6 revenue-boosting mobile gaming product trends to try in 2020
How puzzle, RPG, and casino mobile games are increasing revenues — and how you can do the same
In 2019 and Q1 2020, several impactful trends emerged across the puzzle, RPG, and casino genres. In this article, we analyze six such developments and provide relevant data as well as tips on implementing them to increase revenue for your mobile game.
At a glance
Apps with built-in video chat features and other social mechanics have skyrocketed following COVID-19 social distancing measures. Other successful features currently trending across genres include streamlined UIs that guide players and show completed tasks, custom design events that combine event currencies and IAP bundles, leveling boosts, and features that allow access to old events.
On the business and marketing front, Amazon Prime integration and unconventional but strategic cross-promotions have recently been utilized to expand players’ lifetime value and even go viral. Controversial ad campaigns, too, are being used to generate virality and create online buzz. Below, we delve deeper into these six emerging trends with examples and expert insights.
1. Refining social mechanics like built-in video chat
Comunix Ltd’s Poker Face — Live Texas Holdem saw revenue and downloads grow 64% and 390% MoM following widespread social distancing measures in March — potentially attributable to its built-in video chat feature. Notable social features of this app include the choice to play with friends or others around the world, the positioning of players’ live videos in seats around the poker table, and rewards for inviting friends to the app.
Slotomania also allowed players to team up with friends in its Ruby VS Pearl social casino event. The event included a collection mechanic during both base play and a board game bonus, which converted to a multiplier during the social bonus. Integrating multiple elements in this way can tie together otherwise disparate features for an innovative social experience. Since January 2020, social bonuses have made up 24% of all bonuses in our tracked slots apps. This is nearly double the percentage for the same period in 2019 and more than triple that of the same period in 2018.
Group video chat apps Brunch and Houseparty — both of which include options for gaming — have also seen rapid revenue growth following social distancing measures (+2,054% and +1,253% MoM starting 3/16, respectively).
2. Combining event-specific currency with linear unlock progressions
Event-specific currency sales have recently proved to substantially increase revenue. Furthermore, custom design events with linear progressions of unlockable items have had larger revenue impacts than those which allow players to purchase decorations in any order. Matchington Mansion’s custom design event Spookington Mansion — which allows players to purchase decorations in any order — had a smaller revenue impact (+9% 2Wo4W) than custom design events with linear progressions of unlockable items (an average of +16% 2Wo2W).
Of the custom design events we analyzed, the largest revenue increases came from events with both progressive unlock systems and IAP currency sales. For example, see the Festival of Lights (+32% WoW) and William’s Birthday (+11% WoW) events by Homescapes and Days of Summer (+29% WoW) and Harvest Festival (+19% WoW) by Fishdom.
When pricing and configuring IAP bundles, use higher price points and several options to increase your overall revenue by changing customers’ perception of value. If you offer players three IAP options, for example, your players will assess the value of one option relative to the other two prices offered. Take a look at this study which tested the percentage of beer purchases across three different pricing structures:
- Test 1: $1.80 (20% of purchases) and $2.50 (80% of purchases)
- Test 2: $1.60 (0%), $1.80 (80%), and $2.50 (20%)
- Test 3: $1.80 (5%), $2.50 (85%), and $3.40 (10%)
Most customers bought at the middle and highest price points regardless of the actual prices.
On a final note — turn any excess event currency players may have at the end of your event into high-value rewards. In one of Slotomania’s most successful features, Slotocards, collecting duplicate cards during the event awards a spin on the Wheel of Stars. This will help improve players’ post-event satisfaction.
3. Optimizing UI for accessibility to increase motivation
You can also increase players’ engagement by implementing a user-friendly menu of relevant tasks, events, and promotions. Unfinished in-game tasks are generally less stressful when players have a plan for how to complete them, and a clean, organized menu can help guide them. Ensure the presentation of new content is as unobtrusive and intuitive as possible. Cash Frenzy’s recent Events & Offers UI feature facilitated a 14% increase in revenue, likely in part due to its streamlined notification system for new content.
We also recommend that players’ completed tasks are prominently displayed. In Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes’ Journey Guide (+70% revenue MoM), for example, players could view their completed tasks from the last year. According to psychologist Dr. David Cohen, the sense of achievement from viewing finished to-do lists is a major factor behind the enjoyability of ordered tasks.
4. Allowing players to accelerate progression and access old events
As your games age, accelerate early-level progression for new players with super-boost packages and XP bonuses. See Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes’ Hyperdrive Bundle (+51% revenue 2Wo2W), which gave new players the option to skip ahead to current content, or World of Warcraft — the world’s most popular MMORPG more than 15 years after its release — which speeds up early levels with a variety of XP-boosting events, gear, and quest mechanics. Providing options to rapidly progress reduces switching barriers for whales coming from other games.
Additionally, allow access to previously released content. This has two positive effects: Players can progress at their own pace, and high-value players are more likely to remain engaged between new content releases. Two Dots’ challenge feature Rewind increased revenue by 11% 4Wo4W by adding previously released content.
5. Integration of Amazon Prime and unconventional partnerships
After the release of the Amazon Prime content in RAID: Shadow Legends, revenue was +17% and downloads were +37% MoM. This feature allowed Amazon Prime subscribers to collect exclusive champions and loot bundles from a series of timed content drops. Raid: Shadow Legends had players both log in to Amazon Prime and manually collect the exclusive content through the app.
Established partnerships with giants like Amazon can prove lucrative, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from more unconventional cross-promotions. Honor of Kings publisher Tencent recently collaborated with MAC Cosmetics to launch a limited-edition line of lipstick. The unorthodox collaboration was inspired by online conversations between players who were trying to find lipstick to match their favorite Honor of Kings heroes. During the event, players could purchase five hero-inspired lipstick colors through both MAC and Tencent channels. The entire line sold out in under 24 hours.
Try to work with partners that match your brand’s voice. A shared tone helps Angry Birds 2’s recent collaboration with Duolingo feel natural despite that the apps are otherwise unrelated. Duo, Duolingo’s playful, sassy, and passive-aggressive owl mascot, fits easily into Angry Birds 2’s cast of characters. Find common ground between your and your partners’ branding to remain consistent and develop trust.
6. Testing controversial ads to create online buzz
In 2019, a video ad for Lily’s Garden showed Lily’s boyfriend leaving her after she shows him a positive pregnancy test. The ad boosted revenue by 11% and downloads by 67% WoW, then went viral on Twitter and continued climbing to 21% and 50% increases 2Wo2W, respectively. The tweet about the ad has 280K likes, 76K retweets, and 11M views. A revenue-boosting follow-up ad released just a few weeks later revealed a plot twist: The positive pregnancy test was a fake, and Lily kicks her boyfriend out of the house.
Consider using controversial ads and content unrelated to your game to generate virality. Moreover, be sure to include subtitles and design video ads so they can be understood without sound: 92% of videos are watched on mute.