Here’s a deconstruction of Glu’s Deer Hunter 2019 that I did not too long ago. I try to cover a vertical slice of the game and understand it in terms of engagement, retention, monetisation etc.
The core loop of Deer hunter is straight forward, which is to hunt game to earn trophies, stars, XP, resources and then use those resources to upgrade weapons that unlock more difficult targets to hunt. An energy mechanic is used to control sessions where energy is consumed per hunt. This is Deer hunter at its most basic core.
The game then builds on this simple, easy to grasp loop and then takes it a step further with nested economy loops within different ‘hunting modes’ and regions to extend gameplay and add content in-game.
Economy Loops within Hunting Modes
There are 5 types of Hunting Modes in Deer Hunter, which are
- Hunting with Dogs
- Historical Hunts
- Rod Fishing
Each of these hunting modes offer something new to the player in terms of targets to hunt, weapons to acquire and gear to upgrade. The weapons and gear are sometimes exclusive to that hunting mode and cannot be used in other modes.
Hunting modes are a big part of Deer Hunter in terms of increasing the time spent within the game because each hunting mode has its own economy loop that is separated and independent from the other modes.
What this does is give the player a lot more avenues to spend time, grind currency and upgrade gear as progress is restricted to hunting modes.
Each hunting mode has its own versions of energy, soft currency, crate tickets and even exclusive player events. In a way, a hunting mode is almost a smaller game of its own.
Depth of Upgrades System
The depth of upgrades and customization is extensive in Deer Hunter, with each hunting mode giving the player a variety of upgrade options. A weapon/tool in Deer Hunter can be improved in 2 ways,
1. Upgrades – This increases the stats of the weapon or tool by a fixed amount.
2. Customization – This increases the max stats of the weapon, and hence allowing the player to do more Upgrades to their weapon/tool.
- Upgrades and Customization are used as gates in game for the player to earn stars/trophies. To earn more stars and trophies, the player has to improve their weapon/gear to the minimum required stats via upgrades and customization.
- Coupled with Region limitation on the weapon/tool, the game makes sure that the player cannot max-out just 1 item and grind the entire game with it. Each weapon/tool is viable only for 1 or 2 regions at the most.
- To upgrade in-game, the player has to spend soft currency earned exclusively within that game mode. There is always the option of spending hard currency (Which is common through all the game modes) to bypass the soft currency requirement.
- Customization is usually done by increasing weapon class (Soft currency sink) or by finding puzzle pieces of the ‘parts’ which are earned from gacha crates. Gacha crates are in some cases the only source of customization parts and hence become integral in the economy loop.
- Gacha crates are acquired with crate currency, which can be earned in-game via missions. Crates can be opened in-game based on number of spins available to the player (1 by default, spins can be increased by purchasing subscriptions).
To summarize, each Hunting modes has its own Upgrade/Customization tool, Content unlock gate, Soft currency source and Gacha crate dependency, which can be summarized in this table
The same upgrade system repeats itself over when new regions are introduced. A weapon cannot be used for more than 2 regions, which means for the third region, the player has to purchase a new stock weapon and go through the upgrade loop again to progress through that region.
Player Engagement and Retention
The game utilizes several methods to engage and retain players, with a big chunk of the engagement factor coming from the various events that run in the game, these events also play a part in player retention.
Events as an Engagement Tool
Events play a dominant role in player engagement. Since the player would be otherwise grinding the core loop for gear and weapon upgrades. Events serve as a nice engagement factor where the player gets a break from the regular grind and can try something new.
Events also offer an opportunity to earn a event specific currency, Platinum Eagle which is used to craft exclusive elite gear and weapons.
There are 3 types of events,
Hunting Mode Events (Leaderboard based) :- These events are found within hunting modes (Rod fishing) and serves as an event based around leaderboard.
- The player utilizes their own gear and weapon to participate in this event (This is an assumption as event wasn’t running at the moment).
- Rewards of winning these events is hard currency and a bunch of other currencies.
Regular PvE Events (Crafting and Currency Grinding) :- These events are listed separately in the game.
- PvE events like the Big Thaw have their own gear and upgrade loops.
- These events also have a crafting mechanic where players can craft event weapons and also purchase Hunter Bucks In App packs.
Competitive Target Shooting (Real time PvP):- Competitive Target Shooting adds the PvP element in events, where players compete with other players for to gain ranks.
- There is an initial gate of finishing first rank in your first CTS competition after which the Bronze Tournament, Silver Tournament and Championship tournament is unlocked.
- CTS requires its own weapon and participating in the different tiered tournaments requires the appropriate tier weapon.
- Weapon crafting is also possible for CTS events..
- Along with real time PvP tournaments, CTS also unlocks an ‘Elite Challenge Mode’ in all regions of Gunning Mode where players are given more difficult challenges to hunt.
Other Retention Methods
The game has some clever retention methods integrated which is designed to pull the player back with an incentive to login, some of them being
Bonus Energy at fixed time intervals : Bonus energy is given as a 1 time collectible, however this can only be collected at a fixed time interval. By spacing the collection time appropriately, the game can ensure a player engages in multiple sessions in a day.
Since the game already has different energy currencies, this gives the added flexibility of giving more free energy of different types, so that the player can engage in the appropriate economy loop for that hunting mode.
Push Notifications and Local Notifications: These are employed to remind player of completed training timers, event start etc.
Daily Bonus Packs : Daily packs that incentivize player to login and collect gold for a fixed duration, For the consistent login, the player is rewarded more value for their purchase..
There are several monetisation avenues employed in Deer Hunter, some of them use Gold as purchase currency while other use real cash. Following are the avenues
Currency Purchase – Purchase Gold, Hunter bucks, Permanent Energy boost with real cash. Purchased with real cash. Gold and Hunter bucks are available at 6 price points with 399 INR being the minimum and 7900 INR as the maximum.
Subscription Purchase – Purchase Silver/Gold subscriptions which give a player various perks in game like 2x currency earn rates, upgrade time reductions, access to exclusive gacha crates, more gacha spins etc.
Subscriptions are available in multiple time brackets for the player to experiment with. There are even free trials for subscriptions so that the player can get a taste of the perks it offers. Purchased with real cash.
Purchases Using Gold – Purchase gacha crates which give access to weapon/gear upgrade parts, Gold only weapons, gear and pets. Energy can also be purchased using gold.
Incentivized Video Ads and App Offers – Watch a video or download an app to do certain tasks to earn gold and Hunter Bucks.
Sale Events and Special bundles – Sale events and a plethora of different bundles are offered for a player of different spending types.
Deer hunter makes very good use of nested core loops to keep the player grinding in-game for a long time to dig through the content, and has used events as an engagement tool to add variety in the game play with meaningful meta features like PvP, tournaments and so on.
This gives the game ample time for monetize the players for progressing either in the base game, PvP mode or PvE tournament mode.