Case study: How CrazyLabs’ The President reached the number one spot in the US

CrazyLabs describes in detail how “The President” broke the charts and reached number in the US on both iOS and Google Play.
CrazyLabs' The President character in a boxed image

The President by Mekan Games came out of CrazyHubs, CrazyLabs’ gaming accelerator program, and is the first hyper-casual hit to come out of Africa. This is also the only hyper-casual game in 2022 to make it to the #1 spot in the US on iOS and GP stores. Additionally, what stands out with this game is that they’ve done a great job improving Day 1 retention from 21% to 42%. Below, you’ll learn how to make your next game a hit game according to Evans Kiragu, Founder & CEO of Mekan Games, and Vamil Doshi, Senior Publishing Manager at CrazyLabs.

The President is a narrative game with a tapping mechanism, where players step into the role of a president and make choices for their nation. After making a few choices, players will either be presented as a ‘good president’ or a dictator.

How was the game idea born?

  • CrazyLabs Monthly Trend Report* – We studied the comprehensive report, which features critical market trends and actionable insights, and saw that ‘power’ games like Judgment Day: Angel of God and Oh God!, (where players feel powerful, have control of others’ destiny, etc.), and can do whatever they want) was showing success. Additionally, we understood that games that had a humor element were performing better. So we combined these elements from the data provided and made them the driving force behind The President. 
  • Themes that reflect cultural events – We looked beyond what was trending on social media and looked at mega cultural events (i.e., Biden Vs Trump presidency or the Johnny Depp lawsuit) that the entire world was familiar with, and thought about how to integrate that into the game. 

*To access CrazyLabs Monthly Trend Report you need to apply here.

What was the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Our key challenge was passing Day 1 and gaining retention, and in this case, adding content wasn’t enough to combat this. We started with 21% D1 retention and 30 minutes of playtime, and having worked closely with the CrazyLabs team, we doubled our D1 retention to 42% with 45m playtime in the first 24 hours. Here are a few examples of how we achieved this: 

  • Expanding the game’s meta content (i.e., adding a barometer between a good president and a dictator, character customization visuals like hats, clothes, accessories, etc.) 
  • Making UX / UI improvements (explained below in key takeaways)  
  • Made it easier to make purchases so that the players can unlock items faster (explained below in key takeaways) 

Key takeaways

  • Storyline – A critical component of narrative games is storylines and a sense of progression. The idea here is to build a journey for the player’s character where the character evolves and progresses based on the player’s choices. For example, in one of the questions in The President, the character decides whether all citizens should wear dresses. Should the player consistently choose ‘Yes’ for questions like this, then likely they will be presented as a ‘Dictator’ in the game. 
  • Stay on top of trends – It’s so important to keep a close eye on which subgenres and themes are trending as hyper-casual games that were trending a few months ago may not be relevant today. You can stay up to date on the latest subgenres and theme trends by regularly reviewing CrazyLabs trend reports, social media, and mega cultural events.
  • We applied some of these tactics, to drastically improve Day1 retention from 21% to 42%: 
  • Adding a barometer feature (i.e, good president or dictator) – There’s a progression in each of the game’s levels (which is based on the player’s decisions in the game), and this gives the player a sense of power in determining their fate as either a good president or dictator. 
  • Game economy – We made it faster and cheaper to acquire new items to gratify the player within a few levels. For example, instead of waiting three days to purchase the items, now after one day, the player could purchase items for $5K instead of $20K and grow it incrementally. Additionally, we expanded the selection of items that can be purchased with an emphasis on funny elements (i.e., a toilet plunger). 
  • Short sentences – Narrative games should have as few words as possible in a sentence (gamers don’t have the patience to read an entire paragraph). 
  • Small UI/UX improvements – Adding a bold outline to the icons and buttons, changing their order and position on the game’s screen.

Why Mekan Games chose CrazyLabs over other publishers

One of the biggest things that I realized working with CrazyLabs is they are very open to testing out the craziest of concepts, no pun intended. I remember when we were creating around The President, our publishing manager basically told us what kind of concept that I have never worked on before.

We tried many different concepts, try something that is so out there and so out of your comfort zone and see how to perform once you did the test. They obviously did their best to match this up with the data that we had on Flick, and the result was The President.

Working with CrazyLabs has been an absolute pleasure. Our relationship at the moment spans just a little over a year, and we already have a hit game out there. We hope that in the upcoming few months, in the future we will be able to do a lot more and basically do what we love to do which is basically making games and have an incredible partner that is pushing the game out there and giving us everything we need to make sure that we’re performing at our absolute best.

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