Thoughts on Toribash

Toribash’s been on the scenes for a while, but I’ve never had the time to take a closer look at them until today.  A simple registration process and a quick tutorial later, I was online and staring at my Toribash character.  5 minutes later, any remaining visions of glory fast evaporated as I saw my character get brutally decapitated – pffft.

While I am no hardcore gamer, I have been gaming for the past 16 years and have rarely needed to pick up the manual or review the tutorials.  Sensing I didn’t have a choice, I slunked back to Toribash’s in-game Fight School for some basic training, in the hopes of picking up a move or two.  Strangely, I couldn’t complete the first tutorial as instructed – I followed the instructions to a T, but my flying kick never came.  I went back online and got myself murdered several more times before I finally threw in the towel, once even decapitating my own right hand before my opponent even touched me.

Ok so I suck at the game *grin*.  See video below for a well-executed fight by other better players.

As a concept, Toribash is certainly novel.  Their marketing initiatives  also appear to be working, going by the degree of press mentions generated.  I personally like the business model of micro-transactions for virtual goods (i.e. body parts and effects) as well.  Without knowing anything else other than what’s already publicly available, here’s some observations of mine.

Total Addressable Market could be larger

I have nothing against bloody and violent games as long as they appeal to the mass market (i.e. Grand Theft Auto series), but the learning curve for Toribash seems really steep!  It appears to me that one has to either spend a ton of time practicing the moves, and/or have an intrinsic knowledge of the interplay of joints in the human body to execute the moves needed to take down the opponent.  Combine that with the uber-violence and you have a gaming title that appeals (my guess) to a significant subset of the mass market – read, mostly geeky (hey nothing wrong with being one, I belong to this category) and male.

Potential for Monetization is Key

I tried poking around the forums for threads on executing moves, but came back empty-handed.  Youtube yielded better results, with a treasure trove of user-generated tutorials and videos.  Still, I didn’t have the patience to sit through the videos when all I wanted was instant (bloody) gratification.  The tutorials and in-game help could be beefed up to increase the game’s stickiness, and improve the conversion rates of registered users into active users, and eventually paying ones.  I didn’t take a look at how hard it is to create custom parts, but I’m assuming it’s gotta be easier rather than harder, to encourage virtual goods commerce and content generation by avid active users.

And by active, we should be referring to users who login and play one match at least once a week – anything less would mean we’re taking far too much liberties with the English language – in the land of Toribash, you could well be condemned to death by decapitation.

Darn it, I don’t quite know how to do that yet.  Do you?

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.