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Inside the Success: Airport Security

Airport Security topped the charts the last few months, so we find out how and why the game turned into a big success.

The concept of Airport Security was realised after one of our designers explored the experience of being a mall security guard, considering how the theme could support fun and engaging mechanics. The design team brainstormed ideas on how it would translate to a hypercasual experience and researched games to see what worked and what didn’t.

And that’s when the premise arrived – the player is an Airport Security Officer in charge of inspecting passengers. Here’s what it took to turn the game into a chart-topping success.

How the concept came up

In Airport Security, the player is in a unique position of deciding which passengers get to travel, giving you a sense of authority.

You pat passengers down, check their passports, interrogate them and use your intuition or logic to either arrest them or let them go. Looking at this, it's loads of fun playing a game from a place of power.

That’s why the key to making the game a success was a fun array of wacky customers, featuring characterful interactions and reactions.

The simulation of power and the visible impact you have on the emotional (and sometimes physical) state of these passengers is what makes it so engaging.

Designing gameplay and driving engagement

With the success of games such as Makeover Studio 3D and Bake It, the design team wanted to take the ‘minigame collection’ concept even further, and Airport Security proved to be the perfect opportunity to dive right into it.

Some minigames required the team to double down on creative writing to flesh out the originality for every character that made it into the game. This combined with the hidden object minigame makes the entire experience immersive and engaging for players.

To give the game a sense of flow and continuity between the minigames, the development team set up transitions within the airport terminal environment instead of cutting the camera immediately to certain screens.

Working towards getting the engagement right didn’t come without its own set of challenges, of course.

On one hand, there was the content, which the design team had to create enough of so the player could sink their teeth into it without looping through the same characters or items early on.

On the other hand, there were some challenges involved in how the cameras behaved and the general difficulties involved in implementing the drawing tech.

Tackling the technical difficulties

The main mechanic in the passport checking minigame involves drawing on the passport, which meant the developers needed to implement world-space drawing tech.

The design required the use of this tech to help players find errors and inconsistencies in the NPC’s passport. The tech would read and understand which parts of the passport the player had drawn on, and cross-reference the highlighted text or data with the dialogue prompt from the NPC.

The body check mini game proved to be tricky to work with as well. When revealing or hiding items, the items themselves had to be rendered on different cameras, something the developers had to do for certain scenarios.

These were lessons the teams learned from working on previous Kwalee games and successfully applied when they first began planning development efforts for Airport Security, giving the game that sense of smoothness.

Visualising the art

The art team came together during various stages of the project, taking the knowledge they developed during previous games to deliver a clean, fun, juicy, and accessible art style.

In order to make the style ‘pop out’ and give the game a lively feel, the art team introduced fun, quirky animations to complement the characters’ personalities.

This created various entertaining scenarios where the player witnesses something interesting without gameplay and visuals feeling tired in the long term.

Making a theme-consistent UI

There’s a constant case made that hypercasual games must keep UI elements to a minimum when instead, in reality, it depends on the game.

Working on previous projects gave the art team an understanding of how to design assets and UI elements in a certain way that helps players feel more immersed in the game they’re playing.

By designing for new, returning, and seasoned players in mind, both the art and design teams were able to deliver a readable and usable UI system that’s in tone with the game’s quirkiness.

Since the game’s core loop involves the player identifying and highlighting smaller details within the game world, it was pertinent to keep away from elements that were too flashy.

Doubling down on the KPIs

Although the marketing team were confident that Airport Security would perform well, they weren’t expecting the huge scale the game ended up achieving until very close to launch.

The game’s LTV and retention rates were average compared to the previous games’ launches. However, the game displayed strong marketability KPIs, making the team realise they may have a chart-topper in their hands.

To tackle the challenge of raising the game’s KPIs, few iterations were made to videos and playable ads. Going in this direction shot the game up to the top of the charts quickly.

Release and results

Now, Airport Security continues to be a chart-topping success!

Two months since the game went live, Airport Security raked in over 13.4 millions installs wherein the top four contributing countries include the United States, Brazil, India, and the United Kingdom.

The game also ranked #1 in both the Games and Casual Games categories in various countries. Here are the rankings for Google Play Store and App Store, respectively.

We keep tabs on how dedicated players have been to their duties as an airport security officer, so here are some interesting numbers worth checking out too:

If you liked what you read, you can get more case studies like this on Kwalee's Publishing Portal. The entry is free, and you can even send a game you'd like tested to us through there.

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