My Tamagotchi Forever: A Push Notification Teardown
Next in OpenBack’s series of mobile game teardowns, we are looking at Bandai Namco’s My Tamagotchi Forever. Filled with bright colors, soothing sounds, and cute characters, it’s a game aimed at younger players and, probably, nostalgic millennials who grew up during the original Tamagotchi craze. As a 90s kid myself, I was curious to see how the retro phenomenon has evolved to fit the freemium or F2P business model. (Disclaimer: I was terrible at caring for my Tamagotchi when I was ten. I once hid it under the sofa cushion so I wouldn’t have to listen to its beeping.) As it turned out, it was a very effective combination of the classic Tamagotchi and next-gen world expansion fueled by freemium-style microtransactions and push notifications.
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What’s It Like To Play My Tamagotchi Forever?
First of all, just to get it out of the way, there is a lot of poop in this game. A lot. And while it may seem prurient to mention this in the first sentence, dealing with Tamagotchi poop is such an integral part of gameplay that it made it into the trailer (see below). Multiple times a day, you need to take them to the toilet so they can do their thing. If you are a neglectful Tamagotchi owner, you’ll open the app to find they have pooped all over your house. As a grown-up person playing the game, I found this somewhat gruesome. However, your kid will probably find it hilarious.
Like their digital predecessors, Tamagotchi Forevers are tiny pets that you need to continually care for. You feed them, play with them, toilet train them, and so on. They are very needy, and pester you when they need some love and affection. This is where push notifications come in. Unlike other mobile apps, where push notifications act as mobile marketing tools, sometimes prompting users to visit the shop and make purchases, in Tamagotchi Forever’s case, notifications are purely for user engagement. And, compared to the incessant beeping of the proto-Tamagotchis, I have to say sending a notification every time my li’l dude is ready to eat, or has woken up from his nap is a more agreeable way of getting my attention.
My Tamagotchi Forever also builds out from the minimalist gameplay of the original toy. You have a family tree of different Tamagotchis yours can evolve into, plus a one-street world called Tamatown that you can explore. There, you can visit the grocery store, the school, the arcade, and interact with versions of your Tamagotchi in previous stages of evolution. I found this to be existentially terrifying, but perhaps I’m just not too clear on the internal logic of Tamatown.
How Is My Tamagotchi Forever Monetized?
They have a hybrid business model using both banner ads and video ads, as well as in-app purchases. As with the F2P model, gameplay is perfectly adequate without making purchases, but there are plenty of opportunities to jazz up your Tamagotchis with elaborate costumes, fancier food, swag for their apartments, etc. I never received any push notifications directing me towards special sales or limited-time offers. However, every time I clicked on the app, it opened to a page where I could purchase booster packs of cosmetics and in-game currency.
They also offered a 30-day paid membership to a VIP tier of gameplay, in which players would be able to bypass ads and have access to unlimited gameplay plus other benefits.
What Are Their Push Notifications Like?
Unlike some other mobile games, in My Tamagotchi Forever, push notifications are key to the very concept of the game. And they communicated that well in their pre-permission notification:
Interestingly, notifications were solely for engagement purposes. They never tried to steer me towards purchasing any packs or cosmetics. Notifications tended to be my Tamagotchi’s way of letting me know that he was hungry, or needed a bath, or what have you. Occasionally I had mysterious suggestions, such as “Come back to your apartment and pop balloons!” I wasn’t sure what the balloons had to do with anything. In fact, aside from playing the blissfully soothing Planet Hop arcade game, I didn’t explore too much of the side games Tamatown had to offer.
This is an opportunity for engagement that push notifications could have nudged me towards. While there was a quick tutorial at the beginning, where your guide to Tamatown shows you the basic features of gameplay, I wasn’t too clear on what the Academy was for, or what the side quest of collecting photos of your Tamagotchi perambulating Tamatown was all about. There also seems to be an AR component to the game as well, but I never looked into it. A push notification would have been the perfect method of educating me of the different aspects of the game that weren’t obvious right away. For example, “Hey, did you know that you can snap pictures of your Tamagotchi in real-life?” And then include a deep link that, when clicked on, will take your user directly to the AR function.
The push notifications that I did receive could have been better handled as well. I do not need to wake up to see I received six notifications while I was sleeping. (See our blog post on adaptive scheduling for more on how to send notifications at the right time.) I realize this is part of the joy of Tamagotchis, that they harass you at all hours of the day. However, even as I write this blog post, it hasn’t let up:
I literally put it to sleep an hour ago. And now it’s complaining that it needs to be put to bed again. What has it been getting up to over the past hour? This is a push notification fail the like of which results in users turning notifications off.
My Tamagotchi Forever was a very pleasant, relaxing mobile game. High points were the game Planet Hop, and the moments when my Tamagotchi evolved. (To be honest, this was probably the only push notification announcement I clicked on.)
However, there was a lot of wasted potential in terms of push notifications they could have sent. Rather than sending repeat notifications about basic actions to take in the game, they could have directed me towards new areas of the game that I wasn’t taking advantage of. There seem to be a lot of options for redecorating apartments or trying on new costumes that you can access. This occurs either through microtransactions or through saving up enough in-game currency by completing tasks. However, I did not know about this aspect of the game until much later. Notifications could have suggested purchases that would help me get more out of the game. Or even pointed me towards new mini-games in the arcade to try. They could have gotten me to try the AR function, share my progress on social media, or even leave feedback on the app store.
Overall, Tamatown seemed to be a pretty expansive world which I only saw a fraction of. Push notifications would have been the ideal way to help me get more out of the game.
Would you like to learn more about mobile engagement for your mobile game, and how to use push notifications to optimize user retention and click-through rate? Get in touch with one of our experts… we look forward to chatting!