If you don’t find him in a café churning out words, you’ll have to listen to him talking about writing stuff. Sid is a writer who spent most of his childhood either playing games (he was a semi-professional Warcraft 3 gosu), or reviewing them for various tech media outlets. He holds a college degree in Journalism and likes to annoy his neighbours by playing one of his three electric guitars.

Mobile Audience Targeting 101

(1200x600) Target an Audience on Mobile

Targeting Dimensions

The world has gone mobile. Recent data has shown that, for the first time ever, more people are searching Google through a mobile device, rather than a desktop or a laptop computer. This data was released in October 2015, which in ‘Internet years’ is almost ancient history.

At the same time, the amount of mobile devices in use worldwide is increasing, fast. This usage, also called ‘mobile penetration’, was at 4.43 billion for 2015, according to the statistics portal Statista. Moreover, there are no hints of the penetration slowing down – by 2019 there will be more than 5.07 billion mobile devices in use, worldwide.

# of mobile phone users

Global mobile penetration [Credit: Statista (screenshot)]

The conclusion of this introduction is simple – if your marketing strategy does not revolve around mobile devices, you’re doing it wrong. Everyone’s on their smartphones nowadays, and if you’re not there, you’re missing out.

But usage habits are completely different for desktop/laptop users versus mobile users, especially mobile app users. The interface is completely different, user experience is completely different, ultimately leading us to conclude that your online marketing campaign simply won’t cut it on mobile. You need to adapt.

Having such a diverse audience (4.43 billion users all over the world, from different countries, with different cultures and habits), has led to more targeting options, and in order to properly target your audience, you should research each one and use those that will yield the best results.

There are many targeting options on mobile, including basic ones which should be something all businesses should employ, no matter the type of work they do: targeting by location, device model, platform, geography, usage and activity.

Then there are the more advanced types of targeting, which brands and enterprises with deeper pockets should consider based on the type of work they do: users can be targeted based on installed apps, app genres, cross-app activity, in-app events, in-app revenue, social graph, demographics and salary, credit score and financial data, machine learned, interests and affinity, persona and finally – intent.

Let’s take a look at the basic targeting options you should consider, regardless of the type of work your organization does:

Basic Targeting Dimensions

  • Geography – Different countries, different lifestyles and different habits – in the end even different standard of living, all affect how your app will perform. If it’s popular in North America, that doesn’t mean it will be popular in Latin America. But it does mean you could use that knowledge to your advantage, regionally. A game’s popularity, shown through a high mobile user acquisition, will reflect in the top charts, which are fragmented geographically. However, apps tend to diffuse between close geos. So if an app is turning out to be a success in, say, Argentina, you might want to try and expand that popularity to Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil.
  • Device models – One of my usual arguments when discussing mobile marketing is ‘If Facebook’s doing it, then it must be worth it’, and in this particular case, Facebook does allow you to target users by device. If you’re lacking other data, you can use targeting by device model to determine someone’s socioeconomic status and persona. Obviously, someone spending $700+ on a smartphone does not behave in the same way as someone who spends $200, max.
  • Platform – Through targeting by platform, marketers are able to reach out to users based on the mobile platform they use – Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, etc. An obvious example of when this can be useful is if your app is available only on a specific platform.
  • Location – Location is one of the primary drivers for a mobile user’s experience. Many apps base their entire existence on the location of the user (notable examples being Lyft or Foursquare). Knowing where an app user is located, or knowing areas around the world where your app is (or isn’t) popular, can be key to creating a successful advertising strategy. This type of targeting is extremely useful for targeted promotions. For example, if Dunkin’ Donuts is offering nationwide promotions at local shops, you want to show the Central Park creative ad to 5th Avenue dwellers, and the Venice Beach ad to someone in Los Angeles.
  • Activity – Is your targeted audience immersed into mobile apps, or are they mostly casual users? Do they personalize their apps, or are they just looking for a quick update on something before moving on? It’s important to know how many times a user opens a specific app (number of sessions), and how long does that user stay with the app (session duration).  It also helps to target users by session recency, as a proxy to user engagement and “freshness”.
  • Days/Hours – Our SOOMLA Q1 2016 Mobile Insights Report says that users are most active during weekends. An Appsflyer report suggests the same. You can build your ad frequency around such intelligence, making sure the maximum number of people see the message you’re trying to communicate.

These were the basic parameters that marketers usually take into consideration when building a mobile advertising strategy. However, you shouldn’t stick just to these, as they’re too generic. If you’re really interested in penetrating the heart of your audience, you’ll need a more detailed approach. Here are the advanced targeting options you can try:

Advanced Targeting Dimensions

  • Installed apps – Millennials play more games than business people, and young parents are more inclined to track finances or download a parenting app. Every football fan will have a live scores app installed. You can target specific audiences based on the apps they have installed on their mobile device.  Combining this with other targeting dimensions doubles down the odds of hitting the right people.  For example, a major league baseball app owner located in St. Louis is likely to be a Cardinals fan.
  • App genres – Games are, by far, the most popular app genre out there, but business, educational or lifestyle apps also have a large audience. Each app genre has its own users and their specific habits.
games most popular app

Games are the most popular app genre by far [Credit: Statista (screenshot)]

  • In-app events – If you thought simply installing the app is everything a mobile marketer can and should be tracking, you’re in for a big surprise. There are a number of different in-app events you can track and form your marketing strategy around, such as how many times the app was opened, which features users engage with, have they linked it to other apps and services, etc. This is, however, a highly demanding element, in both infrastructure and manpower, which is why it’s mostly used by the biggest players. It is often used as means of re-engagement on existing users, as opposed to targeting new users. So, for example, having a CRM that manages all of your game’s users, can track level progression which would enable you to segment all players who’ve reached level 5 and target only them in your campaigns.
  • In-app revenue – Some would place this parameter under the ‘in-app events’ part, but I’d like to single it out as it is quite an important feature. The SOOMLA report says people who have made a purchase in one app are six times more likely to make a purchase in the next, and the percentage grows as the number of apps in use grow. Knowing who the spenders are, together with a couple of other parameters can prove highly useful for your campaign.  While only 1-2% of your users will ever pay, this small list of users can be expanded with lookalike features such as those provided by Facebook and SOOMLA Audiences.
  • Social graph – Social graph, or the social fingerprint, is the trace people leave online, on their social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. Marketers can track people that like, share or comment on certain types of content, serving ads which might be of direct interest to them. Marketers can also expand on the idea, if they move with the assumption that the friends of people with a specific social fingerprint have similar interests, as well as friends of friends, of friends and so on. So, for example, if you’re interested in traveling, your friends might also be, and their friends, quite likely.
  • Demographics – I had my doubts whether to put this in the Basic section or here. Targeting people by demographics means looking for groups with specific denominators, such as age, gender, location, annual income and marital status.
  • User lists – The most up close and personal method of advertising is called ‘User lists’, and that’s basically like a newsletter for your app. Except it’s not a newsletter, it’s an ad. And it’s not in your email, but on your smartphone apps. But seriously, it works in a similar way – the advertiser provides a precise list of devices, based on their IDFAs (Identifier for Advertising – Apple) or Advertising IDs (Android), and tells the ad network to target only those people. This is the most accurate type of advertising as it works by “show these ads ONLY to these people” principle.

Advanced mechanics are a bit more sophisticated and work well when combined with the basic ones we covered earlier in the article. They allow for pinpoint marketing and are a great tool for specific industries targeting specific types of people. There are even more advanced techniques, ones which have just recently started to enter the mainstream, and they require what is now known as Big Data and Machine Learning.

Big data revolves around data sets that are simply too large for data processing tools of today to handle. Facebook would be a good example, as the company gets enormous input about its users, with the emphasis being on – users. So big data revolves more around app users, what they like and dislike, and less about the app itself. Such insights can help marketers tailor strategies with filigree precision, and we can split the parameters in:

AI-Driven Targeting Dimensions

Yes, AI does stand for Artificial Intelligence and yes, it’s exactly what you think it would be, minus the whole sentient-robot-hellbent-on-destroying-humanity thing. By applying machine learning and AI algorithms to large networks of users such as those seen on Google search, Facebook, Twitter and many more ad networks, today’s marketing platforms can infer a higher order of attributes that characterize precise audiences on mobile:

  • Interests/Affinity – Targeting users based on their interests and activity requires extensive knowledge on what those users do on their mobile devices. We can target users based on other apps they use, websites they visit, things they browse and buy.  Once again, Facebook is the master of this domain.  By owning the media upon which 1.6 billion users worldwide dwell on daily, Facebook can tell what each users likes – from gardening to rugby to strategy games.
  • Persona – Persona targeting can be described (although brutally simplified), as in-depth demographic targeting. Instead of knowing the basic demographic information like how old someone is or where that person lives, knowing a more personal side, like interests, hobbies and habits is what goes under persona targeting. For example, smartphone and, more precisely, app usage, can tell you that older businessmen from France, that are also frequent flyers and are not big fans of sports, have a higher conversion rate to premium. Obviously, you’ll want to target such people with ads showing them all the benefits of switching to a premium version of your app.
  • Intent – A lot of people browse online, or over their mobile devices, without really wanting to buy anything. That’s like the digital equivalent of window shopping. However, that becomes a problem for marketers as they’re serving (and paying for) ads to people that don’t really plan on spending any cash. Luckily for all of us, there’s now a way to target people based on their intent. It’s quite a large and thorough approach, which requires a lot of data – including shopping habits, previous purchases, mobile shopping frequency, etc. However, having a machine scour through a lot of that data can give marketers the upper hand and allow for individual targeting. This is also used in unison with deep linking – a technique in which a person that has already installed an app via an ad, is taken to a specific location within the app, instead of the home screen. So for example, if a person was looking to book a hotel in Vienna at a specific time and finds an app to do that, once installed and ran, that app will take him straight to the booking section, with the proper dates and the right hotel already selected.

Platform Overview

Now that you know what to look for when targeting an audience here are a few examples of the leading audience targeting platforms.

  • facebook-logoimage-facebook-logopng-moshi-monsters-wiki-dmua0wep1Facebook Audiences: Easily create audience lists with Facebook, currently the targeting leader in the industry and the most popular choice for brands and performance marketers. You can either upload you own lists, create lookalike audiences or create new audiences. Facebook targeting dimensions include basic (location, age, gender, language) or detailed targeting (demographics, interests, behaviors, Facebook categories). Some unique targeting features to Facebook include targeting by connections via pages, apps or events. For each category you can target people who like your page/app/event, friends of people who like your page/app/event and exclude people who like your page/app/event. Facebook also supports audience retargeting based on a pixel in your website.


