Update (1.12.2020) – Supercell announced a canceling of Hay Day Pop by 1.2.2021. You can read whole announcement on Supercell’s blog.

A few days ago (17.11.2020), Supercell released a new version of their Match3 project –  Hay Day Pop. This new puzzle game based on the IP of their longtime hit Hay Day is currently in soft launch (in Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Ireland and Finland) but I was very eager to try “spinoff” of one of my most favorite casual mobile game before it will be released globally.

Supercell is famous with their philosophy of killing games, which don’t meet their high expectation. Hay Day Pop is in soft launch eight months, what is pretty long, but probably everybody can remember succesful release of Brawl Stars after long eighteen months. Hypothetically, we can consider long time in softlaunch as good sign that Supercell will continue with development until full release. When we look back to the history, Supercell liked to cancel their soft launched games after significantly shorter time, usually 3 months (Rush Wars, Spooky Pop, Smashland).

So, what is so interesting about this mix of Match3 collapse gameplay and farming simulation? I don’t want to write about used puzzle mechanics or brilliant UX. What intrigued me after last update was one big change – there is no lives system. What it means? Basically you can play so many levels (puzzles) during session as you want. You aren’t also limited by any similar system. Pretty different approach as we can see in current top market leaders.

How does the game work? Winning puzzles give you new currency – energy, which you need to complete farming tasks. Finishing these orders gives you coins, which you need to clean areas surrounding your farm from a smog (the whole update is more eco oriented). Under smog you will find new buildings, which you will use to produce new kinds of goods for your customer’s orders. But what can be the reason for removing lives system from Hay Day Pop? Let’s look closer on simplified core loop:

Hay Day Pop comes with two progression features: 

  • Building your farm (expand land, build new production buildings and decorate it) – this reminds original Hay Day game. You can spend a lot of time decorating and editing to create the farm of your dreams. Of course, a social element is integrated in the game from the beginning, so your playmates will see the results of your work. 
  • Season Pass – Simple, saga-like feature brings clear goals and nice rewards in two tiers – free and paid. Currently you can play “Spooky season” (we can assume that the start of this season was planned earlier around Halloween). New season should be released every month, but currently there is no clear pricing plan – premium tier is also free. Simple social activity is also connected to this feature – visit others players and earn stars.

As I said at the beginning of this article, you can play so many levels in a row, as you wish. So what will block you from unlimited playing? Nothing. But only unless we are talking about puzzles. Waiting, one of the most common “currency” in free-to-play, you can find in progression mechanics:

  •  You have available only limited amount of tasks in same time
  • Completing tasks take time
  • Repairing production buildings to get better goods and rewards for tasks take time
  • Upgrading main building to get more areas where you can put decorations take time

So what can be result of this experiment for Hay Day Pop?

  • Less stress from failing puzzles for players and losing lives – Supercell turns the most basic concept upside down. Players can focus more on decorating their farms, and try to finish puzzles as many times as they wish. Failing does not mean a shorter session or pressure to purchase lives. When you will struggle too long, you can use boosters.
  • Season pass as a standard part of the game – pass will become the basic measure of progress in the game, and purchasing premium tier will become a no-brainer for engaged players and the main monetization point.
  • These changes can help to distinguish from current decoration/restoration Match 3 standards, as we can know from games like Homescapes, Matchington Mansion or Lily’s Garden. We will see if this will help to Supercell occupy their space in this red-ocean of puzzle segment games.