"Naruto" Mobile Game 8th Anniversary: ​a

"Gathering is like a ball of fire, meeting again in the mountain city!"

This is the Chongqing venue for the "Naruto" mobile game rekindling ceremony. Facing the camera, fans chanted this slogan in unison. They raised their mobile phones high and proudly showed the "Naruto" mobile game screen on the screen, with full smiles on their faces. Although it's cold outside in winter, the fiery enthusiasm still makes the warmth overflow the screen. Lively scenes like this have been staged again and again in cities such as Shenzhen, Nanchang, Qingdao, and Shanghai.

This year, the "Naruto" mobile game officially celebrates its 8th anniversary. To celebrate this special node, the game team has set up offline event venues in many cities across the country, and almost every venue is crowded with visitors.

We rarely see a mobile game product that attracts countless fans from all over the country to spontaneously go out of their homes to top up nimo tv and go offline to gather with their fans. And this “old” product, which has been online for 8 years, continues to expand its influence.

Standing at the eighth anniversary, we need to re-understand the "Naruto" mobile game.

“Counter common sense” long-term operating miracle

We have some inherent impressions about the "Naruto" mobile game. From the perspective of players, in the raging discussion of two-dimensional mobile games, the mobile game "Naruto" is often "expelled"; in the perception of the industry, it has been the mainstay of Tencent's Rubik's Cube Studio Group for many years. , played a key role in the exploratory transition period of Rubik's Cube from web games to high-quality 3D game development.

But in my opinion, the real special thing about the "Naruto" mobile game is its product operation. The development trajectory of this game over the past eight years is in clear conflict with the game industry’s conventional understanding of product operations.

For example, according to experience, medium-to-heavy action mobile games often cannot escape the curse of "their peak is when they go online". Compared with categories such as leisure and competitive games, RPG mobile games have a smaller natural user base, and the CPA cost of acquiring new customers is also higher, making it difficult to spread large-scale purchases. Therefore, most RPG products that have entered the mature stage have the return of old users, retention and stabilization as their main operational goals, and will inevitably experience a gradual decline in user numbers. Even if a product has a large IP bonus, it can only play a role in attracting traffic and attracting new customers in the early stages of launch, making it difficult to maintain long-term growth.

But the "Naruto" mobile game ignored this "curse". Looking back on the past eight years, it seems that it has been undergoing a steady pace of "reverse growth."

For example, officials have previously publicly stated that in 2019, the third anniversary of the launch of the "Naruto" mobile game, the number of new players tripled that of 2018.

This growth momentum continues even today. It is understood that the daily active users of the "Naruto" mobile game just exceeded 10 million at the beginning of the year. This trend is also consistent with its performance on the list – in the past year, this product has been among the top five on the best-selling list for basically every version update, reaching as high as third place, and earlier this month it once again ranked fourth on the best-selling list. score. No one can imagine that this is the performance of an action mobile game that has been online for 8 years.

Don’t forget that behind the abstract data are living people one after another – they may be smiling Cosplayers at offline events, or they may be watching the e-sports competition of the "Naruto" mobile game at home, playing in various games Various players actively discuss in the forum section.

Rather than asking cold macro questions such as "how is the retention" and "what is the payment rate?", I think what is more worthy of our exploration is what exactly the team of this product has done to enable it to be used for as long as eight years. Continue to maintain the love of old players and continue to gain the curiosity of new users?

Create the most trusted gaming brand

For a game that does not rely on large-scale purchases, if it wants to achieve the "sustainable operation" of the project by maintaining its audience, it must be inseparable from the premise of trust.

The so-called trust is to build players' stable long-term expectations for the game ecology through long-term and repeated value commitments and performance, so that players can confidently and boldly make long-term material and mental investments in the game. For an IP game, the project team also needs to win the trust of the upstream and downstream stakeholders of the product, such as copyright holders, in order to achieve long-term content cooperation.

