Clicker idle games took the gaming world by storm back in 2013 with the release of Cookie Cutter. Over the years, we’ve seen these games appear in many shapes and sizes. Some popular themes included farming, entrepreneurship, mining, etc.
Over time, the popularity of this genre waned, but just like arcade games, they recently made a comeback.
Right now, the prevalent clicker idle theme on the top charts is – bodybuilding.
There are two games driving this trend – Lifting Hero by Rollic and Roblock Gym Clicker by Rocket Succeed Together.
Let’s analyze the two and see what each of them brings to the table.
P.S. The analysis includes valuable insights from Carlos Pereira, a hyper-casual game expert.
Simple, Simpler, Clicker Idle
Lifting Hero and Roblock Gym Clicker are based on what’s probably the simplest concept in mobile gaming.
Click and progress.
Click faster, progress faster.
As players repeatedly do this, they earn in-game currency and buy upgrades that speed up their progress.
Games with the clicker mechanic are addictive and enjoyable for the same reason as fidget spinners. They give players reasons to make repetitive motions over and over again until they get tired.
Idle games have to contain a mechanic that keeps track of users’ away time. This means that when players leave these games, they keep on progressing. Whether they come back to play after hours, days, or even weeks, they get rewarded for their time off.
Of course, playing is the more effective option that brings more rewards.
The Theme & Numbers
The first clicker idle game with a bodybuilding theme that appeared in the app stores was Lifting Hero in September 2022. The game immediately became a hit, reaching over 16M installs in just 3 months and becoming the top box office project that fall (HC Games).
To this day, the game generated over 20 million downloads, with a steady flow of 300k average weekly downloads.
In the meantime, many developers released games with the same theme.
However, none of them became a success until the release of Roblock Gym Clicker in July 2023. In just over a month on the market, this game has already gotten more than 5 million global installs.
Gameplay and Mechanics
While these two games fall into the same genre and share the same theme, they are actually quite different.
Let’s see what they are made of.
Lifting Hero is all about lifting weights and growing.
The game starts by showing a miniature character surrounded by bigger ones, all of which draw inspiration from Roblox. Before starting to play, players get to customize their names and choose a gender.
After that, they are immediately taken to the core gameplay. They are instructed to tap to lift objects – as they tap repeatedly, the character becomes taller and thicker. Lifting also continues on autopilot but is much slower compared to human effort.
Players start by lifting a light object (pencil) and as they progress, they unlock heavier objects (e.g. tablet, water bottle). By doing so, players accumulate muscle power, a resource they can sell for currency (money). With it, they can buy items and upgrades that will help them speed up their progress.
Progression: Ascension Mechanic
What happens when players sell their muscle power?
Back to square one.
This is called the ascension mechanic and it’s commonly used in clicker idle games. When the pace of their progress slows down, players decide to ascend. They then buy things that help them speed up their progress and starting again, they grow much faster than before.
There is no end goal in this game. It is based on what’s basically an endless loop.
Lift – ascend – restart.
This never-ending process keeps players hooked, constantly giving them new goals to strive for and rewarding them for their efforts. Generally, idle games are known for their stickiness which averages at 18%, compared to hyper-casual games at a slim 10.5%(GameAnalytics).
Notable Features: Extra Something for Competitive Souls
In competitive sports, it’s common to try and provoke the opponent.
This game delivers this experience with surrounding characters shouting things like “You’re weak”, “Loser”, etc. This is done to motivate players to keep going and beat the characters around them.
Outside of the core gameplay, this game offers a battle mode called “lift battle”.
Here, players can engage in exciting 25-second battles where they try to defeat the opponent. Before the match, they can see the opponent’s stats (muscle power, average click time) allowing them to prepare.
This mode caters to the needs of competitive player personas and makes the game more exciting. At times, the core gameplay can get dull and repetitive, and this mode shakes things up, creating an extra reason to continue playing.
Roblock Gym Clicker
Roblock Gym Clicker is also based on the click-to-grow principle. However, this game has a bit more to offer, blending together many popular features.
It takes place in a fitness center where players can move their characters using joystick controls, just like in arcade idle games. Players are welcomed by a tutorial character that shows them around using chat boxes and interactive pointers.
They are quickly taken to the game’s arm area where players learn to repeatedly tap to lift weights. As they do this, they earn money that allows them to upgrade their equipment and grow faster.
After introducing the core game, the game shows players different features they can find at the gym:
- Mini-games (by interacting with other characters)
- Different exercise areas
- On-site rewards
As players interact with the core gameplay, their characters become bigger and scarier.
