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Presented by Google for Games

Reach more players with insights from Google for Games across topics like international expansion, eSports, monetization and more. Find more articles in this series here.

The mobile games market is crowded, complex and continues to evolve every day. To create top-of-the-line games and experiences that resonate with audiences, developers need to cut through the noise and understand their players. That’s particularly true in incredibly competitive niche markets like puzzle games, where audience makeup spans demographics, motivations for playing run the gamut, and a nuanced look at what really clicks for these users can make or break a title.

To address this, Google for Games developed the 2022 Puzzle Mobile Genre Report that provides insight into a variety of essential topics, including mobile player profiles, game discovery, monetization, engagement and more.

The complex puzzle game audience

“There’s a common misconception that only specific types of people play puzzle games, but this report reveals that to not be the case,” says KJ Shin, Director, Global Partnerships, Sellside Monetization – Korea & APAC Apps Lead. “From the lowest levels of spend and engagement to the highest, puzzle mobile players are fairly evenly distributed. Given this, it’s important for game developers to not pigeon-hole themselves into designing puzzle games solely for ‘casual’ players because more often than not, the makeup of a player base is far more complex.”

Since a slightly higher percentage of puzzle players fall into the “passive player” and “tentative follower” categories, they’re less likely to feel like they belong in a gaming community and less likely to consider themselves to be “gamers.”

“Those key differences in puzzle mobile players versus other types of players tell a really interesting story about how puzzle games impact their lives,” Shin says. “These games typically are something that they enjoy in the moment to pass the time, versus someone who goes out of their way to plan for an upcoming game launch or spends hours discussing theories and updates with online communities.”

Successfully launching a puzzle game

“To successfully grow, monetize and scale your puzzle game, it’s important to understand the behaviors and motivations of the people that play puzzle games, and take advantage of the wide variety of tools available,” Shin says. “And while there’s not a single correct or best way to launch a puzzle game, there are ways to maximize your chance of success.”

Shin points to tools that can help boost a launch strategy, including organic pre-registration and App campaigns for pre-registration that generate excitement for the game. In fact, over half of puzzle mobile players surveyed said they have pre-registered for games.

Google Play store listing experiments enable you to convert more visits to installs by testing those elements with an actual Google Play audience. This is a crucial step in the launch process given the report indicates that the most common game discovery method for puzzle mobile players is through an app store.

And since ads in mobile games and on social media are two of the top three ways puzzle mobile players discover games, App campaigns are a highly effective way to reach valuable users across all of Google’s largest properties simultaneously: Search, Google Play, YouTube, Discover on Google Search, AdMob and the Google Display Network.

Boosting user acquisition and cutting churn

There are three top factors that keep puzzle mobile players interested in continuing to play a game: the gameplay is fun, it has the right level of challenge and there is an engaging story. (Conversely, the top three factors that cause puzzle mobile players to quit playing a game is if it’s not fun, there are too many ads or too-intrusive ads and if there are too many bugs or glitches.)

Acquiring the rights to use third-party characters, logos and assets within your games — in other words, leveraging third-party IP — can be an effective way to raise a game’s profile and make it more appealing to a broader audience. This in turn can create an immediate boost to user acquisition efforts due to reduced cost-per-install and improved conversion rates. Leveraging third-party IPs also allows developers to create a compelling narrative around the gameplay that will engage players and keep them coming back.

“But simply incorporating an IP into a game isn’t a golden ticket to seeing metrics improve across the board — there are risks associated with doing so,” Shin notes.

IP owners may request a share of revenues with high guaranteed minimums, reducing overall profits. Other IP owners may exert high levels of control over their assets, which may limit how they can be deployed within the game. Ultimately, this decision is one that requires careful thought and consideration.

Set your game up for continued success

According to the report, 73% of puzzle mobile players believe that in-game ads have a positive or neutral effect on their gameplay experience, and 85% show interest in the content of the in-game ads they see.

To capitalize on this mindset and help maximize a game’s revenue potential over the long term, developers should set up a holistic monetization strategy that incorporates both ad revenue through AdMob and in-app purchases. It’s also important to optimize the game’s app store presence. Experimentation, iterating, testing and optimizing is particularly critical, as is working with your app store representatives to secure featuring opportunities to gain additional exposure.

Additionally, continually refreshing advertising creatives are key to generating ongoing impressions and clicks. Puzzle players are happy to click on compelling ads to discover a new game. But to ensure a healthy conversion rate, the ad should reflect the information on the app store listing — and actually represent what the game is about — so that they don’t feel misled.

For more insights, best practices, and key findings about puzzle mobile players, check out the Google for Games 2022 Puzzle Mobile Genre Report.

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