By Alexander Willink
Since 2013, Voodoo has driven and dominated the world of hyper-causal, and as part of our growth we have expanded into new territories to seek out the best talent and innovators globally. The Berlin studio, founded in December 2018, was a major move in this direction. Over the last year, our team has been hard at work developing a series of working concepts and trialling new ideas, culminating in the launch of first breakthrough success; Five Hoops.
Despite the challenges of a new studio and a new team working together for only six months, we are proud to see that through the commitment and drive of our team, we have been able to produce a game that is popular with audiences, and ranked in the top two slot of the international app charts. This has recently been followed by our latest title, Five Kicks!, attaining similar success and placement within the top slots of the charts.
With Five Hoops, we tasked ourselves with creating a fresh experience that would appeal to a broad range of players, and didn’t restrict engagement through overwhelming difficulty, or an overly complex meta-game. The basketball game Horse, wherein players take turns at shooting hoops from various spots on a court, was a perfect source of inspiration. With easy to understand rules and international popularity, particularly in the United States, we were able to quickly translate the games rules into a fun and time-sensitive mobile experience.
From the outset, Five Hoops paired the innate challenge of the original game with a focus on easy-to-understand core mechanics that are synonymous with the hyper-causal genre. Our unique spin on the game was to continually and fluidly up the challenge, moving players back five stages and shifting the location of the hoop, which added a significant degree of replayability and mastery.
Using Voodoo’s signature nimble development process, Five Hoops was made to be playable in an early build after only a few short days. During initial testing, we observed that as a single-player experience, it wasn’t as engaging as we would have liked. Trialling a number of new gameplay variations, we found success with a turn-based three-player mode and quickly saw a drastic improvement to the fun users were having with the game.
Turn-based was chosen over real-time at an early stage due to the fact that players would be given more control over the meta experience. With turn-based gameplay, players are able to shift the balance of a match with quick tactical thinking, such as knocking another player's ball away from the hoop and attempting to disrupt top players shooting attempts.
It also enabled Five Hoops to even the playing field, allowing losing players to shoot first and give them the chance to regain lost points. By balancing possible unfair player advantages, Five Hoops prevented user frustration and increased the tension of each match by allowing all players an equal chance to impact the moment to moment progression.
Through a new focus on multiplayer, including leaderboards and enhancing the meta experience with more content, we saw a dramatic 30% increase on day seven retention.
Now seeing the results we wanted and understanding the potential of Five Hoops, we wasted no time and took the game through a series of testing stages over the course of a few weeks. Thanks to the diligence and endless energy of Voodoo Berlin’s team, we were able to launch the game globally shortly after.
Five Hoops was a significant success for the Voodoo Berlin team and resonated greatly with our audience. With a four-point-seven out of five review ranking across more than fifty thousand reviews from United States users, and a growing social media presence, Five Hoops has exceeded even our initial expectations.
Our success with the game is an important lesson on how even new teams, when given creative freedom and an open development structure to nurture their talents, can produce amazing results. We are extremely proud of what our Berlin studio has been able to achieve in such a short time, and are excited to be working on our next set of killer-apps, with great focus on our future and expansion in Berlin.
We are thrilled to see that Five Hoops has been a hit with our growing community of players, and we are excited to utilize the lessons learnt in our next project. We aim to introduce further talent to the studio in the form of new game designers, developers and artists, to further expand upon the Berlin studio’s core talents with new perspectives and ideas.
Five Hoops greatest attribute is the dedicated team behind it, and by supporting and nurturing talent in your team, you can greatly enhance the speed and quality of a project. Mobile game development requires creative agency and quick thinking, and we are proud to see such attributes on full display in our Berlin studio.
The success of Five Hoops is thanks to our growing team of dedicated people, that are relentlessly looking at ways to push boundaries, develop simple yet creative hyper-casual games, and bring new experiences to mobile.