In case you haven’t noticed, the mobile app craze Neko Atsume has been spreading like wildfire in many English-speaking countries since it’s been translated from Japanese to English. Now even YOU can own a whole yard of cats that come by your house just to play with your stuff and leave you fish.
The gameplay is essentially very simple. In fact, a bit too simple. You start off with like a backyard where you can put cat food and other cat toys. Some stray cats with apparently nowhere else to go will wander into your backyard and free-load off your food and toys.
And since you were being so nice, they would leave behind some fish for you. These fish can then be used to buy tons of in-game toys. On rare occasions, these cats can even drop GOLD FISHES that can be used to do cooler things like expanding your yard, changing its look, or purchasing cool-er looking toys.
These toys can then be used to attract more cats, which gives you MORE FISH. Pretty simple to understand no?
All in all, this game got a lot of people hooked! It already hitting the top 37 in overall app charts for iTunes and top 10 for the Android game charts (EXCEEDING CANDY CRUSH. LET THAT SINK IN).
So what made this game the phenomenon that it is today? Here are some good traits of this game that even game developers should take note:
1. Minimal loading times
One thing that really struck me was the very short loading time of this game. Loading times could take a maximum of 5 seconds. This really helped if you needed something to play quick, like if you’re pooping (let’s be honest, we play games when we poop) or if you’re taking a short break from studying. More often than not, most games are not played because they take a few years to load (I’m exaggerating).
2. CUTE CATS
Aren’t they adorable!? Most people play Neko Atsume simply because of how cute the cats are. Watching how they interact with the toys is just therapeutic. They do stuff like rolling the ball around, laying down in the box, or even getting trapped in the vase.
Of course, using cute animals like cats definitely increased the popularity of the game. Cute characters have always been used and amounting to huge successes. Don’t believe me? Look at Plants vs Zombies, Angry Birds, and Cut the Rope.
3. Short commitment time spans
The game needed very little commitment to play. In theory, you only needed to log on to refill their food bowls. These short commitment time spans really remove the fear of committing to a game where once you start a session, you know you’ll lose 30 minutes.
4. Clean and simple
The interface is clean and very simple. No overload of gimmicks, hard sales that ask you to buy stuff, etc. This clean interface really adds on to the therapeutic effect and makes you always want to log back on.
5. Tapping on the niche population
Perhaps an interesting approach of Neko Atsume was to target a niche population instead of the general population. You would imagine that this would reduce the number of downloads, but if this niche audience enjoyed the game, word-of-mouth marketing would spread exponentially, which is the case of this game. Targeting a niche audience is definitely not a common industry practice, but Neko Atsume pulled it off awesomely.
So what makes you play Neko Atsume? Leave a reply in the comments section below!