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Why Brawl Stars shop is so good?

From the first time I played Brawl Stars, I was in love.

The game loop is so simple to grasp, but you can actually feel the learning curve and you understand soon enough that, not only you’ll spend a lot of time in the game, but also a pretty decent amount of 💸💸💸.

Today, I won’t share my thoughts on why the game is so good, I’ll let you give it a try and you’ll get it.

What I’d like to do instead is to show some aspects of the strategy they’re leveraging to improve their game’s monetization.

Keep in mind that I’m sharing my thoughts, it may not be accurate and Brawl Stars team may be experiencing in more aspects of the game that I’m aware of.

Game Economy 101

Before I dive in, a quick explanation on their game economy:

In Brawl Stars you have 4 different “currency”

  • Coins: With coins, you can buy energy to level up your “brawlers” (game characters)
  • Gems: With gems, you can buy brawlers, packs of energy (to quickly level up a specific character), double tokens, brawlers skins (=costumes) and coins
  • Tokens: Not really a currency as you can’t store it, it’s just “points” you win by doing specific activity in the game. With Tokens, you unlock chests and other rewards.
  • Star points: With star points, you can buy special brawlers skins and chest at the end of each season (a season = 2–3 weeks).

The ones you can store are Gems, coins and star points.

The shop is always structured as follows:

  • Special offer section: Between 1 to 3 items that are available for a specific amount of time
  • Daily deals: 6 items, usually 5 paid and one free. They change every day
  • Skins: 5–7 different items, rolling cycle is around 1–2 days
  • Star shop: 2 skins (all the time) + 2 chests (only available at the end of the season)
  • Token Doubler: 100 tokens
  • Boxes: big box and mega box
  • Gem packs: ranging from 2.29EUR to 109.99EUR
  • Coin packs: ranging from 150 to 2,600 coins

Alright, let’s dive in!

Making the shop part of the user experience

In Brawl Stars, if you want to level up your brawlers, you need to go to the shop and use your free currency (coins) to buy upgrades.

This means that every time you want to “progress” you’ll need to go to the shop.

This is great, for a couple of reasons:

  • Education: No need to educate users on purchasing items if they are already doing it on a daily basis
  • More touch point: As I was talking about in my previous article, the more touch points you have, the easier it’s going to be to drive the user towards a purchase.

Additionally, every day you visit the shop, you’ll get a free item ( random).
This item is progress related, making it important for the player to get it every day, making shop visit a habit.

 

Who doesn’t want free coins?!

How do you make sure players can see all the items they can buy? You “simply” include shop visit in your main game loop.

More shop visits lean towards more conversions as you’ll get better reach for your special offers & promotions.

What better way to educate users on purchase than making them do it every day?

Daily deals: keep what matters

Previously, Brawl stars daily deals seemed to be completely random and/or based on brawlers unlocked recency.

Now, every day I’m back I’ll see the same Gagdget (=power ups) for the brawler I play the most.

What Brawl stars did here is Value alignment:

Organizing the shop’s based on current players ‘needs allows to improve overall conversion.

 When I only play with the same brawler, I’m telling Brawl stars “this is the character I want to improve”, it makes sense that their reply is showing me items for this specific brawler.

In this example, it’s been a few weeks since I play this guy:

And here is the shop view I get:

 

First available skin is my brawler, the only one with a discount

Give reasons to come back to the shop every day

If your shop is static users won’t feel the need to come back and look for new offers.

Making the progress relying on the shop is already a great way to improve Avg. number of shop visits, but you can always do more to make the shop a better experience.

Brawl Stars is using time-based deals, making the shop content dynamic and changing every day.

They’re also leveraging visual cues to make it easier to understand specific offers and the value you’re getting for it.

 

 

Multiple visual cues make it easy to understand the value of a specific pack

If that’s something you’re interested in, I’m talking about +30 ways to optimize the shop using these types of visual tweaks here.

Offering options

The learning curve, session frequency and investment will be different for every player. Some will be invested in getting their brawlers to max level as fast as possible where others will take their time.

When a player wants to speed up their progress, it’s great to offer them a way to do so.

That’s why sometimes Brawl Stars will suggest energy packs that allow me to increase my brawler level in exchange for a significant amount of coins (which I can get by winning free boxes or purchasing coins in the shop).

 

161 progress point is A LOT! I need more coins …

Same principle work for unlocking brawlers:

 Big Box drop rate for each brawler (I don’t have many left to unlock as you can see..)

Some players may be patient and will be willing to wait weeks before unlocking a new brawler in a random box, where some others will be waiting for these pricy offers for specific brawler or cheaper offer for random brawler.

You want Max? Better save some gems or purchase them now..

Once more, same principle is applied on a lower level with double token bonuses that you can purchase for a low amount of currency. Tokens bonus helps you get more free chests (=big boxes).

To summarize:

  • If you don’t want to spend a cent, you can keep playing and unlock all brawlers as you progress and get free boxes
  • If you’re ready to spend a bit, you can buy double tokens so you unlock boxes twice as fast, increasing you chances to get good loot in a shorter timeline
  • If you’re willing to spend more, you can purchase better boxes, random brawler or a specific brawler in the shop. Each offer is time-based and may not be available for more than a day.

Deals iteration

Brawl stars is spending time building deals and testing them based on a weekly basis. I can say that they experimented on the following:

  • Coins only offers
  • Chests only offers
  • cheap packs vs expensive (price tag from 2EUR to 21EUR)

There are SO MANY of them. I actually took screenshots from the shop every day for 2–3 months, here are some of the offers:


 

Brawl Stars experiment on pricing, content and currency distribution for each pack

THE Battle pass

Battle passes is a big trend in the industry, especially on consoles where you’re seeing games like Fortnite and CoD: Warzone building all their cosmetics & personalization features in it.

What Brawl Stars achieved with their battle pass is to wipe everything in their progress system (apart from the shop component) and build it within the battle pass.

Are you seeing the scheme? The same way they included their shop in their progress flow, they’re now integrating their battle pass as well.

All the missions and rewards can be unlocked in the free battle pass, where you can also see “paid” rewards you can get by purchasing the battle pass.

 Simple UI, addictive progress

Final thoughts

By enabling fair progress (free) and fast progress (paid), Brawl stars is crafting an equilibrium in their game, making it fair, but also rewarding for players willing to spend some money.

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