4 Mobile Games w/ Epic Comeback during COVID-19

During COVID-19 lockdown almost any mobile game experienced a lift in usage and users installed more apps compared to the months before. Here are 2 charts from AdIntel showing these trends:

Impressions trend – before and after lockdown started

chart showing impression volumes before and after the lockdown started.
AdIntel screenshot showing the growth in impressions volume in US during COVID-19 lockdown

Paid install trend – before and after lockdown started

chart showing paid install trend broken down to US and Android with an upward trend.
AdIntel screenshot showing the growth in paid installs volume in US during COVID-19 lockdown

What was interesting for us to see is that there were some apps who made very nice comebacks during this period. By comeback we mean – that the publishers behind them aggressively pushed them forward with big ad budgets. Here are the 5 in no particular order.

1 – Candy Crush Saga by King

This is an app from 2012. April 2012 according to wikipedia. We are talking about a title from 8 years ago that everyone already played, stopped playing and played again. It’s a big surprise that this title came back to the top of the charts but that’s exactly what it did.

Table image with 3 first places for budget increase: #1 - Lucky Plinko, #2 - Playspot, #3 Candy Crush
AdIntel screenshot showing the top 3 places

So last week, Candy crush spent the 3rd biggest budget among all US android advertisers. In addition, they also had the 2nd biggest budget increase in android.

Table image with 3 first places for budget increase: #1 - Lucky Plinko, #2 - Candy Crush, #3 Daily Scratch
AdIntel screenshot showing the top 3 places

But their epic comeback didn’t start last week. In March they had a spike of marketing spend and in April 1st King really started pushing hard.

line chart showing budget trend over time borken down to US vs. OTHER. The line chart goes up during April-May.
AdIntel screenshot – budget trend for Candy Crush in Android-US

2 – Coin Dozer by Game Circus

This one is almost old enough to drive a car. Launched in 2010, Coin Dozer never really stopped but is recently experiencing an unexpected revival.

During March it made it all the way to the #3 rank in US-Android budget charts. It had a slight decline during April but overall 2020 was a very good year for Coin Dozer.

While the global pandemic didn’t hurt Game Circus efforts, there is another element at play here. Looking at one of their ads (courtesy of AdIntel of course) reveals the secret. Seems like Coin Dozer joined the trend and are giving away reward gift cards or at least promising to do so in their ads. Side effects may include loss of time, frustration and drained phone battery.


3 – Angry Birds (sort of)

Obviously the original Angry Birds is not making any comebacks. That said, Angry Birds dream blast by Rovio made it all the way to #1 spot in US-iOS in early May while Angry Birds 2 also made it to #33 in US-iOS around the same time period. Not something you expect from IP that have been around since 2009.

The budget trend chart for Angry Birds shows that since lockdown started in the US, Rovio has been putting more marketing dollars in.

line chart trending up and showing budget increase in angry birds team blast during COVID-19 lockdown in US
Budget trend chart in AdIntel for Angry Birds dream blast

You might also note that Rovio also made big investment on the playable ads front.

Image of a table with many playable ads
AdIntel screenshot – showing the diversity in playable creatives used by Rovio to promote Angry Birds dream blast

Here is one of their playable ads if you want to try:

Snapshot form Angry birds dream blast playable ad
Click to Play

4 – Fishdom (again) by Plarix

We already covered Fishdom’s epic comeback in a previous post but the list wouldn’t be complete without it. Here are some stats:

  • At the end of March it reached the #1 spot for Budget rank in US-iOS
  • At the beginning of May it reached #6 spot for Budget rank in US-Android
  • Over 3x ad budget growth in both Android and iOS
US and Other countries line chart representing ad budget used to promote Fishdom by Playrix
Fishdom Budget trend snapshot from AdIntel dashboard

Fishdom might not be as old as some of the other games in this list but it was launched in 2015 – about 4.5 years ago.

Final thoughts

The data covered in this post is not so much about apps going viral. It is more about big gaming companies realizing that this is a great time to promote successful apps that may have been out of favor for sometime. The lockdown caused increase in screen usage which resulted in an abundance of ad inventory. The companies with deeper pockets were the ones to not only realize the opportunity but also act on it in times that may otherwise be financially challenging.

You can see the growth in US ad budget by mobile game advertisers in this chart.

Line chart visual showing budget trend over the last 12 weeks
Snapshot from AdIntel – overall games ad spend per platform last 90 days

You should take a look. Seriously!

AdIntel is so awesome, you will fall in love right away. I already said everything there is to say in other posts. Time to try it for yourself with by getting a 7 day free trial.


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Raised in the Kibbutz and reborn in the city, Yaniv is a certified entre-parent-neur. When he’s not busy doing SEO, content marketing, administration, QA, fund raising, customer support… [stop to breathe], you can find Yaniv snowboarding down the slopes of France and hiking with his kids. Yaniv holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Management from Tel Aviv University. He is also an avid blogger and a speaker at industry events. Before SOOMLA, Yaniv co-founded EyeView


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