Podcast
Live from Gamefest: Trends in mobile game creatives 2019

This year at Gamefest, we set some time aside during the second night to record podcasts with attendees. If you can picture it, we sat in a circle on the floor of a massive tent in the Negev desert, with music blasting behind us, people dancing around us, and with slices of meat and pita bread in our hands. 

Next, we spoke about mobile game creatives with Oli Christie from NeonPlay, Alexander Derkach from Playrix and Jean-Nicolas Vernin from Madbox. Read on for edited highlights: 

Oli: “There are discussions about whether you should be representing the game in your ads. I come from the world of advertising, so personally, I don’t think you need to. It’s about getting someone to click on the ad and it’s their decision to download the game.”

Oli: “I love creativity and wish there was more. You look at cinema, TV, mixed media, there’s so much creativity out there. Currently, we’re limited.”

Jean-Nicolas: “I started in the mobile game business in 2005. There were no ads, the games were in java downloaded on a web portal. When the App Store and Play Store game in, it wasn’t so necessary to have creatives. You could just be featured to get downloads. But right now you have so many good games coming out each week, so for discoverability, you need to make sure your team is just as experienced at designing creatives as they are games. And, attention spans are declining - so being creative and edgy to hook this lower attention span is key to us right now.”

Alexander: “The progress of creatives has been very fast. A year ago, it was just a snapshot from your game - a video of gameplay. Nowadays, you need to be creative to attract attention and be visible in the market.”

Oli: “At NeonPlay, we make hyper-casual and idle games. And often the thing that works best for us, no matter how creative we try to be, is pure gameplay. We show 15 seconds of gameplay, and within 3-5 seconds people decide what to do. But with match-3 games, because there are millions of them, they have to do something different. And that’s where the creativity comes in.”

Alexander: “You should be different than the market, but you can’t be too different. Your creatives should still be connected to the game and gameplay. Because in any other case, when a user comes to the app store, the user won’t install. It’s a tricky balance.”

Jean-Nicolas: “You’ll have very quick wins like high downloads and CTR, but then in the end, these users will have huge drops in retention because it’s not the game they were expecting when they clicked on the ad.”

Oli: “The mobile industry today is so metrics and data driven that you can tell quickly if something’s working. There’s a classic quote that goes ‘I know 50% of my marketing works, but I don’t know which 50%.’ Today we know. You can test different colors, headlines, gameplays.”

Oli: “We mustn't forget that when people are seeing our ads, our job is to stop them from scrolling or clicking the x-button. We have to entertain them or charm them or confuse them, whatever it might be.” 

Jean-Nicolas: “We’re quite lucky to be in this industry. There are not many industries where a user can play or test before buying. If you want to buy cream from a TV commercial, you don’t know whether it’s going to work when you buy it. But with playable ads, what you see is what you get. It’s an incredible way of engaging the user before they actually play the game.”

Alexander: “For casual games, you can’t just test with playables - there are more things to test like core mechanics. But for hyper-casual, you can.”

Oli: “In reality, it’s quicker to prototype in Unity and test quickly than to make something in HTML5.” 

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