There is no mystery that the success of a mobile game not only depends on its originality and from its technical and graphical features. Nevertheless, you may have developed the best mobile game of all time, but you would not be able to monetize it without a proper user acquisition marketing campaign and without employing the right kinds of ads.
Here, we will take a look at 5 famous games’ success stories and analyze which kind of ads have been used to promote them, always keeping in mind the game category.
- Royal Match
- Total Battle: War Strategy
- My Perfect Hotel
- Bubble Pop! Puzzle Game Legend
- Star Wars: HuntersTM
Royal Match is a mobile game developed in 2020 by Dream Games. It belongs to the category of puzzle games and specifically to those referred to as match-3 games, meaning that the player is required to line up at least three tiles to solve the puzzle board.
Since its publication, the game has been continuously growing and, as of now, stands at #4 on the Apple App Store among riddle games (in which puzzle games belong) and at #8 among free games on the same platform. According to data.ai, the game is the top-grossing game in Q3 2023 and has overtaken Candy Crush Saga in both downloads and revenue.
The game certainly owes its success to its effective ad marketing campaign: the developers have done a great job in spreading the presence of the game within in-game advertising spaces, and this is easily verifiable. But that would not have been enough if the ads themselves had not been engaging and captivating.
For the most part, the game is advertised through the use of two basic types of creatives: video ads and playable ads. Almost always, the ad will show a puzzle level in which the player has to save King Robert from a dangerous situation, such as a fire or a dragon attack.
Video ads of Royal Match have ensured more than 100 million downloads on the Google Play Store: that is because of their entertaining nature and because of the possibility to also take a look at other levels that players would find if they installed the games.
It is important to acknowledge the resemblance between the levels shown in the ads and the actual in-game levels: this resemblance makes sure the users don’t feel conned and therefore leave positive reviews.
Finally, it is not uncommon to find ads in which real people speak highly of the game: that adds a sense of empathy and humanity that gives a further boost to the marketing campaign.
Total Battle: War Strategy is a battle strategy browser game, meaning that it can only be played with an Internet connection, developed by the company Scorewarrior, based in Cyprus. It currently lies at #8 among role games on the Apple App Store, with more than 100 million downloads on the Google Play Store, and has acquired close to 1 million active users on all platforms.
Once the game is installed, the player can choose among many heroes, both from the past and more recent times, and must increase its power through many different actions, such as raiding for treasures, making alliances, and improving their character.
Once again, Scorewarrior has based its UA marketing campaign on two types of creatives, video ads and playable ads, confirming that it is common practice to use such creatives in mobile games user acquisition, and has made sure to widespread its presence with the acquisition of a lot of advertising space.
A usual Total War ad firstly shows an example of the gameplay with the employment of the video ad format: the player must navigate through several choices, oftentimes represented by forks on the road and bridges, that include the multiplication or reduction of its army and the improvement of its weaponry. It will be his duty to choose the best path to finish the level.
After this first part there usually is a playable ad, in which the player has a chance to try the game in first person. At the end of the ad, there will be a chance to decide whether to install the game or not. Playable ads show a strong tendency of increasing user engagement and, along with that, the probability of an install.
It is important to say that, throughout the video ad, the watcher will likely see another interesting advertising tool, called SKOverlay: it is an Apple-specific function, delivered by the platform itself, that allows the player to choose to install the game while the ad keeps running, without interrupting the viewing and making the experience more enjoyable.
My Perfect Hotel is a game from the company SayGames LTD. It belongs to the simulation and arcade idle categories, even though it has been described by many as a hybrid-casual game. It constantly fluctuates in the top three positions in the simulation game category on the Apple App Store and counts more than 50 million downloads on the Google Play Store.
The idea behind the game is very simple: the player becomes the manager of a hotel and must deal with everything behind its management, from cleaning to front-office and business duties. The mechanic is very easy and that certainly contributes to the success the game has had so far.
Its ad marketing campaign is mainly based on video ads and playable ads. This goes to show how these two formats never cease to fail, as they are the two formats which usually ensure the highest ROI in mobile games user acquisition. In this case, there is a strong focus on the playable ad: as a matter of fact, the player can really dive into the gameplay and has a chance to experience it for several minutes, basically after reaching the first expansion of the hotel.
After the playable ad, the player will be shown an interstitial ad as well, implemented with the use of SKOverlay, in order to make the install quick and effortless.
Bubble Pop! Puzzle Game Legend belongs to the category of bubble shooter games, which saw the light of day for the first time in the early 90s. It was developed by BitMango in 2018. It has reached #2 on the Apple App Store among board games and sees the USA and Canada as the regions with the most users.
Here, the player must shoot bubbles onto other bubbles and clear the screen by matching bubbles of the same color. The addition of puzzle-based levels and the chance to use boosts for a better bursting power make the game fun to play and not boring at all.
Once again, video ads take the spot as the most employed creative used to advertise the game, but there is one component that is worth mentioning, which is the fail ad strategy. Players will be shown a video ad that will end with the fictional player not able to clear the board and therefore forced to repeat the level. This automatically causes a sort of “pride reaction” into the aspiring players, leading them to think they could do much better and to install the game to prove it.
Star Wars: HuntersTM is a game developed by Zinga Inc. It is a multiplayer shooter action game, available on iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch as well. The cross-play function is available, meaning the players from a certain platform will be able to play and face players of other platforms. It takes advantage of the Star Wars trademark and is based on the novel of the same name.
The game presents many game modes, which can be individually unlocked after progressing in the level system, and ten different Hunters that the player can impersonate. The matches can be set in seven different maps that recall some of the most famous scenes of the Star Wars, from the Ewok Village to a mix between Endor and Hoth and the Podrace of Mos Espa.
Like many other mobile games, multiple ad formats are tested and rotated in mobile games marketing campaigns. Campaigns for such games also and often include trailers, both cinematic and showing gameplay.
With this said, it is common to witness the presence of “smaller” types of creatives, especially inside those games with very simple layouts and very easy gameplays. An example of such creative employed is banners: they are rectangular creatives, usually shown at the top or at the bottom of the interface.
Banners are very easy to place given their format and dimension, and they serve to generate awareness, create brand consideration and drive traffic to the proprietary site. At the same time, they obviously have a weaker impact than video or playable ads: because of that, they are less interactive and more at risk of being ignored by users.
Playable and video ads are the most used creatives
Every popular and successful mobile game has a deep and studied ad marketing campaign behind.
When it comes to carrying out a mobile game marketing campaign, results have shown that playable ads and video ads are the clear choice of creative to increase the chance at engagement and installs and especially to improve your ROI.
To clarify: it is obvious that game category and budget must be taken into consideration when planning a mobile game marketing campaign, but video ads and playable ads surely are the creatives most qualified to ensure developers can reach their goals and monetize their game.