Success Stories

Behind the 80 Million Downloads: Homa's Role in 'Attack Hole's Triumph

Attack Hole case study - taking hypercasual to the next level
Published:20 Dec 2023Project:Attack HolePartner:Redline GamesRead Time:14 min read

It all started with a conversation between Homa and Redline Games, the masterminds behind "Attack Hole". And the rest is history.

This partnership catalyzed the creation of a game that reached over 80 million downloads and demonstrated the potential of hypercasual games in adapting to contemporary gaming trends.

This article unveils the secrets behind “Attack Hole’s” success story: a blend of creativity, data-driven decisions, and commitment to perfection, all powered by Homa Lab, the cutting-edge platform for scaling and publishing games, and supported by the expertise of Homa’s team.

But it’s not just us who say it. It’s real data that shows the success of this game that secured the top spots on Android and iOS charts and capturing the attention and engagement of players globally:

Key results for Attack Hole's game success

1. Ideas are Hard to Find: The Story Behind "Attack Hole's" Game Concept & Product Strategy

Attack Hole is an arcade-style hypercasual game with a weapon theme. Players control a hole, collect items and weapons to grow the hole, and defeat bosses.

The development of Attack Hole commenced in September 2022, and within five months the game was published. However, getting the winning combination to make this game an unparalleled success was not easy. Before finding the winning formula, Redline Games tested +70 prototypes on Homa Lab and two games went into soft-launch: "Hit Fist" and "Kick Them”. But in the end, it was the data-driven approach of the Homa platform that guided the studio to focus their efforts on the prototypes that had strong potential. And that’s how, after hard work from both teams, Attack Hole came to life.

As the journey to build “Attack Hole'' unfolded, a pivotal question emerged: “Should game prototyping prioritize following trends only, or might this approach reduce the uniqueness and creativity of our concepts?” The solution lies in striking a balance. And Attack Hole is the living proof of that. The game was originally inspired by the successful mechanics of collecting items with a hole in a physic-based environment, but Homa and Redline Games took it further by infusing their unique twist and appealing to a wider audience. How? By adding a war theme and using weapon items as collectibles, among other mastermind strategies.

How can Homa Lab help you find ideas that work?

While aligning with trends unlocks market potential, nurturing fresh ideas is key. Homa Lab addresses this challenge by assisting developers in achieving a fusion of trend-inspired concepts with novel ideas that resonate widely.

Homa Lab's data pipeline, a combination  from the analysis of thousands of apps and the exclusive Market Watcher, enables the platform to recognize the potential of ideas before advancing them into further development. This enables developers' to stay updated on industry trends, identify market opportunities, assess player preferences and focus their efforts only on concepts with hit potential built-in.

Also, Homa recently launched the “Game Idea Generator” inside Homa Lab, a brainstorming companion powered by AI brilliance and backed up with Homa Lab’s data pipeline. This tool aids in creating game ideas from scratch or building upon existing core loops, mechanics, or themes during the ideation process.

2. Continuous and data-driven decisions: from a prototype to 80M+ downloads

Homa's journey with "Attack Hole" was not linear but an exploratory trip through iterative design and creative experimentation. The initial stages of development were critical as the team worked to meet Homa’s high standards and metrics for a polished prototype. This involved:

  • refining camera angles to provide a more intimate player perspective,
  • decluttering the visual space for a more precise gameplay focus,
  • fine-tuning control sensitivity for an effortlessly responsive experience.

Each of these adjustments was made with a keen awareness of their potential impact on player engagement and satisfaction.

Initial Testing and Strategic Enhancements: Laying the Groundwork for Success

In the early testing phase, Homa focused on refining the game's core elements. The team's dedication to optimizing user engagement led to several pivotal changes:

  • The timer was lowered to 15 seconds, accelerating the pace to suit the game's fast-paced nature, which was a critical factor in shortening the levels and enhancing the gameplay loop for heightened player engagement.
  • Visual clutter, which initially clouded the player's focus, was meticulously pared down, leaving an inviting and challenging field of play—a balance important in the hypercasual space.
  • The controls were fine-tuned, demonstrating Homa's commitment to seamless gameplay; the control sensitivity adjustments ensured that every player's action was intuitive and impactful.

