Level Up Your Hardcore Apps: Creative Practices


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Hardcore games are gaining momentum because of advances in device power and in the hardware that can support them, resulting in a whopping 76% share of user spend in gaming, according to App Annie

The popularity of this gaming category is rising worldwide. It is extremely popular in powerhouse regions such as Japan and Korea, where 25% of non-organic installs in gaming coming from this genre. In the US, however, only 7% of non-organic installs belong to this vertical. 

In this article, we explore two subcategories of hardcore games: role playing games (RPGs) and shooting games. 

Role Playing Games

An RPG is a genre of video game where the gamer controls a fictional character (or multiple characters) that undertakes a quest in an imaginary world. RPGs are divided into strategy, action, and adventure subcategories. 

As of 2020, according to Mobile Game Conversion Statistics for 2020, role playing and strategy games have the highest conversion rate (up to 1.6%) whereas most genres have a 0.5% daily conversion rate. As for this year, there were 27 million app downloads for RPG in February 2021 alone! 

Shooter Games

Shooter games fall under the hardcore action subcategory. Their focus is on the defeat of the character's enemies using weapons wielded by the player. Initially designed for PCs, these games are gaining popularity amongst mobile players as well. Users can experience the game on the go without compromising on the graphics quality. 

Though the number of female gamers playing action games is rising, male users are still dominant in this genre. A study showed that 63% of those who play action games are men (and 52% are aged 21-35). The statistics are even sharper with shooter games – 74% are men and 54% aged 21-25. 

Now that you are familiar with the genre, let’s reveal some creative strategies that have proved successful in our recent analysis: 

Hardcore Apps Creative Practices

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Tips to Acquire Role-Playing Strategy Game Users

  • Focus on all the cute female characters in adorable costumes.
  • Don’t showcase the gameplay too much. Focus mainly on character designs, especially if it is a character collection game.
  • Experiment with quizzes that ask the viewer what their ideal type of female/male is and show possible character matches for them.

Case Study

Our recent user acquisition campaign for an RPG app resulted in superior performance at scale. 

This was due to the impact of Aarki’s machine learning models and creative optimization. The machine learning models were used to learn the likelihood that a new user would convert, engage, or make purchases within the app. Video and Display ads were used to execute the creative strategies listed above, and resulted in a 32% increase in CTR, a 51% increase in IR, and a 15% decrease in CPI.

Across the ad formats that were used for the campaign, the video ad format resulted in the highest ROI with 194.59%, while display ads resulted in a 79.31% ROI. 

Tips on How to Retarget Your Shooter Game users

  • If you have released a new battle season happening in-game, advertise it.
  • Show the limited-time rewards obtainable during the season.
  • Design versions of creatives varying only in the gender of the characters shown: try 2 male characters in an ad, and 1 male and 1 female in another ad.
  • Focus on in-game footage for video ads.

Case Study

We at Aarki ran a retargeting campaign for a shooting game app with Banner, Display, and Video ads. The campaign targeted Android users worldwide.

Using the creative strategies described above, and our re-engagement machine learning models, we managed to exceed the campaign goals.
93% better CPI compared to the client’s goal, 10% higher ROI than the client’s goal.

No rule in the creative world is universal, so we encourage you to test the strategies described in our article and measure the results of your specific campaign. If questions come up, we are here to help. 

Topics: Homepage Posts, Creative Insights, Marketplace Insights