Unity's Anna Popereko on rewarded video tips for meta match-3 games

The game design consultant shares how to best implement video rewards for players

Unity's Anna Popereko on rewarded video tips for meta match-3 games

Meta match-3 games are a subcategory of the traditional match-3 game mechanic with the addition of meta layers, such as renovations, quests, collections, and mini-games. Examples are all around us. Think, Gardenscapes, Project Makeover and Matchington Mansion. The meta layers are becoming as attractive as the core puzzle mechanic itself, making the genre more diverse and appealing to a wider audience. The genre’s success lies in the series of linked cascading goals where users are motivated to accumulate currency and complete meta missions such as building a farm, designing a house or following a love story.

To support players in completing tasks, rewarded videos can be integrated into the game. The reward can be a currency, unlocking in-game content, help with progression, bonus levels and more. Done smartly, rewarded video can increase session length, retention rates, and average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU).

As always with rewarded videos, a good placement strategy is needed to make them visible, accessible and attractive to interact with. Anna Popereko, game design consultant at Unity, shares her tips for successfully implementing rewarded video in meta match-3 games.

Offer extra currency on the home screen

There’s nothing wrong with being blatant and offering extra currency on the home screen or in the shop. This is common practice for meta match-3 games. Less than 1.8% of daily active users (DAU) will make an in-app purchase, so monetising the remaining 98% is important. Done correctly, rewarded video can significantly support your game’s ARPDAU.

You can place the rewarded video button in a different colour to help it stand out or section it off on the page. Ensure that the player knows exactly what they’re getting in return, which will help drive up the usage rates.

Multiply the end-of-level rewards

Once a user completes a level and earns a prize, tap into the positive feeling of winning and allow them the opportunity to double or triple the reward. The reward can be in-game currency or anything else that doesn’t compete with your game’s economy.

Help a player pass a level

If a player doesn’t pass a level in the number of moves provided, consider placing a rewarded video that gives them some extra moves. See how Ohana Island does this below. You could also get creative and show a wheel of fortune that contains different quantities of additional moves or any other mechanism that engages the player and encourages interaction with the ad.

We normally see three to five moves being offered however, what’s most important is that the number of moves you offer does not cannibalise your IAP (in-app purchases). For the same reason, it’s common practice to limit the number of reward videos in exchange for additional moves that you offer, as you still want to incentivise your players to pay for extra moves.

Give an extra life

For games where the player is given a limited number of lives, it’s the perfect opportunity for offering rewards. When a player runs out of lives, they can watch a rewarded video in exchange for a free life, giving them another chance to win the level. You can also add a countdown for when the life will replenish and offer a rewarded video to incentivise the player to speed up the process. Alternatively, you can utilise the end-of-level placement to offer any form of reward, be it a surprise box or spin the wheel.

Jumpstart a level with a reward

In contrast to the end-of-level placement, this rewarded video is placed at the start of a level. The benefit here is that you can show the player the goal of the upcoming level, which may tempt them to interact with the rewarded video to help them complete the challenge. It’s also a huge help if they’ve failed the level several times already. Power-ups and additional moves are common in this placement.

Unlock a chest box

Chest boxes are super versatile in what they can offer and where they can be placed. They can appear after a specific achievement, like collecting a certain number of bombs, at certain time intervals, or based on the player's progress. Alternatively, you can enable users to unlock a chest box immediately by watching a rewarded video placed on the homescreen, as seen by Storygton Hall below. For maximum engagement and usage rates, create a full screen offer for the placement.

Present multiple videos one after the other

Once players are already in the headspace of engaging with a rewarded video, encourage them to watch multiple videos consecutively to amplify the reward. Each watched video can offer an increasingly more attractive offer, with the potential of a bonus reward at the end to ensure they finish on a positive note. Make sure to clearly show that there is an option to view multiple videos and clearly highlight the reward structure. You could even add a progression bar to encourage them.

From a technical perspective, you need to ensure that the rewarded video provider you’re working with can guarantee zero latency since waiting for the following video to load will create a negative player experience.

Amplify the daily bonus

Free daily bonuses are always an excellent retention boosting mechanism, and they can be boosted even further with rewarded videos. For example, the ad can be used to multiply the reward in the bonus or unlock an additional daily reward. It’s a great retention tool as it encourages players to return daily for more rewards.

Give an in-level boost

Similar to the “add more moves” placement, in-level bonuses sit inside the game’s levels. It’s a huge retention booster to allow players to choose when the option of a rewarded video appears, and this flexibility will help increase playing time and give you more opportunities to monetise your content.

From the beginning of the gameplay, the ad should be placed where the other boosters are located - clear enough to grab attention but subtle enough not to distract from the gameplay. Check out how Hell’s Kitchen nails it.

Get started with testing and experimentation

No matter which rewarded video ad placements you choose for your meta match-3 game, make sure to A/B test everything. Keep looking at other genres for inspiration for how you can vary your rewards and placements, and stay updated with your genre’s benchmarks for engagement and usage rates so that you always have a benchmark to work towards.

Edited by Paige Cook regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.