MoonFox Analysis | Dungeon & Fighter Generates 7 million in first week – Can the youth touch help regain the glory of the original PC game?

About us: Aurora Mobile (NASDAQ: JG) established in 2011, is a leading customer engagement and marketing technology service provider in China. Its business includes notification services, marketing growth, development tools, and data products. As its sub-brand, MoonFox Data is a leading expert in data insights and analysis services across all scenarios, aiming to help companies gain market insights and empower precise decision-making.

SHENZHEN, China, July 9, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — On May 21, 2024, Dungeon & Fighter (DnF mobile) was officially launched. It is estimated that its revenue across iOS and Google play has exceeded US $137 million in the first week, with total revenue expected to approach US $412 million in the first month. Despite delaying the release for four years, the game attracted significant attention from players during the pre-registration and testing phases, showing impressive performance on its first day. What promotional journey did Dungeon & Fighter undergo through multiple rounds of pre-launch activities? Can Dungeon & Fighter meet player’s demands in terms of gameplay, economic system, and event settings to achieve long-term development?

I. With a stable promotional strategy, Dungeon & Fighter starts with an understate approach 

In early February 2024, Dungeon & Fighter received its license approval, and the anticipation of “launching within the year” increased the game’s buzz. At the end of February, the official opened qualifications for access to the test server, revealing some game content and settings. In March, Xuxubaobao, a top streamer in China, held his first Dungeon & Fighter live stream, with peak viewership surpassing 4 million in the live streaming room. During the live streaming, he mentioned gameplay such as “equipment enhancement won’t damage weapons” and “sky set synthesis.” As of the end of March, Tencent maintained a wait-and-see attitude and did not release large-scale test materials for the game.

On April 22, the game officially announced its launch date for May 21. From this point onwards, the official began intensifying their marketing efforts. According to the data of DataEye, the daily release of promotional videos and images exceeded 2,300 pieces after the announcement. By the end of April, pre-registration numbers for the game had surpassed 50 million. In early May, Xuxu Baobao had a live voice chat with the game planners to discuss issues that players are concerned about, such as future character releases, enhancement limits, and free trading. On the whole, from February to early May, the official did not intervene much in game promotion and public perception, and more genuine complaints and doubts from players emerging gradually. However, the game’s popularity and number of pre-registrations remained unaffected and continued to rise.

Proportion of Top 30 Creative Materials While Pre-launching Dungeon & Fighter

Creative Materials

Proportion (%)

DNF classic settings (gameplay/content)

40 %

Emphasizing the launch date of the game

23 %

Equipment elements

20 %

The launch event

10 %

CG animation

7 %

Data source: DataEye

Since May, the official promotional materials have been intensively released, with gameplay and launch date as the core selling points; in terms of format, KOLs oral broadcasts and influencer videos accounted for the highest proportion, making up nearly 80% of the total. According to DataEye data, on the first day of product launch on May 21, over 16,000 pieces of promotional material were deployed. Combined with a large-scale investment phase, the game attracted a significant influx of players on its launch day. According to MoonFox data, activities such as character creation and ID registration on May 20 brought 3.16 million new additions for the game. The game was officially launched on May 21, attracting a daily increase of 3.23 million users.

Overall, Tencent’s promotion and marketing strategy for Dungeon & Fighter can be seen as relatively conservative. They did not innovate extensively in terms of materials or promotional strategies, and their choice of KOLs, focused on Xuxu Baobao, reflects a stable approach. This indicates a preference for attracting “returning” players from the original PC game. Generally speaking, user growth aligns with official expectations. However, in the long term, gameplay and economic settings remain the core of DNF-like games, and DNF itself is no exception.

II. Content gameplay + economic system shapes the long-term viability of the game

In terms of gameplay, Dungeon & Fighter faithfully reproduces the storyline and mechanics of the original PC game, including the equipment system (Epic, Teranite, Terracotta Legacy, Enhancement), dress-up system (Abyss Sky advanced outfits, etc.), and level designs (Ruins, Wailing Caves, Imperial Trials, etc.), achieving a high degree of fidelity.

However, in terms of version settings, the Chinese server of DNF mobile still lags far behind the Korean server. For example, in terms of levels, the current maximum level in the Chinese server is 50, whereas the Korean server has already reached level 70; and in terms of storyline, the Korean server has progressed to Flame Buster Annactswell, while the Chinese server has yet to officially open the LOTUS Long Legs. At the same time, extensive modifications to game content involving violence and bloodshed have also faced heavy criticism from players.

Despite lagging behind in versions, the Chinese server has rarely disclosed the updates content and exact release date of the upcoming game, launching instances or new professions on a weekly basis. Firstly, the game updated the Abyss instance within the first week of its launch, meeting the needs of high-level players who quickly clear levels to obtain “endgame gear”.

