Tobold's Blog
Monday, July 03, 2017
Strange advertising business model

I am very much aware that mobile games are big business, in fact bigger than either console or PC games. And I understand the business model of giving away your game for free, and then selling some sort of currency used in the game to advance for big bucks. And if a mobile game is making big bucks, I understand the business logic of advertising that game. However what I don't understand is how advertising mobile games with fake gameplay could work.

Nobody really expects truth in advertising. With rising advertising budgets we now get ads with real actresses trying to lure customers into some game, and we all know that besides that spot the actress has nothing to do with that game. Because they are much cheaper to do, most ads for mobile games just show some aspects of gameplay. A 30-second spot showing gameplay of some match-3 game will give you a pretty good idea what the game is about. You don't get the details of how exploitative / Pay2Win the real money part of the game is, but you know what the gameplay is.

So I am a bit confused that more and more I am seeing mobile games advertised with video ads showing completely fake gameplay videos. One, whose name I am not going to mention to deliberately not advertise it, is advertising itself with gameplay apparently prepared using some engine similar to Total War on the PC. But if you watch 30 seconds of glorious 3D Total War like combat and then decide to install the game (or watch actual gameplay on Youtube, which is what I did because I didn't trust it), you see that combat in the game is actually very primitive 2D. Another game advertises itself with a first-person 3D view swordfight sequence, but the whole game is isometric 2Dview. The fake gameplay sequences come complete with believable UI elements like a mini-map or controls. But apparently they have been created only for advertising, with nothing like that being actual gameplay of the game advertised.

But as these games are Free2Play, downloading and installing the game doesn't cost the customer any money, and so don't bring any revenue to the game company. You make money by retaining customers in your game and getting them hooked so they spend money on virtual currencies. But if you lured them into your game by fake gameplay videos, how could that possibly work? It only takes the player 5 minutes to see that he has been cheated and to uninstall the game again. Only a loss of time to the player, and no gain of money to the company. And the player is less likely to try a game of that company in the future. So what can the interest of these fake gameplay video ads possibly be? I don't understand!

I suppose one could argue that if it would be legitimate to represent the game by CGI images of real warriors fighting trolls or whatever (I think most would say it would) it might be legitimate to represent it by images of a better computer game!

But yeah, I guess the object is just lure 'em in - since they pay nothing they can't complain that you defrauded them - and hope that some of them will stick (maybe they enjoy the game and forget about the ad).

"Play now, My Lord" never seemed to do Civo^^^^Evony any harm...
I think there are 2 main reasons:

1. Once you install the game you become invested in it, you're more likely to try it out even if it doesn't look as advertised. A kind of foot in the door technique.
2. The agency responsible for the ad campaign probably has goals set for number of installs the campaign brings. The are not interested in long term adoption etc. they just want to brag about how many installs their campaign resulted in. So they don't care how fast the user will uninstall the game, they can say "we brought the users, it's not outlet fault they left because they didn't like the game".
You are still counted as a download.
PC games routinely use concept art that looks nothing like the actual game. Restaurants advertise with artfully crafted food that is inedible. Trailers make the move look awesome, even if it isn't.

Misleading customers with stuff more shiny than reality is just how advertising works.
The point is to grab the slackers who don't actively search for games, just wait for something to fall into their lap without effort. If you lure them to a shitty game with a great ad, they have a good chance to stay, since their goal is to kill time (which can be done with the game) and finding better game would take effort.
PC games routinely use concept art that looks nothing like the actual game. Restaurants advertise with artfully crafted food that is inedible. Trailers make the move look awesome, even if it isn't.

But in all of these cases the customer only finds out that he has been misled after ordering / paying.
I appreciate this post and its seems looking so informative Thanks for sharing with us..
Packers and Movers Mumbai

Hmm... are Packers and Movers Mumbai randomly advertising their wares where nobody is likely to find them useful - or are they providing a cogent example of a phenomenon similar to the subject of this article?
They are advertising randomly. And so are a lot of others. The majority are caught either in the spam filter, or by the setting that I need to approve all comments on posts older than 2 weeks. The rest I delete manually. But I'll let this one stand, as there is some discussion about it.
Weird, I've never-ever experienced something like that in my entire "app-gaming" career. Instead... I've fallen for "fake hyped advertising" on me beloved PC :-(
You're assuming the player is the primary customer.

"We have billions of downloads!" attracts investors.
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