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Breaking away from the pack

How an exclusive partnership with Unity Ads is helping Space Ape move ahead

Space Ape: A Unity Ads case study

Space Ape, backed by Supercell, is focused on breaking into and owning new genres. That means knowing when to take creative risks and how to adapt trusted practices. With Fastlane: Road to Revenge, the developer’s first game outside the build-and-battle genre, it is pushing the boundaries beyond what has made it successful in the past and exploring new monetization methods.

The goal

Break out of build-and-battle genre by pushing design boundaries with new game

Platforms

Android, iOS

Team members

100+ organized across seven small teams

Location

London, England

Space Ape worked with Unity hand-in-hand during development of Fastlane:Road to Revenge, and through to discoverability and monetization. Working with Unity as its exclusive ad supplier and leveraging their Unified Auction helped balance IAP and rewarded videos in a way that made players happy, optimized user ad LTV, and helped grow the game.

The results:

  • Since November 2017 DAU on Fastlane: Road to Revenge has tripled to 550K
  • ARPDAU reached $0.25, including $0.11 from ads alone
  • Ad revenue increased 5x to $30K bookings a day
  • No significant impact to retention
  • Able to reinvest more into user acquisition
Space Ape: A Unity Ads case study

A partner for the fast lane and the long haul

When Space Ape was considering who to work with, they knew Unity could be a strong partner because they’d already built three successful games with the Unity engine and had a good relationship with the people behind it.

Space Ape felt they could count on Unity throughout the lifecycle of their title, from development to launch to monetization.

“We've been building our games with the Unity engine and promoted them through the user acquisition platform,” said Nicolas Boulay, Head of Growth at Space Ape. “Our recent exclusive partnership with Unity’s Unified Auction on Fastlane has helped us optimize and better understand better our users' ad LTV.”

Unified Auction provides an open marketplace where the highest bidder truly wins. This is as straightforward as it gets in the ad space — higher revenue for the publisher, and more control over the quality of ads and ultimately the player experience. The scale of the Unity developer network, their dedication to partners, and the sophistication of their products is unrivaled.

Space Ape: A Unity Ads case study

Trust is a two-way track

Space Ape firmly believes that trust with players and focus on player experience are a prerequisite to a long-term success. They also know that creating good relationships with players in the casual game market requires a delicate balance.

“At the end of the day what matters is the gaming experience you give players. We want our games to be a service they’ll play for many years to come, says Mickey Elimelech, CMO at Space Ape.

They were also aware they couldn’t rely on IAPs alone for revenue in a game with mass-market appeal.

“We knew that if we just slapped ads on top, players would churn. What we needed was a way to use both IAPs and ads that felt natural,” Elimelech says.

Driving revenue and keeping players happy

Space Ape decided that the best way to create ads that players would embrace, was to design them into gameplay right from the start, so that they would feel like a natural part of the game. The studio is set up in small teams, which have the power to make decisions independently. This made it easier for Boulay to work with the product and game teams as well as Unity on monetization, creating the best possible user experience and optimizing the business model.

“Unity has always been there to meet our needs,” said Boulay. “There’s always someone to answer questions, to help us optimize our ads across the Auction, and to make sure we know how optimization takes place.”

Node-based creature creator
Ended level
Receive a level after watching an ad
Receive the reward and continue playing

Tripled DAU and had a 30% lift to ARPDAU

The Fastlane team did extensive testing in beta and found that engagement in optional rewarded video ads was higher when they were implemented at the end of a race. This testing paid off when they launched globally.

“As an exclusive partner, Unity has the unique ability to help optimize the player experience and monetization of our games with their Unified Auction. The scale of their developer network, their dedication to partners, and the sophistication of their products has helped us increase revenue while keeping our players happy,” Boulay said. “We found that we were able to have both IAP and ads co-existing in a way that optimizes the user experience and Lifetime Value (LTV), and pays off in terms of revenue.”

Space Ape "Fastlane: Road to Revenge" rewarded video clip
This short video shows how players accumulate bonuses via gameplay, and at the end of a race have the option to increase their rewards by watching a video.

“The increase in CPM we experienced at scale with the Unity Ads partnership had a 30% uplift to our ad ARPDAU, which enabled us to reinvest in profitable marketing to triple our DAU and revenue in two months with no significant impact on retention. We found that we were able to have IAP and ads co-existing in a way that optimizes the user experience and Lifetime Value (LTV), and pays off in terms of revenue.”

— Nicolas Boulay, Head of Growth, Space Ape

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