Two years after the studio was founded, Shanghai-based developer Adaric Music caught the attention of gamers around the world with the app “Piano Fire.” With 1.5M daily active users, it’s Adaric Music’s top title.
In early 2022, Adaric Music saw an opportunity to increase its revenue from “Piano Fire” by boosting player engagement and retention. The studio identified opportunities to optimize in-game features and test a number of solutions to improve the user experience (UX). Specifically, the studio wanted to streamline new user onboarding and increase in-app ad revenue, especially with rewarded ads placements.
After performing these tests and acting on the insights they found, Adaric Music saw impressive results. User interface (UI) adjustments to its “Rate App” pop-up helped its Google Play user rating jump to more than 4.5 stars. Other optimizations improved day-one user retention by 5 percentage points and increased new user average revenue per user (ARPU) by 10%.
Improving onboarding, engagement and retention
Shanghai-based Adaric Music is a boutique game developer specializing in music games. Its breakout title, “Piano Fire,” is a deceptively simple game that involves pressing keys as a melody plays. The dazzling graphics and wide range of music made it extremely popular and two years after its release, “Piano Fire” has over 1.5M daily active users. The studio wanted to build on its success and find opportunities for continual growth. After analyzing benchmarks from other developers and their releases, Adaric Music realized there was still room to increase user engagement and maximize user LTV. Since all of their revenue comes from in-app ads (IAA), the studio was looking for solutions to enhance their current ads implementations and considering adding new placements. Adaric Music had been partnering with Google AdMob for ad mediation since 2018, so the studio turned to the Google team for help.
Building a strategy for better engagement, retention and revenue
Adaric Music collaborated with Google’s UX consulting team to determine several strategies and best practices to improve new user onboarding, engagement, retention and ad monetization. They put their plans into action by first running a series of experiments in “Piano Fire” over three months.
Onboarding: Adaric Music wanted to improve the experience of first-time users who complete “Piano Fire’s” tutorial. The team decided to test a few UX best practice recommendations, including a simplified UI design for the screen that appears after users complete the tutorial. The redesign introduced key features such as daily gifts, lucky spins and a tutorial to open the next gift. The team also added a skippable tutorial button so users can opt to jump right into the full gameplay experience. Additionally, the Adaric team updated the “Rate App” pop-up by having it appear after the user has spent time engaging with the game rather than shortly after installing the app.
Engagement and Retention: The studio tested adding a “Song of the Day” pop-up when users open the app, encouraging more daily active users to engage with this feature and then launched it with an Easter Day Collection Event. The team also added a Leaderboard that ranks individual users and ran an Always-On Collection Event.
Ad Monetization: Because retaining users is so important for ad revenue, Adaric Music experimented with a Double Daily Collection Bonus for rewarded ads. Users could claim double rewards if they logged in again after 24 hours. They also tested a design refinement to the Spin Wheel by adding an exclamation point icon to increase the visibility of the rewarded ad and improve the click through rate (CTR). Adaric Music decided to run the experiments with 100% of global users of “Piano Fire,” comparing the performance results to before the test periods.
Adaric Music achieves optimization across the user journey for their top title
According to Adaric Music, the results were even better than expected. After making improvements to the user Onboarding Guide, more players understood the game mechanics and attempted the first challenge, improving the success rate of the first challenge by 25%. After adjusting when users were served the “Rate App” pop-up, the rating for “Piano Fire” jumped to more than 4.5 in the Google Play Store. The increase was “extremely important” according to Yiting Wang, Adaric Music’s Monetization Lead, a rating of 4.5 or higher led to more engagement from users using the Google Play Store. The series of optimizations increased the average session duration for “Piano Fire” by 10%. Day one retention rose by 5%, and new user ARPU improved by 10%. In terms of ad revenue growth, the rewarded ads frequency per DAU increased 10%, while the opt-in rate for the Spin Wheel saw a 10x uplift. Yejie Quan said the app feature, user experience and ad monetization improvements made in “Piano Fire” can be applied to the rest of Adaric Music apps.
Google provided many valuable and actionable recommendations to help our business grow. The experiments helped us fine-tune our optimization framework so it could be replicated in our other titles.
Product Lead, Adaric Music,