Average number of launches per user for Dungeon & Fighter from May 22 to Jun 6

 Date

Number of launches per person

2024/6/6

6.05

2024/6/5

6.51

2024/6/4

6.02

2024/6/3

5.24

2024/6/2

5.44

2024/6/1

5.51

2024/5/31

5.70

2024/5/30

5.90

2024/5/29

6.07

2024/5/28

5.52

2024/5/27

5.85

2024/5/26

5.00

2024/5/25

5.86

2024/5/24

5.31

2024/5/23

5.47

2024/5/22

5.64

Data source: MoonFox iApp; Data cycle: May 2024 to June 2024; The statistical results only contain application client data, excluding ecological UV data such as web pages, applets and Quick App.

And then the Bermark Imperial Trials and the Clown instance were launched. After the release of these new instances, the average number of launches per user rapidly increased. According to MoonFox Data, the average daily launches per user for Dungeon & Fighter reached 6.02 times on June 4, and maintained at 6.51 times the following day, setting a short-term record high.

We believe that the long-term accumulation of gameplay and content is an advantage of Dungeon & Fighter compared to other products. For example, the upcoming release of the Sword Soul and Asura professions on June 17 has led many players to “cap their experience” at level 49 (at which point users can reselect their profession). After the release of these professions, metrics such as online users and playtime are expected to increase significantly. In the future, content updates will be key to ensuring the long-term viability of Dungeon & Fighter. At the same time, DNF-like games also rely heavily on a cyclical and sustainable economic system.

Dungeon & Fighter has established a relatively closed economic system. From cash points to Terra, the flow of player investments is almost entirely one-way. Players cannot trade directly with each other, and the auction house is the only option. In terms of players, the Terra system provides a path for “non-paying” players to exchange time for materials, trade materials for Terra, and use Terra to purchase equipment to enhance their attributes. Most items, except for rare and limited ones, can be purchased with Terra. This setup has established a user base of “grinding players”, ensuring the game’s user base and vitality; In the auction house setup, the official enforces average, minimum, and maximum prices for items, ensuring market price stability through strong intervention of the system.

Against this background, Dungeon & Fighter has developed a relatively stable and officially controllable economic system. Although players cannot trade freely, by earning Terra, more casual players can increase their Anti-Magic Power (i.e., combat power), enabling them to participate in high-level raids and monetize their efforts by leading raid groups.

III. The profile of “veteran players” is clear, and their gaming habits and needs will become more defined

From marketing to gameplay setting, stability has been the core strategy of Dungeon & Fighter since its launch. As an IP that has been launched as a PC game for 16 years and as a mobile game in the Korean server for 2 years, retaining the existing player base and ensuring long-term retention are critical for the sustained growth of Dungeon & Fighter.

Dungeon & Fighter User Age and Gender Distribution (May 2024)

Age

Proportion (%)

Gender

Proportion (%)

15 years old or younger

2 %

Male

88 %

16-25 years old

34 %

Female

12 %

26-35 years old

48 %

36-45 years old

12 %

46 years old or older

4 %

Data source: MoonFox iApp; Data cycle: May 2024; The statistical results only contain application client data, excluding ecological UV data such as web pages, applets and Quick App.

According to MoonFox Data, currently, over 88% of Dungeon & Fighter players are male, with the highest proportion of 48.23% in the age group of 26 to 35 years old. The core audience for the mobile game are post-85s and post-90s males who were once “addicted” to the PC game. Most of this group has entered the workforce and has relatively stable jobs, providing them with disposable income and a willingness to play games. However, due to work and life commitments, their gaming time is relatively concentrated (mainly in commute time and lunch breaks).

In general, this player group is more sensitive to adjustments in game content and mechanics. Compared to graphics and new content releases, they are more concerned about whether the game experience can replicate the original PC game and whether the high difficulty of past maps can maintain the “strong social interaction” features (such as the COF index from those days). Currently, players’ evaluations of the fidelity of Dungeon & Fighter to the original game is average. Topics such as “Abyss drop rates” and “raid equipment” generate more discussion.

We believe that Dungeon & Fighter is still in a period of rapid development, with the “60 version” window still open, and players are still showing a strong willingness to play. In the future, avoiding excessive “grind and spend” mechanics, providing more balanced and fair drop rates, and not deliberately prolonging the release intervals for new professions and content updates will be the foundation for the stable development of Dungeon & Fighter after the heat subsides. We look forward to the future development of the product and its potential to bring new growth to Tencent’s gaming sector in their financial reports.

MoonFox Data is a China leading expert in full-scene data insight and analysis services. With comprehensive, stable, safe and compliant mobile big data foundation as well as professional and precise data analysis technics and artificial intelligence algorithms, MoonFox Data has successively launched various products such as mobile application data (iApp – flagship version, applet version, vendor version, overseas version), brand insight data (iBrand), marketing insight data (iMarketing), financial alternative data, and provided professional research and consulting services through MoonFox Research Institute, aiming to use data to help enterprises gain insights into the market increments and empower the precise business decision-making.

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