If you’ve ever spent your time searching for a picture frame in a crowded bedroom you’ve probably played one of Wooga’s famous hidden object games. Not content to rule social media gaming, the company branched out into mobile in 2011 and has been surging from strength to strength since.
Based in Berlin, the company specializes in both hidden object and puzzle games. We checked in with Lisa Pak, Senior Ad Monetization Manager to see just what makes Wooga so successful.
Branching Out & Growing
Founded in 2009 by Jens Begemann and Philipp Moeser, the company initially jumped into the lucrative market of Facebook games with Brain Buddies, Bubble Island, and Monster World.
In 2011, Wooga moved to mobile with Diamond Dash, which was downloaded over 11 million times in just the first year.
Wooga has continued to expand beyond the normal parameters of mobile gaming, beyond the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon.
Getting those users across so many platforms isn’t easy. “Facebook and Adwords mark our two most important traffic sources,” said Pak. “On top of that, we also work with all the major rewarded video ad networks out there.”
That may sound initially like a lot of work, but the company takes a data-driven approach to their UA campaigns and resources, said Pak.
“Our user acquisition strategy is purely ROI focussed,” she explained, “We evaluate each partner on a monthly basis and allocate our marketing budgets accordingly.”
Like Wooga’s constantly expanding reach of titles and platforms, user acquisition strategies continue to evolve as well, “We also experiment with various other channels such as TV and influencers wherever we see a fit,” said Pak.
“Our most successful games have all been live for very long periods of time,” said Pak, adding that most of their titles offer new content updates every two weeks or so.
“The Jelly Splash team, for example, releases a set of 20 new levels every fortnight,” Pak explained. In addition to regular content updates Wooga’s two game teams constantly work on developing new big features that let the players engage with the game in new ways,” she continued.
Monetizing that player base requires care and consideration as well.
“In-App-Purchases have always been the core of our business,” Pak said. “On average throughout all our games 90% of the players never make a purchase in the game,” she said, echoing well-known statistics in the industry.
“As 85% of our revenues, In-App-Purchases still mark our key revenue driver and are always designed around the core loop of our games,” she continued. Wooga included video ads in non-rewarded placements, but Pak said they only generated a relatively small amount of Wooga’s revenues and were not part of their focus.
The industry keeps changing though, and Wooga has evolved its monetization strategies with it.
“With rewarded videos becoming more and more popular with Free-to-Play mobile games, we have decided to make that a bigger part of our business by optimizing the way they get smoothly integrated into the user experience,” Pak explained.
“We see the user experience for ads as important as onboarding new players or designing levels, which is why we try to think about the integration of ads for our games as early as possible,” she continued.
That balance of user experience and revenue sources is one Pak says new studios should keep in mind as well. “The earlier you start thinking about monetization,” she said, “The better it will fit within the core loop of your game and that will result in a better user experience for the player.”
“Try to think about the different integrations points, user eligibility, impressions per day as well as how you can reward your users,” Pak continued. “Above all, test the integration of all these elements continuously; having the right ad integration is as important as having a great onboarding experience or the right level balancing.”
Testing is especially important with rewarded video integrations. There’s nothing more frustrating for a user than to not receive the reward they were promised for their time, and a simple typo in an integration can prevent that reward from triggering correctly. This can get especially tricky with mediators, or if an app uses multiple ad networks. If in doubt, test. If you’re sure, test again.
Pak said rewarded video has proven to complement, not compete, with IAP.
“Rewarded video is something that is often expected by players in free to play games as rewards help them to progress faster,” Pak said, “Those that actually go ahead to interact with IAPs are the more engaged users, and will naturally engage more with ads within the game as well.”
That level of game and ad engagement is surprising but isn’t that uncommon.
An Unusual Structure
Wooga’s team of about 250 people and all are based in their office in Berlin. The company has a game-focused structure that allows development strengths to shine through while allowing competencies in the business-end to take care of the day-to-day operations.
The majority of the employees work in one of two game studios, each focussing on one genre: Puzzle Games and Hidden Object Games.
“Both studios have a couple of different game teams in various stages of development and get support from the publishing and services teams when it comes to UA, ad monetization and product marketing, for example,” Pak explained.
“We are an extremely international team with people from over 40 different nations. This international crowd is essential for designing our games that are played by millions of people around the globe but also comes in very handy when you need a quick translation for a creative for example!” she said.
“On top of that it’s great for a good Friday afternoon conversation over beers,” she added.
The company also does a lot on a company level to help employees converse and interact with colleagues even if they don’t interact on a day-to-day basis.”Once per month we have so-called ‘mystery lunches’ where your lunch group gets picked randomly,” Pak explained.
“We also have annual company summer and Christmas parties are also a great chance to get to know your colleagues better!’ she added.
Clearly, this strategy is working, as Wooga continues to grow as a team (the company is currently hiring), and as a company with some of the most consistently great puzzle and hidden object games on mobile and beyond.
Stay in Touch with Wooga
Wooga maintains a bevy of social media profiles to keep in touch with its fans. Perhaps most interesting for a company known for hidden object games is their Pinterest board, which showcases not only official art but fan art, inspiration, and more.
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