This initial test period culminated in the first significant creative win, supported by a $0.29 CPI, showcasing the synergy between Homa's market strategies and the game's intrinsic appeal.

Amplifying reach: Creative Marketing Efforts for Attack Hole’s Success

While the development team was focused on refining the gameplay of "Attack Hole," a parallel effort was underway by Homa's Creative team. Homa's team embarked on an extensive marketing campaign, creating and testing over 690 creatives.

These creatives were not just visually diverse; they were meticulously engineered to resonate with players, incorporating real hands to simulate control and interaction, icons that were instantly recognizable, AI-generated avatars that added a futuristic touch, engaging voice-overs that provided a narrative, and clever suffixes that completed the message. This experimentation was critical in finding the optimal mix to click with the game's target audience.

The success of these creative tests was evident in the second significant creative win, marked by even more optimized ad creatives, which brought forth a slightly improved CPI of $0.28. This achievement highlights the effectiveness of Homa's continuous iteration and testing—even post-launch. This win was not just a marker of success but a testament to the game's sustained resonance with its audience.

As the game edged closer to its launch date, the creative and developmental efforts intensified:

  • Introducing a comprehensive tutorial and an eye-catching intro pop-up bridged the gap between the game mechanics and the player's understanding.
  • Visual feedback and game "juiciness" were enhanced, providing players with satisfying sensory cues that celebrated their in-game achievements.
  • Strategic placement of the timer and a newly introduced upgrade system offered players a tangible sense of progression and growth, incentivizing continued play and deeper engagement with the game's mechanics.

Every decision and iteration of the game was done backed with real-data coming from continuous testing. Thanks to Homa Belly SDK, a no-code solution to grow, analyze and monetize games, Homa and Redline Games were able to N-test every aspect of the game and make data-supported tweaks to enhance player retention and engagement more efficiently.

3. Refined and balanced game mechanics for an engaging experience: taking hypercasual one step further

The development and subsequent success of "Attack Hole" reflect Homa's methodical approach to game design, where iterative refinement and analytical power connect to create an engaging player experience. As is standard in our process, the team dedicated a stage solely to iteration, a period marked by rigorous testing and brainstorming on level design, gameplay mechanics, and user interaction.

Replacing repetitiveness with new characters

During iteration, our team engaged in a sharp exchange of ideas, brainstorming the level design to ensure each "Attack Hole" stage was accessible and challenging. This process involved a deep dive into player feedback, highlighting the need for new characters to replace repetitive game elements.

The game's initial ending, featuring a giant boss with a tap control mechanism, was met with mixed reactions due to its repetitiveness. In response, Homa’s team ideated on various gameplay alternatives, eventually implementing a runner-style gameplay featuring a Stickman character using weapons. The characters were then modified to include the hole and wood targets instead of humans to appeal to a broader audience.

However, during the soft launch, an A/B test revealed issues with the newly introduced runner-style EOL, proving non-optimal for the game's Lifetime Value (LTV) due to its length and negative impact on FPS performance. Consequently, the decision was made to revert to the initial boss fight EOL, implementing various improvements, including introducing new bosses for diversity and refining art and animations.

Introducing a grindy staircase progression and adjusting game economy for higher engagement

In the iterative development life cycle at Homa, we introduced, what we term, the 'grindy staircase' approach to progression balancing. This methodical strategy is more than a game design choice; it represents a commitment to crafting a compelling journey for the player & the decision backed by the empirical findings.The Homa data team's discovered that players who faced more attempts to pass a level were still engaged and determined to succeed.

The graph below indicates the retention level for users having completed level 1, and the number of attempts per level for a single build.

