Since 2001, GameHouse has developed and published video games with female protagonists that empower and inspire women. GameHouse is based in the Netherlands, and their games are played by users in over 40 countries. The company started out making PC games, but made the shift to mobile games in 2010 and now offers over 50 games driven by intricate stories. Their popular Delicious series, which centers around a waitress who aspires to be a restaurant owner, paved the way for many spin-offs including the mystery game Parker and Lane and the hospital drama game Heart’s Medicine — Doctor’s Oath.
After shifting to mobile, GameHouse had to re-invent their business model to appeal to gamers with a different set of expectations. To do this, GameHouse moved from a paid model to an ads-supported approach. The GameHouse team decided to use multiple ad networks to maximize their revenue, which created several challenges around scaling and management. Their solution came with AdMob mediation, which consolidated everything into one platform while boosting revenue 30% and growing game engagement 10x.
A new approach to ads and mediation
Like many game distributors who jump from PC to mobile, GameHouse was initially nervous about changing their business model to include ads. Although their loyal user base followed them to mobile, GameHouse realized that many of their new mobile users were unhappy with the company’s paid business model. Unlike PC gamers, mobile gamers expected the games to be free, and so GameHouse started seeing more dissatisfied, 1-star reviews. As a result, GameHouse realized that they would need to implement ads into their games in order to let players play for free without sacrificing monetization.
“Adding ads to our games was a massive change, it doubled daily active users (DAU) overnight and tripled our day-7 retention — but we still had no way to handle multiple networks.” says Sharath Kowligi, Director of Ad Operations for GameHouse. With only one ad network in their rotation, and no easy way to manage others, GameHouse started losing out on potential revenue. Less revenue meant potentially missing fiscal goals for the quarter, which could have led to a significant financial impact to the studios they worked with. For the first time, GameHouse found the need for a mediation tool, and turned to AdMob for help.
A team with an appetite for innovation
While GameHouse had a large selection of mobile games that they could test out mediation in, Blue Giraffe — the studio who created Heart’s Medicine — volunteered to go first. “We focused on two KPIs: overall revenue — satisfying our sales and financial goals — and crash rates — because we are very sensitive to how our players are impacted when we add new features.” says Sharath.
Although this was GameHouse’s first time trying mediation, the team took a progressive approach and decided to skip the testing portion. “We trusted AdMob already, and we had an experienced dev team, but the clock was ticking. We had to make sure we got things done before the last update for that year; however, the consistency of AdMob’s tech gave us enough confidence to take that risk.” says Sharath.
GameHouse immediately started working on a new build for Android in which AdMob mediation managed the game’s rewarded ads. GameHouse also started using AdMob’s frequency capping system, which limited the number of ads shown to each user to a maximum of 10 per day. After launching the Android version successfully, the team released a subsequent version for iOS. “The actual implementation of the AdMob code took a day — it’s easy to get done.” mentions Sharath. While implementing mediation resulted in great improvements to the team’s KPIs, the best part of the process for Sharath was changing the conversation and attitude around ads.
Making a change for the better
As a result of including ads and mediation, GameHouse has seen the number of people who complete the game grow by 10x. “Mediation has let us increase, and better manage, the ad networks we work with. Now, more people engage with our games which is incredibly valuable to our entire team, who live for these stories and want to impact as many players as possible.” says Sharath. The engineering team has also enjoyed the 99.5% stability they have seen with AdMob mediation, and now spend significantly less time troubleshooting crashes.
Furthermore, GameHouse saw a 30% increase in their ad revenue after only two days of using AdMob mediation.
a 30% jump is astronomical, and once we saw such a large jump in our revenue, we didn’t need any more convincing — we knew we’d be going with AdMob for our mediation platform.
Director of Ad Operations, GameHouse,
Sharath also mentioned that this increase in revenue has remained steady, and solved their concern of a potential plateau or short-term spike.
GameHouse eventually expanded AdMob mediation to four more titles, and are planning to include it in four others that are coming down their pipeline. The company’s games are becoming more international because, “we can now reach more people thanks to ads and mediation, meaning we have a much larger canvas to work with, and can inspire even more women through what is now the most powerful medium for storytelling.” says Sharath.
GameHouse plans to continue releasing games with strong female leads, and their upcoming game — Unsung Heroes — will follow the story of a spy in a medieval Chinese court and the archeologists who uncover her heroic story. “Our mission will always be to inspire our players, and having a solution that helps us reach more of them has made it easier to accomplish our goals.” Sharath concludes.
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