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How Rodeo Stampede Survived the Wild Hypercasual Years

Yodo1’s Rodeo Stampede celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2021 – a clear sign of the title’s enduring popularity – and while it has been a flagship title for the developer, Yodo1, since its inception, launching a hybrid-casual game with mid-core elements in 2016 was far from a surefire bet.

Henry Fong, co-founder, and co-CEO of Yodo1 spoke with PocketGamer.biz about how the game has weaved its way into its players’ affections with collectible animals, all the way to its potential future of offline conventions and a media brand empire to rival Angry Birds.

Looking back on five years of Rodeo Stampede, how closely does the game resemble your original vision?

Our vision with Rodeo Stampede was always a bit contrarian, and that has paid off big dividends. Back then, when hypercasual games were starting to become a phenomenon, we wanted Rodeo Stampede to be a hybrid, close to the mid-core game, not a simple hold-and-drag to run. Players love having a zoo meta-game where they accumulate animals and build their unique animal world.

This experience is further enhanced by constant in-game content updates, ranging from maps, animals, and zoo decorations, to viral social media activities and user-generated content and communities. Last but not least, the vision and essence of Rodeo Stampede have always been built upon our close and respectful partnership with Featherweight Games.

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 is the most downloaded in 27 countries. It was later honored as the 2016 Game of the Year on the App Store and Google Play. In 2020, Rodeo Stampede had more than 300 million downloads.

Mobile games are, in many ways, living entities. What have been the core pillars of living ops and keeping the game current?

Constantly adding new animals, their living habitats, and corresponding zoo spaces is our most significant focus for keeping the game alive and growing. Furthermore, in-game content and live-ops activities are linked to festive and seasonal factors: we have the Auspicious Buffalo for Chinese New Year, Giraffemas Tree for Christmas, and Thriller Wolf for Halloween, to name a few.

Other than that, we actively seek out chances of cross-over opportunities with other games, to connect game user communities, and offer players of multiple games a chance to diversify their player experience. These not only build up the game’s ecosystem but also keep it and its users in constant interactions.

Furthermore, we keep up with our users on many platforms. We stay up-to-date with their trends 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 to go viral in 2018-2019, we held a ‘highlight moments’ activity on Tiktok that captured four million views in only two weeks.

What adjustments are being made to ensure Rodeo Stampede’s long-time fans are being served, as well as bringing in a new audience?

Again, we must emphasize that animal diversity is the key to Rodeo’s core loop and meta-game. Therefore, new animals are constantly added to the game, and we actively involve our players in the process. Our fan-created Snow Queen ostrich and the Women’s Day Liponess [Editor’s note: a portmanteau of ‘lipstick’ and ‘lioness’] come to mind.

Of course, to truly diversify the animal world, you also need to diversify your natural environment. New maps are regularly added, and for the first time, we are opening an aquarium. This request has become a reality thanks to the voice of our beloved sea cowboys, and it will add new ocean animals and new game mechanics.

Can you tell us about the continued monetization of Rodeo Stampede – what have been the peak periods, and what changes have you made to your approach over the years?

At one point in 2020, we saw a three-time increase in our user value, while most other casual to mid-core games would likely have gradually phased out by this time of their life cycle. We believe the harmonious mix between simple run-and-catch core gameplay and an ever-diversifying world-build-up metagame contributed significantly to this success.

Yodo1 - a game crossover event growth

The game was enhanced by Halloween-themed visuals and lasted one month. Thanks to the interstitial messages, you can access and download Ice Scream 4 directly from Rodeo Stampede.

“Once we shared the assets, the Yodo1 team took care of all integration and design details,” said Pablo, Co-Founder of Keplerians. “With all the logistics and details taken care of, it could only be a win-win for us.”

How does Yodo1 make this happen? With these games in our partner pool, we can communicate promptly, leading to successful matches and deals. Once the events are approved by both sides, our team handles all the crossover logistics, from designing the visual elements to planning the event promotion to analyzing the results.

This Keplerians-Rodeo Stampede event was the first crossover either game had participated in, and successfully generated a huge buzz across social media, ultimately increasing traffic for the respective games.

“It was exciting for our game’s community! We promoted it on Discord and encouraged players to post screenshots and videos, offering rewards. Bringing new content to our existing player base and seeing their enthusiastic reaction was definitely a highlight of this collaboration,” Pablo further explained.

Over three million gamers play Over three million gamers play

Over three million gamers play thousands of games that use Yodo1’s MAS platform. This provides a rich ecosystem of players and content for creating fun and high-impact cross-overs. Yodo1’s expertise in designing fun and engaging cross-over campaigns helps to create marketing buzz for the games involved, providing a free cross-promotion network that partner games can participate in and benefit from.

Out-of-the-box events like these are just some of the many ways Yodo1 works to help its partners, bring people together and increase revenue creatively.

In summary, how can crossover events like these benefit you?

  1. By generating buzz across social media and providing your players with fun, new, unexpected content,
  2. Increasing traffic to your game and attracting a new audience–as these games have different player bases, they give each other access to new players.
  3. Limited-time events are attractive for players and can generate a considerable revenue increase during the runtime period.

If you want to work with us on monetization or game publishing and participate in these cross-promotion events between Yodo1 partners, reach out and contact us today.