  • Twitter Audiences: You can create a Twitter audience from multiple resources such as uploading your own list, making a tag to collect website visitors or collecting your mobile app users. Logo_twitter_wordmark_1000Like Facebook, Twitter also supports audience retargeting based on a unique pixel for your website. Depending on your objective you can define your own audience dimensions by:  
    • Location
    • Gender
    • Language
    • Device/Platform/Carrier
    • Additional Audience Features: keywords, followers, interests, tailored audiences, TV targeting, behaviors, and event targeting (reaches people interested in global or regional events)

Twitter’s additional audience features are very unique because they allow you to target specific followers via their Twitter username. You can also target by interest categories to increase your reach. Or target by keywords that are relevant to your campaign and company.


  • BlueKai: Acquired by Oracle in 2014, BlueKai offers target audiences through its Oracle ID Graph. bluekaiIt reaches more than 90% of US online consumers by connecting: mobile IDs, email, postal addresses, social IDs and cookie IDs.
  • SOOMLA Audiences: With SOOMLA’s audiences dashboard you can now either upload a seed audience and generateSoomla-Logo-Blue a lookalike list or create a custom audience. It is the only platform that can segment audiences by in-app purchase patterns.  The custom audience dimensions include:
      • Country
      • Size
      • Genres
      • Type (Payers, Non-Payers, All)
      • Playing Recency
      • Paying Recency
      • Amount Paid (range)
      • Times Purchased
      • Retention

SOOMLA Audiences

  • PushSpring: Started in 2013, PushSpring offers custom segments, personas and app genre audience targeting. 1356With their Persona Explorer, the targeting dimensions include:
    • Life Stage: capture characteristics, behaviors, and patterns that define key life events for consumers
    • Interest & Activity: provides marketers with a comprehensive view of mobile consumer interests such as green friendly, avid skier, or a TV geek.
    • Intent: derived from observed mobile user behavior patterns across a variety of app and device signals that indicate definitive consumer intent for a product or service category such as cruise shoppers, apartment hunters, or impulse buyers.


  • Adience: A mobile audience management platform, Adience allows for audience tracking to help mobile applications understand their audiences icon2-adience_logomore clearly. With Adience, you can track: gender, age, geography, interests, likelihood of converting to premium, likelihood of installing app and personas.
  • Acxiom: Target users based on their interests with individual campaigns. Acxiom allows you to target by specific industry or event such as non-profit, political, retail, insurance and many other options. acxiom-logo-rAcxiom also has data packages already created that target specific holidays such as Easter, Father’s Day, Halloween and their packages also include Big Game and Tax Time.   

All this time, we’ve been discussing how to target different types of people, but not once have we mentioned what we’re targeting them with, and if not more important, then it’s at least equally important when building a quality ad strategy.

You can do a lion’s share of work with targeting, but if your ad sucks, you’re just doing Sisyphean tasks. And that’s where the two worlds collide – your target audience, no matter how carefully pinpointed it is, can still be fragmented when it comes to its reaction towards your ad.

Let’s say you want to advertise a new restaurant in town. Health and fitness-conscious females might like seeing an ad showing some healthy chicken salad, while those older businessmen from France would react better to an ad showing some nice beef steak and a glass of red wine. Luckily for all of us, we can set up a campaign with countless different adsets, each targeting a different group, based on any and all of the elements we showed above, and that’s something you should be doing.

The bottom line is – targeting is awesome, but works properly only when combined with ad creatives carefully built for the specific audience that’s being targeted.

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Top Ten Push Notification Platforms – 2016

(1200x600) Push Notification Platforms

If someone asked you to single out the one, most important communication element of today’s smartphone, what would it be? Making a phone call probably isn’t, as more and more people use smartphones for a lot of stuff, but phoning isn’t one of them.

So, what else? According to various experts, Gigwalk CEO Ariel Seidman being one of them, it’s push notifications that take the crown. He calls it ‘tapping people on the shoulder’, and that’s a big deal because it’s virtually impossible to tap such a vast amount of people on the shoulder, basically at the same time.

Such an important feature which can be integrated into any mobile app or game deserves tons of attention, and in this article I will list some of the most popular and best mobile push notification platforms out there.

But before I proceed with the list, let’s first take a look at what push notifications actually are and how they’re being used today.


What is a push notification?

There are two types of notifications on today’s smartphones, called push notifications and pull notifications. A pull notification is created when the user asks the server for particular information. To put it in simple terms, a user must be using a particular app, and ask for particular info, in order to get it from the app. For example, if you use an app to monitor football results and open it to refresh it to get the latest info – you’ll receive a pull notification because, as the name suggests, you pulled the info. Another example would be a weather forecasting app – if you open it and tap refresh to get the latest data on the temperature and the forecast, you’ll be getting a pull notification.

Example of a push notification. Credit: Eric Ritchey / Flickr

Example of a push notification. Credit: Eric Ritchey / Flickr

Push notifications work differently – users don’t necessarily need to use the app or game in that particular moment for it to send a notification to the user. Every time you receive a Facebook or Twitter message, or a breaking news story that appears on your locked smartphone screen, you’re actually looking at a push notification.

Users usually need to opt-in to receive such notifications, and options to control them are usually presented to the user just after an app is installed. Of course, every app allows for this feature to be turned off or back on at any particular time.

Problems with push notifications

This function, however, should not be as straightforward as it is today.

Siedman sees two distinct ways developers should communicate with the user – either through push notifications, or via email. He compares those two to tapping people on the shoulder or sending them actual mail. Out of that he draws one simple conclusion: what type of content deserves to be delivered by tapping people on the shoulder, and what should be sent via mail, to be consumed when there’s more time?

Privacy and intimacy vs annoyance and distraction is what is at play here, and a lot of developers don’t seem to notice the difference, pushing notifications for things that can wait, ultimately leads people to turning off the feature completely.

And just like that, you’ve lost an amazing way to communicate with your users, to send them notifications about any special offers and innovations you might have been offering at the moment.

The problem here lies in the way push notifications are handled – they can either be turned on or off, often there’s no middle ground. This is a shame because, as Siedman sees it, you don’t simply allow or prevent everyone in real life to tap you on the shoulder. Some people can do it, others can’t. Usually there are no push notifications for specific topics within a game or app, and that is something developers should have in mind before deciding to implement push notifications.

Now that we know what push notifications are, how they work and what the biggest obstacles to their proper functioning are, let’s take a look at some of the best platforms for the service you can find.

urban airship#1 Urban Airship

One of the oldest and most popular push notification platforms is Urban Airship. Founded in 2009, it is usually the first place where app developers in need of mobile app optimization go. It has tens of thousands of apps using it, and offers various types of pushes, including pushing to a particular platform (iOS or Android) or specifically tagged devices (tagged beforehand).

Its biggest setback seems to be pricing – many users claim they’re significantly more expensive than the competition. The first million pushes each month are free, after that – every push costs $0.001 and every rich media push costs $0.0025.

pushwoosh#2 PushWoosh

Push Woosh is a close second, and a real contender to the number one spot. Its most popular features include the localization option, which allows devs to send push notifications in different languages with one click, based on the language settings each receiver has on its phone, as well as the rich free plan. The free account offers support for five apps and a million devices, that can get an unlimited amount of notifications. According to Folio3, PushWoosh has the cheapest premium plan of the bunch, starting at €39.95 per month ($49).

onesignal#3 OneSignal

OneSignal is a relatively young platform, which first appeared in the wild back in March 2013. Besides being able to send push notifications to mobile devices, it can also notify users on PCs through its Web Push API. It supports all the biggest / most important platforms out there, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8.1 (no word on Windows 10 just yet), Chrome Native and Web Push (Chrome, Safari, Firefox). It even supported the now discontinued Amazon Fire. Its biggest advantage is that it offers a free tier that can be used by anyone, from the tiniest to the largest firms. It features per-user localization, segmentation, A/B testing and real-time analytics, just to name a few features. Some people have said they had a few issues setting the platform up, but have praised the support team and said that once set up, works like a charm. OneSignal works well with SOOMLA – game developers can discover potential payers with the GROW Insights API, and segment those users in OneSignal to target them later. You can find more details in this code sample.

carnival#4 Carnival.io

Founded in 2008 and headquartered in New York, Carnival is considered to be one of the most balanced mobile marketing platforms – one which dances perfectly between the needs of developers making the apps, and marketers, actually using both the app and the service. It doesn’t have a price list on its website, so you’ll need to drop them a line if you’re interested, but it seems as they don’t offer a free plan. On the other hand, some developers that have tried the platform say their basic plan starts at $250/month, which breaks down to some $0.007 – $0.01 per monthly active users, which is a pretty solid deal. Its key selling point seems to be good integration with big analytics providers which allows you to submit your events into platforms like Localytics or Mixpanel.

streethawk#5 StreetHawk

StreetHawk is having a hard time floating on top of search engine results as the American TV series of the same name keeps popping up. It’s selling itself as a complete mobile engagement platform which can help you increase the lifetime value of your users. It offers some nifty and rich actions without programming requirements, including rich media push notifications, advanced analytics, geofences and iBeacons. It offers three pricing plans, ‘Start’, ‘Engage’ and ‘Predict’, where Start is free for up to 10,000 users. The platform also offers free trial for the other two plans, but if you want exact prices, you’ll have to send them a nudge. Here’s where its downside also seems to be hiding, as some developers have called StreetHawk’s pricing plans “one of the more complicated plan structures out there”.

pushIO#6 Push.io

With a key selling point in the AutoPush service, Push.io aims to be the number one solution for businesses looking to automate a few features. Through AutoPush, users can automate both building and serving push notifications. Push.io is a B2B company founded in 2009, and acquired by Responsys in 2014. Soon after, Responsys was itself acquired by Oracle, which is why when you navigate to Push.io, you’re forwarded to Oracle’s Mobile Marketing sub-page. Its biggest disadvantage seems to be this website, which is a complete mess, and can discourage people from pursuing the service at all. It does not offer a free plan and seems to be on the expensive side, with a 30-day trial for $99. The same price goes for 25,000 push notifications.

airpush#7 Airpush

Airpush is more than ‘just’ a push notifications platform – it’s a full-blown mobile ad monetization network which also happens to offer push notifications, as well. The company boasts having more than 150,000 apps using it, and being ranked #2 on the Forbes list of Most Promising Companies in 2014. Besides offering the standard in-app monetization methods (banners, video ads, etc.) it offers push notifications and can trigger sign-ups anytime in app sessions. Many review sites out there claim Airpush is Android only, but the company says it works on iOS and mobile web, as well. It focuses its business around using push notifications for advertising, which is something you should keep in mind, together with the introduction to this article.

approxee#8 Appoxee

Appoxee is an Israeli start-up, founded in 2010 and acquired by analytics firm Teradata in 2015. For its push notifications service, it offers rich-text, preview support, audience segmentation, as well as rules and triggers support. It also offers in-app messaging, allowing you to send rich html messages to your customers from within a particular app. Considering all that tap-on-the-shoulder-vs-mail thing, this is a solid feature. These messages can contain images, coupons, special offers or videos. Another interesting feature is called “Best time to send”, which analyzes each user’s app behavior and learns when’s the best time to send a notification or a message. The only downside is that it doesn’t have a pricelist on its website, so you’ll need to drop them a line if you want to learn more. Folio3 claims a free account provides support for unlimited apps and up to 250,000 users, while the lowest premium plan costs $500/month.  

