LiveOps deconstruction: Frozen City by Century Games

Frozen City

Frozen City is one of Century Games’ latest hits, which has been in operation for over a year now. During this time, developers have managed to double their revenue per download (RpD) with a smart approach to LiveOps. This article will break down the evolution of their LiveOps strategy and show how similar tactics can be implemented in the Balancy LiveOps platform.

From launch to LiveOps

Frozen City takes players to a frosty apocalypse setting, where they must survive while building a city and growing their community. This idle tycoon for mobile platforms offers an engaging mix of city-building and strategy gameplay.

After its release in December 2022, Frozen City quickly gained popularity, reaching $11.3 million in in-app purchases and 10.8 million downloads by March 2023. Its rapid initial growth is attributed to well-designed gameplay, a simple yet appealing visual style, and effective monetization strategies.

However, sustained success is much driven by its LiveOps strategy. Using AppMagic‘s LiveOps intelligence feature, we observed a significant increase in LiveOps events density at the beginning of 2024. This piqued the interest of our team, and we decided to analyze the game’s recent operations and recreate some of the tactics in the Balancy LiveOps platform.

LiveOps Calendar
The LiveOps & Updates calendar of Frozen City in AppMagic. Note: the information in the dashboard is available only for the United States and Google Play.

Key trends

In the LiveOps schedule at our availability, we can note some key trends:

1. Event density has increased. From 1-2 events in parallel and having some days without any event, developers have shifted to 8 concurrent events per day. The most possible reason is that it allows them to address different segments to increase revenue.

2. More event settings appear, heavily exploiting the reskinning of trusted mechanics in different locations and themes.

3. More new event types regularly appear: a seasonal pass, weekly contest, lucky spin, and new offer types. They occur approximately once every 3-4 weeks.

4. Non-performing events are removed. Developers have stopped launching one-time custom-tuned events, giving way to seasonal events that can be reused later. 

5. All events are complex features containing game mechanics, offers, loot boxes, leaderboards, themed tasks, a storyline, and an inner economy.

6. The developer performs regular in-game surveys to get feedback from players on different aspects of the game. These may be overall evaluations or feature-related surveys. This is a very professional approach to product development. It lets the audience know they are being listened to, and their feedback is essential. 

7. Revenue plateaued, but it is caused by shrinking user acquisition. The game has entered the operation stage, where developers do not buy as many users as before. So, while the number of users has dropped, the revenue per download has doubled – which is a good sign that their LiveOps strategy has worked!

Appmagic RpD
Revenue per download growth in Frozen City over time (data insights by AppMagic).

Feature updates

The frequency of events has significantly increased since the beginning of winter 2023-2024. To investigate this trend further, we conducted a detailed analysis of the feature updates occurring in the game between January 17, 2024, and February 10, 2024. 

Jan 17 

Lucky Spin is a new addition to the game, introducing the exciting mechanics of a wheel of fortune. This feature is universally appreciated across many gaming genres and settings. It’s likely that the wheel of fortune has been in the pipeline for quite some time and has finally made its debut.

Pass events are not new to Frozen City; however, the new Anniversary Pass introduced two paid pass options instead of one. The two previous passes (Holiday Pass and NY Pass) seem to have proven the general idea, so for the third iteration, the developer decided to add one more premium tier—now there is a Free Pass, a $5.99 Advance Pass, and a $17.99 Ultimate Pass. Somehow, it didn’t boost revenue, though.

Here are examples of more recent pass designs from Frozen City, which have a similar structure to the Anniversary Pass (we found them using the Appmagic tool):

Battle pass Frozen City

How the implementation of a similar pass system looks like in Balancy:

Battle pass in Balancy

Jan 26

The Profiles feature got a makeover and became Honors. Now, there are three parts to it:

1. Profiles that work the same as before

2. Trophies are new awards for ranking in the top 50 of location events. For competitive mechanics, it is essential to reward players not only with consumables but also give them something permanent. Trophies are one of the best ways to do so. 

