“Helpshift was instrumental in driving the success of Fruit Ninja 2 throughout its lifecycle, from collecting feedback during development to squashing bugs during pre-launch to addressing account issues after launch.”
-Madison Annibale, Head of Customer Support, Halfbrick
Halfbrick Studios, known for smash hits like Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, wanted an in-app support solution to help them throughout the game development lifecycle. Its previous email-based system was unable to surface the quantity and quality feedback needed to develop and launch Fruit Ninja 2 on the initial game’s 10th anniversary. Halfbrick turned to Helpshift to aid them in slashing issues from development to launch.
Halfbrick Studios, an Australian game developer founded in 2001, is known for smash hits like Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. Today, Fruit Ninja is the second most downloaded game in the history of iOS and one of the top five paid apps in over 150 countries. With Fruit Ninja’s success, Halfbrick has become one of the most well-known game developers in the world. Their laser focus on creating games that challenge the status quo has resulted in a portfolio that regularly generates more than 16M active players per month.
Designing a better katana with ninjas in mind
As Fruit Ninja celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2020, Halfbrick planned to develop and release its sequel, Fruit Ninja 2. Not only does Fruit Ninja 2 improve on its predecessor’s graphics, but it also includes an arcade-style multiplayer mode, as well as a Guitar Hero-esque mode called Fruitar Hero.
In advance of launching Fruit Ninja 2, Halfbrick needed to capture player feedback during the game development process. As Madison Annibale, Head of Customer Support at Halfbrick says, “We had a lot of ideas of what we could build, but it’s key to get feedback early and often throughout the development process.” This, however, required a solution capable of compiling feedback across all of the regions and the 12+ languages the game would eventually support. As Annibale continues, “Players don’t want fifty ways to get in touch with us, so it made sense to give them one way to do so, both for feedback and support issues.” And, their legacy email-based support system was no match for the task. That’s when Halfbrick turned to Helpshift.
Honing Fruit Ninja 2’s blades
After a two-week implementation and onboarding period, Halfbrick was up and running with Helpshift. During Fruit Ninja 2’s soft launch, Helpshift was used for obtaining customer feedback, identifying bugs, and responding to other customer issues. It was instrumental in assisting the product and development teams with fine-tuning the new and improved version of the game. As Annibale says, “Helpshift makes it easy for us to understand players’ issues and to reproduce them—especially ones from older devices and operating systems. We can easily get information like app version, battery status, and connection type without having to ask the player for it.” Annibale continues, “This rich context allows us to help the development team address critical bugs, immediately, to ensure stable gameplay, regardless of the device and operating system in play. Helpshift aided us in identifying nearly 80% of issues across devices and operating systems which improved game quality.” In addition to helping Halfbrick polish Fruit Ninja 2 prior to its launch, Helpshift made it easy for them to temporarily scale up their support team. “Initial launches always require some extra player support. Because Helpshift is intuitive to use, we were able to quickly augment our support team by 400% by adding quality assurance staff on a temporary basis,” Annibale added.
Slashing issues post-launch
The launch of Fruit Ninja 2 also came with a few surprises. Just as Fruit Ninja 2 was about to launch, the COVID-19 pandemic hit resulting in an unexpected spike in players. Halfbrick was able to meet the surge in game downloads and the accompanying need for support. Not surprisingly, Fruit Ninja 2’s launch actually renewed interest in Fruit Ninja Classic, which further increased demand for support. “Not only were we able to temporarily scale up the support team with QA resources, but each member of the support team was also able to handle multiple issues simultaneously due to Helpshift’s asynchronous conversational approach,” said Annibale. “But it wasn’t all about numbers. We were also able to build deeper relationships with our players. I occasionally chat with grandparents who play Fruit Ninja with their grandkids. Sometimes, we send them merchandise and their grandkids send us fan art back. It’s lovely knowing that our games bring such joy to people,” she continued.
The growing popularity of Fruit Ninja 2, however, also brought some serious issues, such as stolen accounts, fraud, and spam. “For many of our popular games, we often receive surges of suspicious messages from users who want a refund. Helpshift has been instrumental in identifying these messages in bulk and automatically rejecting them so that our team can focus on actual users. Without these features, we’d be burdened with manually responding to each message. I can’t even imagine how other teams manage these schemes via email,” says Annibale. “Moving forward, we’ll be further leveraging Helpshift’s automation to handle routine tasks like information collection, updating account details, and processing refunds, which will help us further streamline our support operations.”
The fruits of Halfbrick’s labor
Halfbrick develops game experiences that people remember for a lifetime and the fact Fruit Ninja remains so popular more than 10 years after its release is a testament to this focus on craftsmanship. Halfbrick wanted their support to be just as purposeful and dedicated as the rest of their game experience. “By shifting from email support to in-game support with Helpshift we’ve increased our average CSAT scores from 3.5 to 4.47, while decreasing average time to first response by more than 40%,” says Annibale.