Merge games are on the rise and can become a replacement for match3 titles for many users, according to analysts from GameRefinery. They use similar gameplay principles and monetization models. However, merge games have great potential to engage and retain players.Evermerge

Briefly about the Merge genre

According to GameRefinery, many began to allocate merge games to a separate genre after the success of Merge Dragons!, which earned $226 million since its release in 2017.

At the same time, similar mechanics have been encountered in mobile titles before. It is enough to recall Triple Town and 2048.

In merge games, it is necessary to combine various objects on the playing field and thus get their improved versions. This is the main difference between such titles from the classical “three-in-a-row” mechanics, which involves the comparison of three identical elements.

Games in the Merge genre can be divided into several main categories — by the type of playing field (expandable and non-expandable) and by the number of objects needed for merging (most often three or two).

Like most puzzles, the monetization of merge titles is based on in-game purchases. Users pay for skipping the waiting time, access to additional items, etc.

Merge Dragons!Gameplay principles and motivation

Now the market is still dominated by match3 games.

In the third quarter of 2021, they accounted for 15.62% of the revenue of all titles in the American App Store. For comparison, the share of merge games was only 0.83%.

However, the Merge genre uses the same gameplay principles and basic elements that are inherent in Match3. The search for objects to combine and the need to control the space on the playing field attracts the widest possible audience. These are clear and easy-to-learn mechanics that stimulate you to constantly return to the game.

Another important component of the core gameplay of merge titles is the attractive design of the collected items. Each subsequent object obtained as a result of the merger should be rarer and reward the user at least visually.

That is why merge games appeal to a wide audience. 70% of Merge Dragons players! — women, and 31% of them are over 45 years old. In addition, projects in this genre are perceived by casual users as an alternative to the usual puzzles.

Also, users in merge and match3 games often have the same motivation. Many people play similar projects in a series of passing levels, collecting valuable items and customization.

However, the main advantage of merge titles lies in the very essence of their mechanics – the creation of chains of objects for merging. Users combine elements over and over again, discovering more and more new combinations and variants of game items. Potentially, this gameplay cycle can be endless, and the variety of the process depends only on the developers.

What motivates players in match3 and merge games?Monetization

All major purchases in merge titles are made in the in-game store.

These can be time accelerators, special sets and other elements necessary to accelerate progress and open new objects.

For example, items in the Evermerge store are regularly updated, and users can change the offered set by paying in-game currency. In the same Merge Dragons! you can buy a premium currency that doubles all the rewards you receive for completing tasks.

Shop in EvermergeAt the same time, even more monetization options are available in hybrid merge games due to the introduction of elements from other genres.

For example, Merge Garden uses the same methods of stimulating users as match3 projects: boosters, additional attempts, restoring lives, etc.

Extensible merge games are the most flexible in terms of monetization among all representatives of the genre. The playing field is constantly expanding, forcing users to spend more time and resources merging objects and discovering new items.

One of the most effective ways of monetization in extensible merge games is limited-time offers. Often, users may notice that the items they need to progress suddenly appear in the in-game store.

Additionally, you can keep and engage users with the help of events. They offer increased rewards and rare items needed to progress in the later stages of the game. At the same time, developers often arrange special events with time-limited paid offers.

The concept of combat passes, which is widespread in merge titles, is closely related to regular events. For the purchase of premium access, users receive additional cosmetic items and resources.

Merge Dragons! event dedicated to “Rick and Morty”Meta-gameplay as the key to success

As GameRefinery notes, it is the various meta-elements that will become the main factor in the growth of the popularity of merge games.

The fact is that many of the modern projects in this category are hybrid, and therefore they easily introduce elements from games of other genres.

Today, gameplay mechanics from hyper-casuals, idlers and even 4X strategies are often found in merge titles. Also, projects like Merge Mansion and other representatives of non-extensible merge games place a big bet on narrative and characters.

The presence of meta allows you to diversify core gameplay and attract a new audience to merge games – including users who have not previously been interested in such projects. Hybridization also helps developers to distinguish their project from other representatives of the genre and offer players a new experience.

Merge Mansion***

According to GameRefinery, the revenue of merge games fell slightly in the third quarter.

However, downloads have increased over the same period, and the genre itself has continued to gain popularity. Merge title developers still have ample opportunities to monetize their projects through hybridization and the introduction of innovative meta-elements..

The popularity of the genre is explained by the consistently high demand for puzzles in the mobile segment. At the same time, merge game developers have much more opportunities to attract a new audience compared to the same match3 projects.