#9 Catapush

Even though it’s somewhat smaller than its competition, and a bit “rough around the edges”, Catapush offers an interesting and rarely seen feature which has earned it its place in this list. Besides the classic push notifications, Catapush offers SMS failover – when the user’s lost data connectivity, or in more extreme cases, deleted the app – users can send the push notification through SMS instead. Although this feature screams “How invasive can you get?!”, it’s an interesting one and deserves to be mentioned. Its analytics are integrated through an API, and are mostly centered around note delivery. A demo version is available online, and a free beta can be requested. As for pricing, it’s free for up to 100 recipients, while all above that needs paying. Being an Italian-based company, pricing is in Euro: €29/month for up to 2,500 recipients, all the way to €249/month for up to 25,000 recipients. Everything above that is custom tailored.  

batch#10 Batch

Batch can thank Parse for making its way onto this list as soon as it did. Truth be told, it would have probably squeezed its way in at some point, but with Parse out of the way, it’s that much easier. Batch is a very young company, with a lot of promise. If was founded in January 2014 and is headquartered in Paris, France. What sets Batch apart from other similar platforms is the feature which allows the user to index non-specific notifications and monitor what the competition is doing. As Batch co-founder explained here, it allows you to search through public notifications for keywords, effectively allowing you to track your competition and gain valuable market insights. It offers four different pricing packs, as well as a free trial for each one. Batch can be a good choice for both low-budget start-ups and big companies, as its basic pack is free of charge.

Runner Up: Parse Pushparse

Parse Push was originally the number three on the list, but as the company announced it’s shutting down, we decided to move it to the bottom. Parse Push used to be everyone’s sweetheart – one of the most loved and most stood for platforms out there. Two things are important when talking about Parse: first – it’s not a push platform per se – it’s a mobile BaaS (backend as a service), meaning it provides much more than just push services. Second, it was acquired by Facebook in 2013 for $85 million. It covers web, mobile and IoT (Internet of Things), and comes with a free one-month trial. Besides, it’s free for a million unique recipients a month, and offers scheduling, segmentation and A/B testing for free, as well. For every additional 1000 recipients, you’ll have to pay $0.05.

I used a couple of parameters when creating the list, including online reviews, publically shared personal experience from various developers, number of apps that use the service, features, company size and pricing.

In my humble opinion, this list includes the best of the bunch, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the perfect pick for your mobile game or app. There are countless others, including Google Cloud Messaging, Jeapie, MixPanel, MobDB, Amazon SNS, Quick Blox, PushWizard, Kahuna, AppBoy, Iterable, Pushbots, AppBooster, Notifica, and the list goes on and on. 

You can find the full post on the comparison between ad networks here or download the full spreadsheet below.

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Top 10 Parse Alternatives For Your Game Backend

(1200x600) Top 10 Parse Alternatives

Contrary to popular belief among mobile game developers, the recent Parse announcement that it’s shutting its services down is not the end of the world.

Wait, what?

Yes, you heard me. A few days ago, Parse announced that it is retiring, sending out ripples of disbelief and discontent across the development world. No need to panic, though, keep reading.

First of all, Parse will have a year-long cooldown period – the final shutdown is scheduled for January 28, 2017, so you have plenty of time. Second of all, the company released a database migration tool (you can find it here), as well as an open-source Parse Server, which lets you run most of the Parse API from your own Node.js server.

Third of all, we’ve created a list of the best Parse alternatives for your mobile game you can find.

Why should you care?

Parse is a mobile backend as a service (MBaaS). That is a model that has grown to become an essential part of (almost) any game, even though it is a fairly new product category, one that’s been around for roughly five years. Its services might vary to some degree, from company to company, but the basics are the same – every MBaaS will offer a cloud storage solution, push notifications, file sharing and social integrations (Facebook, Twitter), as well as messaging and communications options. In today’s world of mobile and (quite often) social gaming, you can see why these features are essential to a mobile game’s success. It removes the burden of building in-app purchase item ownership data, building player progression storage or in-game communications, to name a few, and allows the developer to focus on more pressing matters like art, game design, innovation and monetization.

This is why we can’t have nice things

Parse was an important figure in the chain – it was loved by developers for having tons of features, good documentations and quality customer support. And after it got acquired by Facebook back in 2013 for $85 million, game developers were certain the company would have a bright future ahead – flocking to use its service.

Now, panic and fear has crept up on hearts and souls of mobile developers everywhere, as they raise their hands in despair and wonder why bad things always happen to good people </drama>.

But seriously, don’t worry. While the Parse announcement spawned a lot of lists with alternatives, those mostly revolve around general apps, with little to no focus on gaming. And with gaming being a specific industry in its own right, we feel a specific list is needed. We’ve got you covered. Below you will find the top 10 Parse alternatives for your game backend (listed in no particular order).



GameSparks, which launched in 2013 and now has over 72 million players using their platform, is a good mobile backend as a service option, and one of the more popular ones. It is flexible and has a good set of features such as analytics, a management dashboard, leaderboards, and real-time and turn-based muliplayer. It runs a MAU (Monthly Active Users) cost which can be confusing, leading people to think it’s too expensive when, in fact, it offers quite a competitive price. GameSparks isn’t a prescriptive service. They provide a highly flexible, configurable and extensible platform that allows developers to build and manage their own projects.


PlayFab launched in September 2014, though behind the veil the’ve been in business for 3 years as the in-house backend for Uber Entertainment. Some will say it is the most complete backend platform, especially after it partnered with Photon, the multiplayer cloud service. With 20M players on their system and a top game holding 1 million DAU (confirmed with their team), PlayFab is no stranger to scale. Features include player accounts, virtual goods management, in-game messaging, and game data storage. Another unique PlayFab aspect is their recently launched marketplace, which makes it easy to integrate with key 3rd party services beyond Photon, such as attribution-tracking, advanced analytics, community tools, and more.

heroiclabHeroic Labs

The key selling point of HeroicLabs is the API which allows game developers to easily integrate multiplayer and social elements without needing a server backend. It focuses and optimizes mostly for massive games, games of high volume. HeroicLabs also has a code sample with SOOMLA in our knowledge base.


Gamedonia is another complete backend solution for mobile games. The cloud platform for game developers does not require a server and offers many social games and real-time elements such as PvP (player versus player) modules, in-game chat or social sharing. Gamedonia was founded in 2012 and besides offering mobile support, also works in the browser.


Kii is another developer sweetheart and a Unity partner, making its community support quite strong. Its key selling point is a burst limit of 150 API calls per second, which is quite important. On the other hand, it does not allow anonymous users. Other features include server extensions, push notifications, leaderboards and achievements. It supports iOS, Android and Windows 8.


Kinvey is one of the pioneers in the MBaaS game, which by default makes it a strong contestant for the best service out there. Compared to Parse, I’d say the two are quite similar in features: it offers cloud storage and push notifications. There’s also an easy way to integrate Facebook Open Graph for all those apps without websites. However, like Parse, it’s a general purpose MBaaS for all mobile apps, not just games.


brainCloud might make your brain hurt of all the features it offers. It calls itself “backend in a box.” It is a ready-made, cloud-based backend designed for game developers, allowing them to jumpstart their game creation with various pre-built features. Its features include Cloud Data, including user and global statistics, shared data and custom files, Multiplayer, with support for turn-by-turn and one-way offline (clash-style) multiplayer. Other features include Achievements, Leaderboards and Monetization features.

floxGamua Flox

Flox is a scalable and lightweight cloud backend for mobile games built by Gamua. It runs on all mobile devices supported by Adobe AIR, and also allows offline play. Players can be authenticated through Google+, Facebook, email or the iOS GameCenter API. It comes with rich documentation and a powerful customer support.  If you’re developing with AIR, or specifically the Starling framework, this is the backend for you.


App42 is another popular solution. It has many features, including all the usual ones like leaderboards, cloud storage or social sharing. It used to be cheaper than Parse (now it definitely is), while offering the same burst limit. A great solution for any mobile game developer.


Photon is a cross-platform multiplayer game backend – a service tailored especially for game developers. It allows you to easily add multiplayer to your games and run them in the Global Photon Cloud. You can also host your own Photon servers, if that kind of hybrid is your thing. It is a good choice for game developers of all sizes, from indies to AAA studios.

Basic pricing plans

Company Free Tier? Minimum Price
GameSparks Yes $0.02/player (MAU – applies when a game has reached 10,000 users)
PlayFab Yes Free. (Support + Enterprise are paid)
HeroicLabs Yes $69 / Month / $0.02 (MAU)
Gamedonia Yes 89€ / Month
Kii Yes $1,200 / Month
Kinvey No $2,000 / Month
brainCloud Yes $30 / Month
Gamua Flox No $29 / Month
App42 Yes $99 / Month
Photon Yes $95 / Month
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Top 10 Mobile Games Made in South Korea

This post is part of a new series that explores the top mobile games created in a country. Here are the top mobile games in FinlandJapanIndiaIndonesiaBrazilChina, and Israel

(1200x600) Top 10 Korea

As we continue to move around the globe, looking at the best games made in specific countries, we make our way towards South Korea, probably the only country in the world where Starcraft is a national sport, and players are celebrities.

Yes, celebrities. While you were out there scrolling through Kim Kardashian’s Instagram profile, people were telling stories of Bengi, nicknamed ‘The Right Hand of God’ – arguably the best League of Legends player in the world.

Credit: Flickr / Powder

Bengi, the face of terror. This person is literally a Messi for League of Legends. Credit: Flickr / Powder

But I digress. This time we won’t tackle South Korea’s gaming obsession from that angle. Instead, we’ll focus on mobile gaming and as you might have imagined, it’s no different here – these people are still slightly obsessed and very, very active.

