Monetization Category Benchmark: Puzzle Apps
When the app stores first launched, few would have predicted that puzzle games would eventually rule the roost. But over time, this category of game has sprawled out, encompassing many of our favorite hits.
Match 3 is the second most popular genre in Europe and North America with games like Candy Crush Saga and Gardenscapes, according to Datamagic. Beyond match 3 games, the broader puzzle category also includes word games like Wordscapes, hidden object games like June’s Journey, and an assortment of other niche brain teasers.
Deconstructor of fun recently released its 2020 predictions for puzzle games and mapped out the revenue of each game category under the puzzle app genre. Last year, the global puzzle game revenue from in-app purchases (IAP) reached 45 billion USD, and the growth rate was as high as 18%. Among them, IAP revenue from match 3 puzzle games accounted for 3.5 billion USD and maintained a growth rate of 13% each year.
Puzzle games also frequently monetize with ads — their bite-sized, casual gameplay lends itself well to either interstitial or rewarded ads. For this benchmark post with Chartboost data from Q4 2019, we measured the proportion of impressions each ad type claims, as well as eCPMs by country and platform.
Impressions and revenue by placement
Interstitial ads have maintained a strong foothold in puzzle games, accounting for 75 percent of all impressions in the category. They have also maintained an almost exactly proportional share of revenue — claiming 74 percent of all revenue. Puzzle is significantly different from a genre like casino, where our category benchmark on social casino found that rewarded ads had a much higher proportion of revenue.
In the puzzle genre, one of our developers (who want to remain anonymous) explained that interstitial is a more popular ad format because players rather watch an interstitial ad in-between plays than initiating a rewarded video, where interstitial ads have delivered higher eCPMs and impressions.
However, we also have developers like Appynation who have a more balanced revenue split between interstitial and rewarded ads.
Appynation’s producer Robin Clarke says that they have a 50/50 percentage split between revenue from interstitial and rewarded video ads. The economy in their games gives them several opportunities to offer the player a virtual currency bonus for watching a video: daily rewards, rewards for completing puzzles/goals in the game, as well as the option of paying to unlock certain puzzles with the currency.
“A retained player is likely to be served at least one compelling offer to view a video per session, and as our games retain players for much longer than the industry average this results in a significant number of video views. We definitely recommend that puzzle games that can accommodate both interstitial and rewarded ad placements to add it in the game flow.”
– Robin Clarke, Producer at Appynation.
Puzzle Page by Appynation
Top geos by average eCPM
It’s not an understatement to say puzzle games are beloved worldwide. The top five markets by eCPM are English-speaking countries with the exception of Japan. While these eCPMs are lower than seen in a genre like casino games, puzzle games generally have a much larger user base.
Platforms by average eCPM
As you might expect, iOS is the top puzzle game market by eCPM — but Amazon also performs well. We recently published a post on monetizing with ads in the Amazon Appstore.
The user acquisition perspective
User acquisition activities for puzzle apps that rely on ad revenue are very interconnected with ad monetization. Puzzle apps are very sensitive towards CPIs because of CPM fluctuations. Current CPMs on the market can either heavily increase user acquisition (UA) volume or decrease it depending on seasonality or other factors, says Vladimir Ilchenko, Head of UA at Veraxen.
“Two metrics that we pay very close attention to are connected with creatives and conversion rates. We focus on the things that are most attractive to our audience which turns out to be pure gameplay videos and images that are bright and colorful. Only that can help us turn impressions into conversions more effectively.”
– Vladimir Ilchenko, Head of UA at Veraxen
Jigsaw Puzzle Collection HD by Veraxen
Puzzle games are the perfect genre for ad-based monetization: their casual, stage-based gameplay blends very well with either interstitial or rewarded ads. If you’d like to hear more about monetizing your puzzle game with Chartboost, get in touch anytime with firstname.lastname@example.org.