The profit from puzzle games is increasing every year. It is known that games of this genre brought in 4.9 billion dollars in the first half of 2021, which is 56.8% more than last year. Since match 3 games are the most popular among puzzle games, they are the main source of income for all development companies.
Long-established Match 3 games are still quite profitable
Most of the games in the “3 in a row” genre have a time limit. However, Candy Crush Sage, a match 3 game officially released in 2014 by King, was designed to be played with a limited number of moves, offering an entertaining and relaxing gameplay with less pressure and more time to think.
The level-up gameplay was also a great asset. Also, there were players talking about Candy Crush Sage on social media. Candy Crush Sage remained the top-selling puzzle game on the App Store while generating huge revenue.
Creating a new lot of story-driven gameplay
Over time, a huge number of high-quality classic games of the genre “3 in a row” appeared on the market, as a result of which, players were tired of the classic gameplay of games. In recent years, the combination of “match 3” with other genres of games is gaining popularity. The development of this genre of games can be roughly divided into the following stages.
Stage 1: Decor, goal setting
Since most of the players in this genre are women, when creating gameplay, game developers give preference to elements that are of interest to women. Take Playrix’s Gardenscapes as an example. The main gameplay of the game is “3 in a row” combined with storylines and garden decoration. As the level rises, players receive certain resources, such as coins and stars, and tasks – tasks for decorating the garden. Completing decorating one part of the garden opens up new territories and storylines.
This mix of gameplay gives players a vivid sense of achieving goals. This is because it makes it easier for players to immerse themselves in games with many storylines and challenges. As Gardenscapes is one of the first games to combine match 3 and decoration, the game generated over $ 3 billion in revenue in August 2021.
Stage 2: Competition and social interaction
Candivore’s Match Masters focuses more on competition, adding a combat element to the basic match 3 gameplay, thereby gaining a greater influx of players with more social interaction. After matching players, both players must find and remove the same items within a limited time and number of moves. A certain number of completed tasks increases the amount of energy. When the amount of energy reaches a certain level, players will gain a useful skill to complete the game.
The ad creatives also showcase competitive gameplay. In the video, we see how, thanks to several elements that make viewers feel more pressure, they have a desire to load the game, especially after words like “Make your move!”
Stage 3: Rich content, many feminine elements
In stages 1 and 2, the other storylines are just an addition to the match 3 gameplay. However, in Project Makeover, the storyline with makeup and match 3 are on the same level.
According to SocialPeta’s data on ad creatives, Project Makeover pays more attention to promoting its gameplay. In the ad creative above, the player is tasked with transforming an insecure girl. After styling her with a hair dryer and a hair straightener, the player specifically shaves the bald spot on her head. This unexpected plot twist will surprise viewers and then make them feel sorry for the girl. Besides, the words “Help the girl!” also encourage viewers to download the game.
Love Fantasy, a match 3 game from CooTek, has also added feminine elements. Love Fantasy empowers players to become a heroine and go through a dramatic plot, such as being tricked by bad guys, offering a more immersive gaming experience. CooTek’s many years of experience in art applications gives her a deep understanding of the female audience, which helped a lot in the creation of Love Fantasy. The game has been featured on the App Store home page more than once, and it is possible that it will achieve even greater success in the future.
Stage 4: Simple gameplay
Instead of combining multiple game plots, some developers chose to simplify the gameplay, which also turned out to be a good idea. Royal Match, a match 3 and decoration game released in March 2021, doesn’t have any storylines other than simple decoration gameplay. The decor becomes available after completing certain tasks. The game shifts the focus back to match 3 gameplay.
After analyzing ad creatives, we found that the words “Free”, “No ADS” and “Fun” are often mentioned, sometimes with emoji. Below are 3 representative Royal Match creatives:
（1） No ADS and FREE 👉 ， ⭐️ New Puzzle Game! ⭐
（2） Download for endless FUN 🥳 ， Swipe and match for endless fun! 😍
（3） Help King Robert NOW❗️ ， Can you complete Level 82? Only the best can!
Royal Match, the first game from Dream Games with a promising future, generated over $ 28 million in revenue in November.
The Future of Match 3 Puzzle Games
The combination of different gameplay has become essential for match 3 games. It follows from the above analysis that increasing content and simplifying gameplay appear to be the two best paths for match 3 games. However, game developers need to make a choice between keeping up with global market trends by adding more popular elements, or keeping the character of an easy game by making the gameplay easier.