He’s baaack. With a new post-holiday commercial, Machine Zone has Arnold Schwarzenegger in another ad for Mobile Strike.
This mobile modern-combat strategy game debuted in November. This ad is Machine Zone’s latest effort to gain the attention of hardcore gamers in the $30 billion mobile game industry. In the run-up to the Super Bowl, mobile game companies are likely to start coming out with more high-profile ads.
Thanks in part to the Governator, Mobile Strike has steadily climbed the charts of the top-grossing list for iOS games. The game is now No. 5 on the top-grossing iOS games in the U.S., according to App Annie. That’s not far from Machine Zone’s flagship, Game of War: Fire Age, which is No. 2 behind Clash of Clans on the list.
Mobile Strike comes from the new Machine Zone division dubbed Epic War. Schwarzenegger is the front man for the artwork promoting the modern warfare game, and he has also now starred in three live-action commercials. Only the most successful mobile game companies can afford to hire big-name talent and air commercials on TV to promote their games, as Supercell has done with Liam Neeson in promos for Clash of Clans.
Machine Zone spent an estimated $92.7 million on 18 TV ads in 2015, according to iSpot.tv. That budget made Machine Zone the No. 1 spender on game ads in the U.S., ahead of $59.8 million for Supercell’s Clash of Clans. Last year, game companies spent about $630 million on TV ads in 2015. Those ads live on for lots of additional views on the Internet, particularly on YouTube. In that way, the ad dollars get stretched a lot further.
In this ad, dubbed “War Without Weapons,” Schwarzenegger starts out looking through a window at a war zone. He looks at his phone and makes a missile take off. A bad guy tries to shoot him, and Schwarzenegger pulls up a shotgun on the phone. He gestures as if he were shooting a gun, but instead points the phone at the bad guy. The gun goes off, and the bad guy flees. Then Ah-nold says, “Oh, look. My phone is blowing up,” as he uses it to rain a real air strike on the area.
Schwarzenegger has a lot of celebrity power, but his Mobile Strike ads always have some kind of humor as well. Funny ads are considered more authentic to consumers, who tend to share them more than other obviously commercial marketing efforts.
The first TV ad with Schwarzenegger debuted on November 21. It ran on channels such as ESPN, and it was probably aimed at hardcore fans who like military games. Schwarzenegger appeared in full military dress, and the ad was full of action. But this new spot is distinctly more casual, showing him playing on an iPad while he’s getting groomed. Toy soldiers and helicopters appear as he walks down a hallway, and it ends with Schwarzenegger saying, “No matter where, no matter when, I will defend.”
Machine Zone released Game of War in the summer of 2013, and it has had tremendous staying power, remaining in the top-three grossing list for most of the past two years. Machine Zone chief executive Gabe Leydon talked about his company’s strategy at our GamesBeat 2015 conference in October. Revenues for Game of War are believed to be in the millions per day and hundreds of millions per year.
In Game of War, the alliance battles are the heart of the action and enjoyment. Players try to build the biggest bases and the most powerful alliance, and then they go to war with other alliances. With Mobile Strike, Machine Zone is relying upon the same revenge-and-rivalry gameplay to keep players coming back. But as this new ad shows, Machine Zone apparently wants both the hardcore spenders and the casual players to drive Mobile Strike higher.