Let’s look at some figures before proceeding with the list:

South Korea is a country of 50.22 million people (last count was in 2013) and, according to OneSkyApp, it has a smartphone penetration of 73%– meaning just slightly over 40 million people have a smartphone in the country. Out of that number, two thirds (66%) play mobile games, so that makes approximately 26 million players.

Android dominates the market, which is no surprise knowing that the country is home turf to Samsung. Some Still, Apple is doing a great job at disrupting its biggest competitor, with some reports saying that it reached a market share of 33%. Others place that number at 14%, which is probably a bit more realistic figure – but still an impressive one.

Gamers over there spend a lot of money on their entertainment, as well. According to the statistics portal Statista, mobile games in South Korea are expected to generate $1.4 billion in 2016. Moreover, that number is expected to grow even further, by 6.67%. By 2020, it will be generating $1.9 billion annually.


Looking at the types of games they play, MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), or RPGs in general, are South Korea’s guilty pleasure. So much in fact, that when non-RPG games made it to the top ten list on Google Play for the country, VentureBeat wrote an article about it. Think about it – RPGs are so popular there that if they’re not completely overwhelming the Play Store – it’s news.

When it comes to games, Asian markets do things a bit differently than the West – they integrate their games with their favorite communications apps. We’ve seen it before with WeChat in China, and in South Korea, we can see it with KakaoTalk.

They’re creating a closed ecosystem, where users need only register in the chat app (in this particular case, the KakaoTalk app) in order to get access to exclusive and extremely popular games. If you ever come across a South Korean mobile game that has ‘for Kakao’ in its title – that’s it.

It obviously works: according to this report, even back in 2013, out of the global top 10 games, three were built exclusively for Kakao. So let’s take a look at the best games made in South Korea.

*Interesting SDKs are courtesy of logo

infinite#10 Infinite Stairs

Android | iOS

Developer: NFLY Studio

NFLY Studio is an indie mobile game development studio headquartered in Busan, South Korea. It has been active on the market since 2012, and has since released seven mobile games, for both Android and the iOS. Its latest game, Infinite Stairs, is also its most popular product.

Release Date: 2015
Genre: Arcade
About the game: Infinite Stairs is an endless-runner style of game that goes up vertically, something like the oldie and goldie Icy Tower. In genre, it is an arcade pixel graphic mobile game that features dozens of characters and challenges the player’s reflexes and focus, while delivering tons of fun.
Interesting SDKs: 

 InMobi  Tapjoy 

wooparoo#9 Wooparoo Mountain

Android | iOS

Developer: NHN PixelCube

NHN PixelCube is a South Korean game developer and publisher. Besides building its own games, it also brings Western games to the SK market, as well as Chinese games. It has its own game platform for the Western market called Toast.com.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: Strategy
About the game: Wooparoo Mountain is a strategy game for mobile devices, similar to FarmVille or Clash of Clans. It features more than 80 different and cute characters that can be combined for a total of 20,000 combinations. The game is rich in gameplay and features advanced visuals.

dominations#8 DomiNations

Android | iOS

Developer: Nexon

Nexon is a mobile game development company founded in Seoul back in 1994. Back then it was a publisher and a PC development studio. In the meantime, it has expanded into the mobile platform and opened up studios in the US and Germany.

Release Date: 2015
Genre: Strategy
About the game: DomiNations is an RTS game that combines Clash of Clans with Sid Meier’s Civilization. It is a game of strategy and dominance, in which players build their empires from the stone age all the way to the space age. Users can choose from a number of nations, including Korean, British, Romans, Chinese, Germans, French, Japanese, or Greeks.
Interesting SDKs: 

Chartboost  Tapjoy 
 prime[31]   AppsFlyer 

warship#7 WARSHIP BATTLE:3D World War II

Android | iOS

Developer: JoyCity

JoyCity is a South Korean game developer that’s been on the market since 1994. First building PC games, it released a few popular titles such as FreeStyle Street Basketball (firs street basketball game in South Korea) and Rule the Sky. After expanding into mobile, it first released the mobile social game Rule The Sky, followed by the globally popular Warship Battle, also known as Gunship Battle in SK.

Release Date: 2015
Genre: Action
About the game: Warship Battle: 3D World War II is an action-arcade game in which players take control of naval ships used during World War II and duke it out against other ships and aircraft. Besides the game being action-packed, it also features a shop where ships can be customized and improved.

darkness#6 Darkness Reborn

Android | iOS

Developer: Gamevil

Gamevil is a mobile games company headquartered in Seoul, with an office in Torrance, California. It is a fairly large company, that reported market capitalization of $400 million back in 2012. In 2013, it acquired Com2Us, another big player in South Korean mobile games industry, also dubbed its “oldest rival”. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: RPG
About the game: Darkness Reborn is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, featuring both PvE (player versus environment) and PvP (player versus player) modes. It allows players to choose between five different classes, and offers high-end graphics rarely seen on mobile devices. It also offers large customization options, including 1,296 skill combinations.

anipang#5 Anipang

Android | iOS

Developer: SundayToz

SundayToz is a social mobile games developer based in South Korea. It was founded in 2009, and has since then built a number of social games for key mobile platforms such as KakaoTalk, Google Play, Apple’s AppStore or Naver. It is the studio behind the local hit-game Anipang and its sequel, Anipang 2.

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Puzzle
About the game: Anipang was the first South Korean game to be downloaded 20 million times. It is a puzzle game that is distributed through Cyworld Appstore and Naver Social Apps. It is a match-3 style of game, featuring cute characters like pink piggies, blue dogs and white rabbits. Its life has been speckled with controversy, as the local and mass media accused the developers of stealing other people’s ideas. Lawsuits were thrown around as well. Despite all of this, the game gained global fame.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Adobe Air  PlayHaven 
 Kakao  Upsight 

candypang#4 CandyPang

Android | iOS

Developer: WeMade Entertainment

WeMade Entertainment is a South Korean game development studio with an interesting story. The studio created a 3D MMORPG game called The Legend of Mir, an extremely popular game in the East. It was soon copied by Chinese operator Shanda and released under the name The World of Legend (awesome name, btw </sarcasm>), forcing the original developers into a lawsuit. To make things as clear as possible, they chose the name WeMade, pointing that they had, in fact, made The Legend of Mir game. The studio was founded in 2000 and has since expanded to Seattle, Washington. It even had a professional e-sports team until 2011, competing in Counter-Strike, StarCraft: Brood War and Warcraft III.

Release Date: 2012
Genre: Puzzle
About the game: CandyPang is a puzzle game, very similar to Anipang, and pretty much any other color-matching game. However, instead of switching a tile in order to match three or more, the player need only recognize the tiles which have already lined up and tap on them in order for them to disappear. The game is designed to be played very fast so that a high-score can be achieved.

raven#3 Raven

Android | iOS

Developer: Netmarble Games

Netmarble is one of Korea’s biggest game developers, if not the biggest. It has more than 3,000 employees, working in offices around the world, including the US, Turkey, Japan, China and Indonesia, as well as Taiwan and Thailand. It has a few globally popular titles, such as Raven (EvilBane), MARVEL Future Fight or Everybody’s Marble. It has recently invested $130 million in SGN, a US-based mobile games studio.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: RPG
About the game: Raven is one of South Korea’s most popular games and is often referred to as ‘Korea’s biggest RPG’. Knowing how Koreans are mad about RPG games, this is a big deal. This is a classic RPG game, with multiple races and characters, capable of leveling up and collecting various armor and weapons. It features a couple of modes, including Scenario, Adventure, Raid and Arena. It has been launched globally, under the name EvilBane.

future fight#2 MARVEL Future Fight

Android | iOS

Developer: Netmarble Games
Release Date: 2015
Genre: RPG
About the game: MARVEL Future Fight is an RPG game many people call ‘dungeon crawler’ because of its gameplay. It features basically all Marvel heroes players can control as they battle for the survival of the human race. It features a few different mission types, including Villain Siege, Daily Missions and Story Missions. All these types can earn players new gears, new mastery points and a higher rank.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Tune  GrowMobile 

summoners#1 Summoners War

Android | iOS

Developer: Com2Us

If there’s just one thing you ought to remember regarding Com2Us is that these guys have managed to trademark ‘Tower Defense’. That’s like trademarking the words ‘Role-playing game’. Obviously, people were not pleased, with some saying this is why TD games usually suck. Aside from that, Com2Us is a fairly large game development studio, whose majority stake was acquired by Gamevil in 2013.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: RPG
About the game: Summoners War is South Korea’s most downloaded and most popular game, with more than 50 million downloads across multiple platforms. It has been praised by the media, with some saying it’s a must-buy, even though it’s a free-to-download game. This is a 3D RPG game with elements resembling very much what we can see in games like Pokemon, in which players duke it out in the Sky Arena. It features more than 900 different types of monsters that can be summoned, as well as a 3-player co-op mode in real-time. It has been localized in 14 different languages, and also offers in-game purchases.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Tune  Chartboost 
 PartyTrack AdPick 

That is our list for the best of the best from the South Korean mobile games market. While searching for the best games, we looked at the most popular and most talked-about game developers, the number of downloads and overall rating their games have across various platforms, as well as any awards they might have won on local or international competitions. Game reviews and opinions from journalists were also taken into consideration.

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Top 20 Mobile Ad Networks 2016

(1200x600) Top 20 Ad Networks

If you want your mobile game, or any other app for that matter, to earn you money (and I’m guessing you do), then you have most likely already considered an advertising network.

A short description of an ad network is that it’s a company which connects advertisers to game developers and publishers so that the former have an easier time finding ad space, and latter earning cash.

Ad networks are an important link in the mobile game industry chain – simply sending an ad to a game is not enough. There are many parameters that need to be handled for the advertisers to be pleased with the feedback, and game developers with monetization.

That’s why you need a solid mobile ad network – one which will offer various models, flexible features, quality integration and detailed analytics and reports.

And just before you go about saying “well yeah, but all these mobile ad networks are basically the same, offering same services and just hiding behind different names”, allow me to point you towards AppsFlyer’s Ad Network & Media Partners Performance Index – a report with a detailed review of mobile ad platforms’ performance. Not only does the report confirm how different ad networks are, it also expands by showing how games, being varied and different, affect the performance of the ads.

We also recommend checking out an additional resource we have that compares mobile ad networks in a spreadsheet and gives accurate details about: revenue/payout, ad formats, mediation support and reporting API.

Google’s AdMob instantly comes to mind, and it’s no wonder – the tech giant’s network is huge and ticks all the right boxes. But there are other mobile ad networks out there worthy of your attention, and in this article we’re going to introduce them to you.


