One of the world’s largest portals for online card and board games, Brazil-based MegaJogos has been creating casual games since 2002. It originally started out with a desktop application consisting of multi-player classic card games such as Canasta, Spades, and Hearts and board games like Dominos. In 2012, it released the MegaJogos mobile app featuring many of the card and board games that were in the desktop application and later launched a series of standalone apps for the most popular games.
Over time, the studio noticed that a larger than expected number of new users of their game apps stopped playing after depleting the 35 free coins they received for installing the app and completing registration. Gustavo Rupp, Development Manager, wondered if there would be less churn — meaning fewer players leaving the game — if the studio increased the number of coins. If so, could it test and validate the optimal number of coins to reduce churn, maintain a quality user experience, and increase revenue?
Through a series of experiments using Firebase Remote Config, the team found the optimal number of coins to reduce new user churn without negatively impacting in-app purchases (IAP) or in-app ad (IAA) revenue.
In 2020, after learning about AdMob bidding, the MegaJogos growth team decided to try it out as a solution to help improve ad revenue and save time with daily ad management. After adopting rewarded ads and integrating bidding in its most popular apps, MegaJogos increased ads revenue more than 300%. That allowed it to focus on new app development and expanding into new markets.
Figuring out how to improve new user retention
In 2012, Brazilian developer MegaJogos — known as GameVelvet in English-speaking countries — launched as a mobile app on both Android and iOS, generating revenue from both in-app purchases and in-app ads. It offers players the ability to compete with each other in a variety of popular card and board games, including Truco and Dominos. As the popularity of the app grew, the studio discovered high demand for the individual games within the app. It has now released more than 30 individual card and board game apps earning revenue mainly from in-app ads.
“We started out with the games that are very popular here in Brazil,” said Rupp, whose responsibilities include both paid user acquisition and ad revenue. “Then we added other card games from around the world. Today, our games are available in five languages.”
The MegaJogos team prioritizes game design and user experience for every game app in its portfolio. Rupp said an analysis of user data indicated the number of new users returning after their first game session was lower than for similar game apps. He wanted to better understand and validate why these users were not returning as often as expected after installing and engaging with the app on day one (D1).
Use Firebase Remote Config to A/B test solutions
The game studio’s user experience (UX) team hypothesized that the problem might be the number of in-game coins a new user receives as a reward for registering. Using Google Analytics for Firebase, it discovered newly registered players were leaving the app after depleting their initial supply of 35 coins.
The MegaJogos team has used Firebase Remote Config since 2018. It can configure almost everything inside the apps and has run more than 90 A/B tests to date. It was easy to set up and conduct a series of experiments analyzing the performance of the 35 coin reward versus other amounts. The objective was to determine the optimal number of coins needed to encourage new users to stay engaged with the apps, improving retention and overall ad earnings.
When deciding whether to give users 35, 100, or 200 coins in the Megajogos app, Rupp initially found that 100 coins was effective at improving retention rate without negatively impacting IAP revenue. However, 200 coins performed best when balancing retention rate with IAP and IAA revenue. He wondered if he would be able to confirm those findings with Dominos and the studio’s other standalone games. There was some variation with other apps, but all showed improvement in retention and revenue by significantly increasing the number of coins users received for registration.
“We couldn’t be happier with the results,” said Rupp. “We’re continuing to use Firebase to refine our process. Right now we are running about 20 different A/B tests.”
Google is very, very important for our business. We look at them as an important, trusted partner.
Development Manager, MegaJogos,
AdMob bidding and rewarded ads help triple ad revenue and save time
The MegaJogos team then turned its attention to ad monetization. It had been using waterfall mediation for a number of years, but was open to new solutions. In 2020, Rupp decided to try AdMob bidding after learning about its real-time auction for over 200 demand sources. After adopting bidding, it tested rewarded ads, ad placements, and coin incentives in three of its apps. After only one month, it saw a 40% lift in ad revenue.
Rupp said that he’s a fan of AdMob bidding. Over the past two years, AdMob has helped the studio increase ads revenue by more than 300%. He said it was very easy to configure and maintain compared with waterfall mediation, saving the company time and resources on ad management.
“Google is very, very important for our business,” he said. “We look at them as an important and trusted partner. Because of that, we are very open to helping them test and improve their new products and features.”