Line Drift x Unity | Case study
Founded in San Francisco by Mike Hardy and Geoff Heeren, Line Drift studios began life as an outlet for the technical creativity and programming skills of the two friends. Their 2012 release of Let’s Bowl 2 was a success, but as the game got older, they saw a demand to revamp the game for the modern age of mobile.
Revamp their classic game with new visuals and a refreshed backend system.
Arcade, sports, multiplayer
Going from spare to strike
Wanting to put their programming skills to use, Line Drift aimed to design a free-to-play bowling game for the mobile scene that was easy to pick up and fun to play.
As time went on, the team wanted to make big changes to their game, including new visuals, challenges, and rewards to keep players around longer.
But a fresh coat of paint wasn’t the only thing Line Drift Studios wanted to implement. There was a need for a reliable game backend to provide a smooth player experience across both iOS and Android.
Implementing additions like an in-game economy and proper authentication tools was daunting for a team of two developers. This is when they turned to Unity Gaming Services (UGS).
- Increased player retention by 90%
- Backend enablement to push new updates and features
- Authentication updates decreased support requests by 95%
About Let’s Bowl 2
Let’s Bowl 2 is a 3D arcade game that delivers a classic bowling experience with visually diverse lanes and cosmetics to keep things fresh. It utilizes Unity’s 3D graphics and physics to provide a realistic but fun rendition of ten-pin bowling.
The refreshed release in 2021 gave the game a new start. Implementing an authentication system to help players keep their progress across devices, and a backend system in place to push new content, Let’s Bowl 2 quickly rose through the ranks of free-to-play mobile games.
95% drop in support tickets with Authentication
With a game already on the market for many years, Line Drift noticed a need to make Let’s Bowl 2 more accessible across multiple devices. Since their game was made using Unity, they began working on the implementation of various UGS solutions to aid with this, including Authentication, Cloud Save, and Economy.
However, being a small team means it can be tricky to dedicate precious time and resources into developing a tool like Authentication.
With UGS, the time needed to make these changes was brought down significantly. A proof of concept was developed in a couple days, and implemented in less than a week, saving on much needed development time.
The support requests received by the dev team were mainly centered around issues related to this missing feature, and since its implementation, these requests have decreased by 95%.
Another issue was migrating data between new phones and tablets as players risked losing progress and purchases. With the implementation of Unity Cloud Save and Economy, which stores all economy data and player ID information in the cloud, data loss issues have been eliminated from their support request logs.
A 90% increase in player retention
The Line Drift team knew they would need more than just a handful of game data changes to stay at the top of the leaderboard.
Continuous improvement on the player experience and engaging content is what will score them a strike. This is where Unity Analytics and Remote Config provided support.
Knowing how players behave and if they’re enjoying the game is key to finding ways to improve the player experience. They discovered that only 20% of users were actually clicking the play button to start a match.
By implementing Funnels through Unity Analytics, they could see where players were logging off, or simply not playing the game.
After some trial and error by implementing user-interface changes to the first time user experience (FTUE), player retention jumped by 90%, drastically increasing their active user base.
With a larger user base now actively enjoying virtual bowling, it was time to work on fresh content. Let’s Bowl 2 was already a familiar game to loyal users, so the question became: How can we make the gameplay feel fresh and rewarding?
The team decided to include an in-game survey, giving players an outlet to give direct feedback. Using Remote Config, they were able to adjust the content of the survey quickly, including questions about cosmetics, game performance, and overall player satisfaction.
Based on player data and survey feedback, new bowling ball cosmetics and upgrades were added to the in-game store, available for purchase using credits earned through gameplay. Alongside new balls, players could now clear levels to access brand new bowling alleys with unique designs.
"The ability to make economy and remote config changes that instantly affect the game is a game changer.” – Geoff Heeren, Co-Founder and Programmer, Line Drift
The Unity Gaming Services dashboard has been phenomenal, giving Let’s Bowl 2 a second life. We were able to roll out new things with low effort compared to creating our own or using third-party plugins, making it a lot easier to manage. We replaced our legacy code with built-in Unity code, which minimized the amount of code we needed to maintain.
Unity Gaming Services brings a lot to the table for developers of all sizes, especially smaller teams and independent developers. The time we saved using UGS allowed us to spend more resources working on the game itself.