Surfacing From Our Game Cave

Over the holidays, I took a week to catch up on games I hadn’t played yet. I spent a huge amount of time on my PS4 and Nexus 6P, leaving my hotel less than a half a dozen times over 7 days.

The two games I put the most time into – by far – were Fallout 4 and Magic the Gathering: Puzzle Quest. Both games are mashups of sorts: Fallout 4 an FPS/RPG/Sim, and Magic: PQ a match 3/CCG.

But that’s where the similarities end.

Fallout 4 negotiates this merger brilliantly and allowed me to spend the bulk of my first 40 hours in the game questing, rather than building settlements. Its depth was surprising, even when compared to similar AAA games.

Magic: Puzzle Quest attempts to take a deep world and fuse that with mana-powered match-3 strategy. However, the roles of the Magic cards were significantly hampered and the game left me drawing unfair comparisons to Hearthstone.

It’s always a challenge choosing what depth to distill and what to retain. Getting this balance right is something we’re often asked to do for our clients.

Hoping you can learn something from the games on the first Compulsion Loop of 2016.


Compulsion Loop
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This or That…

Why Play? Social in nature, This or That is a “Would you Rather?” made mobile. In addition to seeing how you stack against others, the game allows you to see how your friends voted. The game monetizes via premium currency as well – players can unlock different card packs by buying more.

Google Play App Store
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Star Wars: Card Trader

Why Play? Take one of the world’s best licenses and create a CCG with a more intense focus on the “Collectible” part than the “Game” part. Combine that with “super rare” and “limited prints” for digital collectibles to drive players to IAP now instead of later in order to get a better chance at the rare stuff. Add in tools for the community to solicit trades easily and you can have a monetization hit. Not everyone’s idea of a good game, but certainly some monetization lessons here.

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Raid Brigade

Why Play? Portrait mode (perfect for your phone), squad-based RPG-lite with some CoC elements. Grinding only takes you so far before you have to fuse characters together to level up other characters (which cost resources to do). Nice graphic style and fun for awhile before the game (especially the PVP side) becomes a pay-to-win. Hooks players who really want to keep leveling up (or at least not lose their levels). Takes advantage of this addictiveness by offering a $10/month subscription.

App Store
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Katy Perry Pop

Why Play? Glu attempted to find repeat success with the Kim Kardashian’s “celebrity status” style game. The key differentiating feature in KPP is the “band management” form of gameplay, giving players many avenues for customization. However, KPP hasn’t shown to be a viral success like the predecessor, showing that it takes more than a large social media following to make a celebrity game stick.

App Store
Compulsion Loop

CompulsionLoop is AC+A’s ( weekly pursuit of providing a Featured List for those in the games industry. A look at the latest must-play apps, along with short, useful takeaways from our team of game design and product experts. If you have a game that you think your industry colleagues should try, we’d love to hear about it at Don’t forget to tell us why industry insiders should be compelled to try out the game (see what we did there?).

Know a game that you think others should play? Let us know and tell us why we should play it.

Thank you for reading and we look forward to helping you discover more games that you can glean learnings from. Feel free to reply to this email or contact — we’re always happy to hear from you.

Have a great week!

- Adrian Crook