LiveOps Breakdown: Stumble Guys x Masters of the Universe

Scopely’s multiplayer-focused and battle royale obstacle game, Stumble Guys, has made over $150 million from 350 million downloads on iOS and Android devices since its release in September 2020. It was the 15th most downloaded mobile game in the world in 2023, and continues to go from strength to strength now that it’s available on PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch. 

Scopely is also the developer and publisher of Monopoly GO! – the fastest casual game to gross $1 billion – so it certainly knows how to make a hit. But perhaps more importantly, it’s spent more than a decade working with licensed IP. While Scopely started out making original games, its ten most popular games are all based on licensed IPs, from Marvel and Monopoly to WWE and The Walking Dead. As such, it understands how IP can be used to attract new users, generate revenue, and diversify the appeal of its portfolio. 

In the case of Stumble Guys, IP integrations have become an essential part of the game’s LiveOps strategy. NERF, Hot Wheels, Barbie, and even Mr Beast are just some of the names that have been integrated into Stumble Guys, where new maps, game modes, and cosmetic items based on the licensed IP are made available in the game through limited-time events. 

One of the latest integrations is Mattel’s Masters of the Universe franchise, which started as a toyline in 1982 but is perhaps best known for the long-running animated TV series and live-action film starring He-Man. The integration with Stumble Guys introduced He-Man, Skeletor, the Sorceress, Evil-Lyn, and other characters into the game alongside a new map, cosmetic items and much more. 

But did He-Man and his companions have the collective strength to win over the Stumble Guys crowd? Or was this an audience mismatch that missed the mark?

Credit: Mattel 

By the Power of Licensing! 

Most IP integrations last for a couple of weeks, but the Stumble Guys and Masters of the Universe collaboration lasted for an entire month. As such, Scopely had to ensure that enough Masters of the Universe property was integrated throughout the month, rather than just dropping everything at the beginning of the event. 

Game Mechanics

The main focus of the collaboration was a new racing map, Race for Eternia, featuring recognizable locations and obstacles from the Masters of the Universe franchise. Players were transported via portals through various areas, across ‘muddy swamps and new breakable objects to unlock secret paths through the surroundings of Castle Grayskull,’ as Mattel’s press release describes it. 

In Stumble Guys, 32 players compete across various obstacle-cluttered racing maps where the winners proceed to the next map and the losers are eliminated until one winner emerges. The PvP element of the game lends itself well to limited-time competitive events, with Scopely introducing the Race for Eternia and Greyskull Gauntlet special events for this collaboration. These special events were essentially three-map playlists, including the Masters of the Universe map, where players could earn XP, Stars currency (to spend on items), and cosmetic items. 

To incentivize engagement in these events, Scopely launched Stumble Missions, which required players to complete quests in the associated event, such as the Greyskull Gauntless Event Mission. Rewards for completing these events included the Stars currency and special event tokens, ‘Power Swords’. 

Race for Eternia (Credit: Hasbro / Scopely) 

How the IP was integrated and monetized 

The main focus of most IP integrations is limited-time character skins, and the Stumble Guys and Masters of the Universe collaboration was no different, with Masters of the Universe skins available to purchase via the in-game store or unlock via the Stumble Pass and gacha wheel (more on these further down). 

Some of the Masters of the Universe items introduced as part of the update include: 

  • Character skins - Change your appearance to Masters of the Universe characters with new Stumblers including He-Man, Evil-Lyn, Skeletor, The Sorceress and more.
  • Special emote - Use the Sword Spin emote to knock down opponents with a 360-degree sword slash. 
  • Standard cosmetic emotes such as Skeletor Laugh, Grayskull
  • Footsteps (visual effects for when the character is running or jumping) such as Skeletor Laughing, Shamrock Steps, Creeping Horak 
  • Victory animations - I Have the Power, He-Man Landing 
  • Taunt animations - I Have the Power, He-Man Landing 

I got tee la from he man in stumble guys : r/StumbleGuys
Teela Masters of the Universe skin (Credit: Redditr) 

Special Bundle Offers ($14.99-$19.99) 

Players could purchase special bundle offers themed on iconic characters, which included Mythic-rarity character skins, a special animation and a large number of gems, used to unlock items in the battle pass or play spins on the gacha wheel (a massive spinning wheel for randomized rewards). Bundles could only be unlocked with real-money purchases (not in-game currency). Players could also purchase special bundles from the Scopely website at a discounted price. 

Stumble Pass (1200 gems / $5.99) 

The event featured a unique Masters of the Universe-themed battle pass, where players progressed through layers of reward tracks by spending Stars, earned by completing matches. While there’s a free version of this Stumble Pass, players could upgrade to the Premium track for the equivalent of $5.99 to unlock rarer skins and emotes. 

Limited-time event Stumble Pass (Credit: SSSCool YouTube) 

Limited-time Gacha (The Stratos + Sorceress Wheels) 

Power Sword tokens earned during the collaboration could be spent on a limited-time gacha, which rewarded players with skin shards rather than complete character skins. Once players gather enough skin shards, they can unlock the associated skin. This method of unlock encourages repeat engagement with the event and the gacha, as players need to play matches to earn the Power Sword tokens they need. 

