The past few weeks we have been working hard to conduct an important game monetization research and are proud to show the results today.
The typical profile of a top 100 grossing game
There are number of platforms that allow you to find out the top 100 grossing games. We used mostly AppAnnie for that. The top gorssing games are typically ones that select IAP as their game monetization model. The games often come from proven genres like Casino, Match-3 and Hard-core Strategy. Many of the use external IP from movies, TV or console games. The companies behind most of these games have significant investment in BI, analytical infrastructure based on data warehousing and CRM that allows drilling down to the single user level. These companies typically have annual ad budgets of over $10M to acquire users for their top grossing games since they are able to see ROI on their ad spend.
Ad pentration is over 50% among top grossing games
In a previous post we revealed that Zynga makes 30% of it’s game monetization from ads. The gaming giant is not alone and many other companies are following the trend. While top grossing games by definition excel in IAP based monetization, the ad penetration in this group is higher than you might expect. 52% of the Android games had Ads in them and 59% of the iPhone games. The higher penetration in iPhone games might also surprise some readers as Android is associated more with ad-based game monetization compared to Apple which is considered more premium.
Penetration is lower in the top 10 and grows from spot 11 and after
The second thing we wanted to check was the impact of the store ranking on the likelihood of the game to have ads in it. We had a feeling that the furthest the game will be from the 1st spot the bigger the ad penetration will be. This assumption was proven true in a high level but the trend was more of a step function than a linear trend. The games in ranks 1-10 only had 5% ad penetration while games from rank 11 to 100 were at around 60%.
Simulation genre is leading the ad revolution
Obviously, not all genres are created equal when it comes to game monetization of the top 100 grossing titles. Before we analyzed this aspect, we considered a slightly different definition of genres that is more specific to the top 100 grossing games:
- HC/MC Strategy – these are strategy games where you build a kingdom or an empire and compete for world domination
- Simulation – includes simulations of many kinds: city, farm, dragon, cooking and celebrity life
- Racing – high end raching games
- Sports – high end sports games such as Madden NFL
- Fantasy cards – games where the player collects cards and compete PvP against others
- Real World Card/Dice/Board – these games are based on real world games – Poker, Solitaire, …
- Action RPG – role playing games where players build charachters and battle against each other
- Match-3 and Bubble – Games with this specific gameplay of matching 3rds or shooting bubles
- Casino – games like Slotomania, Heart of Vegas and others
As you would expect the Hard-core and Mid-core strategy games which include titles like Game of War, Mobile Strike, Clash of Clans and Vikings by companies like MZ, Supercell and Plarium are the least likely to adopt ads. The Casino games and Match-3 & Bubble had around average adoption. The genres the lead the adoptions are two:
- Simulation games
- Real World Card/Dice/Board
Ad penetration is increasing over the last 12 months
When we set out to determine if the trend in game monetization is towards ads or away from ads we had a feeling that more and more companies are warming to the idea of in-game ads. The results confirmed our assumptions. While the adoption is growing on both App stores the trend on the top-100 grossing iPhone games is very strong towards adding ads.
If your company also have top games with in-game advertising it’s important to know the Advertising revenue per user. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.