Recently, when I observed the list of free mobile games in the US market, a product called “Exposed” often appeared in the top 50 of the App Store list. The product called “Exposed – Who’s Most Likely To (hereinafter referred to as Exposed)” was launched in March 2021 and currently has a global turnover of $410,000 in July 2022, ranking in the US App Store Q&A mobile game No. 1 in the overall revenue list.

“Anonymity” is the finishing touch, and the product experience is differentiated

At first glance, the results achieved by “Exposed” seem to have achieved a major breakthrough in Q&A mobile games. After all, starting from the “originator” and “QuizUp” of quiz-type mobile games, the biggest problem of knowledge quiz games has always been “fast customer acquisition and difficult monetization”.

However, after careful experience, the author found that “Exposed” is essentially a social app for acquaintances, from mechanism design to usage scenarios, to payment nodes and even in-app purchase pricing, with the feature of semi-anonymity added to it.The root of this product comes from the party culture that American users like to see and hear.What makes it different from offline scenarios and can be continuously used by users online is because of the anonymous social gameplay that is sought after by Gen Z users.

As we all know, the previous anonymous social app have been frequently “thundered” due to issues such as privacy security and cyber bullying, but developers continue to enter the game to try. It is difficult to find a balance between user needs and long-term security operations.

From the design point of view, the game mechanism of “Exposed” is very simple. It is actually a mobile version of “Who’s Most Likely To”, a popular offline friendship game for European and American users. The popularity of these games is high, and there are derivative variants such as “Would You Rather”. On YouTube, head game anchor PewDiePie’s Who’s Most Likely To game video has reached 36.76 million views.

To put it simply, the traditional way of playing “who is most likely” is that 3 or more friends answer each other “who is most likely to do what/has a certain personality trait”, and then vote to find out the “recognized” candidate.

However, given that offline friends got together to vote, it was almost impossible to avoid seeing who chose who; so this game sometimes tends to become the starting point of “friends out”. This limitation has also become the point of difference between “Exposed” and offline party games – the game itself does not show who voted for which. In addition, the design is relatively conventional, and it still requires players to gather to start the game. First, players need to create a username and upload an avatar, then they need to create a question and answer room, and invite friends to join by sharing the room code. Although the general mechanics are the same as the offline version, not revealing specific voters actually changes the entire game experience.

The reason why I say this is because in the past offline games, because the other party could quickly find out the source and whereabouts of the vote, there would be an unspoken “tacit understanding” between everyone, and it was inevitable that there would be reservations and scruples when voting.In other words, everyone’s choices are not “from the heart” enough, which also reduces the boldness of the game.

After “Exposed” itself guarantees that the voting results will not be made public, the game is separated from the common offline associations and officially has a taste of repeated reasoning and guessing, which also allows players to answer questions and vote more freely, even created a “board game” feeling. It can even be said that “Exposed” is what “who is most likely” the game itself should look like.

This point is also deeply experienced in the experience between the author and my friends. Even if there are only three people trying out some of the questions in the demo, everyone will still feel a lot of tension when the answers are revealed in each round, and there will be embarrassment after the answers are announced.With a completely anonymous voting experience, even the closest friends have a whole new layer of space to express their personal opinions.

In fact, the publicity of “Exposed” is actually focusing on live quizzes among friends, but it is impossible to guess who cast which vote. It is not appropriate to classify it as a quiz game, it is more like A kind of “werewolf kill”. In the introduction of the App Store page, “Exposed” also stated that it is a game “very suitable for ice breaking and party atmosphere”. In other words, “Exposed” has a very strong social element, and Q&A is actually a means to promote interaction between friends.

And “Exposed” makes users more addictive, in addition to being different from offline suspense, the scale of the problem is also quite “bold”. Even in the free demo (Demo) stage, the game has asked a lot about personal privacy and emotional life. However, because “Exposed” defines this kind of anonymous social gameplay as a game form between acquaintances, it is more of a mutual ridicule, which avoids large-scale cyberbullying.

Get 230 million hashtag views on TikTok and monetize with a $9.99 weekly subscription

It can be seen from the gameplay that “Exposed” is actually very simple in mechanism, and there are no technical barriers to research and development. In terms of realization, the subscription system is chosen.

The questions in the game are divided into four levels according to the sensitivity of the topics involved. The last three levels – Cheeky, Spicy and For Party – can only be opened after subscribing to the paid game plan, and players only have three days of trial time before the official launch of the $9.99 weekly subscription plan.

In contrast, the monthly and annual subscription fees of “Exposed” are cheaper, at $14.99 and $54.99. This price is the same as that of many dating apps represented by “Tinder”, but the subscription service in “Tinder” ” Tinder Plus” unlocks unlimited swipes to match friends.

Judging from the launch situation, we have not found any traces of “Exposed” vigorously launched in the vast Yamato AppGrowing overseas observation, and only a small amount of launch activities will be launched on Instagram in January 2022.

It was not until we searched by the parent company’s name that we found that TikTok for Business showcased it as an excellent case, and also locked the app’s growth channel on TikTok.

According to the relevant page of TikTok for Business, VYS Games, the parent company of “Exposed”, mainly uses TikTok’s information feed (In-Feed) for growth, with a 60% faster conversion and an installation cost of 0.18 euros. As far as the latest casual game application report released by Liftoff is concerned, compared to the CPI of 1.1 US dollars regardless of the region, 0.18 euros is still a lot lower.

