Incentivized Mobile Videos? Next Games Is A Believer

next games-rewardOne way to monetize free-to-play games is to make reward videos feel like they’re part of the game.

Since its founding in 2013, Helsinki-based mobile game developer Next Games has raised $18 million, released two games, expanded to 70 employees and emphasized creative ways to implement incentivized ads.

In its game “Compass Point: West,” a fortune-teller character arrives about every four hours with a carriage full of rewards, which can be obtained via purchase or by sitting through an ad. The fortune-teller device gives the game a way around the disconnect between its Old West setting and contemporary ads aimed at driving installs, said Next Games CMO Saara Bergstrom.

For Next Games’ more popular third-party license, “The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land,” reward ads are shown in a rundown theater in the game where players can also view exclusive video content from the hit AMC show.

“If we are going to implement ads into our games, we really want to make it into a feature that the players feel is a part of the gameplay process,” Bergstrom said. “You have to build [the ad implementation] in a smart way so that you can create a long-term revenue stream.”

According to Bergstrom, about 75-80% of Next Game players opt in to watch reward ads, which generates about 6 cents per player per day. Although the company did not disclose how many daily players it has, Bergstrom said its “Walking Dead” title has been downloaded 12 million times, and its games “serve hundreds of thousands of ad views each day.”

Ads are delivered by Unity Technologies’ monetization platform, Unity Ads, and they make up about 20% of Next Games’ revenue, while the other 80% comes from in-app purchases.

The jury is still out on how effective incentivized ads are from the advertiser’s perspective, although anecdotal evidence suggests rewarded videos enjoy very high completion rates.

Next Games shows its belief in reward videos by using them not just to monetize its own players, but by also using Unity Ads to drive installs of its own titles.

“If we look at an ad implementation that is built in a way that results in accidental clicks versus an implementation like ours where players opt in to watch an ad and are more receptive to it,” Bergstrom said, “the latter most likely results in better conversion to download for the advertiser too.”

Update: An earlier version incorrectly stated that ads are delivered programmatically. 

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