Advertising can make or break a new game release. Good marketing shows players why they should engage with the game quickly and effectively. When it comes to mobile games, however, it seems many have taken the complete opposite approach. There’s no shortage of weird, wild, or just plain misleading mobile game ads, but all of them seem to avoid showing the game.
The idea of not showing the game might seem strange at first, but it certainly seems to work. marvel snapfor example, has ads that focus on its map art or developer interviews, rather than showing actual gameplay. marvel snapThe ads are nowhere near as weird as some other mobile games and don’t try to portray the game as something it’s not, though. state of survival, Lily’s garden, Project makeoverand Evertale are particularly notable for their advertisements, especially considering how they compare to actual games. A large majority of the ads for these four games show very little, if any, actual gameplay. What’s even weirder is how often the ads display shocking content to try to generate interest. Looking at these four games, a trend begins to emerge that might just explain why mobile game companies have gotten so weird with their ads.
Some mobile game ads feature stories instead of actual gameplay
One of the most common types of mobile game ads is one that features admittedly impressive CG animation. state of survival and Lily’s garden fall into this category with their story-based ads in the world of their games. Lily’s garden tends to dance between deceptive and creative, as elements of what happens in the ads actually show up in-game as character dialogue between levels. However, the actual gameplay of Lily’s garden is mostly just match-three puzzles with some light house design elements, which has nothing to do with the soap opera story the ads tell.
state of survival also has animated commercials, although many of their recent ones have been live-action shorts that focus on people playing the game. state of survivalTo credit, these ads often focus on the game’s main hero and city-building mechanics by having two people argue over which characters and shelters in the game have superior power. They’re actually somewhat reminiscent of the “Settle It in Smash” commercials that aired to promote Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
the anime state of survival the ads, however, highlight little stories and feature characters that players can unlock in-game. a house and fortify it as a shelter. Although there may be similar strategy mechanics in state of survival, the game is never as in-depth as these animated ads try to show. To the game’s credit, however, the ads focus on what the actual gameplay prioritizes.
Other mobile ads sell with shock or are misleading
Project makeover has ads that almost always venture into the absurd with crude visuals meant to shock viewers. The most of Project makeoverThe ads depict a person with tousled hair, running mascara, and other similar features. The fake player in the ads tries to makeover them, but it goes horribly wrong. Certain aspects of these ads are exaggerated for their shock value, such as the one where there is a river of mud flowing over the customer’s body.
One could assume that Project makeover is a makeover simulation game, but in reality it is almost identical to Lily’s garden. In other words, it’s another match-three game. A mobile title that takes a similar approach is Evertalewhich seems to present itself as a take on Pokemon but with a touch of horror. While the ads often feature brutal murders, dismemberments, and genetic experimentation, the actual game is a fairly standard mobile RPG that doesn’t really deviate from the formula.
However, EvertaleAds delve into some of the darker aspects of mobile game advertising. Many of the visuals, elements, and even stories in these ads are either heavily inspired or taken directly from more popular games. Many players have even pointed out that some Evertale ads seem to rip off scenes from the indie RPG OMORI. While other mobile games mentioned so far blur the line between creative advertising and lying, Evertale is a game almost completely different from what the ads show.
Mobile games don’t really advertise their game
Mobile game ads really only have time to highlight what the developers think will attract the most viewers. There are a lot of marketing practices at play with these ads, but the most important thing to highlight is how they capture the attention of their target audience. state of survival focuses on specific character leveling gacha mechanics, as this showcases both gameplay mechanic and character art in the game. Project makeover tries to catch a viewer’s attention with shocking images so that they download the game to see if it actually matches what the advertisements show.
The craziest part of mobile game ads is that they actually work. Project makeover is a perfect example. Despite scrapping some of its advertisements, the game gained popularity within four days of its initial launch. The ads grabbed people’s attention and made them want to know more. If someone downloads a game like Lily’s garden but ends up not playing it after seeing the gameplay, it’s still a download. More downloads mean that an app is more likely to be recommended to other users, leading to more gamers checking out the game.