Mention jigsaw puzzles and an immediate mental image comes to mind: a kitchen table with hundreds of pieces scattered or neatly organized into appropriate groups, a big cardboard box displaying the hoped-for finished image, and a lone puzzle warrior steadfastly trudging on.
But like everything else offline, the jigsaw puzzle has gone digital. Many contenders have introduced apps into the market, and have successfully packed the kitchen table and everything on it into a smart phone.
Digital game developer XIMAD has one of the most popular puzzle apps out there. Called Magic Jigsaw Puzzles (MJP), the app currently has close to 9 million unique users and about 500k daily active users, and the base is continually growing. It includes more than 1,000 virtual jigsaws, and players can create and manage accounts, save puzzle bundles, scores, and stats as well as restore previously deleted puzzle packs. Users can also create a puzzle from any image or photo they have.
From single app to full game service
The app’s path to success was forged by thinking of it not simply as a mobile app, but over time, as a full game service. In the first version, XIMAD set out to raise the bar with a simplified user interface while still preserving the difficulty of the game. Users responded, but each different puzzle stood alone as a separate app united only by the name.
Seeing the limitations to this spurred the company on to create what’s become The Puzzle Shop. Now the app is a full game service in which players can buy additional puzzles, including bundles. And not long ago, XIMAD added the ability to earn coins by completing puzzles, sharing them with friends and completing experience levels. They can then use coins to purchase puzzle packs; or they can choose to be rewarded with free puzzles.
“All these features raised the number of sessions per user,” says Alex Grishin, MJP Project Manager. “And by constantly adding new bundles into the shop, we’ve increased revenue and made players stay in the app longer by offering new content.”
It’s clear that marketing plans and tactics play a significant role in keeping players engaged in the app. XIMAD has steadily continued to enhance players’ experience by adding free monthly released puzzle packs, Monday discounts and new puzzles released each Wednesday and Friday — which builds in a sense of anticipation among users.
“The key is making The Puzzle Shop dynamic and ‘live’,” says Grishin.
At the same time, long-term partnerships with leading user acquisition channels including IAD, Chartboost, Adcolony, Vungle and others have steadily increased the loyal base of users.
Adding the social piece to the puzzle
As XIMAD continues to move its engagement goal posts, it’s now honing in on the social aspect of puzzling. Users can currently share their results with other players and compete in tournaments, but there’s not true social interaction. “We’re planning a version that will allow users to create and share their own puzzles, so other players can solve them as well,” says Grishin.
This kind of functionality will be released on a number of platforms including iOS, Google Play, Amazon,Windows 8 and Facebook. “What we really want,” explains Grishin, “is to unite players from all these platforms into one game.”
The current version has multilingual support and is localized in 10 languages. Once social kicks in, it will be interesting to see if that interaction becomes a diversified community of Magic Jigsaw puzzlers all putting together the pieces for one another. (And for XIMAD.)