5 keys to monetization success for (hyper) casual game developers

December 10, 2018

Tags: 2018, Publishers

Vincent Pagnard-Jourdan
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With the holiday season upon us, many new mobile devices will be bought and gifted, and lots of new apps will be installed. More specifically, millions of casual and hyper-casual game apps will be downloaded and played on brand-new mobile devices all around the globe. As an app developer, it’s a crucial time to monetize — and top mobile game publishers around the world are choosing MoPub to power their revenue strategy. Read on to learn the five unique ways that MoPub’s platform helps these gaming app developers find impressive success and dramatically grow their businesses.

Why is casual gaming so popular? And what’s the difference between casual and hyper-casual games?

First, some important background on the mobile app gaming industry. The proliferation of touchscreen mobile devices has lead to a new type of gaming experience that is effortless and very easy to get started: rules can be learned by anyone, often in under five seconds, with usually no more than one finger required for gameplay. Depending on the complexity of the game mechanics, these games are either labeled casual (straightforward and easy to play) or hyper-casual (instantly playable). Because the barrier to entry for players is so low, these types of apps have given a huge opportunity for app developers to reach an audience that until now was not necessarily into gaming. Think about worldwide hits like Candy Crush, which are predominantly played by an older, female audience — which is the opposite of the stereotypical young, male “gamer” persona.

The evolution of mobile gaming business models

How do app developers make money from their games? Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen mobile game developers adopting different strategies to generate revenue at scale and grow their user bases. There’s been a lot of monetization experimentation from different types of developers across various game genres: paid models, freemium models supported by in-app purchases (IAP), and completely free ad-supported models. In the past two years, this last model has become really important: while casual gaming apps kept growing and topping the charts, we’ve seen the emergence of ad-supported hyper-casual games surpassing traditional mobile games in popularity. This was made possible by the simple, easy-to-grasp mechanics of these games (creating a very low barrier to entry for users), while at the same time app publishers have leveraged ad formats such as rewarded video or fullscreen ads that yield high CPMs. The income generated from these ads can then be reinvested in user acquisition to further fuel the growth of their user base, creating a continuous growth cycle.

Monetizing gaming and hyper-casual gaming apps today

At MoPub, we’re excited to be working closely with many of the top publishers in the industry to most effectively monetize their apps — both established gaming publishers and newer entrants to the space alike. A few days after Thanksgiving, we took a look at free app download stats and found that seven of the top 10 free gaming apps worldwide had the MoPub SDK installed.

Click to enlarge. Source: AppAnnie
Why is MoPub the monetization platform of choice for so many of the world's leading gaming app developers?

There are five key unique ways that MoPub helps casual and hyper-casual gaming publishers take their businesses to the next level:

 1. MoPub’s waterfall, which allows both flexibility and control. The customizable setup empowers developers to monetize in the exact way they want with unlimited price floors, countries, and networks, and the ability to choose between simultaneous or sequential ad calls.

When we started working with MoPub we were a small and very ambitious publishing studio working with a handful of apps. Leveraging the MoPub platform helped us to grow our business at scale thanks to the flexibility offered by its waterfall and its granular controls. We haven't seen these kind of capabilities with other platforms.

Céline Droit, Monetization and UA Manager, Voodoo (MoPub customer since 2014)

Starting a new mobile development venture after the sale of a previous one, we knew MoPub was a preferred choice for ads mediation. We needed a platform that would easily adapt to our needs and give us a lot of control into our ad set-up; MoPub offered both, allowing our business to quickly take off.

Peter Skoromnyi, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Easybrain (MoPub customer since 2017)

2. Support for all the ad formats that matter, including display, video, rewarded video, native, and playables.

Since our games rely a lot on ads it’s important that we can offer our users an ad experience that adapts and blends in the user journey. Whilst rewarded video has experienced a lot of growth these past few years it’s important for us to also be able to monetize users that are not interacting with rewarded video. Therefore working with a platform that supports all mobile-first ad formats was one of our top criteria when we decided to work with MoPub.

Roman Poleshchuk, Monetization & Product Manager, X-Flow (MoPub customer since mid-2018)

3. A true unified auction, which increases yield and maximizes revenue for each impression by allowing programmatic real-time bidding demand to compete against networks.

If it’s not already, MoPub should probably be part of your ad monetization stack. Their Marketplace [MoPub's programmatic exchange] performance is likely to add to your overall yield, owing to the significant number of sources that bid through RTB.

Pieter Kooyman, Chief Advertising Officer, Miniclip (MoPub customer since 2011)

4. Transparency that allows publishers to understand how their inventory is sold in real time — which can then help inform their user acquisition efforts.

As the 1010! app started to scale and generate meaningful revenue through advertising, it became extremely important for us to have complete control over how our inventory was sold and to whom. Switching to MoPub helped us to adjust our monetization strategy in real time through a competitive waterfall enabled by MoPub technology, which allowed us to do UA more aggressively.

Eren Yanik, Chief Revenue Officer, Gram Games (MoPub customer since 2014)

5. Advanced Bidding: spearheading the next phase of mobile in-app monetization.

MoPub revolutionized in-app monetization 8 years ago when it launched its platform and flexible mediation solution. As a result, working with them on Advanced Bidding and what the next phase of in-app monetization will look like was an obvious choice for Green Panda Games when we started to scale our monetization efforts through advertising.

Shreyas Rajagopalan, VP Marketing & Revenue, Green Panda Games (MoPub customer since mid-2018)

Want to learn more? Don't miss our post "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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