Below you will find a list of the top 20 ad networks for monetizing mobile games in 2016, as well as a short description of what each network can offer.

#1 AdMob

Supported ad formats: Interstitial, Native, Trueview, Banner, Lightbox, Video

One of the most popular mobile ad networks out there is Google’s AdMob. The network was acquired by Google back in 2010, and has since been re-designed to better fit Google’s ad network.

Among its strongest features is its fill rate, great eCPMs and cross-platform monetization support. Users should be able to reach a 100 percent fill rate quite fast, and with a good number of advertisers, great eCPMs should always be at hand’s reach. It supports cross-platform monetization which includes Android, iOS and Windows 8, however there is still no word on Windows 10.

Among the biggest issues users have reported are the fact that you’re required to register at AdSense, and that it limits the amount of ads per static page to one. However, the latter being for web and not mobile, it can’t be seen as a setback here.

uads_logo1 (1)#2 Unity Ads

Supported ad formats: Rewarded and Non-Rewarded Video

Formerly known as Applifier, Unity Ads is also an extremely popular mobile ad network. It owes its popularity partially to the fact that it allows devs to monetize whole player bases through ads native to Unity-built games – according to the network’s website,  if you’re using the Unity Engine, no SDK is required.

In terms of formats, they offer video interstitials, both non-rewarded and rewarded; the latter of which provides the user with a reward for viewing, most usually an in-game currency or similar.

On the other hand, users mostly complain about the low fill rate Unity Ads provides, which sometimes goes down to 35 or 40 percent.

Chartboost2#3 Chartboost

Supported ad formats: Interstitial, Video, Native Ad

For mobile game developers, Chartboost should always be very high on the list, as the network focuses primarily on gamers. It works as a cross-promotion network, which was quite a big deal back when it was first unveiled. It allows game developers to sell their advertising space to other game developers directly, which allows them to set their own business terms. Some people said Chartboost earned them more money than other networks combined, basically.

Its other big selling point is on the analytics side, as it offers a huge earnings table, as well as installs and impressions data. It goes into the tiniest of details, which can be a double-edged sword – this network offers lots and lots of data. The platform supports both Android and iOS.

On the other hand, the majority of its advertisers are not what you would consider “premium” – sometimes the network allows very cheap bids per install, leaving peanuts for the developer.

Applovin_Logo_Final_Blue_Horizontal_RGB#4 AppLovin

Supported ad formats: Video, Native, Interstitial, Banner, Video

If you’re interested in seeing where your players come from, you can consider AppLovin, as that’s one of its features that isn’t seen that often. Besides allowing to track the fill rate and eCPM by country, AppLovin has a couple of other interesting features, including full-screen ads, which apparently make more money than banner ads. It also allows for very low payment thresholds ($20 for PayPal), and pays up on the 15th of the month, which appears to be both awesome and rare.

vungle#5 Vungle

Supported ad formats: Video

Vungle also has a few trump cards of its own, helping the young company stand out from the bunch. One of the main features is the recently introduced Premium – a marketplace where video advertisers can find the best-performing apps and games and target them with their ads.

Another feature worth mentioning is called Vungle Creative Labs, a London-based studio of designers, artists and filmmakers that help people make great ads for their game. An SDK for Windows 10 appears to be the icing on the cake here.

It’s not without issues, though – there have been people complaining of extremely low ad revenue.

mobileCore#6 mobileCore

Supported ad formats: Interstitial, Video, Native

As part of ironSource, the founder of hugely popular installCore, mobileCore is a good solution mostly for Android game developers. Its key feature is called AppWalls – a sort of interstitials that don’t exactly cover the entire page but, as the company puts it, “appear seamlessly in the app”. It says that with such an approach, quadrupling your eCPM is not far away, but take that with a grain of salt. Some mobile game developers have praised this network, for its minimal data consumption, while others claim you cannot use it with other mobile ad networks in the game, as it will crash it.

AdColony#7 AdColony

Supported ad formats: Video

AdColony is a mobile video advertising platform – emphasis on ‘video’. Having said that, one would expect the company is best at serving video ads, and according to a couple of user reviews – it does its job very good. The network’s strongest selling point is in the fact that it can serve high-definition instant mobile pre-roll videos, no matter the internet speed or the quality of the device in use.

On the other hand, it has a few drawbacks worth mentioning – users have complained the network forces users to watch a 30-second ad before exiting, while others say the network pays only 0.5 eCPM per completed view. If users have watched a few videos without downloading something, it can even go down to 0. The network was acquired by Opera Mediaworks in 2014, a deal reportedly worth $350 million.

Supersonic_Logo#8 Supersonic

Supported ad formats: Banner, Offerwall, Video

Supersonic is a great place for advertisers looking for some ‘serious’ games – apparently the company has some high-profile clients, including EA, Hasbro and Disney. It offers mobile video, video ad mediation, interstitial ads and offerwall, which monetizes non-paying users by offering valuable offers for virtual currency. Being an ad mediation platform it, besides serving ads from its own network, serves ads from other networks as well.

It had recently merged with another giant in the mobile monetization world, the Israeli company IronSource. With more than 550 employees and revenues of more than $300 million a year – IronSource complements Supersonic, a company with 250 employees of its own, greatly.

Its biggest weakness seems to be customer support – users sometimes claim their problems aren’t heeded, unsurprising when you have 500 million global users.

Fyber Official Logo#9 Fyber

Supported ad formats: Video, Offerwall, Interstitial

Fyber was founded in Berlin 2009 as SponsorPay, and rebranded after transforming from ad revenue sources optimization company, to a one-stop shop for developers to monetize their products. One of the features it’s mostly proud of is the Auto Pilot which, as the company says itself, “automatically optimizes ad revenue sources”. With the auto-pilot feature, the developer doesn’t need to manually control the priority of ad networks, the platform does it for them.  

On the other hand, it seems to be having a lot of trouble with customer support, with users reporting frequent issues, which in many cases go unresolved. Fyber was also recently acquired by the German RNTS Media for $190 million which is interesting in that Fyber is actually the bigger company here. It won’t affect the firm’s business, though.

inmobi_logo.JPG#10 InMobi

Supported ad formats: Banner, Interstitial, Video

InMobi seems to be one of the world’s largest mobile ad networks. It’s an Indian company that has drawn most attention to itself through MIIP – an ad discovery platform. What it does is it creates something it calls “discovery zones” within apps, where advertising content is curated, and users can interact with the content to better tailor future offers to their liking. Their approach seems to be working – tech giants such as Google and Alibaba have both shown interest in investing into the company, although no deal was yet reached. According to Crunchbase, the company has more than 800 million unique visitors in more than 200 countries.


tapjoy#11 Tapjoy

Supported ad formats: Content Lock, Interstitial, Offerwall, Video

Tapjoy is above all a CPI (Cost per install) network – it rewards its users for installing games and apps that it promotes through that network. It is a popular network among advertisers as it allows fairly low bids which go as low as $0.20 per install for advertisers, and $1 per install for bigger app studios. It also allows for the customization of ads, to a certain degree. Backgrounds and text cannot be changed, obviously, but transitioning of TapJoy views for ads can. It has acquired two start-ups so far, the analytics and marketing automation firm 5Rocks, and the global social game distribution platform Viximo. It has recently hit a billion installs.

heyzap#12 Heyzap

Supported ad formats: Interstitial, Video, Banner

For some people, like the developers on this link, HeyZap is the best ad mediation platform for Android, providing very high traffic, paying great CPM, and ultimately earning the devs serious greens. Crossy Road is another good example – apparently its ad revenue jumped 94 percent thanks to HeyZap’s ad mediation. The company has also recently updated its cross promotion tools with new features which have, according to its users, made the network more powerful. An app’s default settings, including the icon, title and description can be overridden, but most importantly – you can also change the call to action. Just like Fyber, Heyzap was also recently acquired by RNTS Media for $45 million, effectively being acquired by Fyber itself. According to the press announcements and website banners, one can predict that Heyzap will eventually be merged into the Fyber brand.

startapp#13 Startapp

Supported ad formats: Exit ad, Slider, Interstitial, Banner, Native, Video

What makes Startapp somewhat special is the fact that it’s mobile-only. Its key features include interstitial ads, 3D walls, splash and slider ads. It serves ads to more than 35 million users, and works with more than 170,000 apps. It pays per application downloaded and, according to a PostZippy report, pays $50 for each 1000 app downloads.

The network has some downsides, too – their interstitials loaded one by one, for “two-three-four times at a time”, which some developers have described as ‘annoying’. Its SDK sometimes has issues with Google Play compliance, which could leave the developers hurting.

revmob#14 Revmob

Supported ad formats: Banner, Interstitial, Video, Native Button

Back in the day, Revmob was hailed as the holy grail of mobile ad networks – the hidden gem. People were pulling insane eCPMs and earning tons of money. Since then, new and (to some, better) networks have emerged, but Revmob still remains among the best of the very best. You can pull eCPMs anywhere from $1-$50, and you can get an extra boost by adding their unique native buttons as a complementary revenue source to the classic interstitial. Revmob now supports video interstitials and allows you to add a scrolling feature to show additional products. There are also rewarded video campaigns for increasing user engagement with your game.

flurry#15 Flurry Ads

Supported ad formats: Banner, Interstitial, Video

For years now, Flurry Ads has been among the top mobile ad networks available. Launched in 2005, at first it was primarily an analytics platform, but later added its own ad network. What developers seem to be particularly enjoying is the fact that it offers Ad Spaces directly in its SDK – meaning it pre-defines areas in your mobile game where the ads will be shown. Another great feature is the depth to which ad customization is possible – devs can customize how ads are served even when the campaign is live. It is a pretty big network, with more than 250 million consumers.

On the other hand, some developers say having a lot of apps clogs the analytics side: “With a portfolio that is usually between 50 and 100 apps across iOS and Android – it is incredibly difficult to keep track of how specific changes in apps affect retention and other super important metrics,” Elaine Heney of The Chocolate Lab Apps wrote.

inneractive#16 Inneractive

Supported ad formats: Banner, Video

Inneractive is a Tel Aviv-based mobile ad network that focuses primarily on native and video ads. It covers over 200 countries, and has five offices – in San Francisco, New York, London, Tel Aviv and Beijing. It supports all the major platforms, including Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8. It offers various advertising models, including CPC, CPD (cost per download), CPI and CPM, however this being a somewhat smaller network (compared to the best players in the industry), you can expect weaker eCPMs. Still, if you’re looking for ease of use, you might want to give Inneractive a try – some developers have said it’s a breeze.

