Youssef Gasmi, Voodoo’s communications manager, talked to Pocketgamer about the company’s new focus and how the developer took the successful hyper-casual hit Mob Control into a new genre.
Mob Control is one of Voodoo’s biggest successes in 2022 and marked a significant shift in the company’s gaming focus.
The game follows this formula: gamers shoot blue enemies through «gate multipliers», increasing crowd size to destroy enemy bases. Red enemies deplete the player’s unit count, so the gamer dodges and pushes the enemies away.
Change of Focus
What sounds simple on paper has been a significant shift. This is the first Voodoo game that began as a hyper-casual project and evolved into a hybrid-casual game.
To develop the game, the company took the basics of the hyper-casual genre and scaled it into a game with a much longer lifespan. Changing the model was difficult, but careful testing helped me find the right path to success.
The hyper-casual game was developed by Vincent Boursault, who heads the Paris-based studio Voodoo. Vincent was inspired by 2018 hit Fire Balls 3D, which followed the multiplier-gate trend.
The team spent a week creating the game, which hit the top charts after launch. At this point, Mob Control was one of the best hyper-casual games of 2021. The company enjoyed the result, but there was an ambition to take the game to the next level.
Side note: Voodoo becomes the 3rd largest global company.
Three months after the full launch, another team took over Mob Control. A group of four turned Mob Control into a hybrid casual hit.
Yago Martinez had previously worked on Bubble Blaster 2048 and focused on game design. Gonzalo Garrido took over development management, and Ludovic Dupuy took charge of the game’s art design. The last member of the team was Miguel Santirso, who previously led the development of Candy Crush Soda Saga at King.
This very experienced and talented team had worked with a wide range of casual and mid-core games and was a perfect fit for Mob Control’s hybrid casual model.
The team took a step-by-step approach to game development: reviewing every 2-4 weeks where key improvements were needed after internal testing.
Central to this process were retention scores on D30 and D120, which far exceeded the testing metrics of a typical hyper-casual game.
The studio spent more than nine months on Mob Control. The hybrid casual style required a longer development time, but the investment paid off.
Another change was the budget required for soft-lunch testing, which had to be increased compared to the hyper-casual game. Thanks to the team’s dedication, retention rates went up.
The new phase
The new transition was an essential step for Voodoo’s business model. The Mob Control cycle, mixed with mid-core elements, allowed the studio to experiment with monetization: moving to a model in which revenue from the game is split between IAP purchases and advertising, 15% and 85%, respectively.
This would not have been possible in a more straightforward game, so the company relied on aspects of card collecting and base building to introduce a new revenue stream and empower players.
An essential addition was the inclusion of many new video ads with rewards. Players watch videos to get extra bonuses: revivals, currency multipliers and more.
This approach is much more engaging and less restrictive than random full-screen videos, which risk taking away player control.
Thanks to the success of Mob Control, the team behind the game has expanded to 10 people, including a data analyst and full QA support. In 2023, the team will grow to 20 people and be fully dedicated to Mob Control.
The game was an important lesson, and this long-term hybrid casual approach will remain at Voodoo. Hybrid casual games are the company’s future, and Mob Control is the first of many great games the studio will release.