· 7 min read
Slice It All! How to Reduce Your CPI in Runners
Editor’s note: This story was so great, we pinched it from Voodoo. You can find the original on their site, here. (Don’t worry, they gave the go-ahead to share it.)
Slice it All! is the brand new hit game by the Serbia-based studio Tummy Games. The game hit number 1 in the iOS games charts in 35 different countries across the world, including the United States, just weeks after its release. Tummy Games teamed up with Voodoo over two years ago, and this is our second hit game together! One of our top innovation techniques is ‘change the toy, keep the rules’, and they managed to bring this to life by combining a niche hyper-casual mechanic from two years ago with a contemporary social media trend. Let’s take a look at how Slice it All! went from prototype to worldwide hit, including the ideation process, modernising an existing hyper-casual mechanic, and five top tips on reducing CPI in runners.
Gameplay and mechanics
Slice it All! is a pretty straightforward runner – your overall objective is to get your knife from point A to point B without falling off the platform and failing. Your second goal is to slice as many of the obstacles as you can, picking up points and coins along the way. The game applies a tap-timing mechanic for you to move the knife and incorporates the ASMR/slicing feeling with each cut, which increases player satisfaction to the max. For those of you who have played it already. The mechanic takes some time to pick up and master, which adds a balance between satisfaction and frustration, especially as you begin to familiarise yourself with the gameplay and mechanic! It also makes the game more rewarding once you start to get the hang of it.
Innovative ideation: modernising a hyper-casual niche
So how did Tummy Games come up with such successful gameplay? We can actually break Slice it All! down into two key components: firstly, the tap-timing mechanic, and secondly, the ASMR/slicing feeling. Since their first hit game with Voodoo, Tummy Games have regularly contacted our Publishing team, participating in brainstorming sessions and coaching calls. One of our Publishing Managers had recently done extensive research on past hyper-casual hits. They realised that a hyper-casual classic, Flappy Dunk (left), released in 2017 in collaboration with the studio Acid Cousins, still had a super impressive D7 score of around 20%, despite the years that had gone by. We recognised that this was down to the tap-timing mechanic, which has proven its worth in the hyper-casual space, although it is super difficult to execute. The teams decided to apply our ‘change the toy, keep the rules’ guideline, as presented in our Publishing live streams, and the next question for Tummy Games was how to take this successful mechanic and modernise it for today’s audience.
They naturally looked at current social media and internet trends to find inspiration. They were watching videos of iron cutting on Youtube, and spotted potential for virality thanks to the super satisfying feeling that the videos created. Connecting this back to the ASMR/slicing trend, already big on social media platforms such as TikTok, the team merged the tap-timing mechanic with this super satisfying slicing theme. Combining these two tried-and-tested elements was an excellent example of innovation in the hyper-casual space, and from the very first build, the game showed the promising metrics that every studio hopes for.
The team kept things as simple as possible for the first version, focusing on combining the basic tap-timing mechanic with the slicing movement. Slice it All! applied the same concept as Flappy Dunk, but Tummy decided to make the gameplay both more forgiving and more satisfying for today’s players. The gameplay they tested was simple. The teams added randomly generated levels that tend to work super well with runners, as you don’t need to add many elements to have a fully functional version of the game. The game hit a 27c CPI, 43% D1, and 14-minute average playtime.
Tips on reducing CPI in runners
Slice it All!’s initial results showed super promising metrics, and the teams were confident that the core gameplay was strong enough to become a hit. They nonetheless agreed that they could take a step further to lower the CPI to increase the game’s scaling potential. So how do you go about reducing the CPI in a runner? The Voodoo and Tummy Games teams brainstormed on the base of previous learnings and knowledge from our extended portfolio of games, coming up with some simple, yet very effective, tweaks. With these simple changes, the CPI dropped from 27c to 22c, and with the final test, to 18c, giving them ideal metrics to launch and scale the game.
With this experience in mind, here are five of their top tip to keep in mind for your next CPI test:
1. Focus on gameplay clarity
The first thing they did was to remove all unnecessary elements like background noise. To boost gameplay clarity, they also modified the knife, which is the central element of the game, by increasing its size and changing the colour. These edits helped it stand out as much as possible for the player. The goal when it comes to gameplay clarity is to make sure that any player, of any age, can understand what they have to do within a few seconds.
2. Emphasise satisfaction or frustration
To highlight the feeling of the gameplay for the ad-viewer, they also tested a lot of satisfying and frustrating rushes, comparing the results to find out which one created the most engagement. The feeling you want to present in your videos will vary depending on your gameplay, so it’s important to find out which one works best for you. For Slice it All!, despite being a super satisfying game in general, the feeling that generated the most engagement was frustration!
3. Make the action extra appealing
A quick fix to make the game more visually appealing was to emphasise the obstacles being sliced. For example, they added fruit to make the slicing juicier and a colour reveal when slicing through certain objects. Both changes helped increase player satisfaction with each slice. When it comes to making assets more appealing, you can look at elements that have worked well in previous prototypes or other games in the market to inspire you.
4. Find the most eye-catching part of your game
You can use a CPI test to try out different moments within your level which emphasise different elements or assets of the gameplay. The results will give you a better understanding of what exactly is catching a player’s eye. Once you find the magic element, your creatives will fly.
5. Test multiple videos at the same time
Remember that when it comes to optimising your CPI, you can test multiple videos at the same time to speed up the process. Our Publishing Teams suggest testing up to four videos simultaneously to keep a balance between testing fast, and taking time to process the results and key learnings. With the support of the Publishing team and the latest version of our Dashboard, this has become easier than ever!
Slice it All! was published with an 18c CPI, 47% D1, and a 15-minute average playtime.
Huge congratulations to Tummy Games and our Publishing Team for this achievement!
To check out the full case study and Q&A with our Publishing Team, head to our e-learning platform to watch the full live stream.