Retention & number of attempts in hypercasual games - Attack Hole

Consequently, rather than having a random difficulty progression in the game, where the difficulty was the same in average for every level, the team honed in on a more strategic approach with a “grindy staircase progression”, an uncommon experience in the Hypercasual realm. The aim was to provide players with continuous challenges, encouraging them to strive for improvement. The more players progress, the more attempts they will need before completing the level.

In Attack Hole, players must navigate a loop involving playing, experiencing losses, and upgrading to advance. Therefore, players would have to rely on the integrated monetized tools (i.e., in-game coins, one-try power-ups) & extended playtime to facilitate this journey, opening the door for the game's monetization strategy, and increasing the LTV. The graph below delves a bit deeper into the explanation of how this type of progression works.

Grindy staircase progression
Grindy staircase progression in games - hypercasual

The difficulty rate represents a scale where 0 is a level a player can complete with little to no effort. At the same time, 1 means the level requires the player to utilize all of the game mechanics properly to succeed and will probably need some trial and error to get there. Assuming that players improve at the game by playing at a linear pace, it can be seen that the difficulty level oscillates around the player's current skill at any given moment. The aim of the progression model is, therefore, to keep the player, who is generally getting better the further he progresses, in a constant loop between more difficult levels, which challenge him and drive conversion via advocating power-ups and less complicated levels which let him show off, triggering the feeling of mastery and progression.

Simultaneously, Homa's team focused on adjusting the game's economy, particularly regarding the number of coins awarded to players per level and the cost of upgrades. This calculated balancing act encouraged more frequent attempts by players while preserving the intended progression of the game.

As a result, in the span of several months through all the iterations that Homa did on the game, there has been a sustained player retention. In the image below, various line colors represent different game versions, with yellow representing the most recent and blue indicating the initial version. These lines demonstrate an ongoing enhancement in the player retention funnel across different builds. Notably, with the yellow build, 50% of players persist through to level 7, a substantial increase from the previous retention rate of less than 25%. This stresses the importance of continuous iterative optimizations along all stages of the game development cycle.

Retention results after the staircase progression in games

4. Post-launch optimization: Continuously Evolving "Attack Hole" to become a revenue-machine

The journey to success does not end with the game's launch. This is just the beginning. Homa's LiveOps team continues their work on "Attack Hole," aiming to keep the game engaging and profitable.

The teams regularly add new features, mechanics, and content, ensuring that "Attack Hole" evolves dynamically and provides a constantly refreshing experience. Here are some of them:

  • The introduction of the 'chest room' feature. The key to the success of this feature was the detailed analyses conducted at each step of the iteration process. The Homa team began polishing the fundamental collection mechanics within the gameplay and continued iterating until they achieved a significant lift. Adjusting the prices, they took a calculated risk to lean into a more aggressive monetization strategy. However, it was paramount that the team adequately compensated users who engaged with it, ensuring that the players felt valued for their effort. This balancing act led to a remarkable LTV increase of over 10%.
  • Another achievement was the creation of the 'power-up combo'. Homa's team implemented it to cater to players actively engaging with the game. Guided by strategic segmentation during testing, Homa identified a strategy for presenting significant power boosts after a specific number of attempts. This tactical enhancement translated into an LTV increase of more than 10%.
  • Homa's innovation kept evolving with the ‘Pick Level’ initiative. "Attack Hole" is not an easy game, and Homa respected the players' appetite for difficulty. The team deepened the gameplay by offering players to choose their level at some point—standard or more challenging (giving more rewards). Once this decision is made by the player, it becomes final. Variants range from free selections at levels 3, 5, and 7 to the ones followed by ad-viewing options. This initiative, combined with the Power Up Combo, boosted engagement, enticing players to revisit easier levels and yielding impressive results:
    • +8.27% Ad LTV D0.
    • +10.55% Ad LTV D1
    • +11.17% Ad LTV D3
  • Further enriching the player experience, 'Missions' were introduced as a new feature to provide additional motivation, especially when players encountered more challenging levels. Homa designed the 'Missions' to reward players for their efforts, with the first iteration focused on monitoring the pace of completion. The insights from this analysis informed the second iteration, which was balanced to ensure the missions were rewarding yet achievable, enhancing the overall game experience. The inclusion of 'Missions' yielded a +10.18% lift in LTV by Day 7.

