Neil Johnston is the CEO and Co-Founder of Tap Dice. He has over 15 years of experience managing Information Technology projects with a focus on sales and marketing. Neil and Yoni Zvik (Co-Founder in Tel Aviv) together have published hundreds of casino game titles. Their game publishing experience provided market insights which lead to the development and launch of their niche ad network. Tap Dice is the first mobile ad network dedicated to free-to-play casino games. Neil and his team are focused on giving mobile casino game publishers and developers the tools they need to earn the most from their unique user base.
Being an indie developer is difficult these days. The Apple App Store is no longer promoting newly released games by their subcategory. Your new game won’t get as many downloads as in previous years. This makes each and every user you do get even more vital to your success.
Without the free promotion from Apple your only path to free organic users is your ASO and your Game Performance. This means you need to select a good app name and keywords. You’ll also need to make sure your game has high quality art and great gameplay. Your rank in the app store hinges on these factors. Apple is closely monitoring your games session length, retention, number of downloads, download velocity and reviews. The better your game performs the more powerful your keywords perform driving more organic installs.
We also need to carefully examine our monetization techniques and understand how they’re impacting the end user. The majority of games being published are using the Freemium model where you can play for free but also have the option to buy things like power-ups and coins. Now only about 5% of your players might buy something in your game. The other 95% will just keep playing for free. So this is where things can get complicated. How can you generate revenue from the 95% not buying stuff in your game? Show ads, right? Well, lets take a moment and think this through. If you don’t it can hurt your game performance send your game to the bottom of the charts within a few days.
In this example we’ll be talking about a slot machine game. We have the game built and everything seems to be working perfectly. The IAP are setup for those users who want to buy coins. Now lets think about where to show ads. Here are some common integration techniques.
- Display on Launch – When your game is first opened an ad displays. This is a popular location to show ads but you should think very carefully when implementing it. Remember that Apple is watching your game session length. If your users are clicking an ad within the first 10 seconds of opening your app the average session length is going to suffer. However, if you don’t use this ad location it will give your user a better first impression and it gives them some time to get into your game. This could bring you longer sessions and better long term retention that increase your store ranking.
- Display on Timer – One easy method of integrating ads is to program a timer in your game and show an ad every 5 minutes or something like this. Put yourself in the shoes of your player now. You are clicking the SPIN button and having a great time playing slots when ads are showing every 5 min disrupting the gameplay. This gets annoying really fast and a lot of players will uninstall the game. This hurts your retention stats and lower your store ranking.
- Display on Level Up – This is a great time to show an ad to your player. When you level up there is usually a pause in the gameplay to load a new slot machine. This is important. You don’t want to show ads that disrupt gameplay. Casino players like to get into a rhythm and just keep clicking SPIN. Anything that breaks their rhythm will hurt your retention and store ranking.
- Display on Big Win – In casino games there is usually some kind of big jackpot the player can win. When they do win this jackpot the player is excited and feeling good. This increased feeling of excitement can take the sting out of seeing another ad. So you can usually get away with it and your players won’t mind so much.
- Display as Notification – This is another way to sneak a few extra impression in without upsetting your players. If you’re using an ad network like Tap Dice you can create ad units that have custom header text. In the image below you can see an example. This ad only shows after the user clicks on the mute button. Now this ad is actually providing some valuable information. It feels less like an ad and a little more native in its delivery. You can setup all kinds of ad notifications this way. Sound Muted, Big Winner, Level Complete, Purchase Canceled and Game Paused are some basic examples.
Screenshot of a mobile casino ad user flow
So what have we learned here. Players don’t want their gameplay disrupted. Showing ads right when your game start can hurt your App Store rank in the long run. It’s best to show ads when there’s a break in the gameplay like a Level Up. If you can make your ads seem more like native notifications it can ease the blow of seeing yet another ad. In conclusion you should just put yourself in the shoes of your players. Listen to your gut. If you think your game has too many ads it probably does. We all want to make revenue from our games but don’t get too greedy. If you’re too aggressive with your ads it will hurt your game performance and send your game deep into the pit of the App Store where it will never be found by text search.
For more check out the Tap Dice website here.