NativeX_Logo#17 Native-X

Supported ad formats: Native, App Wall, Banner, Incentive, Interstitial, Rich Media, Video

Native-X is one of those companies that started as mobile ad network for apps and then switched to games, probably realizing that mobile games are awesome and everyone plays them. Its business plan is ‘hidden’ in the company name – the mobile game ads should not be intrusive – that way the chances of user interaction are higher, they believe. Such an approach has made the media praise the company, and some older case studies have shown how games using Native-X achieved impressive results. Its key features include native advertising (ads are appearing at certain points during the game, and at certain places, making it seem less intrusive and ad-driven, and more natural), advanced analytics and an all-in-one SDK.

millennial#18 Millennial Media

Supported ad formats: Banner, Interstitial, Video

Some will call Millennial Media an intrusive mobile ad network, others will call them successful. The truth is somewhere in the middle, or should I say – both realities are true. Millennial Media does not offer tons of ad formats – it goes for banners, interstitials and video and for some, that’s a problem as those types of ads (especially interstitials and videos) take over the screen and hurt the UX. Others will say Millennial Media is a successful network as these types of ads provide highest revenues possible. The network is easy to integrate and offers real-time reporting and analytics to both advertisers and developers. In September 2015 the network was acquired by AOL for $238 million. According to a report by Tech Crunch, AOL has paid $1.75/share.

leadbolt#19 Leadbolt

Supported ad formats: Audio, Video, Banner, Interstitial, Offerwall

Going into 2015 with 5 billion ads a month served, through 65,000 apps and spanning over 150 countries, it’s safe to say that Leadbolt is one of the big guys in the mobile ad networks business. It offers different types of ads, including interstitial, in-app alerts and floating ads. It has also only recently (less than a year ago) introduced video ads, as well. Its biggest advantage is having a nice, clean and user-friendly interface. Groupon, Pepsi and Walmart are among its biggest clients, and according to mMarketing, the company has an ‘above average support’.

kiip#20 Kiip

Supported ad formats: Rewards

Everyone on one side, Kiip on the other. That’s how different Kiip (pronounced: Keep) is from everyone else. Some four, five years ago, when Kiip first left stealth mode, it sent ripples through the advertising world – it called itself a ‘Rewards Network’ rather than an ad network because, as the name suggests – it doesn’t simply deliver ads – it delivers rewards. Real life rewards, too. When players achieve something in-game (level up or complete a task), they’re the happiest at that moment – and most likely to interact with a brand, they say. At that moment Kiip, through its network of clients, rewards players with things like vouchers, samples and other promotional material. Yes, real-life stuff.  

It has received $19 million in total funding to date, according to Crunchbase.

These are the top 20 mobile ad networks for monetizing mobile games we could find, but that doesn’t mean you should stick to them, especially if you already found one that suits your needs just fine. As a matter of fact, many developers will tell you the same thing: don’t get married to a network! You can utilize multiple networks for your mobile games, depending on what type of ads you want, and what type of mobile game you have.

Try out different combinations and play with various settings until you find something to your liking.

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Top 10 Mobile Games Made in Israel

This post is part of a new series that explores the top mobile games created in a country. Here are the top mobile games in FinlandJapanIndiaIndonesiaBrazilChina and South Korea

(1200x600) Top 10 Israel

As we move around the globe, looking for best mobile games in different countries, the road takes us to a place some might find unusual – Israel.

Unusual, perhaps, as Israel is a tiny Middle Eastern state, compared to gaming powerstates like China or Brazil. But this country of slightly more than eight million people is home to more than 200 game companies and countless tech businesses and start-ups (including yours truly!). Its business is worth more than a billion dollars.

Some media say it ranks number one in start-ups outside the Silicon Valley, and is number one in countries per capital venture capital investment. You might compare it to Finland, also a tiny country, but at least Israel has better weather!

These figures show that the country is a big player in the industry, which is why it wasn’t that hard to find the best mobile games made in Israel. So without further ado, here’s the list:

*Interesting SDKs are courtesy of logo

kaz#10 Kazooloo

Android | iOS

Developer: Nordau Creative

The company was founded in 2012 by Andy Schwartz, and employs between 10 and 50 people. It specializes in making mobile games, and focuses on children’s games. Its most popular product is Kazooloo, an augmented reality mobile game.

Release Date: 2013
Genre: Adventure
About the game: Even though the game doesn’t have countless millions of downloads, it was praised for its innovative gameplay and the use of new technologies. Kazooloo is an augmented-reality game in which players fight dragons and other mythical creatures that appear, through the smartphone’s camera, on their desk or similar surface.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Unity  SOOMLA 

hunger#9 The Hunger Games Adventures

Android | iOS

Developer: Funtactix

The studio was founded in 2006, and has offices in Tel Aviv, New York and Los Angeles. Besides building games under its own name, the studio is also for hire, building games for other clients. It is best known for its award-winning game The Hunger Games Adventures.

Release Date: 2012
Genre: Adventure
About the game: Hunger Games Adventures is a mobile adventure game built by Funtactics, and based on the novels and movies of the same name. However, unlike the other media, this game does not show the brutal killing of children – instead it is created as a strategy / adventure game, depicting the life in District 13.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  Tapjoy 
 Tune  AdColony 
 Fyber  TrialPay 

slotomania#8 Slotomania – Free Casino Slots

Android | iOS

Developer: Playtika

Playtika was such a huge success that it was acquired by Caesars Entertainment Casino Group some eight months into its existence. Allegedly, the deal was worth almost $90 million. This Israeli powerhouse also recently acquired gaming venture company Big Blue Parrot. Facebook has listed a Playtika game on its top 8 games list for 2015.

Release Date: 2011
Genre: Betting
About the game: Slotomania is a betting game with all the usual betting machines you can find in a casino. Even though it focuses mostly on slots, it also features various mini-games, like the Wheel of Fortune. The game also has a social aspect, allowing players to team up with their Facebook friends.
Interesting SDKs: 

 AppsFlyer  OrmLite 

romans#7 Romans from Mars

Android | iOS

Developer: Sidekick

Sidekick is an Israeli game development studio founded in 2010. It focuses on building games using new technologies, which is why it creates games for virtual reality headsets, Xbox’s Kinect, motion-controlled PCs and so on.

Release Date: 2013
Genre: RPG
About the game: Romans from Mars is an action / RPG game in which the player is tasked with stopping countless waves of Martians from invading Earth. Aimed with nothing but a crossbow (and a couple of spells), the player must defend his base. The game has gotten great reviews all over the Web and has been praised for its use of new technologies – it works great with virtual reality headsets.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  Applifier 
 prime[31]  PlayHaven 
 Apsalar  TrialPay 

noogra#6 Noogra Nuts

Android | iOS

Developer: Bengigi

Bengigi is an indie developer studio that doesn’t build just games – it has other products as well. Even though it has made the list thanks to its addicting Noogra Nuts series, it was also praised by big media publications such as Wired, Lifehacker and CNET for creating other useful apps.

Release Date: 2012
Genre: Adventure
About the game: Noogra Nuts is an arcade game in which the player is tasked with cracking nuts using the (poor) squirrel’s head. The game employs the device’s gyroscope and features a cute little character that slightly reminds me of the squirrel from Ice Age.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  StartApp 
 Parse  AppLovin 

storm#5 Stormfall: Rise of Balur

Android | iOS

Developer: Plarium

Plarium was founded in 2009 as a developer of hardcore games for social media networks like Facebook or vKontakte. It has since expanded to mobile platforms, including iOS and Android. It employs more than 1000 people worldwide, has offices all over the world and more than 150 million registered users.

Release Date: 2015
Genre: Strategy
About the game: Stormfall: Rise of Balur is a standalone mobile strategy game. ‘Standalone’ is important here, as the game’s servers are separated from those for the Web and social media sites. It is an MMO game built for Android and iOS and features a large medieval fantasy world and state-of-the-art graphics. Players can recruit giant armies, forge alliances and enter player-versus-player battles.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Tune  Chartboost 

doctor#4 Dentist Mania: Doctor X Clinic

Android | iOS

Developer: TabTale

TabTale is an Israeli game development studio with offices all around the world, including China, USA, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine. It focuses on creating mobile games for the whole family, and prides itself on having more than 850 million downloads across all its products.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: Casual
About the game: Dentist Mania: Doctor X Clinic is a children’s casual game in which kids are tasked with being “the best dentist at a crazy office”. Players get to choose their patients and fix their teeth, which includes pulling out bad ones, brushing, styling with braces and building their own toothpaste.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  Chartboost 
 AppsFlyer  InMobi 
AdColony  AppLovin 

trial#3 Trial Xtreme 3

Android | iOS

Developer: Deemedya

Deemedya is an extremely popular Israeli mobile game publisher which is most known by its racing series, Trial Xtreme. This entire list could have been made completely out of Deemedya games, as this team produced almost a dozen globally popular games.

Release Date: 2013
Genre: Racing
About the game: Trial Xtreme 3 is the third part of the series, and even though there have been newer iterations, this one has made it to the list as the best-rated and most downloaded one of the bunch. With over 50 million downloads on Android alone, it stands as one of the best Israeli mobile games ever made.
Interesting SDKs: 

 AppLovin  Chartboost 
 Applifier  prime[31] 

pirate#2 Pirate Kings

Android | iOS

Developer: Jelly Button Games

Jelly Button Games is a specific mobile games studio – it was founded by five friends who have been working together for more than 10 years, and have been good friends for 20. The studio was founded in 2011, and has since then grown into an influential industry competitor.

Release Date: 2015
Genre: Casual
About the game: Pirate Kings is a combination of luck and skill, in which players are tasked with discovering, building and upgrading their pirate islands, while plundering and pillaging other players. They can do so by spinning a wheel of fortune, which then assigns them different tasks, including attacking, defending and earning in-game money.
Interesting SDKs: 

AppsFlyer  prime[31] 

wosp#1 World Series of Poker – WSOP

Android | iOS

Developer: Playtika
Release Date: 2013
Genre: Card game
About the game: The WOSP is one of the best poker games out there. It features various types of poker, including Texas Hold’Em and Omaha. It also has multi-level tournaments, and players can also earn WSOP rings to climb the leaderboard. Besides, registration is not required in order to play – players can enter the game anonymously, as well.
Interesting SDKs: 

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Game Design, Research

Top 10 Mobile Games Made in China

This post is part of a new series that explores the top mobile games created in a country. Here are the top mobile games in FinlandJapanIndiaIndonesiaBrazilIsrael and South Korea

(1200x600) Top 10 China

If we are to look at anything as a global phenomenon – including mobile gaming – we cannot exclude China. The most populated country in the world, and one of the biggest economies, as well, plays a huge role in determining who the biggest players in the industry are.

