Dennis Mink is Senior Vice President of Marketing at Liftoff
Developing an understanding of what makes mobile games fun – and what drives gamers – is an important arrow in the quiver of modern mobile game marketing.
Back when the IDFA reigned supreme, marketers were extremely focused on turning massive amounts of user-level data into precise ad targeting strategies. But since the big technology companies and governments have introduced new rules and regulations to protect consumer privacy, marketers have learned to adapt.
In the post-IDFA world, effective marketing strategies require a deep understanding of contextual data rather than behavioral data. While contextual data such as device information and app categories are well documented, there is another source of contextual understanding that is essential for marketers, but often overlooked: game design.
Beyond Genre: Game Design as a Key Targeting Data Point
App stores use categories and even subcategories to organize games by genre, grouping them together so that in theory, when a user finds a game they like, they can then find more games. like him. But just because a player likes one RPG doesn’t necessarily mean they want to play another. Marketers need to look beyond app categories or game genres for truly valuable contextual clues. The fundamentals of game design offer a more powerful insight into player psychology.
Conventional wisdom might suggest only advertising other sports mobile games, but looking deeper throws a wrench into that thinking.
Take sports games, for example. Let’s say a user is excited to play the new game they just uploaded in the sports category. Conventional wisdom might suggest advertising only other mobile games in the sports genre to that user, but looking deeper throws a wrench into that thinking.
This hypothetical user happens to be playing a team management game. They are driven by building a group of talented characters, leveling up each one, and using strategic thinking to apply the right moves at the right time and place.
It is quite possible that the same player is interested in a sports game allowing him to control the winning character or to score a goal, but perhaps he will be more likely to be attracted by a game of a whole new kind of team management. An RPG, for example, where balancing multiple characters and strategic combat choices are central to the gameplay, could be just as appealing provided these features are properly highlighted in the ad creative. More than a general game genre, its design principles say a lot about what keeps players motivated and engaged.
Understanding these fundamental differences can help marketers dig deeper and get even more precise in targeting their campaigns. That’s why it’s so powerful for marketers to understand the basics of formal game design. Game design theories seek to understand what makes gaming fun and engaging, what keeps people engaged, and what motivates them to continue in the gaming world.
Game design 101: brush up on your basics
There’s no one definitive way to study game design, but there are plenty of introductory compilations. Here are three suggestions for mobile game marketers looking to learn more about the fundamentals of game design:
- A Pleasure Theory for Game Design, by Raph Koster
A Theory of Fun is widely considered a classic and is often included as a requirement in textbooks for college-level game design courses. Raph Koster investigates what keeps games going and keeps players coming back for longer over decades, if not centuries. The 10and The anniversary edition of the book discusses the changing demographics of gaming, the impact of creative choices, and the most important element of any game design: fun.
- The Art of Game Design: A Book of Objectives, by Jesse Schell
In The Art of Game Design, author and video game designer Jesse Schell examines how principles that date back to classic board games, card games, and even sports activities influence today’s modern video games. The third edition includes information on designing AR, VR and F2P games. Working through the book’s hundreds of questions will help marketers tap into the psychological space that connects designers and gamers in the gaming world.
- Game Feel: A Game Designer’s Guide to Virtual Feel, by Steve Swink
Steve Swink takes game design one step further in Game Feel by identifying the core elements that go into every game: feel and feel. Distinct elements such as sound and musical cues, narrative metaphor, and player perception all contribute to the elusive concept of sensation and determine each individual’s experience of being truly engaged in a game. There is also a companion website which will allow marketers to experience the feel in various game designs.
Use game design principles to deliver better UA campaigns
It’s an approach those looking to gain competitive advantage while increasing return on ad spend can’t afford to ignore.
In order to take a truly theory-driven approach to AU design, marketers need to develop strong relationships with design teams and/or spend time on research-driven analytics platforms. engagement models to identify specific features that resonate the most with gamers. This information can then be used to either further refine targeting and creative within your category or, more importantly, to develop contrasting categories to target users in games that share similar features outside of your genre. domestic.
There will always be a place for campaigns that aim for the middle of the bell curve, but that cannot be the exclusive approach of UA managers in a market that is becoming more competitive by the day. Dedicating a significant portion of your team’s time and resources to campaigns focused on your product’s unique and cross-genre features is key to acquiring and retaining high-value players through design theory-driven AU .
This is a vastly underutilized approach that those looking to gain competitive advantage while increasing return on ad spend cannot afford to ignore.