Succeeding in the Indian Mobile Game Market: It's All About Ads

Insights & Best Practices

June 3, 2016


min read

With a population of well over one billion and smartphone adoption rising at a rapid pace, all eyes are on India as the next powerhouse market for mobile games. Many developers are eager to get in on the ground floor, launching games in India now in hopes of a much bigger payoff down the line.But for the immediate future, India still looks like a money-losing bet. Indian users typically have low-end devices and lack mobile payment options, so in-app purchases aren't a go-to monetization tool for mobile games.So how can a publisher who wants to get ahead of the rush still make some revenue in India? Forget mobile game user acquisition and in-app purchases, and generate revenue with mobile game ads. India-based game developers Zabuza Labs and 99Games are on top of the trend, earning almost all of their in-country revenue from mobile ads.Here's how they reach Indian users despite the challenging market:

Organic player acquisition and rewarded video ads

Indian ecommerce companies like Flipkart and Snapdeal are paying top dollar for users, inflating user acquisition prices throughout the country, so spending on UA alone isn't the best way to monetize."The big problem from my point of view would be the eCPM,? says Manas Gajare, Zabuza's CEO, "It's the core issue." "With per-user earnings low, Zabuza focuses on organic user acquisition instead.[caption id="attachment_17463" align="aligncenter" width="940"]

99Games Star Chef mobile game India

Image via 99Games[/caption]To do this, Zabuza developed casual, mass-market game like Balloon Bow & Arrow in order to appeal to a wider audience of new mobile players. Creating a mass-market game is just the first step, Zabuza says. Mobile devs also need to target the players they do acquire with relevant ads. According to Rohit Bhat, CEO of both 99Games and sister company Robosoft, Indian users are fairly tolerant of ads, particularly rewarded video ads."It has been our experience that anything rewarded outperforms any other ad out there," he adds.

Next step: localization

When it comes to paying for users, Bhat predicts that the point at which games can produce a return on investment in India is 18 to 24 months away.Still, even when user acquisition makes sense in India, localizing ads will remain an important strategy. "If devs are looking at targeting the 1.1 billion [people in India], then they need to figure out how they're going to localize," Bhat says.[caption id="attachment_17466" align="alignleft" width="940"]

99Games Fan The Game mobile game India

Image via 99Games[/caption]This may seem somewhat counterintuitive, since games themselves can be successful without localizing. But ads, on the other hand, generally have text and tend to get a higher clickthrough rate when appealing to the user's native language. Bhat says localizing to Hindi is a "no-brainer" for his upcoming title Sultan: The Game.Check out our continuing coverage of mobile games in India here and here.