Unlike other countries in the world, China is somewhat specific, which is why it needs a bigger introduction than the rest.

Just as the country is known for the Great Wall of China for more than 2000 years, in today’s digital world, it is known for its Great Firewall. In a most sterile description, the Great Firewall is a set of laws and legislations aimed to regulate the Internet in China. However, it is more about censorship and blocking western products than anything else.

A lot of companies and countries are losing out thanks to the Great Firewall, China included, but when it comes to mobile gaming – Google seems to be the biggest loser.

Its services have been blocked from China for the past five years and more, including Google Search, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Docs, and in this case most importantly – the Play Store. The Android app store has returned to the country some half a year ago, but the effects of the ban are visible – it is no longer the number one app store in the country.

So where does one go, when one wants to download an app? He goes to either Tencent’s MyApp, the 360 Mobile Assistant, or the Baidu Mobile Assistant.  

These three stores share almost an equal amount of the mobile market in the country, rendering the Play Store obsolete and making it extremely difficult to figure out which are the most popular mobile games built in the country. They are popular places to find apps, but not the only ones – the country has more than 200 stores, according to OneSky. Jokingly, I’d say everyone and their dog has an app store in China – in reality, basically every telecom company, mobile carrier, and large corporation has one.


Thanks to a number of market researches out there, including this one by Newzoo and TalkingData, we were able to piece together a list of the top 10 games made in China.

Oh yes, before we proceed with the list, I’d also like to point you in the direction of a report by China Game Industry Annual Conference that was released two weeks ago. It says that the sales revenue of the mobile gaming industry reached 51.5 billion yuan ($7.94 billion) – it increased a stunning 87.2% since 2014.

The country has more than 366 million mobile players – the entire United States of America had 318.9 million people in 2014.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 games made in China:

*We were unable to access interesting SDKs for these mobile games due to the limited visibility of mobile games in China.

wefly#10 WeFly (National World War II Aircraft)

Android | iOS

Developer: Tencent

You’ll be seeing a lot of Tencent in this article – it is a Chinese mobile games giant. According to a report by South China Morning Post, published last April – the company had 570 million registered users for its initial batch of smartphone-based games. Since September, it became Asia’s largest internet company. It is based in Shenzhen.  

Released: 2014
Genre: Arcade
About the game: The English title for the game is WeFly, even though a simple Google translate of the original name 全民飞机大战, says the game’s name is National World War II Aircraft. It is a cartoonish-styled, colorful arcade game featuring countless levels and multiple modes, a lot of different aircrafts and, according to a few reviews on the Apple App Store – pretty damn demanding, too.

rythm master#9 Rhythm Master


Developer: Tencent
Released: 2013
Genre: Music
About the game: The Rhythm Master is a virtual orchestra studio type of game, something like those rock band games we’ve seen on Nintendo Wii. It features dozens of songs, including some of the globally popular rock songs. Additional songs can also be obtained as an in-game purchase, and the virtual currency can be gained by interacting with friends.

dou di zhu#8 Dou di zhu


Developer: GoodTeam Studio
The GoodTeam studio is based in Chengdu, China. It claims to be one of the oldest domestic game development studios building games for Android, and its products include Tightrope Hero, Empire Defense series and Crisis Mission.

Released: 2012
Genre: Card game
About the game: Dou di zhu is an extremely popular card game in China, and its origins stem way before the mobile phone. According to Wikipedia, the literal translation means “Fighting the Landlord”. This is a card game in the genre of shedding and gambling.

chess#7 Chinese Chess

Android | iOS

Developer: cnvcs
Released: 2012
Genre: Strategy
About the game: This classic game of chess by the cnvcs development team is enriched by a total of 38,000 chess puzzles divided into 13 collections. It supports online play, as well as LAN via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The game also allows games to be saved and loaded, and allows easy switching between the play mode and the analysis mode.

dan ji dou di zhu#6 Dan Ji Dou Di Zhu


Developer: CG Tech
eleased: N/A
Genre: Card game
About the game: Similar to Dou di zhu, the Dan Ji Dou Di Zhu is a poker-like card game based on the traditional Chinese “Fight the Landlord” game. The interesting thing about this game is that it is designed primarily for the BlackBerry device.


craz3#5 Craz3 Match

Android | iOS

Developer: Tencent
Release Date: 2013
Genre: Puzzle
About the game: Craz3 Match is a cute-looking tile-matching game from Tencent. It was primarily designed for WeChat users to interact with each other and play against one another. The game offers a couple of modes, including the Solo mode and the Battle mode which allows multiplayer action. It also features boss fights and magical power-ups, as well as finding and challenging any nearby players.

wechat dash#4 WeChat Dash

Android | iOS

Developer: Tencent
Release Date: 2014
Genre: Endless running
About the game: WeChat Dash is an endless running game featuring cute characters and even cuter pets. It features two modes, the PvP Mode, allowing you to challenge nearby players and friends anywhere; and the Turbo mode which brings new challenges with each new stage. The game focuses on the social aspect, integrating with various social media networks, including Facebook.

popstar#3 Pop Star

Android | iOS

Developer: GPStudio

The game seems to be built by an indie developer, as the GepaikjStudio.com website is offline, and the developer’s official email address is on Gmail. The latter makes it even stranger knowing that Gmail is actually blocked in mainland China. Other information about the developer is virtually impossible to find. Still, its hit game, Pop Star, has been updated for Android 5.1.

Release Date: 2013
Genre: Puzzle
About the game: Pop Star is a color-matching game built primarily for the iOS, but later expanded to Android, as well. The goal of the game is to tap on two or more stars of the same color in order to destroy them. There is no time limit – the player must achieve a certain score in order to proceed to the next stage.

qq#2 Happy Lord (QQ Official Version)

Android | iOS

Developer: Tencent
Release Date: 2013
Genre: Card game
About the game: Happy Landlord is another card game that’s made the list. It is among the best and most popular Chinese game, featuring different unique characters each player can choose to be their avatar in the game. Besides the classic multiplayer mode, the game also features a tournament mode, where players can compete for the Grand Prix.

anipop#1 Anipop

Android | iOS

Developer: HappyElements

Strangely enough, the most popular mobile game in China does not originate from the most popular game development studio in the country. Instead, it comes from a studio named HappyElements, which is strange in its own right – the English version of the App Store page says the developer’s name is HappyElements, while translating the Chinese version names the developer as Le Yuan Interactive, based in Beijing. It just goes to show how difficult it is to tread through the Chinese mobile game space.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: Puzzle
About the game: Similar to Candy Crush Saga and the likes, Anipop is a color-matching game. Just like anything else made in the East, it features cute characters and bright colors. There are more than 400 levels in the game, and also allows logging in from Facebook and synchronizing the game between the mobile and the desktop platforms.

While some many services were banned in China to better control the social media and censor any material that might undermine the government, others say it is a way the country protects its local businesses. From this perspective, it is hard to know if companies like Sina Weibo, Baidu or Tencent would have turned into billion-dollar businesses if Twitter or Google were still present. But we do know that China is shaping the future of mobile gaming. 

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Game Design, Game Reviews

Game Review: Frog Smash – a game to tease the brain

icon Frog Smash is a memory trainer game created by Cartha Studios for the Android platform.

Available on Google PlayIt’s nothing spectacular – but it’s a good game. It is well envisioned and executed properly, with enough gametime to keep you hooked for a while. If memory training games are your thing, Frog Smash is worth downloading.


frog smash ss1Once you start the game, it shows you a pond with a couple of cutely drawn frogs, each one having a number assigned to it. Those numbers disappear after a few seconds, and you are tasked with tapping on the frogs in the order of the numbers – from the lowest to the highest.

Sometimes, the numbers will be simple (for example, from 1 to 5), sometimes they’ll be more complex (starting from 79, or hiding the lowest-numbered frog somewhere in the corner of the screen).

However, you don’t have all day to try and remember the order in which the frogs appeared – the timer is ticking. Each properly tapped frog will increase the timer for a few seconds. Tap on the wrong one, and you’re penalized, losing a few seconds.

The game ends once you’ve run out of time. This is a solid concept, as theoretically – you can have the game running endlessly. In practice, that’s not the case, as the developers have said the game features a total of 350 levels.

Yours truly has managed to reach level 37, and that’s probably as high as his memory and focus goes.

In-game shop

frog smash ss2Completing levels and moving through the game earns the player more than just a few seconds – it also earns gold coins which can be spent in the in-game shop. This virtual currency can be spent to remove all ads from the game, as well as to buy a couple of helpful power-ups.

The game features two helping extras: the hinting system (showing you the order of the tapping, to some extent) and the swap, which wipes all the frogs from the screen and replaces them with new ones.

Although I like the system, none of the power-ups have any description in the shop – I had to earn 1,000 coins and spend them just to discover what a power-up did. You can also buy the coins with real money to save yourself the trouble.

Visuals and audio

Visually, the game looks good, but it isn’t spectacular. The pond is slightly animated, as well as the eyes of the frogs floating across the pond’s surface. The HUD is also solid, featuring three basic elements on the right side of the screen – the timer showing how much you have left, and the two buttons for the two power-ups.

The buttons also show how many of each power-up you can use. Level reached and coin earned is shown at the top of the screen.

The music is mediocre at best – but it’s not annoying and won’t mess with your concentration as you try to focus on the numbers. I guess that’s the most important thing with memory games, and this one has done a good job in that respect. The background audio is of a well-known, evergreen pop song, but I couldn’t remember the name. It was enriched by the sound of frogs croaking and chirping – all in key.

Drawing the line

If I am to sum the game up in one word, that would be ‘decent’. The game performs solidly in every aspect, although it does not excel in any, either.  If you like memory games and puzzles for the brain, you’d want to give this one a go, as it will probably keep you interested for a while. The in-game shop with a few power-ups can help you along the way, and if you’re the competitive type, the 350 available levels will give you plenty to think about.

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Game Design

Top 10 Mobile Games Made in Brazil

This post is part of a new series that explores the top mobile games created in a country. Here are the top mobile games in FinlandJapanIndiaIndonesiaChinaIsrael and South Korea

(1200X600) Top 10 Brazil

Our next destination as we move around the globe, looking at countries’ best mobile games, takes us to Brazil, the land of coffee, Samba and Ronaldinho. But besides being good at playing football and dancing in the street while wearing hilarious costumes, the Brazilians also have a well-established market for mobile games. In fact, Brazil is a true powerhouse when it comes to mobile games.

