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Your Guide to IP Integration in LiveOps

June 27, 2024

More than ever before, today, game developers want loyal, high-value players who will spend a lot of time playing their games. 

A tried-and-true strategy that can help with all this is LiveOps, which keeps players engaged with fresh content and events. Taking it a step further, integrating a popular IP into a LiveOps strategy can help you attract new players, re-engage existing ones, and boost revenue. 

Let’s go over everything you need to know about IP integration in LiveOps, starting with the basics.

ip Integration in liveops

Importance of LiveOps in Mobile Gaming

You are probably already keenly aware that LiveOps is a powerful tool for engaging and retaining players. 

What was once considered an optional strategy has now become an integral part of studio operations. According to a recent report by Griffin Gaming Partners (page 10), 95% of game studios are either developing or maintaining a live service game

The coolest things about LiveOps? It allows you to constantly experiment with new ideas and keep your games fresh. This steady stream of updates creates a dynamic experience that boosts player engagement and retention rates. 

LiveOps & IPs

Perhaps you’re already following the standard playbook of using LiveOps to spice up your game with holiday themes, characters, features, IAP offers, competitions, etc. 

But, have you ever thought about stepping up your game by integrating a well-known IP into your LiveOps strategy? It can be a powerful way to keep your existing players engaged, generate massive buzz, and reach whole new audiences.

You might be thinking, “But that’s only for the big guys.”

This is just a common misconception.

While not every IP is on the table for every developer or studio, we have entered an era where IP collaborations are far more accessible, thanks in part to the trend of more IP licensors fully realizing the huge opportunities that games offer. It all comes down to finding the right fit for your audience and game. 

Limited-time collaborations, specifically, are well within reach for a lot of games on the market, as long as they meet certain criteria (more on that later).

 

About IP Integration in LiveOps

To define, IP integration in LiveOps is the practice of integrating IPs into existing games in the form of time-limited events. 

You’ve probably seen it in titles like Fortnite and Call of Duty, which frequently launch events in collaboration with popular TV shows, movies, and celebrities.

In addition to these big mid-core titles, today, we’re seeing IP integration in LiveOps in all sorts of games, from puzzle to hybrid-casual titles. 

Although limited in time, IP integration in LiveOps can have long-term effects on game performance. Here are some of the key reasons studios leverage IP-based LiveOps:

Factors to Consider for IP Integration in LiveOps

Do you have a quality, relatively successful title with active LiveOps in your portfolio? Does it have a strong foundation in user retention and monetization? Do you know your target audience well?

If you’re able to check all these boxes, your game might be a good candidate for IP integration in LiveOps. Think of it as an extension of your well-functioning game and its existing LiveOps strategy.

The next logical question is — what kind of IP should you go for?

Put simply, it should feel right for your game. 

Start by thinking about what kind of IP might match your game’s audience. Studios usually choose IPs with fanbases that share key demographic traits with their players.

Equally important, evaluate how naturally the IP fits into your game. Consider how a potential IP fits within your game universe and if it aligns with your players’ interests, as mentioned, as well as the game mechanics. Also, it’s highly recommended to get direct feedback on this from the game’s community.

Finally, the chosen IP should help your game stand out and catch attention. Sometimes this is achieved by focusing on culturally relevant or trending IPs. For example, a TV show getting close to releasing a new season has a built-in way of driving buzz (i.e. fans posting heavily about it on social media). However, some iconic IPs are timeless, and relevant regardless of what’s happening in the world. In that case, it just comes down to finding the perfect fit for the audience.

Keys for Successful IP Integration in LiveOps

With all this in mind, let’s go over the key steps to a successful IP Integration in LiveOps.

Deciding on Integration Elements

If you take a look into IP-based LiveOps integrations across different genres, you might notice certain patterns. 

For example, RPG games often focus on the IP storyline, shooter games introduce new skins inspired by the IP, while casual games usually incorporate its theme or cosmetic elements, as in the case of the Barbie x Candy Crush collab discussed later. 

The reason? These integrations are considered a natural fit for these game genres.

Therefore, when deciding which IP elements to incorporate into your LiveOps, it’s a good idea to check how similar games do it. Ultimately, the selected elements should make your game more appealing, all while keeping the core gameplay intact.

IP-Based Monetization Features

Time-limited events with IP features are not only your chance to get noticed in the crowded market.

They are also a unique opportunity to ramp up your revenue. 

You can do this by integrating different IP monetization features like exclusive skins, loot boxes, limited-time characters, etc. 

If the IP is popular enough among both new and existing players, the right IAP can activate the “I need this now!” switch. Here’s a real-life example — during an IP-based event in Call of Duty, a player who never spent a cent on this shooter game has decided to buy a skin of Neymar, his favorite football player.

 

Leveraging the IP for Game Promotion

IP Integration in LiveOps allows you to attach a famous brand to your game for a short time period. 

These are your five minutes to shine in the spotlight.

So, make sure to spread the word about the collaboration across your ad creatives, app store creatives, and social media. Feel free to get creative and experiment with event teasers, different visuals, and messaging (within the brand guidelines, of course).

If you strike a chord with the target audience, you have a great chance of going viral.

 

Examples of Successful IP Integration in LiveOps

To wrap things up, we’re bringing you examples of two games that successfully integrated famous IPs into their LiveOps strategy.

Candy Crush x Barbie

candy crush x barbie ip integration

Last year, we all witnessed a Barbie mania surrounding the release of the latest Barbie movie. King took advantage of this trend by introducing a Barbie-themed event into their biggest game, Candy Crush Saga.

The event took place a week before the release, at the peak of anticipation of the movie. Over 10 days of the event, the game featured Barbie-themed candy matching, character avatars, movie-related quests, a Barbie leaderboard competition, etc.

In other words, there was Barbie razzle dazzle all over the place. 

Since the target audience of Candy Crush players is females over the age of 25 who grew up playing with Barbies, this kind of crossover made perfect sense. 

As Candy Crush is a casual puzzle title, the collaboration was mainly cosmetic. There were no major changes to the game, no particular story nor too many details. The point of the event was to catch attention, promote the movie, and bring something new and attractive to the game.

Idle Slayer x Shovel Knight

idle slayer x shovel knight liveops integration

IP-based LiveOps collaborations are not reserved for big studios, and the indie RPG game Idle Slayer is the perfect example of this. 

Upon the game’s successful launch and reaching a million downloads on Google Play, indie developer Pablo Leban wanted to take his game to new heights. To make this happen, he partnered with Yodo1 to incorporate the IP from the renowned video game Shovel Knight into Idle Slayer. 

Why this IP in particular? These two games have similar target audiences, as well as shared aesthetic characteristics.

In the crossover event, players could see characters and elements from the Shovel Knight universe through different integration elements. These included six new quest segments, a fresh boss fight, and an exclusive collaboration skin available for purchase. 

Most importantly, this IP-based LiveOps integration brought extremely positive results a 650% revenue boost upon launch, and a 100% ARPU increase by day 10.

Learn more about this and other IP collaborations Yodo1 has facilitated,
and how impactful bringing an IP into your game can be.

Final Words

Whether you’re a big studio or an indie developer, IP integration can supercharge your LiveOps strategy.

Before you even consider the complex process involved in planning and executing a successful IP collaboration, invest time thinking about and researching how your game would make the most of a well-chosen IP. 

Want to learn more about the steps for a successful IP Integration in LiveOps? Check out this insightful DevGamm talk from Ismael Jorge Soler, IP Licensing BD Lead at Yodo1.

Check out the video!