HashCube’s Journey in taking Sudoku Quest Game Global

In the casual game space HashCube with its Sudoku Quest game has reached to about 2 million users across different platforms. It is the largest Sudoku game on Facebook and is growing rapidly.
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By Santhosh Kumar| NextBigWhat

The Indian gaming scene in a global context seems to be in a very nascent stage. While a host of players cater to the local gaming needs enabled by the service providers, the rest provide game development services. The prominent Indian companies that have gone on to capture a global gaming audience on the mobile and Facebook platform has been Bash Gaming with their Bingo bash game (0-$55million – Bash gaming journey). The other Indian based startup that got some traction with the casino games format has been Gamble with its Gamble poker (Gambling app from Gamble).  In the casual game space HashCube with its Sudoku Quest game has reached to about 2 million users across different platforms. It is the largest Sudoku game on Facebook and is growing rapidly on the recently launched mobile app markets.  Here’s how they made it this far.

The Quest Model for SudokuSudoku Quest Hashcube

In the past six years  HashCube has evolved by trial and error on its journey of growing an audience and ensuring sufficient monetization. In its early days back in 2008, it started out with standalone games on its own website and saw really no traction in terms of users or ad revenue. It quickly moved onto the Facebook platform and the user adoption levels skyrocketed and there was no looking back. Yet the revenue model was still through advertisement click throughs on Facebook and the numbers were not sustainable. It was at this stage that the team looked at the game economy model and looked at in-app purchases. This led to a lot of novelty addition to the plain vanilla Sudoku games and they developed what is known as the Quest model that brings in a social layer with multiple levels and other bells and whistles. All  this designed to enhance the gaming experience at the same time increase monetizing avenues. It took them some time to tweak this model and optimize the game. Conveniently the Facebook platform enabled them to roll out the feature additions and tweaks in real time. A luxury they cannot afford to on the mobile platforms. Which perhaps is the reason they took the time to perfect their model before venturing into the mobile scene as late as July 2013.

Leveraging the mobile

The adoption rates on the mobile platforms have been tremendous. In the six months the mobile user percentage is already half the total user base. And to beat it the revenues per user are much higher on the mobile platforms. The team could not quite put a finger on the reason for this, but the guess is the user comfort factor and familiarity for app payments on mobiles must be contributing to it. While the picture seems rosy on the mobile front, Deepan Chakravarthy the co-founder still feels Facebook is a superior tool to target the users for their marketing campaigns and hence they get more bang for the buck. The social graph of Facebook seems to be an element that is missed on the IOS and Google play market. On the mobile platforms they use ‘Boost campaigns’ to acquire users. It essentially is a burst of marketing spend in a short duration aimed at acquiring a large user base consequently pushing up the app ranking which will generate more organic numbers over time. To get further insights and control over the marketing activities the team uses the Hasoffers solution to manage their needs.

Days of easy land grab are over

The strategy of the team is on focusing on fewer titles and making them big. Presently they have achieved a certain degree of comfort and success with the Quest model on Sudoku. In the future it will be applying this model on other classical games. The strategy for the different marketing channels are still being experimented with and when a pattern there appears, the growth should become proportional to the capital invested.

“The key here is the data analytics that drives the game design decisions as well as the marketing strategies,” says Ramprasad Rajendran, the other co-founder.

He also explains that for new game titles they apply a few filters as qualifiers, they are : how mobile friendly is it, Is their potential for multiple levels that are equally engaging, monetization potential, does it have a mass market and such. It would then go on to a build and prototype stage and a launch on Facebook. This for the same reason mentioned earlier of quicker real time iterations. Once the game reaches a certain maturity it will be launched on other mobile platforms.

Deepan says:

The days of easy land grab are over.

Given the competition and maturity of the global gaming market, user acquisition costs are real high. What  HashCube is betting on is their Quest model for making casual gaming engaging, exciting and social. An innovation that they are banking on coupled with growing marketing experience to realize their billion dollar dream!

Recommended Read: Why Gaming Ventures Fail?

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