The trust construction of a mobile game product is extremely complex and cannot be separated from the joint efforts of multiple departments within the team. If you are not careful, there will be a risk of collapse – for example, numerical mobile games often appear in long-term operations. Numerical inflation. And if a high-value user feels that the account in which he has made a large investment may be "retired" in the near future, the risk of losing him will also increase rapidly.

It is understood that the "Naruto" mobile game team has always adhered to a clear product understanding, and even the main product direction determined by the team before the company's internal review in 2015 has not changed to this day. This is also the core factor that enables this product to maintain its long-term stability.

For example, at the beginning of the project, the team established the original intention of "lightweighting heavy action mobile games". So far, players’ daily 100-activity task can be completed in as little as 5 minutes. Compared with MMO and other heavy-duty games that often take several hours a day, the core combat gameplay of the game only lasts a few minutes, which is extremely suitable for the fragmented gaming habits of current players.

In addition, the team regards improving game quality as the primary development goal to drive players to play.

Zhang Hanjin, president of Rubik's Cube Studio, previously stated in a media interview that behind this product, the project team added many technical details that are difficult for players to perceive: "For example, frame synchronization of actions, server verification, and even 3D FOV angle—— In the past, when I was doing 2D movements, I punched me, and the pixels stacked up to hit me. But the principle of 3D is perspective, which is near, big, and far. Why should my opponent hit me? How should I judge the distance?"

For example, the project team added the "Dark Night Chase" ability to "Yakushi Kabuto" in Sage Mode. You can enter dark night mode by double-clicking the joystick, limiting the opponent's field of vision and enabling different combo action modes. These innovations in fighting mechanisms that integrate the performance of the original animations ultimately serve the players' gaming experience.

In the "Naruto" mobile game, the solid combat gameplay makes operating skills have a higher proportion in the duel arena competition, rather than a pure numerical competition. This fair model also attracts a large number of loyal players to play for a long time.

Experience elements such as CG and narrative are also the focus of the project team. For example, since 2022, the "Naruto" mobile game will launch a major theatrical version event every year. These activities are based on the theatrical plot of the original animation. Through the interweaving of high-quality CG animation, themed mini-games, combat challenges and other multi-line content, the animation content is faithfully restored and created into a large-scale viewing, listening and playable event. Immersive experience. At present, the two theatrical version contents of "Successor of the Will of Fire" and "Road of the Ninja" have been included in the game. With their ultra-high content quality, they have also become one of the most anticipated events in the minds of players throughout the year.

Some classic ninja characters, such as Orochimaru and Namikaze Minato, who appeared in the early stages of the animation but had fewer scenes in the later stages, have also been transformed into characters such as "Hundred Wars Orochimaru" and "Hundred Wars Minato" in the game, appearing in new images. . These old ninjas are re-recognized by players through new CG and plot content packaging in the "Naruto" mobile game. While satisfying the feelings of players, it also adds depth to the characters of the series.

Focusing on the character's own characteristics, life background and "famous scenes", the game tailors exclusive recruitment animations for each ninja character, and continues to deepen the character's personality. Judging from the quality of animation production, the team is also quite willing to "take the next step", and many CGs have film and television-level performances.

Subsequent performance proved that these recruiting animations developed with a lot of effort were right in the player's strike zone. Some players will spontaneously record and edit recruitment animations and publish them on video platforms, which can easily gain millions of views – even whether the character's recruitment animation looks good or not has become an important basis for players to decide whether to draw a character.

From today's perspective, this project concept of "non-sticky gameplay, non-mandated financial rewards, and quality-focused gameplay" coincides with the industry's current trends in new categories such as content-driven and "side-game" products. These concepts put forward based on the thinking of the entire game life cycle when establishing the project are self-evidently forward-looking.

