Yodo1’s Rodeo Stampede celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2021 – a clear sign of the title’s enduring popularity – and despite being a flagship title for the developer, Yodo1, since its inception, has launched hybrid-casual play with intermediate heart elements in 2016 was far from a foolproof bet.
Henry Fong, co-founder and co-CEO of Yodo1, spoke to PocketGamer.biz about how the game has carved its way from its players’ affections with collectible pets, to its future potential for offline conventions and a media brand empire. to compete with Angry Birds.
PocketGamer.biz: Thinking back to five years of Rodeo Stampede, how similar is the game to your original vision?
Henry Fong: Our vision with Rodeo Stampede has always been a bit against the grain and it has paid off. At the time, when hypercasual games were just starting to become a phenomenon, we wanted Rodeo Stampede to be a hybrid, close to the central game, and not just a simple hold and drag game. Players love having a zoo metagame where they accumulate animals and build their own unique animal world.
This experience is further enhanced by constant updates to in-game content, ranging from maps, animals and zoo decorations, to viral social media activity and user-generated content and communities. Finally, the vision and essence of Rodeo Stampede has always been built on our close and respectful partnership with Featherweight Games.
Our vision with Rodeo Stampede has always been a bit against the grain and it has paid off
How quickly did Rodeo Stampede meet Yodo1’s projections and expectations?
Rodeo Stampede almost immediately exceeded our expectations. We used influencer marketing and local promotion efforts to launch the game, and this approach resulted in the game being the most downloaded game in 27 countries. It was later honored as Game of the Year 2016 on the App Store and Google Play. In 2020, Rodeo Stampede had over 300 million downloads.
Mobile games are, in many ways, living entities. What were the main pillars of Live Ops and Game Update?
Constantly adding new animals, their habitats, and corresponding zoo spaces is our most important goal to keep the game alive and growing. In addition, the game content and live activities are related to festive and seasonal factors: we have the auspicious buffalo for Chinese New Year, the giraffemas tree for Christmas and the Thriller wolf for Halloween, for n to name a few.
Other than that, we are actively looking for crossover opportunities with other games, to connect gaming user communities and offer players of multiple games a chance to diversify their gaming experience. ecosystem, but also keep it and its users in constant interaction.
Additionally, we track our users on many platforms. We keep abreast of their tendencies and desires and create opportunities for them to interact, as well as for us to interact with them and understand them better. For example, when Tiktok started going viral in 2018-2019, we ran a “highlights” activity on Tiktok that captured four million views in just two weeks.
What adjustments are being made to ensure long-time Rodeo Stampede fans are served, as well as to attract new audiences?
Again, we have to point out that animal diversity is key to Rodeo’s main loop and metagame. Therefore, new animals are constantly being added to the game and we actively involve our players in the process. Our Snow Queen ostrich created by fans and Women’s Day Liponess [Editor’s note: a portmanteau of ‘lipstick’ and ‘lioness’] come to mind.
Of course, to really diversify the animal world, we must also diversify their natural environment. New cards are regularly added, and for the first time, we are opening an aquarium. This request came true thanks to the voice of our beloved sea cowboys, and it will add new sea animals and game mechanics.
Can you tell us about the continued monetization of Rodeo Stampede? What were the peak times and what changes have you made to your approach over the years?
At some point in 2020, we saw a threefold increase in our user value, while most other casual to intermediate games would likely have phased out by this time in their lifecycle. We believe that the seamless blend of simple to run and catch core gameplay and an ever more diverse world-building metagame contributed significantly to this success.
When it comes to our approach to monetization, we aim to balance ads and in-game purchases. For ads, we’ve experimented and gone through many changes. Now, our biggest contributor to ad revenue comes from rewarded videos, which users would happily watch in exchange for an in-app reward.
Moreover, by providing items or tasks that can be achieved through a variety of compelling IAPs, we can fulfill players’ various desires and keep them playing. If players are willing to watch ads, they get ad rewards. If players are willing to pay an appropriate amount to ease their advertising burden, they can do that too.
Five years is both an extremely long time for some games, and a far cry from the end of a life cycle for others. Where do you see Rodeo Stampede in the next five years?
Over the next five years, we anticipate that Rodeo Stampede will become firmly established as a household name among mobile game players. A real “must have” game that most mobile gamers know, love and recommend to their friends.
Eventually, we want Rodeo Stampede to become a memorable intellectual property. […] cartoons and stuffed animals
The first major change will likely be an online or battle mode. We imagine that two to four players can join in an online race where they compete for the distance or the number of tamed animals. There could also be a leaderboard where you can see the progress of players from the best server or just nearby players. It would also be a base for tournaments.
From this moment on, we would like to expand our social interactions further, and we are not talking about simple Facebook events or the Tiktok Marathon. We are targeting offline fan meetings in key markets and regional tournaments!
Ultimately, we want Rodeo Stampede to become a memorable intellectual property. Sequences, cartoons and plush toys will bring Rodeo Stampede to life again and again. The original game itself will serve as an example, while its spin-offs and spin-offs will be part of the lives of its fans and their communities.
What are the key lessons learned from Rodeo Stampede that influenced subsequent Yodo1 releases?
The biggest lesson is that our players, our dear cowboys, are at the heart of our development and our operation. Our ocean world, vacation battle pass, and crossovers are a reality because of them. We will constantly listen to our players, engage them across all platforms, and do more to improve their experience.
Second, continuous content updates help the game renew and sustain itself. Five years would be an extremely long time for some games, but “there are hardly any old games”, as our CEO once said. It will always be new (and renewed) for a group of players. With more and more content, we will be able to keep the game vibrant for our loyal users and become more relevant and exposed to a wider audience of potential cowboys.
Finally, collaboration is the key to success, and we would like to reaffirm our appreciation for the longstanding collaboration with Featherweight Games. This deep partnership is the foundation of all the success we’ve had with the game.