The author conducted a search on TikTok for related topics and entries of “Exposed”. The results showed that there are two main ways to release short marketing videos of “Exposed” on TikTok.

The first category comes from VYS Games’ official certified account “app2party”, which will directly publish all kinds of demo videos participated by KOLs/KOCs. One of the most viewed has reached 9.8 million times.

app2party is also generally mentioned in the introduction of the video, that is, @the creator who participated in the shooting. In addition, the profile page of the account will also be posted on VYS Games’ Linktree external chain information page, which will directly give the App Store and Google Play store addresses of several of the company’s games. As one of the most commonly used diversion external chain pages for corporate accounts on TikTok today, Linktree also announced the completion of a $45 million Series B financing in March 2021.

The second type of channel is various KOL/KOC accounts on TikTok. Internet celebrities also released various “Exposed” demo videos and thoughts they recorded. In general, creators don’t mention the “official” app2party account on their video profile pages, but like app2party they use the hashtag #exposedapp. The total number of views on the label has now reached 213 million.

Sensor Tower data shows that “Exposed” basically maintains a 60-70 ranking in the overall game download list of the U.S. App Store. “Exposed” has exchanged relatively stable traffic for the game by cooperating with TikTok influencers to shoot materials, put them in, and use the strategy of simultaneous promotion by creators and official accounts.

In terms of delivering materials, “Exposed” highlights its applicability to a variety of occasions. The most popular material for “Exposed” is often KOL’s personal trial play, and occasions include long-distance travel, friend gatherings, and recess. It highlights the short duration of the game itself, but at the same time it can quickly mobilize the atmosphere in a short period of time. This strategy also captures the urgent need of European and American users for offline social networking after the new crown epidemic has eased.

At the same time, “Exposed” has not yet encountered a direct competitor. Most of the similar game designs that also use party quiz as the theme,that are often simpler than “Exposed”. They only provide questions for players to swipe the screen to update one by one, and there is no voting link at all. The imitations that are similar in function to “Exposed” are almost “completely copied”, and at the same time, the UI and art design are obviously simpler or even cheaper, and it is difficult to compete with “Exposed” for player groups.

In fact, a game + social product designed around the question-and-answer mechanism has recently appeared in the U.S. market, “Simp”, which once climbed to the 11th position in the overall list, but it has gone on a different path.

Use content to monetize and avoid the minefield of anonymous social networking

Unlike “Exposed”, the question and answer part of “Simp” is left to the user to complete alone. At present, “Simp” is only available in the iOS version, and once climbed to 11th place in the list of free apps in the U.S. App Store.

Like “Exposed”, the mechanism of “Simp” is based on allowing friends to vote anonymously with each other based on questions. However, “Simp” voting will be done independently by users, and the app also encourages users to register phone numbers and use real names. Users can answer a series of questions about a friend, saying who is “most likely” to have what traits and habits, and the answers are then pushed anonymously to that friend.

In other words, the answering process of “Simp” still retains the anonymous feature of “Exposed”, but its scene has become a purely online environment, so it is more like a traditional anonymous social product. Another difference between “Simp” and “Exposed” is in the means of monetization. This design also directly led to “Simp” becoming the object of public criticism.

The in-app purchase function of “Simp” has nothing to do with Q&A, but can reveal the identity of voting friends. This is also a common method used by anonymous social apps, and it is similar to the “NGL” that has been “badly reviewed” but earns a lot of money a few days ago. In other words, the real way for “Simp” to make money is to make money by “selling” private information to others while collecting users’ personal information.

This approach has naturally attracted a lot of criticism, especially in the case of “Simp” itself targeting high school students. At the same time, when some users checked their background data, they found that “Simp” also collected users’ geographic information, which made the outside world’s concerns even more serious. At the same time, it also attracted a lot of bad reviews on the App Store. Finally, after August 21, 2022, the U.S. App Store will no longer be able to search for “Simp”.

In contrast, “Exposed”, which is limited to social interaction between offline acquaintances, has a high payment threshold, but it is limited to the scene of offline interaction between acquaintances, and the game itself only has a very simple registration system. Only one username and one avatar are required, and there is no risk of privacy leakage.

Summarize

Looking back at “Exposed”, we will find that it has several keywords, namely acquaintances, party, anonymous and offline.

These keywords correspond to the heart of gossip (anonymous social networking) that European and American teenagers have always had, and at the same time they just cater to these users’ favorite offline parties (more obvious after the epidemic). That is to say, identifying the needs and at the same time limiting the possible negative effects of anonymous social interaction within a controllable range are the keys to the success of “Exposed”.

In addition, “Exposed” does not collect any information, making this social app more like a game product. After meeting the demand and controlling the potential negative impact, the spread of TikTok has added fire to this really social product.

But it can be seen that it is also limited to acquaintances and more suitable for offline scenarios, so that although this app has 230 million views on the label, it can only have a monthly flow of 400,000 US dollars. In the comment area of the app store and TikTok, you can often see users saying “I want to play too, but it’s hard for me to get together with me.”

It hits the needs and solves practical problems, but limits the potential for commercial development, which is the imperfection of “Exposed”. However, the design of “Exposed” has given a good development idea for anonymous social products. Anonymous social has a wide range of needs and development foundation, and the mode of anonymous voting to answer personal questions will also be the important template in future development process of anonymous social.

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