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Last update: October 2020

5 mins to read - 2020/10/09

Raid: Shadow Legends: A Push Notification Teardown

Raid: Shadow Legends is the fantasy role-playing game that has taken the mobile gaming world by storm since January 2020. Released by Israeli developer Plarium, it is a free-to-play (F2P) gacha game, in which players assemble a team of warriors to overthrow the Dark Lord of Teleria. With its realistic artwork and character design, plus a cohesive narrative driving gameplay forward, Raid: Shadow Legends seemed like the perfect choice for our next installment of push notification teardowns.

To read more tips on how to best engage your mobile game users with push notifications, read our blog post: Top 30 Best Practices for Push Notifications in 2020

raid shadow legends push notifications
Image Source: http://raidshadowlegends.com/

What’s It Like to Play Raid: Shadow Legends?

The overall fantasy aesthetic seems to be a mix between Dungeons and Dragons and Game of Thrones. After an introduction to the world of Teleria, the Arbiter – your Valkyrie-like emcee – guides you through the beginning stages of gameplay and gaming mechanics in a quick training session. This was a good move on the developers’ part, as the game has many ins and outs, with different levels and campaigns, which would have quickly become confusing to new players.

To start things off, you choose a champion who becomes the leader of your super-team. Together you storm castles and traverse sewers, battling evil henchmen in three-against-three standoffs where all combatants politely wait their turn to attack. Character gain XP, and you can upgrade them as you become more immersed in the world. As you win battles, you can collect various shards and artifacts that you can put towards leveling up your champions.

The graphics of the game are gorgeous to look at, and the narrative was clearly well thought out. But how well does Raid: Shadow Legends score in terms of push notifications and other mobile engagement?

Image Source: Raid: Shadow Legends

Raid: Shadow Legends Gameplay and Monetization

Raid: Shadow Legends is a mid-core gacha game, a model where players can spend real-world currency in exchange for a randomized reward or prize (similar to loot boxes). They had quite a bit of this, so much that it became distracting from the gameplay. In fact, this has been a common criticism of the game – particularly that in some cases you are virtually forced to spend money to compete with other players, as simply leveling up organically isn’t sufficient.

Literally every time you open the app, you are bombarded with offers for daily packs you can buy.

This may have been more enticing if I had understood what the different items are used for. Shards apparently contain the souls of deceased warriors of Teleria… But the Arbiter didn’t cover that in orientation, so I didn’t understand why I would want to spend money to obtain them. Likewise with the rest of the in-game currency, of which there are 5 types:

  • silver
  • gems
  • energy
  • tokens
  • Clan Boss keys

In addition to the game pack advertisements that take over your screen, there is also the shop that offers you a wide variety of in-app purchases (IAPs). And they have seasonal sales and various rolling ad campaigns, so the opportunity to spend some money is always there.

raid shadow legend in-app purchases push notifications
Image Source: Raid: Shadow Legend

As for actual gameplay, it’s pretty basic and repetitive. There are a wide variety of maps and campaigns you can battle your champions in. And while there is the Tavern and Sparring Pit, where you can improve your Champions’ levels without spending energy, the core game loop consists of your squad facing off against whatever lich or lizard lives in the current dungeon. By tapping on the opponent you want to attack, you can unleash various powers or combos until one of the teams is annihilated. While there is some strategizing involved, based on which of your champions has what abilities, the gameplay itself is not very exciting.

How Were Raid: Shadow Legends’ Push Notifications?

In three words: not very effective.

They did take advantage of the pre-permission notification for iOS phones, which was a nice touch:

raid shadow legends pre-permission notification ios
Image Source: Raid: Shadow Legends

They were very light-handed with the amount of notifications send, which is a good tactic. Usually I got one or two per day. And there was a list of small “quests” you could complete, in which you were rewarded with a sum of silver for enabling notifications and other small engagements with the game. However, like the gameplay the notifications were quite repetitive and not very engaging. They also came at seemingly randomized times of the day. Which, as I work from home, was not very disruptive of my schedule. However, if I’d been working in an office, poorly timed push notifications would not have endeared them to me.

Their main strategy for getting me back into the game was to alert me to new rewards:

The notifications were quick and snappy. There were a few impactful emoticons. However, they were not personalized or otherwise attention-grabbing. And, even though they were offering me vague rewards, I wasn’t sure what purpose those rewards served in leveling up my champions. So as a lure to open the app and start playing, they weren’t very effective.

Similar with the following, rather bland notification. It tells me to use my “27 Energy” but doesn’t say what, or how, to use it.

This following push notification showed a little more promise. It told my my arena tokens are full, so presumably this should give me access to the sparring pit. Which seems to be a section of the app where you can invest gems to level up your champions quickly. However, when I clicked on the notification, it just took me to the base-level page in the app. It was not very good at providing guidance on how to access or take advantage of different features of the game, so I quickly lost interest.

Ultimatum?

Overall, Raid: Shadow Legend’s push notification campaign was quite lacking. The game seems to have high ambitions on building an immersive game world and community. And I did get ads within the app for community events, such as tournaments or a “Dark Elves Summoning Event.

However, they seemed to expect new players to be able to intuitively figure out how to access all these bonus features and LiveOps material. And, aside from slogging through level after level of the repetitive dungeon battles, spending money seems to be the only way to access more exciting features.

I was very confused with what I was supposed to do with this game. A handful of push notifications with deep links to how-to-play resources might have prevented me from churning. But, sadly, this was a missed opportunity and I didn’t stick around to make it to higher levels.

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