mixi, Inc.: Boosting player engagement with location-driven, real-world game play

About mixi, Inc.

mixi, Inc. is based in Tokyo and has approximately 900 full-time employees. Its businesses include the Japanese social networking service mixi and the popular smartphone app Monster Strike, a fun game to play and talk about with family and friends.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Japan

mixi, Inc.'s XFLAG, provider of the tremendously successful smartphone app Monster Strike, grew its player base with MonSpot, a location-based feature enabled by Google Maps Platform and Playable Location API that allows players to take the game into the real world.

Google Cloud Results

  • Increases daily play sessions for MonSpot users, creating revenue for Monster Strike
  • Engages players for longer periods of time and for more consecutive days of gameplay
  • Provides a platform for future innovation with location-based features

30% increase in daily play sessions

Monster Strike, a role-playing, strategy, and cooperative multiplayer (up to four players) app developed by mixi, Inc., is a massively popular mobile app for Android and iOS. In 2018, it became the highest grossing mobile app of all time, surpassing worldwide gross revenue of $7.2 billion. With over 50 million players worldwide, Monster Strike is more than just a smartphone app; it creates a space for players to connect with friends and family through gameplay, anime, and even offline events.

Until recently, Monster Strike was relatively simple: players aim and flick their monsters around on a field, bumping off walls and enemy monsters to perform damage. Players embark on Quests, completing each level of a Quest to earn monsters and coins. However, because players are aware of when Quests appear and end, game launches usually corresponded to the times of day that Quests would pop up.

"Using GPS data was a new challenge, but luckily Google Maps Platform has a Playable Locations API that tells us if a location is safe and suitable for gameplay, helping us select the best play spots."

Toshihiro Sato, Games Operations Department Manager, Monster Strike Business Division, mixi, Inc.

To drive players to play the game more often, mixi, Inc. wanted to go beyond Quests and use GPS data to add location-based features that would motivate players to launch the app as they were on the move each day. Many players launched the game during their daily commutes, and mixi, Inc. wanted to increase the number of people launching the game by bringing new life to the game using geo-location intelligence.

Monster Strike Screenshot
Monster Strike Screenshot

"Using GPS data was a new challenge, but luckily Google Maps Platform has a Playable Locations API that tells us if a location is safe and suitable for gameplay, helping us select the best play spots," says Toshihiro Sato, Games Operations Department Manager at mixi, Inc.'s Monster Strike Business Division.

Connecting players to the real world

mixi, Inc. began developing a new feature called MonSpot that uses Google Maps data and the Playable Locations API to determine safe, accessible points of interest based on the user's location and incorporate them into gameplay.

The Playable Locations API serves collections of curated and generated geographic points throughout Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, allowing mixi, Inc. to extend the MonSpot feature to a large percentage of its user base. Some playable locations are situated near prominent points of interest, some are located on sidewalks along roadways, while others are randomly located within parks, playgrounds, and other publicly accessible areas.

MonSpot, a location-based feature enabled by Google Maps Platform and Playable Location API
MonSpot, a location-based feature enabled by Google Maps Platform and Playable Location API

"We selected Google Maps Platform to provide location data for Monster Strike because of the accuracy of the geolocation data, the large number of playable locations, and the fact that it's optimized for developing real-world games," says Mr. Sato.

Boosting play sessions by 30 percent

MonSpot doesn't work if the user doesn't move around, so mixi, Inc. developed a "lucky balloons" feature to get players moving and reward them with in-game items. It worked, and players quickly caught on: more than 40 percent of active players have launched MonSpot, and active MonSpot gamers average 30 percent more play sessions than non-MonSpot gamers. In addition, up to three times more players are launching Monster Strike during their daily commutes.

"We selected Google Maps Platform to provide location data for Monster Strike because of the accuracy of the geolocation data, the large number of playable locations, and the fact that it's optimized for developing real-world games."

Toshihiro Sato, Games Operations Department Manager, Monster Strike Business Division, mixi, Inc.

Increasing the "fun factor" with new features

By offering a rich set of location data and APIs, Google Maps Platform helps mixi, Inc. create immersive, real-world gameplay while keeping players safe and engaged.

"We believe there's still plenty of potential to enhance players' fun by adding new location-driven features like MonSpot. We intend to keep coming up with innovative ideas that everyone will love," says Mr. Sato.

About mixi, Inc.

mixi, Inc. is based in Tokyo and has approximately 900 full-time employees. Its businesses include the Japanese social networking service mixi and the popular smartphone app Monster Strike, a fun game to play and talk about with family and friends.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Japan
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