Gameloft's Real Football 2018 & 2019 Game Mechanics

A journal behind the success of game mechanics in Real Football 2018 and Real Football 2019.

Real Football 2019 Launch Trailer

 I. Disclaimer 

Before we start, I want to apologize due to the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Gameloft, I'm afraid I can't share any tools, documents, data, and detailed information from this project. Meanwhile, I would like to share the story behind this project as much as possible without touching anything that is prohibited to share by Gameloft. Thank you for your understanding. 

 II. Background 

Real Football 2018 is the first creation project on Gameloft Indonesia. After being released to the market, Real Football 2018 was a success, which led to the development of more versions, Real Football 2019, Real Football 2020, and Real Football 2021. Real Football 2018 was the starting version of Real Football that use Premium monetization, where a solid foundation was established, and in Real Football 2019, this foundation was further strengthened and potential for growth was explored. Real Football 2020 and 2021 were focused on enhancing the graphic quality and optimizing the games in the series.

Please note, premium game monetization is a business model for selling video games, where the customer pays a one-time fee to purchase the game and own it permanently. This model is in contrast to free-to-play games that offer the base game for free and make revenue through in-app purchases or advertisements. In premium game monetization, the revenue is generated solely through the sale of the game itself, making it a common model for premium, high-quality video games.

From the beginning of the premium series of Real Football, Real Football 2018, and until Real Football 2021, we don't have real football players and club licenses. Meanwhile, people tend to play football games that have real football players and club licenses because it offers a more realistic and authentic gaming experience. They get to play with their favorite players and teams and feel like they are part of a real-world football scenario. Additionally, players can create their own fantasy teams and compete against others, making the game more engaging and competitive. 

So, here is the main topic in this journal:

 "How were Real Football 2018, and 2019 successful, despite the lack of licenses for real football players and club names especially when they are premium games?" 

 III. Kickoff Market Research

The first thing I need to do is to find out about the market to make sure there is still a potential to sell our game. In this step, I and other game designers got help from the Gameloft researcher and marketing team. I can't share detailed information, data, and user persona, but overall we targeting low-end device users since most of the Football and Socer games that are available in the market are focusing on mid and high-end device users. We also got game requirements information, like the maximum game size, the target audience age range, the country we will release the game, and so on. 

In this phase, we also discover the potential project timeline, since we need to make sure to deliver the product at the right time to make the game released as impactful as possible like near the start of the Euro Cup, World Cup, or another famous football event. In this phase, we also discover the project limitation, like we can't use real players' names or clubs' names since we don't have any agreement with Fifa to use the license.

Ideation and Feasibility Study

As a game designer, I and the other game designers began the ideation process. We collect all football game mechanics that are available by benchmarking all popular football games including the potential competitors that are already available in the market. We take note and also find out what game mechanics that successful or not from the game review and we also do various discussions with the popular game's users in various forums like Reddit like why they love the game so much. And since we are working in a local big game studio with nearly a thousand employees, we also doing interviews with other employees that love playing football games to get their insight so we can easily define our game's unique selling point (USP). 

In this process, we also did a feasibility study with the game programmer team, the artist team, and the game producer. This study is really important because with this assessment we can discover the practicality of the proposed ideas. We can discover if we have enough people, tools, resources, and time that is necessary for the project, especially since Real Football 2018 is the first creation game at Gameloft Indonesia, we need to take some consideration that our team is still in the exploration phase and still inexperienced then there are a lot of things that are new for us to learn about and many uncertainties. 

After the feasibility study is done, we decide on the best game mechanic that we can deliver on Real Football 2018 and Real Football 2019. Please note that I only can disclose the approach that has already been used by Real Football 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 since the approach that is still not used may be a good strategic approach for the future development of Real Football and can't be allowed to be shared by Gameloft. 

 What we delivered in Real Football 2018 are: 

 What we delivered in Real Football 2019 are: 

Game Pitching 

After the ideation and feasibility study are done, the next thing we need to do is to get the final approval from the stakeholder or in this case Gameloft HQ Manager in Paris, France. I as the game designer creating the pitching document meanwhile the other game designer, programmers, and artists create the prototype. We need to showcase the base core loop that has already been agreeing with the team together before. Showcase the game mechanic that we will deliver in Real Football 2018 and 2019, the timeline, the specification, and so on using the game prototype and the game pitching document. After that is done. I then submit the document to my producer. So my producer can present the game pitching to the stakeholder, the Gameloft HQ Manager. And luckily in this process, it's smooth sailing for Real Football 2018 and Real Football 2019. 

 IV. Tinkering Design and Implementation

After we get the approval to create the game from the Gameloft HQ Manager, I as a game designer started doing a deep design for the game mechanic. I create flow charts, formulas, mood boards, and other information that is needed to create the game mechanic, and compile all of that on Game Design Documents (GDD) so the programmers and artists can easily understand the direction of the game we currently build, and what codes, database, and assets that needed to create that. 

After the core design is done, while waiting for the programmer to create the base game. I as the game designer start designing other supporting features. The supporting features like the anti-hacking document list the potential parameters that needed to be encrypted so it can't be edited by the users especially since we have the plan to make a multiplayer mode. I also choose the information that can be saved in the user's log data when the user doing anything in the game, the social feature, what the user can share, and when the best moment they can share to their social network. Also the customer cloud save system like when we can save their progress to the cloud and how we restore their account when they lost it, and many more. 

After the base game is done, then I start the game implementation by putting all parameters that are needed to make the game can run properly, rewarding, and engaging, like how much reward the user can get after they win a higher difficulty opponent in the higher league compared to low difficulty opponent on the lower league, balancing the gacha mechanic in Real Football 2018 so the user can feel amusing when finding a new player for his / her team and not feel the new player is too expensive or too cheap. Balancing the players' prices in the market in Real Football 2019, adjusting what and when the sponsor approaches the user and what benefit they bring, and so on.

Testing, Fixing, and Balancing 

Every single adjustment that I put in the game mechanic will be a bias and become subjective if there is no testing in the development process. So in this process, all the game mechanics, features, and parameters are tested by the Game Quality Assurance department (QA). They will try all of the game mechanics through a walkthrough test, playtest, and try all of the game features then give us the report if they found something that is too difficult, too easy, unclear, or too complicated or when they find bugs. When issues arise, then I will give them priority based on the severity of the issues. The most severe and impactful issues will be fixed immediately compared to the less severe issues like some trash pixels that appear in a certain location.

For the balancing, I will ask QA with different backgrounds, QAs who are experts in football games, football game casual players, and totally new to the football game to test the game to make the test result more objective than subjective and to get more feedback. I also will ask the Game producer to test the game in a focus group or ask for his feedback about the game balancing. If we found a balancing issue then I will rebalance the game, and after I have done the rebalancing, then the QA department will test it again. The balancing process will be ended after approval from the QA department and the game producer when the game has been successfully balanced. 

 V. Release the Product 

After all major, medium, and most minor issues have been solved, the game is balanced, and it can be run well on all the ported devices, then we released the product. In this phase, we will select the best part of the game for the launch trailer. Then we submit the product to the Gameloft Store and keep monitoring the released product to find out missed issues and to get the users' feedback that we will need to solve immediately and deliver it through updates. And even though we don't have licenses for real football players and club names, fortunately, the users' feedback is positive and we got a happy ending. The users love the game. And because of this, Gameloft HQ trusts Gameloft Indonesia to continue releasing the Intellectual Property (IP) of Real Football.