Making hyper-casual games a hit: Five lessons from Voodoo at MoPub’s #Momentum

December 13, 2019

Tags: 2019, Events and Conferences, Publishers

Natalie Breitbach
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MoPub and Voodoo logos

MoPub’s #Momentum 2019 series of exclusive mobile app publisher summits recently concluded after stops in San Francisco, Paris, Seoul, and Tokyo. We were honored to have Voodoo, a long-time MoPub partner and global leader in hyper-casual mobile gaming, travel to South Korea to join us for #Momentum Seoul to share their insights with MoPub clients and friends in the region. Voodoo’s Communication Manager Youssef Gasmi and User Acquisition & Monetization Manager Agathe Boisard spoke about their experiences working with top gaming developers; don’t miss the top five key takeaways.

1. Look for a long-term commitment when choosing an ad monetization platform. 

MoPub’s Vincent Pagnard-Jourdan introduced the session with a look back at the early days of MoPub and Voodoo’s partnership, which began back in 2014. (This was before the name “Voodoo” even existed — the company was called Studio Cadet at the time.) Voodoo chose to build their business on top of MoPub’s platform for three key reasons. First, MoPub’s flexibility gave Voodoo the granular controls they wanted in order to drive yield. Second, the MoPub platform’s openness provided Voodoo with the ability to build automation, which allowed them greater operational efficiency. Third, MoPub’s transparency gave Voodoo the data insights they needed to do user acquisition at scale. 

2. Be data-driven in all aspects of your business. 

According to Youssef, hyper-casual gaming is a market where predicting whether or not an app will be successful is actually quite easy: it’s all about the data. They look carefully at KPIs such as retention (Day 1, Day 7) and cost per install to decide which apps have the potential to be a hit. When it comes to ads monetization, data is also important to find the sweet spot and generate the highest possible lifetime value. Agathe said, “Here, MoPub’s impression-level revenue data will help with experiments to test and measure at scale.”

3. Commit to fast (and smart) prototyping. 

Youssef referred to an older Voodoo app which took nine months to create, compared to recent Voodoo hit app — which took one week. It’s difficult to leave or put on hold an app that you’ve invested months in, so Voodoo recommends that studios prototype and make decisions quickly. In terms of making those decisions, it comes down to testing: “We fully rely on experimentation; testing is key to validate (or not) all assumptions with data. Obviously we need to be creative on what we test, but always test it,” Agathe advised.

4. Think big and have high standards.

To develop top app, Voodoo pushed the team to take the original version, which had decent KPIs, and evolve the gameplay. Incremental changes can make a huge difference, so keep testing small changes to take your app from good to great. “The key is in the gameplay and ideation. We constantly work to find new trends to attract users,” Agathe stated. 

Thinking big also means staying on the cutting edge of industry trends and new solutions. “We’re happy to explore [in-app bidding] as it helps to increase the value of the ad inventory. Our tests show good performances so far, with lift in ARPDAU — but we are still experimenting,” Agathe noted. Once again, it comes back to data and proving the value of new solutions before fully committing. It was also noted that in-app bidding’s value will grow as more top networks join in, so all publishers should continue pushing their network partners to become part of solutions like MoPub’s Advanced Bidding.

5. Hyper-casual games are still growing rapidly.

While there were predictions at the start of 2019 that hyper-casual gaming had peaked, Youssef shared that there’s actually been 50% year-on-year growth in the hyper-casual market (citing stats from Sensor Tower). “Hyper-casual is definitely not a trend,” Youssef declared. The category is also seeing fast-growing, promising new markets such as China and India. Overall, hyper-casual mobile gaming is a growing, healthy market that Voodoo is excited to continue to work with in 2020 and beyond. 

A final piece of advice? Agathe noted that “the relationship between UA managers, marketing artists, and publishing managers is key to a game’s success.” It’s extremely important to keep everyone aware of and aligned on the same objectives and KPIs.

 voodoo at mopub momentum

Voodoo’s Youssef Gasmi and Agathe Boisard, hosted by MoPub’s Vincent Pagnard-Jourdan
at Momentum Seoul 2019

Want to learn more about hyper-casual game monetization? Don’t miss 5 keys to monetization success for (hyper) casual game developers and How hyper-casual gaming became big business

Interested in exploring how MoPub can help you grow your app business? Get in touch — we’d love to hear from you.

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