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Mobile game developers are often hyper-focused on key markets like the U.S. and the U.K. because these markets tend to generate high levels of revenue per user. But there’s a problem: these markets are growing increasingly saturated. Once you’ve captured a domestic audience, where do you go from there?

Google’s International Growth Team (IGT) is a global team composed of strategy consultants and operational experts who tap into Google and third-party data to deliver strategic recommendations to clients on prioritizing markets, identifying consumer nuances, and streamlining localization efforts.

“Export into global markets allows developers to find new audiences and diversify their revenue streams, which hedges against risks and lowers costs overall,” says Ludovic Thevelin, IGT Consultant at Google.

Surfacing new markets with big potential

Smaller markets are often ignored simply because of their size. However, when they have the same income and GDP per capita as some of the more common western markets, grouping them together can allow developers to more easily find dedicated players who also spend in-game. Consider, for example, Northern Europe. Areas like the Nordics, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria are often overlooked, but when grouped together they can be a powerful tier of markets to pursue.

There’s also what Google calls the Next Billion User markets. In these markets, hundreds of thousands of new users come online for the first time every day, which adds up to millions of people every week. This is where the future is, Thevelin says. The company’s more advanced clients are thinking now about how they can expand into these markets as they continue to grow, which includes making their apps more efficient in terms of file size, localization, and more. These tweaks and changes will set them up for success in the future.

Factors in choosing a market

At the same time, not all of these new markets present the same opportunities, and choosing an ideal fit depends on a large variety of factors. IGT conducts a prioritization exercise to help clients determine which markets make sense for them in both the short and long term.

Some areas of consideration include:

  • The business and revenue model of the game
  • The type of audience a developer is looking for
  • The language(s) the game is available in
  • The level of flexibility the development team has in localizing the gameplay experience
  • The region’s average revenue per user
  • The region’s monthly active users
  • The region’s cost per acquisition (this can vary depending on the type of game or gaming category)

It’s also important to determine the KPIs that signify high potential for growth based on past experience, or those that are most important to the developer.

App advertisers can get started with their own prioritization exercise using Google’s Market Finder tool.

Why localization is a top priority

Once you set your sights on a market, thinking through localization is essential to optimize a game’s growth. The Google for Games 2022 Mobile Insights Report reported that 83% of global mobile players believe it’s important that the games they play are localized to their country or region.

“Localization will ultimately help developers increase downloads, get more engagement, and generate more revenue as you tap into that wider audience,” Thevelin says. “It isn’t just a switch that developers  can flick on, but more of a process.”

He further added that there are four pieces to localization: language, people, culture, and location.

In terms of language, while some markets have higher English search volumes, 69% of global users rarely use an English app. In other words, you can only get so far with an English version of your app and English ad copy.

Developers should also ask themselves  whether their game truly represents the people in their markets, and whether audiences can relate to the personas represented in their games. Culture includes being aware of local holidays and events, which can be used as opportunities to localize content, but it’s important to make sure you’re being sensitive to cultural nuances.

The fourth and final pillar is location. Offering a recognizable visual representation of the user’s home country, such as land features or landmarks, can win hearts and minds.

As a means to improve localization, developers should look into collaboration with local creators and influencers. IGT encourages clients to look at top YouTube channels and videos in relevant regions for each game category and reach out to those creators as a way to create a stronger bond with local users.

“We know that gamers are very loyal,” Thevelin says. “Getting them accustomed to your game and getting them to recognize your content through some trusted local influencers is a great way to lean into a new market.”

Looking toward the future

Conventional wisdom still carries the day: the main formula for long-term success is to test, measure, optimize, and repeat, and then look to the future. The first step to building an international growth road map is the prioritization exercise, which involves aligning on the types of KPIs developers are looking for and then ranking markets according to those KPIs.

To continue to grow globally, developers should start by looking at where they are now, what markets they reach with the current state of their game(s) and current team, and where they can reasonably expand to in the next couple of months.

And then there’s the future. What are the markets that you really want to establish in one to two years, but are more challenging to enter because of localization needs? What is the gap that keeps you from entering those markets?

“Games are global by nature — they transcend culture, language, and politics,” Thevelin says. “It’s really a no-brainer for developers to engage with that global audience. Our team is focused on helping clients understand where those international opportunities lie, helping them prioritize those opportunities, and then unlocking them.”

To learn more, talk to your Google Ads Account Manager to discuss exporting into international markets. If you’re a new developer looking to get started with Google App Campaigns in international or domestic markets, please reach out to with your mobile app name/company name and target market to get started.

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