Along with the limited-time gacha wheels, Scopely has another wheel where spins are unlocked by watching ads. This is a clever monetization mechanic as it encourages engagement with ads (thus bringing in revenue for Scopely) while rewarding players with currency to spend in-game for engaging with the ads. 

Spend event tokens to spin the gacha wheel unlock skin shards and exclusive epic skins for Masters of the Universe characters (Credit: heyBro! YouTube) 

Audience and Thematic Fit 

According to Sensor Tower data, the average age of a Stumble Guys player on mobile devices (Android and iOS) is 33, while 31% of its player base on mobile is under 25. Given the most popular iteration of the Masters of the Universe IP – the original ‘80s cartoon – is over 40 years old, it’s reasonable to say that many of the IP’s biggest fans will be adults in their late ‘30s and ‘40s, which is at odds with the Stumble Guys demographic. 

This lines up with audience data for Masters of the Universe obtained from X. On Instagram, 84% of Masters of the Universe followers are male, 40% are based in the US, and the most popular age segment is 25-34. 

While players in the US spend more money on Stumble Guys than any other region (22.9% of net revenue according to Sensor Tower), the game is most popular in The Philippines and Brazil, areas that won’t be overly familiar with the Masters of the Universe IP given its highly Americanised feel. 

As for the thematic fit, Masters of the Universe looked right at home in Stumble Guys, with the game’s cartoon aesthetic lending itself well to Masters of the Universe characters such as He-Man and Skeletor while complimenting the toy-like appearance of the original character models. 

How the event was promoted 

The Stumble Guys and Masters of the Universe collaboration got a significant PR push from both Mattel and Scopely, picking up coverage in a massive selection of licensing, entertainment, and video game publications. 

The news was announced via a press release and campaign launch trailer, with more than 200k views at the time of writing. This footage was also featured in video content from other content creators on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram who shared the news on their own channels. 

How the event performed 

This is Mattel’s third integration with Stumble Guys, and arguably their most unusual given the nostalgic appeal of the Masters of the Universe franchise and its position in the market. While other legacy IPs such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and Transformers have gone from strength to strength as they’re repurposed for modern audiences, Masters of the Universe adaptations such as the animated Netflix TV series have failed to capture the excitement of the original cartoon, according to reviews. 

Netflix canceled a planned live-action adaptation of He-Man in July 2023 due to budget concerns, and despite the franchise’s cultural legacy, it doesn’t have the same representation as other cartoon and toy IP (such as TMNT and Transformers) in the wider gaming and entertainment market. 

Stumble Guys climbed ten positions from #25 to #15 in the iOS ‘Free Action Games’ category rankings after launching the Masters of the Universe event, and daily revenue increased by more than 50% Thursday 29 Feb – 1 March (start of the event), presumably triggered by the launch of the new Stumble Pass and associated bundles for the Masters of the Universe characters. 

Monthly downloads were up compared to the month prior, but revenue fell short in comparison to other IP collaborations. Stumble Guys generated $2.65m in revenue through March, which could suggest the Masters of the Universe in-game items didn’t convert players as well as previous IP integrations. 

If we compare the launch of this event to previous IP integrations, Masters of the Universe hasn’t excited Stumble Guys players as much as the Mr Beast and NERF events. According to Sensor Tower data, the launch of the Mr Beast integration caused a 600% increase in downloads compared to the week prior, while NERF caused a 120% increase in downloads. 

Daily downloads for Stumble Guys (Sensor Tower) 

Key takeaways 

Comparing the Masters of the Universe integration with other IP integrations in Stumble Guys might make it seem like a bit of a flop, but that’s far from the truth. 

Ultimately, success comes down to the metrics that Mattel set as their KPIs at the start of the campaign. As we mentioned further up, Masters of the Universe is a nostalgic franchise from the 80s that has struggled to engage younger audiences in the same way as other legacy IPs in the entertainment space. 

While this is purely speculation, it’s likely that Mattel’s main objective here was to make the Masters of the Universe IP more appealing to younger audiences and reach more people in general. Stumble Guys has 3.1 million daily active users and 31% of these are under the age of 25. The actual figure is probably significantly higher as iOS doesn’t capture user data on anyone under 18. 

Lessons for game studios 

  • A month-long collaboration event with an IP is fairly unusual in the gaming space, but Scopely managed to keep things fresh by staggering the launch of IP-based cosmetic items and events. 
  • Incentivizing engagement is a great way to keep players returning to limited-time events. In the case of Stumble Guys, daily rewards encourage players to keep returning while the shard collection encourages players to keep playing if they want to unlock specific skins. 
  • Ads drive the majority of revenue for mobile games. Think of inventive ways to incentivize ad engagement without it being intrusive where players can benefit too. The gacha wheels in Stumble Guys are a great example of this, and as we’ve seen, can be repurposed for limited-time events. 

Lessons for licensors 

  • Video games are one of the most effective ways to reach new audiences as you’re tapping into a highly engaged player base from the start. 
  • Think carefully about your goals, KPIs and how you’ll measure them at the beginning of your campaign. 
  • Research the audience of any potential gaming partners to ensure they’re the right fit thematically and demographically. Often, the ‘right fit’ will depend on your campaign goals and KPIs!