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The holidays are upon us, and this is the perfect time to implement a few simple strategies to increase your mobile game revenue during one of the highest revenue and download periods of the year.

Online sales over the holidays are on track to cross the $200 billion mark in 2021.

And while this number isn’t related to any specific industry, it’s important to note that the same purchasing behavior and consumption patterns during the holiday season are also similar drivers behind global gaming downloads.

According to Facebook’s Gaming Playbook, mobile game downloads have spiked between October and January annually for the past five years. And this year will be no different.

* Source: Sensor Tower, Mobile Game Downloads from App Store and Google Play, 90 countries, Sep 2016 to Sep 2021.

Google Play Store downloads in particular experience a much larger spike during Q4 annually. With an ever-increasing number of players spending more time playing mobile games during the holiday season, this is a prime time to push in-game revenue.

And while that’s good news for mobile game developers and publishers, it comes as no surprise that user acquisition for those eyeballs (and fingers!) is fiercely competitive and more expensive throughout the holiday season. Industry forecasts estimate a staggering 30-40% spike in CPM between now and Christmas.

While these spikes are unavoidable, game developers can implement a few simple tactics to increase holiday revenue and complement their UA spend.

Simple Tactics to Boost Game Revenue This Holiday Season

This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Developers need to activate strategies and tactics that fit their games’ players, gameplay, and monetization models.

We have, however, found success in implementing a few simple tactics in the lead up to this year’s holiday season:

  • Thoughtful sales + promotions
  • Holiday themes, events, and content
  • Seasonal tips for ad monetization

Thoughtful Sales and Promotions

Putting items on sale is one of the easiest and most straightforward methods to increase revenue. However, just like overindulging in real life, sales can also end up flooding your game economy and leaving you with lower revenue in the long run.
A great way to turbocharge monetization in December is to focus on special deals that drive players to engage more in your game, and in turn create more demand for your hard currency. VIP programs, unique limited-time themed items, and even smart adjustments to existing AP elements such as Piggy Banks can further engage existing players and generate higher ROI.

Here are a few examples: 

This past Thanksgiving, we worked closely with our partner Idle Inn Tycoon to create a special, limited offer ‘Turkey Bank,’ to replace their popular Piggy Bank IAP. We selected this specific IAP because:

  • The Piggy Bank was already a popular IAP in the game that collects a percentage of coins spent on upgradings – allowing players to open and acquire coins at a cheaper cost.
  • As this is a feature that rewards engaged players, we were confident that coins earned would be immediately spent and not hoarded in the game.
  • Finally, this IAP was something players could buy multiple times, with the benefit increasing with each repeat purchase.

The upgraded ‘Turkey Bank’ was responsible for a 70% increase in IAP purchases and a 50%+ increase in WoW revenue — more than doubling transactions and gross revenue over the long weekend.

Superstar Hockey’s Black Friday bundles are another example of how smart promotions can drive revenue and player engagement. They released bundled card packs offering x3 rewards, resulting in 160% increase in total revenue over the long weekend.

Superstar Hockey’s Black Friday bundles are another example of how smart promotions can drive revenue and player engagement. They released bundled card packs offering x3 rewards, resulting in 160% increase in total revenue over the long weekend.

Holiday Themes, Events + Content

As simple as this may seem, integrating fun festive themes and dedicated holiday events into gameplay is a popular retention tool used by most game developers and publishers throughout the holiday season. It’s a great tactic to grow community engagement, retention, and has a direct correlation to revenue generation.

To supplement any holiday theme, it is worth updating your icon and maybe even your screenshots. This will help give existing players the indication that new content is in the game. Update your Google LiveOps cards and description with your content updates, and consider updating content and the LiveOps cards once a month to potentially have a higher chance of being noticed by Google Play’s feature team. Similarly, Apple recently launched In-App Events, which you can apply within the Developer console and share your events with anyone who sees your landing page.

This past October in Legendary Game of Heroes, we hosted a month-long Halloween event where players worked together (in a cooperative Halloween gameplay mode) to unlock seasonal rewards and earn valuable heroes. This play-to-earn feature rewarded daily logins which in turn led to strong re-engagement for lapsed players. This tactic not only created special purchase options within collective gameplay, but it also increased the monthly ROAS +70% and decreased CPI by more than 50%.

Seasonal Tips for Ad Monetization

Efficient spend of budgets and management of monetization tactics during the expensive holiday season is vital. It is worth considering the following best practices in addition to your holiday efforts this coming December:

  1. Add branding networks to your mediation stack
  2. Move up the price floors gradually throughout December, ensuring that you maximize fill at inflated price points
  3. Make sure that your waterfalls are as tight as possible, ensuring no latency for the high earning period

For more evergreen ad monetization best practices, feel free to check out our admon blog.

Happy Holidays

While there’s no concrete solution to avoid high CPM & CPI during the holidays, game developers can apply some simple last-minute tactics to hopefully boost year-end revenue.

And while most game developers and publishers dread spikes in UA costs throughout the holiday season, we’d advise developers to plan for an increase in UA spend in the more cost-effective post-holiday, Q1 timeframe.

Learn more about how to scale your game or our UA partner program.