Masterclass #1: How to lower your CPI

When it comes to publishing a hyper-casual game, one of the biggest challenges can be meeting the tough benchmarks set by mobile games publishers. CPI, CTR, IPM and retention rates among other metrics are all analysed by publishers to determine the potential success of your game. While some may be optimised and determined through the guidance of the publisher, there is still a lot that developers can do on their own to help improve these metrics. 

In our new Masterclass series, we’ll explore the metrics CPI, ARPDAU and retention rates and identify what developers can do from their side to improve them. In our first instalment, we’ll explore how developers can lower their CPI through engaging game design and effective gameplay videos.

How the CPI metric determines marketability

Cost per install or CPI is a key metric that has acted as a benchmark in mobile game publishing for years. It is calculated from market tests and determines the cost that you’ll pay for each user that installs your game. Understandably, the lower this metric is, the better as it will increase the margin between the cost of acquisition and revenue generated from the game.

Every market test will feature a short gameplay video that aims to grab the attention of users and convince them to install your game. When a great concept is paired with a gameplay video that effectively showcases it, then the CPI results can be amazing. 

Lower your CPI through Game Design

When creating a mobile game, particularly hyper-casual games, great game design is key to enhancing the user’s game experience. Whether its bright colours, animated affirmations, sounds & vibrations, there are a number of game design aspects that developers can utilise in their subsequent gameplay video to help lower their CPI.

  • Eye-Catching Design
    Using eye-catching artwork, characters or backgrounds in levels is an easy win as it will catch audiences’ attention when watching or scrolling through.
  • Visual Reactions & Affirmations
    This may seem like a no brainer, but including visual affirmations and reactions on screen can make a big impact. Consider including emojis or words such as “Awesome!” “Perfect!” whenever a user succeeds or alternatively fails (this will come in handy for scenes in your video, which we’ll get into later!). Candy Crush is the well-known ‘king’ of visual and audio affirmations.
  • Music & Sound Effects
    While not all users will play a game or video with sound, it is another element of your game that can be used to help lower your CPI when included in gameplay videos

Create a video that showcases your game correctly

While your game concept may have potential, it’s ultimately how you present it that can result in a strong CPI. Market tests are a video ad shown to real users and will contain a gameplay video that is generally around 15-30 seconds long. To create an effective gameplay video, it is important to include a number of different elements to ensure you’re receiving the lowest CPI and most accurate reading of it.

Include a Fail Scene

The best way to show a user how to play your game in a short period of time is to include a fail scene. Including a fail scene in the first 5-10 seconds will set an example for the user of what not to do and will have them wanting to continue watching to see a subsequent win. It will also add a sense of difficulty to the game and have them questioning whether or not they could play the game themselves.

Use Eye-Catching Levels & Artwork

In your gameplay video, it’s important to catch the user’s attention. Most market tests are conducted on social media via the Facebook Ad network, so they are likely to appear in someone’s feed, rather than a viewer being forced to watch them as an interstitial. For this reason, best practice is to showcase levels that have eye-catching artwork or backgrounds and colours that are visually appealing.

Include a Callout message or Mission

You may have seen many market test gameplay videos that include a callout banner of some sort: “Save the Girl!”, “Harder than you think”, “I couldn’t reach level 10” and so on. While it may seem like a strange marketing technique, including a statement or callout engages with users and prompts them to view the video and understand the context behind the callout. Furthermore, specific messaging that challenges the user (“No one can reach level 94”) is also another technique that may encourage users to install the game and try for themselves.

Keep it simple!

While we want to grab the attention of users and have them install the game, it’s important to ensure that the overall gameplay is kept simple and uncluttered. This means editing out or cropping the gameplay recording so that the screen is not distracting with unnecessary UI elements or buttons.

CPI is a critical metric that can be the deal-breaker for many publishers when it comes to that first initial market test. To ensure that your market test is doing your concept justice, it is imperative to create an effective gameplay video that showcases your thought-out design and concept. Opt to include eye-catching visuals and artwork in your game that can be later used in your gameplay videos, as well as obvious affirmations or fail scenes that can also be included.

Check back in next week as we dive into our next Masterclass chapter, focusing upon ARPDAU and what you can do as a developer to optimise and increase it.

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