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What happens in social casino mobile games, shouldn’t stay in the social casino mobile games—at least when it comes to user acquisition.

Last week at GDC, I outlined some important UA and monetization lessons all game developers can learn from the social casino mobile game industry, a genre known for recruiting and retaining fans without breaking the bank or overextending developers. We looked at case studies and data from this very profitable mobile game niche to showcase how its UA and monetization tactics can be applied broadly and effectively.

1. Create unforgettable app icons

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Research shows that a majority of downloads come from organic traffic, so icons can help make a lasting impression during the limited time players spend looking at an app. Social casino mobile games excel at creating app icons that are visually compelling and attract users who want learn more about the game.

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Established brands should craft icons that stay true to the company’s story, while developers of new games should focus on creating attention-grabbing icons that tell players what to expect (read: tell a story with the icon). Social casino games often use imagery made famous by brick-and-mortar casinos like slots or roulette wheels.

Quick Tip: Think about utilizing imagery that resonates with players, but still fits with brand messaging and overall game experience.

2. Nail the advertising creative

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Short attention spans coupled with the average length of video ads creates an interesting challenge—but not for social casino. Great social casino ads are never subtle, they’re flashy. A static ad’s image is striking. A video ad’s production grabs attention. People recognize and continue to play social casino games because they deliver consistent mobile experiences.

Beyond the social casino, mobile game ads should aim to draw player eyes immediately to download buttons, game information and “learn more” call-to-actions. They should use well-known or relatable visuals to tell the audience exactly what the game is about.

Greg Dale @ GDC'16

Greg Dale @ GDC’16

Quick tip: Game developers and advertisers need to think about—then A/B test—message and image combinations that will quickly and favorably communicate a game’s story to potential users.

3. Fold licensing and IP into UA strategy

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Casinos use nostalgia to keep people interested and invested in their games. Similarly, the look and feel of social casino mobile games mirror that of regular casino games—they don’t try to be anything else. Mobile games can and should leverage nostalgia and familiarity in the same way to boost their own user acquisition. The key is to understand what IP and licensing processes are necessary to secure familiar brand images.

Quick tip: Learn more about what social casino UA, advertising and monetization tactics by reading Chartboost’s latest Power-Up Report.