Merge Gardens, Futureplay

10x’ing installs and doubling player retention


Brand Identity, Brand Narrative, Brand Marketing



Game company Futureplay was facing its biggest challenge yet. Their casual mobile game Merge Gardens was loved by current players, but the game's growth had stopped. Their marketing simply didn't stand out in an over-saturated game category where everyone copies everyone and as a result, user acquisition efforts were stagnating.

Rather than shelving the game and focusing on something new, Futureplay decided to give Merge Gardens one final chance. They tasked us to completely rethink the story behind the brand, including the core idea, characters, lore, visual expression and game brand. The outcome was a riveting new story with characters that have since grown a life beyond the game itself and marketing being among the most popular in casual gaming. With impressions reaching into the billions, the company has seen a massive 10-fold increase in app downloads and an amazing doubling in retention, making it the biggest casual game comeback of 2022.

3D Animations by Milford Animation Studios Directed by Kim Hagen-Jensen

Because the game's growth had plateaued and performance marketing and UA simply wasn't cutting it anymore, Futureplay had a hard choice to make.

Kill the game and start over from scratch or give the game one last chance. They went with the latter, more unconventional route and even more unconventionally for their industry they tasked us, an external creative partner to help them breathe new life into the game.

Without a strong brand and story, it was virtually impossible to stand out in the extremely crowded “merge” mobile game category where fast-following is seen as the way to make quick gains, resulting in a landscape of sameness.

It was a clear opportunity to build a unique world and brand experience to the foundation for a deeper, more coherent game story, new exciting characters and lore, all with strong ties to the game itself, making it a seamless user experience from marketing to gameplay.

Character Drawings

The new Merge Gardens is a brand inspired by the childhood mystery and fantasy novels that our core audience grew up with. We wrote the unique story of protagonist Daisy and her estranged family with roots going more than a century back in time and a whole cast of side characters and plotlines. A mystery that turned into a comprehensive 25-page storybook, films, app store pages, website, visual guidelines, game logo and tagline.

Daisy and Rita

Creating a unique story. Before landing on the current story, multiple concepts tailored to the audience where created, presented and evaluated with a large number of players. The story of the very relatable Daisy and her confusing discovery of Myrtle Grove and her family's mysterious past won the heart of the audience by a large margin.

Merge Gardens LogoBrand ColoursFonts

15 unique character concepts. Besides the game's main cast, we created a range of unlockable characters stuck in the mysterious Myrtle Grove garden as topiary statues – a simple way to keep players engaged and slowly reveal the parts of the plot. We wrote each character concept and directed the visual development before they were turned into beautiful 3D for a fully animated 3D marketing campaign consisting of multiple episodes, many of which are still in development.

BookCharacter introduction

An identity worthy of a franchise. The identity is inspired by classic mystery and fantasy book covers that you'll find adorning Stephen King and Agatha Christie novels. The topiary statues both acted as a storytelling plot and an instant visual hook. In a marketing environment where players are disrupted from their gameplay to commercials, we knew that visuals of the highest recognizability and quality were key.

Mobile View

Since the relaunch, Futureplay has seen unprecedented growth for their game with a massive 10-fold increase in downloads and an incredible doubling of player retention compared to before the rebranding.

The online marketing films have turned into highly anticipated episodic content with fans screaming for more, discussing plots and hailing it as some of the best advertising in gaming.

GardenGame Imagery

The outcome

The opportunity

Using the power of brand and storytelling to give a stagnating mobile game a new lease on life.

The brand

A new, exciting character driven story and unique visual hook that made Merge Gardens rise to the top of the category.

The result

The casual game comeback of 2022, with a 10-fold increise in app downloads and doubling of user retention, resulting in unprecedented growth.

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