GDC 2017 Day 3 TL;DR Recap: Supercell Insights, Video Ad Design Tips & Measuring ROI

By Scott Reyburn, Director of Content Marketing
Thursday, March 2, 2017 / 4 min read

Game Developers Conference GDC 2017 Supercell Clash Royale Stefan Engblom

Previous GDC 2017 coverage:

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is the mecca of the mobile games industry and the games industry at large. But a mecca with a steep price tag. No matter if you live in San Francisco’s backyard or fly halfway across the world, GDC will cost you a pretty penny to attend.

Fortunately for you, we’re footing the bill so you don’t have to. This year, we’re bringing you, the Fybe Pulse community, all of the latest mobile gaming insights from GDC 2017.

Every day this week, Fyber Pulse will be condensing all of GDC into “tl;dr” key points from many of the mobile gaming talks we’ll attend each day. Here’s what we have in store for you from day three of the show:

Tl;dr: Breaking Ad: The Formula for Winning Video Advertising

Game Developers Conference GDC 2017 what to test mobile video ads

10 ad design tips for mobile video ad creation:

  • 1. Viewer experience: “The viewer experience is understanding what your viewer is going through when they’re watching one of your video ads,” says former Storm8 video producer Dillon Becker.
  • 2. End card call to action: “The most important call to action is the ‘play now’ button,” Becker says. “It’s enticing the user to click on your ad and play your game.”
  • 3. Resize your ads: “If you’re running an ad on mobile, most networks will allow for landscape and portrait sizes for both phones and tablets,” Becker says, “It’s worth taking advantage of that, just so you can get more eyes on your ad.”
  • 4. Video length: “I get asked a lot: what is the magic number, what’s that golden number for the best video length to get the best engagement,” he says. “For us, we found that it was between 20 and 26 seconds. That’s when we saw the best conversion rates.”
  • 5. Get proper feedback: “Any time I make a video ad, I always find someone who has not seen the ad yet,” Becker says. “I show them that ad, and I ask them four questions.” Becker says he uses the “FOLD” acronym when he asking questions, which stands for “feel, observe, learn, and dislike.” “It’s really easy to ask someone what they liked about your video,” Becker says. “If you ask them what they disliked, now you’ve got something you can improve on.”
  • 6. Creative refresh: “We were refreshing our creatives every two to three weeks,” Becker says. “We usually give a week to determine if the ad is going to be successful or not.”
  • 7. Localize when possible: “If you have the ability to localize your ads for different geos, do it,” Becker says. “This goes beyond just localizing text. This is also localizing culturally. One example that I give is comedy. Comedy is great in marketing, but comedy doesn’t work everywhere around the world.”
  • 8. The first five seconds:The first five seconds of your ad are the most important few seconds of your ad,” Becker says. “If the user is going to tune your ad out, they’re making that decision in the first five seconds.”
  • 9. Try other games: “It doesn’t hurt to take a winning concept and try it on other games,” Becker says.
  • 10. A/B test everything: “Once you find something that works, make sure you’re testing it,” he says. “Test it to find out if you can do something better. Look for ways to improve.”
  • Where should you test your ad creatives? “We mostly test on Facebook and on ad networks,” he says. Becker adds that mobile advertisers can save money by testing on ad networks rather than Facebook, which costs more to run tests.
  • Adding a seasonal or topical theme to an ad creative can improve conversion. “Topical relevance does work,” says Becker, “It does pique people’s interest.”

Tl;dr: Quest for the Healthy Metagame: Balancing Cards in Clash Royale

Game Developers Conference GDC 2017 Supercell Clash Royal metagame balancing cards

  • Supercell’s tower defense card battler Clash Royale currently features 70 cards, with unique abilities and attributes for each and every card. As you can imagine, balancing a game like this can create a lot of headaches. To optimally balance Clash Royale, Supercell game designer Stefan Engblom and his team set goals to constantly improve fun, variety, and freshness, along with one more critical goal: “You want to have a healthy metagame,” Engblom says, “That’s the ultimate goal. The quest for the healthy metagame.”
  • Engblom says it’s unrealistic to find the perfect balance for a mobile game’s metagame, rather the Clash Royale team aims to find the balance between a healthy and unhealthy state of metagame. “It’s nice to strive there and think about it and dream about it, but we need to be honest with ourselves,” he says. “We can’t reach it.”
  • The first key design principle of balancing highlighted by Engblom included making everything feel overpowered. “Overpowered is kind of like the Marvel Avengers,” he says. “Certainly they’re all overpowered, and we could argue about who is more overpowered than the other, but they all have their own unique traits and moments when they are the best and balanced, in a way, between each other.” The counterpart to the first design principle is to have multiple counters that act as a safety net. “These two principles were heavily inspired by Blizzard,” he says. “Blizzard approached the multiplayer game design as presented back in GDC 2008 by Rob Pardo.”

Tl;dr: Case Study Compilation: How Seriously and Playtika Prove Mobile ROI

Game Developers Conference GDC 2017 Playtika Seriously mobile ROI

  • The retention rate between an organic user and acquired user has been a point of contention for quite some time. Many argue that organic users exhibit significantly higher retention than those acquired through paid methods. However, the gap is closing, according to Jeet Niyogi, Playtika’s marketing director. “We’re also noticing the ratio between organic and non-organic has decreased,” he says.
  • When it comes to calculating LTV, mobile game companies that monetize with mobile ads, such as Seriously, factor in ad metrics. “We definitely take ad revenue into effect,” says Christopher Parish, director of performance marketing for the makers Best Fiends.

For day four coverage of mobile game insights from GDC 2017, keep it locked to the Fyber Pulse blog.

Tags: Insights