As people were beginning to wind down for the long midsummer weekend, the Helsinki, Finland based Supercell went on to launch their new game Hay Day. Hay Day is a farming game like no other. One might think that the world has seen enough of annoying farm game advertising on Facebook from the likes of Zynga, but having played Hay Day through out the weekend for about 10+ hours in total I can say that there is demand.
Hay Day is also Supercell’s first mobile and tablet only game, meaning it has been designed for the iOS platform. You can play it on your iPod Touch, iPhone as well as the iPad.
According to Ilkka Paananen, the CEO of Supercell, the launch has been quite phenomenal despite the challenging launch date.
Just during the long weekend, the game has shot to #7 in the US iPad listing while pushing to #13 on the iPhone. Paananen also disclosed that according to their own analysis, they are going to be achieving similar places in their key markets in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, UK, Canada, Australia and so on. In many countries they’re already in the top three spot.
Other metrics, Paananen is able to disclose, reveal that people are really loving and playing the game. The average session length is around 9 minutes and people pick up the game about 9 times a day. That’s a whopping 81 minutes of game play on average per day. And while these are averages, the most active players clock up a lot more Paananen comments.
Hay Day at first seems like a very traditional farming game, but once you start getting into it – you begin to understand the differences that make it so attractive.
First of all, the platform itself is extremely attractive. Paananen told us that the iPad gaming market is still up for grabs. Despite having a few solid game developers out there, no single company really dominates with a set of strong games.
Also, the market is growing nicely. In April 2012, Apple had sold more than 67 million iPads. Add the approximately 150 million iPhones the company has sold – the market is definitely a very attractive one in size. Furthermore, when you remember that all those owners of iOS devices have also integrated their credit cards to their devices, monetising your games is a lot easier.
Having built the game for the iOS platform, Supercell has also put a lot of effort into designing the user interface so that it attracts the best ways to use a touch based interface. Instead having the user just click through a ton of buttons, players can also swipe the fields to collect crops.
Paananen also emphasized that many iPad games are simply ported from other platforms and thus they don’t harness the full potential of the device and what actually can be done with a touch screen.
In the game, you are a farmer growing farm produce and feeding animals. Each animal pops out a certain product, be it milk, eggs or bacon (you have got to see how it is made). Different vegetables and wheat are used as ingredients for more sophisticated goods that can then be used for material for even more sophisticated goods.
What do you do with all these goods then? You sell them. This is perhaps the most important feature that sets the game apart from other similar ones out there.
Having an economy of tens of different goods in the game makes it all the more interesting. Players can sell their goods in a couple of different ways.
First, they can sell the goods to the businesses in the town. These orders are shown on a board next to the farm house. To fill an order, you need to have all the goods ready and then ship the order with your own truck. The truck will return with pots of money that can then be used to buy other goods for your farm as well.
You buy these goods through your friends. Hay Day integrates seamlessly to your Facebook account (I’ve played all weekend and Hay day hasn’t spammed my friends once or even asked me to do so). You can visit your friends’ farms and then purchase goods they have on sale at the roadside stalls.
You can also sell your own goods at your road side stall as well. This is another great way to make more money and advance in the game.
Every four hours, you are also able to advertise your products in the newspaper where players can find items they need to fill more orders and make more money. To make it more interesting, players are able to set prices themselves, making bargain hunting a big part of the game.
The whole economy of goods available adds a completely new level to the game. Essentially one could simply buy and sell goods instead of producing any.
Having played the game for hours, I’ve also come to realise that the newspaper is really a big part of the game. It is the market place where goods are sold and bought. I’m also quite certain that Supercell will be innovating on this front soon as there is a lot of demand for the goods advertised.
This can be seen by trying to buy an advertised good and ending up at an empty stall that has already been bought clear by competing players. At times it becomes really difficult to find any buyable goods. This can partly be explained by the extremely strong metrics. According to Paananen, the newspaper was opened over 2 million times yesterday. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of trades between players were also made.
If Supercell is able to add a way for people to buy goods in a stock market way (where market prices are set by buyers and sellers and fluctuations are normal), it would almost certainly make the game more attractive. This way players are able to find the items they are looking for and it would make it easier for other farmers to offload unnecessary goods to generate more cash.
Nevertheless, despite this shortcoming, the game is incredibly addictive. Supercell isn’t disclosing any concrete download numbers, but they piloted the game in Canada before launching it worldwide last Thursday. The game launched on Thursday with over 800 reviews in iTunes with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. And that was before the public launch.
After the public launch the game has received more than 600 4.5 star reviews in the US app store and over 200 4.5 star reviews in Germany.
The app itself is free. If you wish to purchase more coins or diamonds (that speed up development or growth or crops), you will need to use real money to enjoy these in-app purchases. Prices go from as low as $1.99 for a pile of diamonds to $99.99 for a trunk of diamonds.
Strong proof of the game being able to make money for Supercell can be seen from its position in the Top Grossing Apps list, which measures the amount of money an app is able to generate despite its downloads. They’ve reached #25 spot on the iPad and #39 on the iPhone in the US just over the weekend.
Supercell is well on its way to dominate the tablet space if it is able to produce games such as Hay Day. The graphics are beautiful, the game play is addictive and all elements inside the game are in complete balance with each other making it really impressive. What’s more, you’re able to continue on your mobile when you need to put your iPad down and really never be too far from making a few extra coins in selling your products.
If you haven’t tried this yet – download it now and give it a try. I’m almost certain you’ll love it.