AC+A Case Study:
Hearthstone’s Lapsed Player Re-Engagement

Hearthstone was a major win for Blizzard – they entered both the mobile market as well as the trading card game genre, accumulating positive feedback from players and critics alike. Giving Magic: The Gathering a run for their money is not an easy feat; however, as most free-to-play game developers eventually begin to realize, installs dwindle and DAUs slowly start to shrink. Accelerating this decline with Hearthstone was the introduction of the “Standard” format, which created a game format that invalidated a lot of the elder players’ collections.

Because of this, it’s possible that the Standard format created an influx of players leaving the game and not playing for 30 or more days. In the industry, we name this types of user a “lapsed player.”

In this article, we will walk through the various steps in the lapsed user re-engagement flow that Hearthstone has implemented, and showcase the best practices so you can apply the same methods to your own game… READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE!

Peter Knudson | @PeteKnudson
AC+A | @AdrianCrookInc

Compulsion Loop
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BitChip Bounce

Appsolute Games LLC

Why Play? Imagine playing a game of PONG, where you control both sides, and which all bounces are random. You get an incredibly hard and frustrating–yet addictive, in a FlappyBird kind of way–game where beating your previous high scores seems always unattainable. Add a ton of unlockable content and you can play (and want to throw your phone away) for many hours if you can get past the steady stream of advertisements.

– Maxime Villeneuve | @AdrianCrookInc

App Store
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Fastlane: Road to Revenge

Space Ape Games

Why Play? I Having fast in the title was probably the strongest decision made by Space Ape Games in regards to accurately describing what Road to Revenge actually entails. An automobile-based shmup (shoot’em up game) that has fantastically easy one-finger controls, and one of the best licensed soundtracks on mobile today (loading screen messages suggest playing with sound), Fastlane is an insanely fun and colorful experience. There’s a tinge of story there, and upgrades/levels to unlock along the way.

– Wyatt Fossett | @W_Fossett

Google Play App Store
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Tap! Tap! Faraway Kingdom


Why Play? Tap! Tap! Faraway Kingdom takes your standard dungeon crawl premise; “Go save the Treasure from the Dragon” and wraps it up in a pixel-art tapper mechanicProgressively more difficult dungeon and monsters are cleared and loot earned by leveling up your herohiring mercenaries and tapping your way through them. In addition to the standard passive progression model, there is an active “raid” type game, where you can grind the games restricted currency in which you escort the princess here and there in her war wagon (complete with cannon), as well as a fairly deep item collection/character customization tree. Definitely worth a tap!

– Chris Cervantes  | @SaveVsFail

Google Play App Store
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Zombie Gunship Survival


Why Play? Zombie Gunship was one of the earliest hits in the Apple App store, and has been an evergreen staple on peoples phones for years. This latest reboot keeps many of the fun elements of the previous, but adds a lot more best practice free-to-play mechanics that have been popular recently, such as grinding to upgrade parts and Clash Royal’s chest timers. The only negative is the lack of a competitive PVP ladder, which may come at a later update.

– Peter Knudson | @PeteKnudson

Google Play 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?).

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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