It’s no secret that rewarded video ads have taken off as the ad of choice for mobile games – and with good reason! Rewarded video ads give players some kind of in-game reward upon completion. Research shows that players prefer rewarded video ads over any other ad type and that video ads actually increase engagement and retention, as well as in-app purchases (IAPs). The number of game developers using video ads is steadily increasing, with studios announcing large revenues from rewarded videos.

Still, a lot of game developers often feel that their games don’t have the right model or mechanics to incorporate video ads. Other developers will invest the time and energy to build a great game but sprinkle on ads as an afterthought. So, what’s the best way to use video ads effectively, without harming retention? Below are some real-life examples of different types of games using video ads to great effect.

Get More Lives

Dashy Crashy is an addictive endless runner game from Dumpling Design. The player drives a car or truck down the road, avoiding crashing into other cars. Needless to say, lives get used up pretty quickly in this game! Dumpling Design incorporated a counter at the bottom of the screen, which counts down how many lives are left – and subsequently when a video ad is about to play. After watching the 15-30 second video ad, there are 6 new plays on the counter.

Dashy Crashy couples this with an in-app purchase option – buy a car with real money just once, and the ads will disappear forever. Between the clear label that an ad is coming, and the option to remove ads altogether, Dashy Crashy ensures a smooth user experience. Dumpling Design makes ⅔ of its revenue in this game from the video ads, and the remaining third from IAPs.

Dashy Crashy is available on iOS.

Win Free Items

Dragon Mania Legends is a farm-type game from Gameloft, in which players raise dragons, grow food, battle other dragons, and conquer new lands. The game has multiple currencies and artifacts to deal with – such as gold, gems, scrolls, food, seals, potions…the list continues. Most of these are available through IAPs, but players can also access a lottery wheel to win some of them. The key is finding the balance where it’s enough that non-paying users can continue to progress and enjoy the game, but not so many that the game becomes too easy, or no one makes purchases. Access to the wheel is a hot air balloon on the world map, so it feels right at home amid the rest of the game.

Dragon Mania Legends is available on iOS and Android.

Double the Rewards

Rodeo Stampede is an endless runner and zoo game from Yodo1 Games, in which players collect animals for a zoo by chasing them down in the savannah. The zoo opens to the public every 6 hours, and the game offers players a chance to double the zoo’s revenue by watching a video ad. This game has a very rich ad economy, with several implementations of rewarded video ads. Other ad moments include watching videos to generate more paying missions, as well as the option to watch an ad to continue playing from the point of the player’s death.

In addition to all of the rewarded video ads, there are in-app purchases which are completely separate from the ads, such as special animals and clothing. The unique setup here means that players never have to interact with ads if they don’t want to, but it’s really too enticing not to. Since the IAPs are different items, there’s a good chance a lot of players will both watch the ads and make purchases.

Rodeo Stampede is available on iOS and Android.

Power-ups & Boosts

In BAIKOH, a twist on Scrabble and Tetris from Mum Not Proud, players must form words from falling letters, keeping the letters from stacking up too high and ending the game. Players can equip power-ups to help keep the falling letters from getting out of hand, using coins earned from play. If the player hasn’t earned enough coins to purchase a power up, the game offers the option to watch an ad in exchange for equipping the desired power up. There are also a few power-ups which require real money, and can’t be equipped in exchange for watching an ad – a good balance between making the game enjoyable for non-paying users, and even more rewarding for paying ones.

BAIKOH is available on Android (coming soon to iOS!).

Getting Hints

Letterpad is a word puzzle game from NimbleBit, in which players have to create multiple words from the same set of scrambled letters, based on a clue. In a fairly uncomplicated game, the developer found a way to put video ads to good use – there’s an option to view a video ad in exchange for a hint when players are stuck on a word or clue. While the game offers one free hint every day, the avid player may run out of hints at a faster pace than that, so this is a good balance between players who will never want or need to interact with the ads and players who are more than happy to watch an ad to get some help.

Letterpad is available on iOS.

What do these games have in common?

  • A focus on balancing the in-game economy. The size of the reward is important because too big of a reward means the game is too easy, and players may never purchase IAPs. Too small of a reward means players may not find it valuable, and non-paying players could ditch the game altogether
  • The ads are either fully opt-in, or the player receives some forewarning about both the ads and their value, so they know exactly what they’re getting
  • In each game, the opt-in or call-to-action is integrated seamlessly into the game’s UI. Users get the premium experience, as well as the feeling that the ads and rewards are a core part of the game
  • Each of these games is thoughtful, well-built, and creative! Rewarded video ads work well in fun games with solid mechanics and gameplay, so make sure to work hard on yours

This post could have gone on a lot longer because there are so many great games with clever video ad integrations. What’s most important to know for game developers is this: there’s a good way to implement video ads in any type of game, one which is rewarding for both the developer and the players.

Download the infographic here.

What are some creative implementations of rewarded video ads that you’ve seen in your favorite games?