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
Paid install trend – before and after lockdown started
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.
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.
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.
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.
You might also note that Rovio also made big investment on the playable ads front.
Here is one of their playable ads if you want to try:
4 – Matchington Mansion by Firecraft Studios
There is an unconfirmed rumor in the industry that Matchinton Mansion is at least partly owned by Applovin. It’s not news anymore that Applovin is buying and investing in game studios. Their recent acquisition of Machine Zone is part of this trend. That, however, is not the topic we are here to discuss today. The epic comeback of Matchington Mansion during COVID-19 global crisis is the topic here. Here is the budget trend chart for the iOS version of this app. Over 20x budget growth in US. This took them all the way to the #14 spot in US-iOS budget charts in early May.
5 – 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
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.
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.
See it in video
If you don’t like reading – here is the entire blog post in a video. Enjoy!
You should take a look. Seriously!
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