Focused on enhancing key metrics—playtime, short-term retention, and LTV—Homa's team's meticulous analysis improved performance and satisfaction of the game. Currently, Homa supports early retention through constant live updates, driven by the conviction that nurtured engagement beyond initial days is pivotal for "Attack Hole's" lasting success. This determined commitment highlights their pursuit of optimizing the game to achieve this critical goal.

IN A NUTSHELL:  6 KEYS TO LONG-TERM SUCCESS OF ATTACK HOLE

Having explored the whole journey of developing and fine-tuning "Attack Hole," it is essential to examine the key factors that have contributed to its standout success in the competitive gaming market:

  1. Innovative Gameplay Loop and Pacing:
    1. The inception of "Attack Hole" involved over 70 prototypes, focusing on creating a unique gameplay loop that combined the mechanics of collecting with a physics-based environment.
    2. The game's pacing was honed with a reduced timer for levels, encouraging a fast-paced and engaging experience and contributing to its mass appeal and download rates.
  2. Data-Driven Development:
    1. Homa's 'grindy staircase' progression model was formed by player behavior analytics, which showed that users remained engaged despite multiple level attempts. This insight led to a progression system that scaled difficulty with player skill, keeping the challenge level consistent with the player's improvement curve.
    2. Data from Homa's in-house analytics underlined the importance of continuous iteration, revealing a sustained increase in player retention—50% of players persisted to level 7, a marked increase from the initial rate.
  3. Iterative Optimization:
    1. Post-testing refinements included a shift back to the original boss fight EOL from the runner-style EOL after A/B testing revealed the latter's negative impact on the game's Lifetime Value (LTV).
    2. New characters and gameplay alternatives, such as the Stickman character, were introduced, ensuring the game remained fresh and exciting for returning players.
  4. Balanced Monetization:
    1. Player satisfaction was maintained by thoughtfully implementing in-app purchases (IAP) strategies that offered value without compromising experience. The 'chest room' feature shifted from the traditional key collection, where a more aggressive monetization strategy led to an LTV increase of over 10%.
    2. By adjusting prices and enhancing the reward system, Homa ensured that monetization efforts were matched with user value, balancing profitability with player satisfaction.
  5. Post-Launch Engagement:
    1. Initiatives like the 'Pick Level' allowed players to self-select their challenge, adding depth and replay value to the game and resulting in a significant uplift in Ad LTV across multiple days (+8.27% D0, +10.55% D1, and +11.17% D3).
    2. Continuous updates and new mechanics, like the 'power-up combo,' tailored for engaged players, showcased Homa's commitment to evolving the game's content to maintain interest and boost LTV post-launch.
  6. Continuous Community Engagement:
    1. Remaining responsive to player feedback and adaptable in design decisions allowed "Attack Hole" to stay relevant.
    2. Regular updates, including new weapons, characters, and challenges, maintained player interest and engagement.

By understanding these reasons for "Attack Hole's" success and integrating similar strategies, developers can pursue long-term success in their game projects.

Rounding off

Homa’s strategic guidance empowers developers to fully realize their creative visions and thrive in the dynamic gaming landscape. Creators can embark on a journey toward gaming greatness by aiming for innovation, leveraging data insights, and partnering with experts like Homa.

Ready to bring your game idea to life? Submit your prototype or get in touch with our team today!And if you haven’t played Attack Hole, go download and play now! Available on IOS & Android.

Character Test
Guessing Game Over

Start building games with data, insight and tested hit potential built right in.