct growth features implemented, here are some takeaways for other game developers to emphasize:
- The game is very public: Interesting gameplay and colorful graphics attracts people’s attention when walking by someone playing Agar.io. It’s super simple to get started and the game appeals to everyone. When we see people play in public spaces like a school or university, we would like to join and experience the same fun. We saw the same growth driver when we launched Fun Run.
- Ease for emotion: This is a competitive endless game, where the winner takes it all. When a bigger cell eats you after spending 15 minutes growing your own cell, it feels super frustrating. Strong emotions lead to increased sharing.
- Onboarding: It’s rare to see a game that requires 1 click to go straight into the gameplay. There is no tutorial or account creation, which we like very much. When you start the app, it’s pretty clear that all you have to do is type your name and hit play. You don’t want to go through a lot of steps. We encourage all app developers to A/B-test whether to onboard the player straight into the game or to do tutorial and sign-up first. The result will guarantee surprise you!
- Including secrets: The game has no instructions leading to natural questions like “How can I get the Doge?” or “How can I attack the big cells?” Secrets make friends talk and knowing the answer to these questions increases your Social Currency: we share what makes us seem smart. Letting players ask these questions to friends and spread the word is a brilliant move.
- App Size: The app size is important for growth. This might be intuitive for most, but yet we see too many apps not size optimized. Too big games can’t be downloaded over cellular networks, and in addition, you loose the market of low-end devices. Agar.io has, therefore, a natural competitive advantage compared to i.e. Angry Birds 2.
Suggestions for Further Growth
No doubt, with its enormous success, Agar.io has done a lot of things right. Still there are no ways to share the game with friends from within the app. The only way is to say “Hey, download Agar.io. It’s spelled A G A R dot I O”. Here are a few suggestions that we believe can improve the growth from within the game even further and still keep the simplicity of the game:
- Capture screenshot of game: While playing we found ourselves wanting to easily capture the screen to prove how well we were doing. Unfortunately, it was tough to decide to jeopardize the game due to the milliseconds needed to take a screenshot. There should be a screen capture feature added to the game scene as we included in the dissection.
- Play with friends: Let players invite friends to the game and make it easier to match up and play together. We never experienced to be matched together in a game, which was something that would have made the multiplayer experience even better!
- Incentivize sharing: By sharing with friends, the player could unlock new features like skins or animations. I.e. you can either play 50 times to unlock a special skin or invite a friend. This could also be powerful in relation to giving the player a choice, as discussed in the dissections of Angry Birds 2 and Soda Saga.
- Share GIFs: Be able to share a GIF of your last 5 seconds. During this time players are usually in a highly competitive moment and they would like to share and show off to friends.
Like our dissections? There’s more:
- Angry Birds 2
- Block It
- Crossy Road
- Candy Crush Soda Saga
- 26 Proven Growth Features That All App Developers Should Know About
- Angry Birds 2
If you enjoyed this dissection and want to see more or give feedback, please suggest other mobile games to be dissected on Twitter: @Megacool_co.
Originally published on Medium, September 25, 2015.