Trailmix is a small but mighty studio responsible for the creation of the hit title Love & Pies, winner of the Best Casual Game at the TIGA Awards in 2021.
The studio collaborated with Unity from early stages all the way up to global release to refine their targeting, test creatives, and help them scale up their user acquisition.
Love & Pies has achieved strong engagement metrics, showing 60% retention by Day 1 (D1), as well as retaining players to an impressive 20% by Day 30 (D30). Using Unity's Performance Campaigns, the team was able to test the target audience and accelerate their growth journey after global release.
Testing target audiences and securing a revenue stream to grow their creation.
Love & Pies
Betting on diversity and storytelling
With a team of mobile gaming veterans coming from some of the largest mobile game studios, Trailmix set sail to create their first game with a clear vision in mind: Crafting a new breed of casual match 3 games. Their mission was to tell a compelling and entertaining story while having an inclusive set of characters from different ages, genders, races, and ethnicities that would be representative of their player base.
Using the Unity Engine as their development platform of choice, they came up with Love & Pies, a game where they give people an intriguing storyline about a family-owned business – a café that has mysteriously been burned down.
Players are presented with a series of challenges, packed with narrative developments, romantic encounters, opportunities to combine game elements to help rebuild and decorate the café, and help solve the mystery behind it.
Eye-catching visuals, paired with what they call “delicious drama” has paid off for the studio, which has seen their creation grow with a loyal player base and won Best Casual Game at the TIGA Awards in 2021.
- 60% retention by D1
- 20% D30 retention
- 10% retention by D120
- 10% of installs come from Unity
Going into soft launch with the right tools
Love & Pies went through a thorough testing phase via a soft launch, for which Trailmix used Unity’s Scale and Performance Campaigns. This approach helped them determine the right mix of bidding and geo strategies, types of ad creatives, and storyline that would allow them to hit their goals for revenue, daily active users (DAU), return on ad spend (ROAS), retention, and engagement.
Yoojin Jung, head of user acquisition and growth at Trailmix, says their team started using Unity’s Advertising solutions very early in the process when Love & Pies was just out of its development phases and going into soft launch. Working with Unity, Jung and her team saw an opportunity to refine targeting tactics around geographies and audiences, define their roadmap to ROAS, and tweak the gameplay for better engagement and retention.
Jung said: “Unity was present at every stage of our production and it quickly became our main channel to run user acquisition campaigns. They really embedded themselves into our daily operations and came up with solutions that matched our needs."
“We wanted to do this in phases, so they suggested we start with their Scale Campaigns to measure CPI, and later use Performance Campaigns, which allowed us to run tests during soft launch while optimizing both for retention and ROAS.”
Showcasing the player experience
Trailmix takes pride in the experience they provide to their players, and this starts with the creative they use to acquire new ones. They put a lot of attention into crafting and testing the ad creative that goes into their campaigns, all with the goal of providing a great experience to players even before they install Love & Pies.
Philippa Layburn, user acquisition manager at Trailmix, talks about how testing different video creatives, and switching up some ad styles that reflected the story of the game, resulted in very high conversion rates. “Love & Pies saw a higher conversion rate compared to our competitors in the same game category.”
Launching Scale Campaigns with Unity to run early testing of their ad creatives allowed the team to really identify what resonated with their audiences. Throughout this, they always tracked cost-per-install (CPI) as a starting point, and eventually achieved performance that was better than benchmarks for games in the same category.
Jung said: “Coming out of soft launch having figured out the types of creative that appealed to our audience, and validating how to integrate gameplay and storytelling into our campaigns, left us in a very good place to keep pushing for higher retention metrics past D7, also opening the door to improve our monetization strategy.”
Thorough testing leading to a global success
Testing and iterating is the name of the game for Trailmix. Unity helped the studio to implement install and retention tests on key markets that included allowlists and source targeting to reach audiences based on the sources predicted to have more value for the studio. This allowed them to expand to other geographies with great success.
The information gathered by the team during their four-month soft launch ended up being crucial to a smooth global rollout. Having data on CTR, conversion rates, CPI, retention, and ROAS, Trailmix was able to identify which sources were the best suited for their global release campaigns.
Jung said: “We didn’t stop at just measuring and monitoring certain benchmarks. We also used the soft launch to validate our assumptions about gameplay and give players the opportunity to preview elements of the game through our ad creatives."
“An example is ad creative showing how players could decorate game scenarios. We saw a huge increase in CTR on those ads and that informed the product team’s decisions to include more decoration elements in the storyline.”
The trail to success
After having rolled out globally, 10% of installs for Love & Pies come from Unity and our Performance Campaigns has helped them inform their strategy for UA. The studio’s thorough testing and iterations very early in the game, paid off as they were able to sustain a 60% retention rate by D1, 20% retention by D30, and 10% retention by D120 with a ROAS that has been consistent during global launch, allowing them to scale up the scope of their campaigns as Love & Pies grew in popularity.
Jung adds: “We scaled up with Unity’s Performance Campaigns in order to acquire quality players. We were able to reach players that were primed for a match 3 game and who just wanted to keep coming back for more. Our success has allowed us to enrich the game’s storyline and keep feeding our snackable content to our happy audiences.”
Jung continues: “Using Unity’s tools during our soft launch phase allowed us to get a clear picture of the metrics we wanted to track, the marketability of the game, whether our creative was resonating with our audience, and where to dive deeper to keep optimizing after the global launch.”
Trailmix and the team at Unity have worked together to achieve user acquisition success with Love & Pies, from soft launch to global release. A partnership that unifies creators around their game and puts them on a trail to success.