The fact that MAG Interactive's word-puzzler Ruzzle has been downloaded 50 million times is, admittedly, impressive.
Still, that achievement takes on a new level of grandeur when you realise that those 50 million downloads were amassed by a firm that, essentially, didn't have a UA budget.
“We went to number one in nine days, and we stayed there for about two months. We were getting about a million downloads a month, every month,” explained MAG CEO Daniel Hasselberg, speaking at PG Connects in Helsinki.
“That quick growth made us realise we could quit the work for hire stuff and start tweaking the game, adding things that we'd missed out in the first place.”
Social media bug
Eventually the team got around to adding the ability to challenge Twitter followers, meaning that players could invite their friends to play the game.
I might seem like a pretty obvious social media feature to some, but the ramifications of that addition shaped the future of the company.
“Adding the ability to challenge your Twitter followers wasn't big in Europe, but in the US, it was a catalyst for really exponential growth,” said Hasselberg.
“Initially it was concentrated to one small city in the US, but Twitter helped the game explode, and it quickly spread across the entirety of the US.
“That explosion never stopped and eventually it helped us grab the number one spot on Google Play and the App Store.”
After finding out just how effective free growth opportunities could be, the MAG team quickly decided to add more features to improve the overall quality of the game.
“We worked a lot with the matchmaking. We added an option to match you with a random opponent, but we used a skill matcher to make sure the game was super even, and thus fun and competitive,” detailed Hasselberg.
“These are free growth opportunities, and they worked better than we could ever had imagined.”
Do it right
Growth is excellent, but it's also imperative that developers make sure they're monetising their game.
However, according to Hasselberg, it's perhaps more important that developers focusi on monetising their game in the right way.
“We had advertising as our main source of monetisation, but we wanted to do it right,” said Hasselberg.
“We put a lot of effort into checking the numbers and finding a sweet spot where the advertising was at a level that didn't harm retention.
“[Ultimately though] we believe in building strong brands and discoverability, which is essential on the App Store."