Elecube: A Game Growth case study
Game Growth is a game accelerator for mobile indie developers. We partner with indies so they can quickly and effectively scale their games while remaining 100% independent.
Improve revenue pipelines, acquire more high-quality players - all while ensuring player experience remains consistently high.
Introducing Clone Armies
Clone Armies is the brainchild of Petr Bouzek and David Šimek, two game developers in the Czech Republic with a shared passion for games. Elecube was founded with the principles of creating player-first experiences built from the ground up with the community - a philosophy that caused Clone Armies to rapidly grow and retain a loyal player base.
- Players that are less likely to engage with in-app purchases benefit from rewards while supporting the developers.
- Day 7 lifetime value was increased by 35% with the integration of ads.
- With fluctuating in-app purchases, a steady rise in ad revenue helped add a strong foundation of revenue to Clone Armies.
- No significant negative effects on Day 1, Day 3, and Day 7 retention.
Thinking player first
For Petr and David, while revenue is important, the player experience takes precedence over everything. Clone Armies has the potential to transform Elecube into a successful full-time indie studio, but improving monetization without compromising on player experience is always a tough challenge –even for veteran game developers.
“We wanted to move the project to another level. Although we had almost 10 million downloads when signing up to the program, we felt a bit stuck due to a combination of not having enough experience and insufficient capital to step up the game.” - David Šimek, Co-founder, Elecube
Elecube joined Game Growth with a strong development roadmap and understanding of their players’ motivations. The challenge was around the business essentials like data-tracking, user acquisition, monetization improvements, and in-app purchase (IAP) boosting. Petr and David had tried to build ads into Clone Armies before, but saw player retention drop off and little revenue increase.
Revenue vs. player experience
“We tried to implement regular video ads but were inexperienced and gave up when the ads were not performing very well,” mentions David, “we monetized Clone Armies solely with IAP for the past 1-2 years and were not earning money from the majority of the players.” For Elecube, driving towards rewarded ads is an important balance between monetization and player experience - driving revenue while giving players a choice.
Furthermore, while Elecube had the development depth to create outstanding player experiences, they didn’t have the analytics expertise to take full advantage of player data. This made it more difficult to accurately predict the impact of major feature changes and monetization updates on Clone Armies.
Building a data pipeline
The Game Growth team worked closely with Elecube to improve their game-data pipeline, which enabled us to understand player behavior and motivations. Using deltaDNA, we leveraged these player insights and conducted A/B testing across Clone Armies with a focus on implementing interstitial ads. This gave us the data points needed to build in revenue-driving changes without disrupting players enjoyment.
- With A/B testing, we began by testing the performance of interstitial ads between single-player missions.
- Conscious about the potential negative impact on players, ads were limited to only new players and capped at 50% of the player population overall - leaving a control group.
- With custom dashboards created directly on deltaDNA, we discovered that the interstitial ads had no significant impact on retention, while contributing positively to that cohort overall revenue.
- By lowering the control group share of the population in the A/B test, the interstitial ads were now seen by a larger amount of users.
Creating value with ads
Once we better understood the impact of ad placement on retention, we worked on placing both rewarded and interstitial ads without disrupting the core player experience. Working hand-in-hand with Petr and David, we worked on building interstitial ads in single-player modes with further extensive A/B testing. With the introduction of rewarded ads and interstitials, Elecube saw an increase in daily ad revenue with no drop in retention or IAP revenue.
“With the Game Growth team, we managed to implement ads in a way that wasn’t intrusive for our players, as well as get better insight in our IAP monetization.” mentions Petr Bouzek, Co-founder, Elecube.
- Elecube worked with Game Growth on the best placements and analyzed player motivations for rewards. This resulted in a reward placement that generated nearly 3x as many hits over other placements in the game.
- 70% of players who watched a rewarded ad once, watched on average between 1 and 3 times.
- These ads were designed specifically to create value for players, without disrupting the core game experience.
- Players that won’t engage with in-app purchases benefit from rewards while supporting the developers.