3. Collectibles are special items you can randomly get from Mystery Boxes for ranking in the top 40 of the Weekly Contest. Collection mechanics are aimed at a specific player segment – achievers or collect-them-alls. This feature uses random drops to entertain those players, providing an additional level of fun tied to completing the whole collection.

Jan 28

A new offer type – Progress Offer – has been added. This feature contains a chain of free and paid deals, along with a progress bar that unlocks extra rewards. You earn points to fill this bar by making purchases and claiming some free deals.

Progress offer

Progress Offer is an excellent addition to the list of different offer types. Combining the pros of Chain Deal and Battle Pass, it entertains players with a progression mechanic tied to gameplay in addition to just buying offers or claiming for free. 

Feb 2

In this update, two new mini-events have been introduced to the Elden Tree Village event. Soar To The New Heights now offers three reskins: one for Relentless Factory, one for Grandpa’s Farm, and one for the Elden Tree Village main events. Timber Tumble is a fresh event by name, but it’s a reskinned version of Haystack Hustle and Repair Race.

Below are examples of two events—Elden Tree Village and Evil Fur Factory — that are reskinned versions of each other

Events Frozen City

Events Frozen City

Events characters Frozen City

Reskinning is a very practical approach to creating themed events using trusted mechanics. You can apply it without hesitation until players complain about repetitive gameplay under different skins. Here are more examples of reskinning applied to special offers:

Chain Deals Frozen City
An example of reskinning for the event-based Chain Deal offer.

With Balancy, you can create new and reskin old proven chain deal offers in a few clicks from a convenient admin panel. Check out this tutorial:

Feb 7

In this update, we have found many minor design tweaks. Offers now showcase a heightened contrast pricing design in black. Pass events boast a visually enhanced task list, featuring a range of icons and color coding for various tasks. Additionally, several minor adjustments have been made, including reducing the size of icons on the main screen and improving the legibility of lettering in shop deals.

These visual changes are likely the result of A/B testing conducted by the team to discover better-performing alternatives.

If you need a reliable tool for A/B testing, Balancy is your solution. With our LiveOps platform, you can test any game feature or element without releasing a new app version, analyze the results and seamlessly apply the winning settings to the entire audience – all from one dashboard.

Feb 9

We found more reskinning examples in this iteration. Two new mini-events have been added to the Evil Fur Factory event. Soar To The New Heights now has four reskins: for Relentless Factory, Grandpa’s Farm, Elden Tree Village, and Evil Fur Factory main events. Meanwhile, Speed Racer is a fresh event by name, but it is a reskin of both Haystack Hustle and Repair Race.

Feb 10

The new Choose One / Buy All Offer type gives players three paid options, where only one can be chosen. Additionally, players can purchase all three options together at a discounted price.

Choose One / Buy All Offer
Reskin for the Choose One / Buy All Offer during the St. Patrick’s Day event.

This approach is quite creative and great for incentivizing high spenders. By limiting players to choosing only one option, the offer creates a fear of missing out (FOMO) while offering the ability to buy all three at a discount. The individual options appear to serve as decoys, nudging players towards the “right” decision of purchasing all three (which ultimately results in spending more).

Choose One / Buy All Offer
The implementation of the Choose One / Buy All Offer in Balancy.

Final words

Frozen City has recently experienced a notable increase in LiveOps quantity and density. Developers have experimented extensively with various types of events and offers and focused on those that work best for them and require the minimum production resources (reskins helped with this task). As a result, Frozen City has managed to double players’ LTV and maintain revenue flow while not investing massively into user acquisition.

Throughout this article, we’ve delved into the implementation of various new game features, passes, and offer types, giving our insights and hypotheses on the motives guiding decisions of the team. Moreover, we’ve demonstrated how these features can be easily replicated in Balancy, offering valuable insights for studios of all sizes seeking to enhance player engagement and revenue in the competitive mobile gaming market. 

The author:

Michael Khripin

Michael Khripin
Product Owner and LiveOps expert at Balancy