Business learning’s from a mobile gaming app: Hay Day

There is some small business wisdom that can be found in this app that has taken the mobile gaming market by storm.

Where does Hay Day start you?  It starts you with a scarecrow showing you patiently how to plant your seeds, to grow your crops.  The scarecrow pops up as a mentor and coach at different times throughout the game, but more predominately at the start when you are on the steepest learning curve.

Your crops can then be harvested and neighbours turn up to buy them.  You are also shown how to use the wheat to bake bread that can be sold at a greater profit.  Further along in the game, as your experience grows (you have to earn experience in the game), it is revealed that you can make bigger and better things with the bread (like hamburgers). Then a market stall is introduced and players that need wheat, bread and other items either to fulfil orders or to make hamburgers can purchase from you.  By this stage you have an ever-expanding range of crops and products.

The introduction of the market stall is a game changer, instead of customers just turning up when they need something, you can choose what you want to sell, the quantity and the price of it.

As you progress you find yourself:

  1. Running out of money, and desperate for the next order to inject some cash so that you can keep growing your farm.  Or,
  2. Madly saving all your pennies so that you can afford the next asset that will help you deliver more orders.

While you can play the game for free, if you chose to spend a small amount of money you can speed up your progress by delivering orders more quickly (either by buying an assistant to help you, or by increasing production).

As you use the market stall you also learn that:

  • People don’t often buy some items and they can sit on your shelf taking up space,
  • Customers will only pay a certain price for those more common items that aren’t in demand, while other items fly off the shelf and can earn you a lot of money.
  • Sometimes you need to advertise items to get customers and they often buy more than one item once they see your full offering.
  • The newspaper where you advert appears is where other customers go when they need an item.
  • If your customers really like what they see they can choose to become a ‘follower’ or publicly ‘like’ your farm.
  • Growing the number of ‘friends’ of your farm also increases your sales because they too come and check out what you have for sale.
  • Some crops are great for providing a steady cashflow

Then there comes a time in your farm when you look around your farm and see that you have a diverse range of cash crops, plenty of assets that allow you to deliver a range of valued products and even your pigs have a big crazy smile on their face!  Your cash pile has grown more than you thought possible and continues to keep growing while you have the time to start looking for the next challenge.  You have worked out by this stage that you cannot fulfil every order, so you focus on the most strategic or lucrative and let go of others.  You can also help those around you by giving them the items they need to grow.

Throughout there is also the ‘experience factor’.  It is only as you gain certain amounts of experience in playing the game that you can add new elements to your farm.  Sometimes you trade money for that experience.  To do you choose to deliver an order to a customer for less money so that you can gain that experience.

For those that have been in business for a while, this may all sound very familiar. 

Imagine the scarecrow as your business advisor or coach.   They help you create a product that there is need for.  This need, delivers you customers and while, at the start, they only turn up sporadically, as you grow you discover more and more about your market.  This knowledge allows to you develop your product range, get more customers and work out which products work best for you.

So, in the wisdom of Hay Day, find:

  1. A product that the market needs
  2. A friendly scarecrow to help show you the way
  3. The data that tells your what your market wants and what price to deliver it at to achieve your outcomes
  4. Products that your customers want but are scarce and they will be forever grateful for you helping them