Here are some interesting facts about the Brazilian mobile game market:

The country has 200 million people, and ranks fifth in the world in both populace and land mass.

The populace loves mobile gaming – it’s far more popular than PC gaming or consoles. According to a study by analyst firm Blend and game developer Sioux, 83 percent of gamers say their preferred platform is mobile phones — PCs stood at 71 percent, and consoles at 56 percent.

Out of those 200 million, 23 percent own a smartphone (roughly 50 million people), which is also one of the key factors keeping the country from becoming a top 5 market in terms of revenue.

Still, those 23 percent spend some serious money in games. Brazilians who pay spend around 10-60 Reals per game ($3-$20). Even though the country is large and offers plenty of opportunity, it’s the Western developers who rule. Piano Tiles, Subway Surfers, Pou, My Talking Angela and My Talking Tom hold the first five places as the most popular Android games in Brazil, according to App Annie. On iOS, Traffic Rider, 8 Ball Pool and Candy Crush Saga also have strong presence.

So which are the top ten mobile games made in Brazil? Find out in the list below.

*Interesting SDKs are courtesy of logo

cookbok#10 Cookbook Master – Be the Chef!

Android | iOS

Developer: Tapps

Tapps is a Brazilian game development studio, headquartered in Sao Paulo and focusing on casual games. Having started in 2012, so far it has developed and published almost 200 games for the iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms. With millions of downloads every week, Tapps Games is already one of the top publishers of mobile games in the world.
Published: 2014
Genre: Strategy
About the game: Cookbok Master – Be the Chef! is a game which will help you work on those cooking skills of yours. In the game, the player is tasked with creating kitchen works of art using more than 40 ingredients to cook with, like eggs, lettuce, onion, tomato… You will start as a beginner with few utensils and ingredients at your reach. But for each completed recipe you get stars, and every star you earn takes you a step closer to becoming a cooking master by unlocking new recipes, new ingredients and acquiring a culinary experience based entirely on real-life recipes.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  Chartboost 
 AppsFlyer  InMobi 
 mobileCore  MoPub 
 AdColony  AppLovin 

ufb2#9 UFB 2 – Ultra Fighting Bros

Android | iOS

Developer: Tapps
Published: 2015
Genre: Fighting
About the game: UFB 2 – Ultra Fighting Bros is a fighting game with a different approach to the genre. It offers 50 challenges and combats, as well as two modes – Career and Multiplayer. The game features fighters from all over the world, including Bulldog Burton from the USA, Brutov from Russia, Hellga from Sweden, Rocha from Brazil, Raging Ramirez from Mexico and Brobot from Mars, making sure everyone has their favorite.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  Chartboost 
 PlayHaven  mobileCore 
 Parse  MoPub 
 AdColony  AppLovin 

penguin#8 Racing Penguin – Flying Free

Android | iOS

Developer: Top Free Games

Top Free Games is a mysterious game studio that describes itself only as the “creators of Bike Race and Racing Penguin” games. According to Crunchbase, this is a mobile games developer company building games for Apple and Android phones.

Published: 2012
Genre: Racer
About the game: Racing Penguin – Flying Free is a physics based slide and fly game in which the player slides down the mountains of Antarctica and flaps the penguin’s wings to fly. It features a total of 5 worlds and 40 racing levels.

horizon chase#7 Horizon Chase – World Tour

Android | iOS

Developer: Aquiris Game Studio

Aquiris Game Studio is a company based in Porto Alegre. With eight years of history and a team of 40 people, it has been creating games for a broad range of platforms, from browser to PC and mobile. Now with Horizon Chase, the studio is taking a step further into the wild world of self-publishing.

Published: 2015
Genre: Racing
About the game: Horizon Chase is an homage to the 80s and early 90s classic racing games. It features 16-bit graphics, cool cars and a huge garage for upgrades. The game is starring composer Barry Leitch, the creator of legendary Top Gear, Lotus Turbo Challenge 2 and Rush series of games soundtracks.

magic#6 Magic Rampage

Android | iOS

Developer: Asantee

Asantee is a game studio from Brazil that doesn’t find it important to have a website in English language. It builds games for iOS and Android, based on the Ethanon game engine. Among its games are Magic Rampage, Magic Portals, Hit The Gator and Bee Avenger both for iPad, iPhone and Android.

Published: 2013
Genre: RPG / Platformer
About the game: Magic Rampage is a platformer game, featuring RPG and hack ‘n’ slash elements. It offers in-depth character customization and multiple weapons, from knives to magical staves. The game features many dungeons, each with new obstacles, enemies and secrets, as well as Bonus levels, Survival mode and challenging boss fights. The game was built in 16-bit and brings “refreshed and engaging gameplay mechanics”.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  Crashlytics 

myboo#5 My Boo – Your Virtual Pet Game

Android | iOS

Developer: Tapps
Published: 2015
Genre: Simulation
About the game: My Boo is a virtual pet game in which the player is tasked with adopting, dressing, feeding and taking care of its new pet. The game in style of the famed Tamagochi also allows the player to tickle, tuck and bathe the pet, and decorate the rooms in which it lives. The game also features dozens of mini-games, with new ones coming with every patch.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  Chartboost 
 AppsFlyer  mobileCore 
Vungle  MoPub 
 AdColony  AppLovin 

toilet#4 Toilet Time – A Bathroom Game

Android | iOS

Developer: Tapps
Published: 2013
Genre: Arcade
About the game: Before smartphones, people used to read stuff written on hygiene products while on the toilet. Now, they mostly just tweet. Tapps wanted to tap into that time of day and create a game to be played while sitting on the toilet seat, so it built Toilet Time. The game is a compilation of mini-games all somehow related to relieving yourself – one time you’ll be tasked with pee-blasting the toilet seat, and another coughing at the perfect moment to cover up certain noises. With more than 10 million downloads on Android alone, it is one of the most popular Brazilian games.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  Chartboost 
 AppsFlyer  mobileCore 
 Vungle  MoPub 
 AdColony  AppLovin 

bunny#3 Bunny Shooter

Android | iOS

Developer: Best Cool & Fun Free Games

When you have a game development studio named ‘Best Cool & Fun Free Games’, Google can’t help you much to find it. To make matters worse, the developers’ site is offline, and Crunchbase has no data. Nevertheless, we do know that Best Cool & Fun Games is from Sao Paulo, that it has more than 20 games on the Google Play Store, which have been downloaded more than 100 million times.

Published: 2012
Genre: Puzzle
About the game: Bunny Shooter is a puzzle game similar to the Angry Birds series. The goal of the game is to destroy the bunnies that are hiding behind various obstacles, by shooting arrows into different elements on the stage and kickstarting a domino effect. It offers four worlds, with 60 stages each.
Interesting SDKs: 

 mobileCore  InMobi 

bike#2 Bike Race Free – Top Free Game

Android | iOS

Developer: Top Free Games
Published: 2012
Genre: Racing
About the game:  Bike Race Free from Top Free Games is Brazil’s second most popular mobile game. It is a racing/arcade game in which players are tasked to traverse hard obstacles on their motorbike, while defying gravity and real-life physics. It features hundreds of tracks and innovative worlds, stunts, and multiple bikes. The game is frequently updated with new content, as well.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Flurry  InMobi 
 AdColony  HeyZap 

ant#1 Ant Smasher

Android | iOS

Developer: Best Cool & Fun Free Games
Published: 2011
Genre: Arcade
About the game: With more than a 100 million downloads on the Android platform alone, Ant Smasher is the ultimate king of Brazilian mobile games. The player is tasked with squashing as many virtual ants as possible by using his fingers. In the game’s latest version, it allows it to squash your friends’ photos, as well.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Chartboost  mobileCore 
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Game Design, Game Reviews

Game Review: Tiny Chick – A spin-off worth your time

iconIf, for some strange cosmic reason, you could only ever install one Flappy Bird spin-off and you were in a dilemma which game to choose – you should definitely go for Firebeast’s Tiny Chick.

Available on Google PlayAvailable on iTunesThis game is the perfect example how spin-offs can actually be really entertaining when done right – and looking at Tiny Chick, getting that ‘right’ requires the biggest effort of all – an idea.

Tiny Chick is a 2D arcade endless runner game in which a tiny chick is tasked with jumping over a bunch of obstacles, very similar to those pipes in Flappy Bird.

Jump to win

screenshot1The main difference is that the chick is not actually moving. It’s just standing there, rooted to the ground, waiting for you to react. In order to have the tiny bird jump over the obstacle, you need to press the screen and hold it pressed until its jumping power is charged.

As it charges, a trajectory is pointed out in a form of a dotted line. The longer you press, the higher the jump. The tricky part here is that you can’t modify your trajectory, and you can’t set it up slowly.

It goes from 0 to 60 in a split second, meaning you have less than an eyeblink of time to figure out how long you need to have the screen pressed in order for the chick to jump through the obstacle. Miss by a millisecond and it will smack its pretty little head right across the wooden wall in a hilarious manner, followed by equally entertaining audio.

Modern pixel art

In essence, the game is strikingly similar to Flappy Bird. But just this – this little twist in gameplay, the original idea, should be enough to see the game succeed on the global stage.

But the game has much more to offer.

Its visuals feature straight lines and bright colors, in a ‘modern pixel-art’ fashion – something we’ve seen in Crossy Road, for example. People obviously like pixel art, so why not give it to them, right? Only in these modern iterations, that art is much, much better, and that’s coming from someone who spent half of his lifetime playing pixel-art games.

The game also expands on its tiny universe by adding 14 additional characters, which can be purchased with coins – the in-game currency. That way, if the little yellow chick is not really your thing, you can buy yourself an afro chick, a spiderman chick, deadpool chick, and a bunch of other chicks from various pop-culture instances I couldn’t really recognize. Shame on me.

Coins can be obtained by playing the game and watching a rewarded-video ad, but that’s not what surprised me the most.

screenshot_2The game offers a nifty little feature that’s rarely seen in endless runner games, but in reality should be featured a lot more – a chance to continue where you failed without having to start all over again.

The game offers such a scenario in case the player wants to watch a video ad and, after almost breaking my previous record before failing, I was more than happy to watch a 30-second ad for Google on India. Not sure why such an ad would reach me, but I still enjoyed it, as it helped me break the record.

The option to continue a run is only offered once per game and, if I understood correctly, only shows up if you had already achieved a significant result. Well thought!

In conclusion, I must say I really like this game. It looks nice, feels nice, plays nice and is fairly addictive. Some Play Store comments say the game freezes and crashes every now and then, but that is yet to happen to me. Highly recommended.

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