One of the biggest mistakes a developer can make is only thinking about monetization strategies after designing their game. The choices you make in the initial phases of designing your game will influence the success (or failure) of your app monetization model.
We spoke with Matthieu Brossard, the Publishing Director at What(Games) by Gameloft. What(Games) is a French casual F2P mobile game publisher. In our conversation, we discussed the convergence of game design and monetization.
At what point in the design/development phase does What(Games) consider ad monetization?
Monetization is discussed from the kick-off phase. It is only viable to invest in game development if we have a good chance at making it profitable, therefore we think about the best ways to monetize each specific title from the get-go of your app monetization model.
For example, if we know that the game’s monetization strategy will rely on ads for the most part, we start thinking about the best way to integrate them in the game as early as possible. We need to ensure that ad integration is seamless and feels natural.
Can you give an example of how design and ad monetization work together in your games?
The revive point in a game is a great example of the partnership that exists between our design and ad monetization teams. Many games can monetize during this natural pointcut. Playing the video after the second run tends to perform better than right at the moment of the click for example.
Initially, our flow was this:
run → die → play IV → revive → die
We assumed users would leave the game instead of watching an ad if it was placed at the end of their run. However, once our monetization team discovered this phenomenon was not as present as anticipated, they presented their user behavior findings to the design team who were able to optimize the flow.
Together, they changed the flow to this:
run → die → revive → die → play IV
The new flow resulted an increase in CTR
Overall, both teams have important contributions to bring to the table when it comes to integrating design into our ad monetization strategy. They should share their learnings and instincts on a regular basis.
How do you ensure that your design and ad monetization teams work in tandem from the initial planning phase of the game and even after it’s been launched?
They consult at every stage of the project. It starts on paper, in the Game Design Document, continues with key version reviews to get a feel for it and lasts all the way into live game Management for the optimisations.
What tips would you give to developers struggling to sync design and monetization?
Get rid of any assumptions you have and rely on the data!
Every game is different, so it is imperative that you formulate as many hypothesis as possible based on your past experiences and overall knowledge of the market. Once you make these assumptions, you should test them on relevant cohorts.
Our industry is lucky to be really good at tracking user behavior, with access to convenient user acquisition channels. Take advantage of these channels in order to deduce what you or your users may not even be thinking.
Check out this example on UI/UX design. Which one of these 2 screens do you think will generate more clicks?
The screen on the right actually doubled engagement.
How about these two?
The screen on the left actually generated more engagement - showing precisely that the currency gain was more important than communicating the multiplier.
Seamless integration = optimal monetization
Creating a game is hard work, but ensuring that your monetization and design teams are in the loop with one another throughout the process of development will surely bring about success!