Battle Pass mechanics from A to Z. Part I

iINCYMO
05.04.2022
10 min.

Highlights:
1. Out of the Top 100 grossing games, more than 60 contain a Battle Pass, although, a year ago, they were found in ~ 50% of games, and two years ago in ~ 27%;
2. In January 2020, the Battle Pass mechanic appeared for the first time in the Match-3 genre. Now 3 out of 4 games from the genre’s top list have Battle Pass mechanics, as does every other game of chance;
3. The average price is about $5-10. The larger the target audience of the game, the lower the price;
4. As of right now, there is no evidence that the choice of visuals is guaranteed to affect the final metrics. But there are interesting facts that we have covered in the article!
5. Increasing the price can decrease the conversion rate but bring in significantly more money;
6. The MVP version of the Battle Pass consists of only three main components! Which ones – look for at the end of the article 😉

What is the Battle Pass Mechanic:

The short answer is that it’s a mechanic that weaponizes the suffering of players over their loss of profit. Usually, it is a reward mechanic where the player gets nice rewards for free by performing actions from the main game loop. And every time the player has the opportunity to gain a reward, a chance to pay for more pf them opens up. As a rule, this is a direct purchase for real money. And, for the most part, this mechanic is cyclical, with each cycle lasting for ~30 days. It is considered a “trendy” mechanic that constitutes a large portion of project revenue (~3-10%), depending on the genre of the game and the depth of the monetization mechanics.

The popularity of mechanics, statistics: out of the Top 100 grossing games, more than 60 contain a Battle Pass, although, a year ago, they were found in ~ 50% of games, and two years ago in ~ 27%. It is most common in shooters, battlers, and fighting games. In January 2020, the Battle Pass mechanic appeared for the first time in the Match-3 genre. Now 3 out of 4 games from the genre’s top list have Battle Pass mechanics, as does every other game of chance.

Putting the mechanics together

Visual

There are several approaches to Battle Pass interfaces. Typically, they involve two “roads” of awards displayed in a vertical or horizontal arrangement. 

Clash of Clans

Clash Royale

And as a rule, they are full screens, sometimes with a background fitting the Battle Pass style.

World Of Tanks Blitz

In the example from WoTB, the Battle Pass is dedicated to an underwater event which is reflected in both the visuals and the rewards.

But not all Battle Passes are full-screen.

SimCity BuildIt

The game above offers a tiled interface style, more in line with the game’s general aesthetic.

Funky Bay

In the top example of a farm adventure game, the visuals of the battle pass are very close to the visual of the game itself. Obviously, a lot of effort has been put into blending the mechanics themselves into the game interface so that the Battle Pass would feel like a part of the game.

In some cases, the Battle Pass is barely distinguishable from event pages or quest journals!

Lineage 2 Revolution

Rise of Kingdoms


As of right now, there is no evidence that the choice of visuals is guaranteed to affect the final metrics. But there are some interesting points:
1. The Project Birthday-style visuals increase the metrics. Such visuals work better with promotions/specific events;
2. Some trending visuals show the best metrics – fitting your style to that of a famous game for its release (Cyberpunk 2077) or a TV series/movie (The Witcher);
3. Showcasing a Battle Pass during an event does not work as well, but is a good way of testing the applicability of Battle Pass mechanics and balance.

Price

Comparison table of Battle Pass prices for the most popular and unusual free-to-play games:

App Genre Price
Brawl Stars Shooter ~10$*
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang RPG, MOBA ~7$*
Garena Free Fire – Illuminate Shooter ~6$*
Call of Duty®: Mobile Shooter ~7$*
Genshin Impact RPG 10$
Clash Royale Strategy 5$
Cash Tornado™ Slots – Casino Casino 2$
Slotomania™ Vegas Casino Slots Casino 2$
Kingdom Guard: Tower Defence Strategy 28$
Star Wars™: Galaxy of Heroes Team Battlers 10$
AFK Arena Team Battlers 17$
MARVEL Strike Force: Squad RPG Team Battlers 20$
Township Farming 5$
Clash of Clans Strategy 5$
Rise of Kingdoms Strategy 5$
State of Survival: The Joker Strategy 6$
Candy Crush Saga Match-3 3$
Best Fiends – Puzzle Adventure Puzzle Batler 5$
Royal Match Match-3 10$
Merge Dragons! Merge 10$
Lily’s Garden: Design & Relax Match-2 5$
Project Makeover Match-3 6$>10$
Empires & Puzzles: Match-3  Puzzle Batler 10$

*Games that sell Battle Passes for in-game currency. The price listed is through the approximate conversion of buying currency for real money.

We can say that the average price is about $5-10. The larger the target audience of the game, the lower the price. It is important to understand that almost all games have an option to buy the Battle Pass in the form of a package, which already includes Battle Pass progress. Such “premium” versions are 2-5 times more expensive.

There is a tendency on the market to increase the price of Battle Passes. It is not limited to just Project Makeover, as other games outside the Top 100 are also experimenting with the prices of their Passes. And it is important to understand that changing the price using AB-testing is very risky, as the community might not understand it.

Another point of reference when figuring out how to price your Battle Pass is what the players will compare it to. Does it really provide the benefits it claims it does?

Clash Royale

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