$1B in revenue & $1m Ad Spend per Day - How Monopoly Go got there | Skill Tree #52
Content: 1) How to Do UA Like Monopoly Go! 2) Monetizing via SkipIt IAPs 3) Five Pillars of Emergent Gameplay
This week we’re looking deeper into how games can acquire users and monetize effectively.
Monopoly Go’s user acquistion strategy to reach $1B in revenue in 7 months
SkipIts as a promising monetization tool
How to keep players invested with emergent gameplay
🎲 How to Do UA Like Monopoly Go! 🔗
You’ve probably seen Monopoly Go a number of times already. It’s everywhere! Ad spend is estimated to be $1M+ per day and that investment has been proven incredibly successful. Monpoly Go generated $1B in revenue in just 7 months.
The user acquisition (UA) strategy unlocks a number of learnings that can even be applied by teams with smaller marketing budgets.
Targeted Ad Creatives
Monopoly Go is running a large number of ad creatives in parallel. Each bucket of ads focuses on 1 aspect of the gameplay (Monopoly IP, wealth accumulation, social interaction), thereby targeting a specific audience. This allows the game to reach a broad audience while still tailoring their messaging to user interests.
Monopoly Go uses interactive ads to showcase real gameplay. That’S different from some casual games which use more deceptive tactics.
Monopoly Go is available in 10 languages and started localizing ads early on. This is helpful to get broad coverage across geographical markets and create a sense of hype.
Astroturfing Social Media Content
Monopoly Go paid TikTok influencers to focus on memeable aspects of the gameplay, like competitve social interactions. This led other creators to make similar content for free. Monopoly focused on TikTok as it has proven to be a better channel for product discovery and creating word-of-mouth than other social media platforms.
For the older use base, Monopoly allows players to link their Facebook account to bootstrap its social mechanics. Scopely, the creators of Monopoly Go, even set up a Facebook group for trading in-game cards with 4m memebers and 10k posts/day.
Get distribution outside of the App Store and Google Play
Monopoly Go is on the app stores of Amazon, Samsung, Huawei, One, and Xiaomi. They provide an additional distribution channel for a new audience with no downside. Discoverability tends to be better as well because of a limited app selection.
On the topic of UA: I wrote a thread discussing what to consider when directly paying users for watching ads, an idea we sometimes see promoted in crypto.
⏭️ Monetizing via SkipIt IAPs 🔗
SkipIts are a trend in apps with rewarded videos. Why? Because they monetize better! Users are willing to pay 8x more to skip rewarded ads than game studios would make from ad revenue.
How does it work
SkipIts are in-app purchases (IAPs) that allow players to skip rewarded ads. They can easily be added to rewarded ad mechanics and do not divide the player base like other IAPs as users receive the rewards either way.
Compared to traditional “remove ads“ IAPs, SkipIts provide more spending depth.
SkipIts are also flexible. They can be added to battle passes as an incentive (with a limited number of skips to retain spending depth).
SkipIts sell for 10-30 cents while an ad view brings in ~2 cents. That’s a 5-15x revenue increase. Popular SkipIts are priced at 15 cents.
SkipIt implementation details
Show SkipIt option in addition to rewarded ads prompt or replace it (meaning when users have a SkipIt but don’t use it, they don’t get the reward)? Most games do the latter
Can combine SkipIts with “Remove ad“ IAPs. SkipIts for rewarded ads, ad removal for banners and interstitials
Games that already use a premium currency to obtain rewards offered by video ads will benefit less from SkipIts
🛠️ Five Pillars of Emergent Gameplay 🔗
Creating content for videogames takes an immense amount of resources. But it has proven important to retain players. The alternative option is to create content in such as way that gives players more options of interacting with the world, creating opportunities for emergent gameplay. Examples of this include Minecraft, Subnautica, Ark, Escape from Tarkov, or Tears of the Kingdom with its physics-based sandbox elements.
The Five Pillars of Emergent Gameplay
Design systems, not content. Instead of passively consuming content, players need to have the means of engaging with the game in a deeper way. For example, by using a combination of interacting items and abilities to solves challenges. This comes down to the basic building blocks of gameplay.
Don’t be scared of PVP. Multiplayer adds unpredictability to the game. No situation is the same. It also opens up the gameplay to emergent social elements.
Player skill is progression. You don’t need a levelling system. Unlocked equipment is only helpful when a player knows how to use it.
Don't define what it means to 'win'. That would limit player creativity. Give them systems to define their own victories (e.g. achievements, trophies).
Implement procedural generation sparingly. Procedurally-generated content may lack polish and feel directionless. The feeling of freshness can come from PVP interactions or new ways of combining abilities.