When reviewing the "Naruto" mobile game, we also found that this product backed by a big IP seems to have experienced a change in concept in recent years. In the team's sharing in 2017, the project producer proposed "faithful IP restoration" as the primary development goal in the early stages of the game. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of original ninja content released in the game.

These new ninja images have also been enthusiastically sought after by players. An example is that after the original ninja "Drifter" Payne Six Paths was launched in the version update in April last year, the game directly rushed to the third place on the best-selling list. Players also created a large number of secondary creations for this series of new characters. content.

For another example, the project team combined China's local Kung Fu culture and invited the intangible heritage Wing Chun inheritors to personally guide them, allowing the Konoha ninja Hinata Neji to become a Wing Chun master in the game; or letting Rock Lee wield the nunchaku, Recite the famous saying of master Bruce Lee "Be Water, My (like water)" silently, and perform Jeet Kune Do moves with punches and wind. Whether it is the Chinese Kung Fu series, or the Jianghu-style "Xia Yin" series, etc., these bold cross-border contents that combine cultural characteristics imo top up , we can all see it in the "Naruto" mobile game, and they continue to attract people Loved by countless players.

Relying on users, infinite possibilities are just around the corner

Continuously building trust in the brand ultimately leads to the ultimate goal of maintaining a solid user base. Relying on the widespread love of users, various subsequent ecological extension actions of a product will be as smooth as a matter of course, creating increments for the game in an almost automatic and spontaneous manner.

For example, the "Naruto" mobile game started the construction of an e-sports ecosystem from the early stages of the product. As this event develops to 2023, the number of viewers of its annual event has reached 100 million, and 6 million players have participated in the game's e-sports events throughout the year, making it the leader of fighting e-sports events. Top spot.

As players provided feedback, this event expanded the "fighting competition" mode, allowing more ninjas to compete on the stage, and the enjoyment of the event continued to improve through feedback and iterations.

In addition, the original ninjas in the game are well-designed and interesting. Inspired by the charm of the characters, many players have produced a large number of secondary creations based on their love for the character settings. For example, the Wandering Ninja series in the game has captured the hearts of many players because of its superb appearance and character settings. At Station B, we can see a large number of related mixed-cut and fan-fiction second-generation content squeezed into the front row due to their extremely high viewing popularity.

These secondary ecosystems formed spontaneously by players will gradually form a content moat and drive users to become active in the long term. At the same time, they can attract a large number of non-players to watch through social platforms, promoting the continuous expansion of the game circle, thus allowing the game's ecology to expand steadily.

The traditional mobile game operation concept often adopts a funnel-shaped thinking, using traffic as the entrance to the product, and considering how to convert users from general users to core users. However, it is believed that as users' decision-making links change, modern head products should adopt more incremental product thinking and conduct reverse thinking: with "seed users" as the core, through benign and high-quality ecological development, drive Word-of-mouth transmission from person to person makes the seeds gradually grow into towering trees.

Looking back, whether it is the vigorous development of the "Naruto" mobile game or the active content ecology, they are inseparable from the premise of a loyal user base; and e-sports events and player creation themselves can be the core The content output will further promote the expansion of the game's influence and achieve an ecological break. In the two-way rush, a virtuous cycle driven by high-quality content is established, becoming a never-ending flywheel, driving the game ecosystem to thrive.

Of course, whether it is building brand trust or creating and polishing high-quality content, it is far from a day's work.

In a previous media interview, Zhang Hanjin, president of the Rubik's Cube Studio Group, expressed his views on head products: "You have already thought of an opponent as very powerful, but if you go around and look behind him, he may be even bigger than You imagine it is much bigger." And behind a successful product like the "Naruto" mobile game, the actual scale of the team's efforts often goes far beyond what is apparent.

As mobile game products gradually move toward long-term operational development, the life expectancy of a mobile game product has now reached more than ten years. As for how to create a future-oriented product, through the enthusiastic eyes of offline fans of the "Naruto" mobile game, we have seen the best cases.






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