Tenjin analyzed millions of hyper-casual game installs to learn which countries are the most cost-effective during a soft launch.
Mobile publishers have a remarkably low margin for error when launching a new game. Even the relatively new field of hyper-casual games was filling up well before many outlets had clearly defined the term. Thankfully, this is where soft launches can be immensely helpful. A soft launch is a narrow mobile game release focused on a small region that is ideally representative of a broader, more valuable target audience. Not only does this let publishers know how the full launch might be received, it allows for continued optimization, QA testing, and early metric tracking.
The United States remains the dominant mobile gaming market, so publishers traditionally soft launch in Canada and Australia for representative audiences. In recent years, this has become more complicated as the costs of user acquisition in English-speaking regions has increased.
Thankfully, hyper-casual games are well-positioned to avoid this problem. The entire genre emphasizes minimalist design, to the point that language barriers often aren’t a concern. Hyper-casual also places a far greater emphasis on advertising revenue than in-app purchases. That means localization and IAPs - two key factors that are typically critical to mobile game soft launch targeting - don’t necessarily apply.
In other words, you can soft launch a hyper-casual game in almost any region and be confident that it will find its audience, provided publishers aren’t working against other limitations like device model penetration. The only real question is which countries are the most cost-effective.
As part of Tenjin’s upcoming hyper-casual benchmark report, we’ve analyzed millions of paid hyper-casual game installs across many of the most popular media buying networks, including Facebook, Google, Tapjoy, Unity Ads, Applovin and more. While the full results are forthcoming, our early data offers key insights into which markets hyper-casual publishers should target during a soft launch.
Brazil faces extensive growing pains in its mobile market, thanks to high taxes and tech embargoes that only relaxed in recent years. While the smartphone market is highly consolidated, it is growing slightly, and the industry is worth over well $1 billion today. Slow growth hasn’t prevented Brazil from embracing mobile games. That means even with a smartphone adoption rate of 23%, there are still millions of users for publishers to reach.
What’s more, mobile games in Brazil benefit from a fairly low CPI of $0.18 across Android and iOS. Given the country’s status as an emerging mobile market, that’s a promising investment.
Indonesia currently ranks #10 in mobile games global revenue, after earning $504 million with 17.7% user penetration in 2018. And that’s not even touching the investments which are transforming the nation into a technology-based ecommerce powerhouse. Yet for publishers, one major benefit is how surprisingly cost-effective the market can be.
Indonesia’s Android marketplace is especially low cost at a $0.06 average CPI. Competing iOS smartphones are slightly more expensive when developing mobile games at $0.20 CPI. Considering how quickly Indonesia’s market is growing however, these numbers are ideal for an initial soft launch.
France sits just above Indonesia in mobile gaming revenue rankings, and boasts a cost-effective and competitive market. The country is home to both wildly successful publishers - including hyper-casual giant Voodoo - and a large audience that’s eager to play the latest titles.
Anyone soft launching a hyper-casual Android game in France can expect an average $0.14 CPI. Those who focus on the Apple market will pay $0.34 per installation. You will still be competing with Voodoo, but with those low costs that’s a worth investment.
If US publishers are disappointed in Canada’s rising soft launch costs, never fear - look south of the border instead. Mexico is the 11th most populated country in the world, and currently sits at a 45.6% smartphone adoption rate. It also boasts a $1.2 billion video game industry, with 71% of its audience preferring mobile titles.
Game publishers can’t afford to ignore that market, even if it wasn’t already cost-effective. Android games can be released with an average $0.10 CPI, while iOS installs cost $0.19.
India is one of the top five countries for mobile gaming in the world. By 2020, the market is projected to be worth $1.1 billion and grow to 628 million players. That’s quite impressive, considering the country already has 530 million smartphone users. What’s more, it has a reliable soft launch audience that’s still cost-effective.
India’s cost per install figures are a little higher compared to others on this list. Android platforms average a $0.25 CPI while iOS comes to $0.20. Yet with how vibrant the Indian mobile games market has become, it’s well worth considering for your soft launch, especially if scale is among your top priorities.
Depending on your product, there are many other countries well-suited for soft launches, as we’ll discuss in more detail in our upcoming hyper-casual benchmark report. Yet these five are the most cost-effective in relation to their audiences - and will remain significant markets in the years to come.