PocketGamer.biz does not need to express how vital user acquisition is to the mobile games industry. With IAPs driving less than 50 per cent of revenue, and privacy changes from Apple and Google disrupting the ad monetisation landscape, bringing more players onboard is only becoming more vital.
This means thinking creatively, strategically, and sometimes even misleadingly. Claire Rozain, UA team lead at Rovio, casts her expert lens on the latest user acquisition strategies in her new weekly column, UA Eye.
From Angry Birds to Royal Match
It was during a game of Angry Birds Friends – which is currently in the middle of a special event in which players can contribute to the planting of 150,000 trees by Ecosia, as part of Playing for the Planet's Green Game Jam – that I saw this rewarded ad for Dream Games' Royal Match.
Royal Match is one of the most prolific Match-3 games in recent years, so let's take a look at the ways the game chooses to speak to its audience.
High contrast and strong colours: This is very straightforward, but you only have a few seconds to immediately grab your player. The deep black of the background contrasts heavily with the matchables, which are themselves consigned to three bold colours.
Green is a satisfying colour, and the red expressed urgency.
Character emotions impacted by gameplay: An increasingly big trend in puzzle games is to include on-screen characters that are responds to your gameplay, increasing user attention and engagement.
In this case, the character uses a lot of hand gestures to express emotion – I actually wondering if they could try an ad with a dancing king; I'm pretty sure it would work!
Visible and recognisible gameplay hand: An addition that is very specific to Royal Match! Even in the last few months, we have seen a lot of iteration of the visible hand with jewels, but this hand is immediately recognisable as the king's hand.
This is due to the a strong pairing of unique graphics within the game and an alignment with intensely specific brand guidelines.
Snow elements: Snow usually performs well in advertising and contributes to CPI decreases. This is due to the high visible contrast that white snow provides on ads – especially in this instance, with the aforementioned black background.
Keep an eye on the temperature: This is used in a lot of puzzle games ads to show gameplay progression. One of the earliest uses was by Playrix, with the now-infamous Homescapes advert showing its lead character [Editor's note: his name is Austin!] restrained in the bed while the room is burning!
Look at your castle: Royal Match is well known for allowing players to collect numerous decorative items – after all, you are a king! I think it is really cool to use a kingdom reference, but it is a little risky, CPI-wise, as castles speak to a really specific and niche audience.
The bridge to reach the castle: It definitely looks reminiscent of a pull-the-pin game; a puzzle genre that is really simple and constantly outperforms. I think it is really smart they managed to keep the bridge visually simple and echo the sentiment of a pull-the-pin game!
End card: Thr ad concludes by emphasising the feeling of mastery that is key to the puzzle genre's target audience. Can you do better is a deeply evocative challenge towards the player.