But not only that – they also climb levels.
During each exercise, the game displays a progress bar with the player’s level and how close they are to the next one. As players reach new levels they also unlock new features at the gym, such as new mini-games.
Notable Features: Roblox Theme and Trendy Mini-Games
Does the name Roblock remind you of something?
That’s right, this game doesn’t shy away from its resemblance to Roblox, from character looks to the overall game design.
As we mentioned above, one of the key engagement features of this game is the ability to play mini-games. For example, slap battles and boxing matches.
The slap battles are particularly interesting because they mimic the mechanics from Slap Kings, a megapopular hyper-casual title. This famous mechanic perfectly fits the game’s theme, while making the game more engaging and diverse.
Now that you’re familiar with how these games work, let’s dive into their money-making strategies.
This game monetizes primarily through in-game advertising.
- The game holds back on displaying the first interstitial ad approx. 6 minutes into playing
- Before serving the first interstitial ad, players are introduced to its many rewarded video placements
- These placements include lift speed upgrade, earning multiplier, offline income multiplier, auto-click, free object, and cosmetic options
- Occasionally, rewarded video ad offers appear as pop-ups
- The majority of rewarded video placements work as an alternative to spending in-game currency, especially attractive for players who dislike ascending
- Over time, the frequency of interstitial ads increases to one every 1 to 2 minutes, but most are quickly closable
Like most hyper-casual titles, this game also contains a “no ads” IAP offer at 3.85 EUR. This is within the usual price range for this kind of offer, but considering the game’s simplicity, it is slightly pricey.
Roblock Gym Clicker
Roblock Gym Clicker is all about ads – and players are not thrilled about it. This is evident in the game’s 3.8 Google Play rating backed up by a lot of ad complaints.
And we fully agree.
Here’s a quick overview of Roblock Gym Clicker’s monetization strategy:
- The game contains interstitial ads, rewarded video ads, and banner ads
- During the tutorial, the game directs players to engage with an “auto-click” rewarded video ad placement
- There are many rewarded video ad placements: reward multipliers, free upgrades, muscle power bonuses, coin bonuses
- The first interstitial ad appears approx. 6 minutes into gameplay, after which the interval between ads decreases to only 1 minute
You may be thinking how this sounds pretty standard for this type of game.
But if you put yourself in the player’s shoes, you’ll notice another issue besides frequent ads – the game tricks players into engaging with rewarded video ads.
For example, as they move across the gym or lift weights, players are “haunted” by different icons. These icons follow the player wherever they move, often resulting in accidental clicks. While this dirty practice might bring a short-term revenue boost, it inevitably frustrates players and damages the game’s reputation.
Verdict: Lifting Hero vs. Roblock Gym Clicker
Both of these games are successful for a reason. Thanks to their clicker idle core, they are both addictive and easy to play.
But, if we had to choose a winner, our vote would go to Lifting Hero.
Even though the game is utterly simple and doesn’t come with impressive graphics, it provides a better overall player experience.
At first, Roblock Gym Clicker captured more of our attention than Lifting Hero, but as it unraveled its monetization strategy – things changed.
Roblock Gym Clicker is a solid game with many features, creating an almost hybrid-casual feel. Sadly, all of this falls flat due to the game’s aggressive monetization strategy. We believe this game would do much better by incorporating a deeper, hybrid monetization model.
One thing both of these games have in common is Roblox inspiration.
This is something many players complain about in app store reviews, accusing them of copying Roblox titles. But as we all know, copying is an established practice in mobile gaming. When something works on another platform, it only makes sense to bring it to a new platform and try to replicate its success on a different audience.
UA Strategy: Expert Comment
The similarities in gameplay don’t extend to UA strategies.
In Rollic’s game, the country with the highest number of downloads is the US, accounting for almost 12% of the game’s total downloads.
In Rocket Studio’s game, the US ranks 7th in downloads, accounting for just 5%. This difference is meaningful for those familiar with the US UA market and reveals different business strategies between the studios.
The differences between the two games also appear in UA campaign creatives.
In the game Lifting Hero, one of the most-viewed creatives is a video that showcases the first few seconds of the core gameplay. You can watch it below.
In Roblock Gym Clicker, the standout creative is a playable ad that shows the slap-fighting mini-game. The player’s character gets hit by a muscular opponent and falls onto a platform on which he begins to lift weights, which causes the player to click on the screen. Below is a recording of the playable ad.
Despite these differences, it’s undeniable that both games are big hits this year. They come back to the question of how central market research is in prototyping. One hit revealed another, in a move typical for the hypercasual market.
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