GDC 2018 – Deconstructing Golf Clash and Rules of Survival

by Adam Telfer

At GDC 2018, I had the pleasure of co-presenting a Deconstructor of Fun talk, which Anil Das-Gupta and I deconstructed two top mobile games. I broke down Golf Clash, and Anil broke down Rules of Survival.

Watch it on GDC Vault

GDC 2018 Deconstructor of Fun: Breaking down Top Mobile Games from Adam Telfer

For Golf Clash, the main takeaways were:

  • Golf Clash was the most successful follow up to Clash Royale because it focused on a fundamentally different audience
    • Most rivals focused on gameplay, IP or theme, but golf clash went for a completely different audience
    • A blue ocean strategy that paid off. At that point there were no other golf games on the market that could retain and monetize as well as the Clash Royale system.
    • Golf Clash got this Hybrid to work because:
      • Key #1: Balance between Luck and Skill
        • Clash Royale works because the core gameplay is actually very skill driven, yet the stats that you can upgrade are still very visible and desirable
        • Golf Clash was a great fit for this because of the nature of golf — having multiple clubs for different situations gives plenty of reasons to keep all clubs upgraded
        • Ultimately Golf Clash is a skill-driven game by feeling. You’re commonly leaving a match you lost feeling like you could’ve played better, not that your stats weren’t strong enough
      • Key #2: Strong implementation of the Gacha system
        • Golf Clash’s lower number of clubs meant that they needed to adjust the balance to ensure enough duplicates were happening for progression
        • They also needed to ensure that all clubs were useful, otherwise players would end up with a bunch of drops that were useless
        • They did this with level design — over time the holes become more horizontal movement over vertical movement, putting more pressure on Spin & Curl over power. (ex. While most clubs only increase by 10% in the power stat, they will double or triple their curl & spin stats)
      • Key #3: Overcoming the lack of Shifting Meta
        • Golf Clash isn’t a PvP game which can support a shifting meta. Both players race for the cup, but can’t influence each other. My opponents choices do not impact my own.
        • As such, Golf Clash had no shifting meta, which is a key component of what makes CCGs work
        • To overcome this they added in the buy-in system (from Miniclip’s 8ball pool), and put more focus on events and tournaments. This drives their revenue over the shifting meta.

Golf Clash shows us that the best way to attack the market is still to find blue oceans, and they still exist, even in this state of maturity. Translating mechanics from one audience to another is not trivial, but is clearly worth it!