App Chat with TapNation: The Secret to Successful Hyper-Casual Games

In our first edition of the App Chat series, we spoke with TapNation’s Head of UA & Monetization, Anouar Benattia, to find out more about how the company manages to find success in the hyper-casual market and what they have planned for the future.

Vali Scorus, Content Marketing Manager2020-08-24

Introducing App Chat, a Mintegral Q&A series where we talk with some of the top mobile publishers and developers in the world about their latest releases, industry trends, and more. We recently sat down with Anouar Benattia, Head of UA & Monetization at TapNation, to find out more about the company’s origins, their publishing philosophy, in-app bidding, and the current state of the hyper-casual market, among other things. Here’s what he had to say.

Mintegral: Tell us a bit about the history of TapNation: when and how the company started, what kind of games you’ve published so far, which markets you focus on, and maybe any key achievements you’re particularly proud of.

Anouar Benattia: TapNation was founded in January 2019 and is based in Paris. Our biggest focus here has always been the hyper-casual market, on which we’ve published 4 HIT games so far. We’re particularly proud to have been able to make small developers around the world succeed on this market.

Mintegral: Why did you choose the hyper-casual game sector and what makes TapNation stand out in such a competitive market?

Anouar Benattia: The hyper-casual sector was super fast-growing, and we wanted to take a chance on it and be a part of it. It’s a crazy market: huge number of competitors, lots of very innovative ideas, countless studios and opportunities… When we started on this market, we really wanted to bring a tech-focused approach to the process of publishing. That’s what we believe made us stand out: a data-driven focus on iterative development.

Mintegral: Let’s talk about publishing. Some say speed is the key to success – what do you think about this philosophy, do you agree or disagree with it? And what is TapNation’s general approach, do you have any rules or standards when choosing which games to publish to maximize their chance at becoming huge successes?

Anouar Benattia: Of course speed matters in a very competitive market, but we wouldn’t say it’s the key to success. As the games become deeper in terms of meta and game design, development time has increased, and the general focus of the sector has shifted to creating games with more variety. As for us, polish: this is our main focus here at TapNation. We want to bring the most qualitative games on the market. Our rules are pretty simple: we look at the CPI and retention during the first test, as a first indicator of marketability for a game, and then iterate to improve the KPIs.

Mintegral: How do you build an effective UA strategy from a monetization point of view? Also, how do you decide which games to continue supporting and which ones to scrap? And what are your thoughts on using self-service platforms as an effective tool to run UA campaigns?

Anouar Benattia: Obviously, I can’t reveal all our secrets. But, what I can say is that testing is the core pillar of our UA strategy. Creatives, networks, countries, OS, audience… all of those factors must be rigorously tested in order to achieve optimal results. As for choosing which games to push or not, the answer is very simple: profitability. If our prediction indicates that a game won’t be profitable, we’ll stop all our spendings. The self-service platforms made us win a lot of flexibility, an ability to run a lot of tests, and a bidding management much more responsive.

Mintegral: Let’s talk about your recent game “Sneaker Art!”, which got into the Top 10 charts in almost 50 countries. What promotion methods (e.g. traffic buying, influencer marketing, etc.) did you use, and which ones were the most effective at acquiring users? 

Anouar Benattia: We used several channels of promotion, but the most effective one in hyper-casual remains in-app ad networks, such as Mintegral. 

Mintegral: What was your priority in the early UA stages for “Sneaker Art!”: topping the charts or lowering UA costs? And how did the UA costs change once the game got in the Top 10 charts?

Anouar Benattia: Both are priorities. But the most important priority is actually to reach profitability as soon as possible, by having optimized UA campaigns. If you have a good game, and your campaigns are well-managed, you will reach the top, no doubt. Obviously the CPI on the different channels increased when we reached the top, but it was compensated through the organic installs we generated.

Mintegral: Which ad formats have delivered the best results for your UA campaigns so far? Do you see any particular formats becoming more popular and if so, do you plan on investing more in them in the near future?

Anouar Benattia: Of course, the full-screen formats are the ones that perform the best. The goal of an ad being to generate interaction, it is also true that playables and interactive end cards are taking a more prominent place in our UA strategy.

Mintegral: What do you think of in-app bidding? Do you plan to fully switch to this for your monetization needs? If so, what would you say is the biggest benefit your company can get from in-app bidding?

Anouar Benattia: In-app bidding is a game-changer. Unfortunately, we can’t yet switch to a full bidding model, but the majority of networks are making huge progress on this subject, which is why I’m hoping to see in-app bidding take over 2021. The first upside to it is time, because there’s less waterfall optimization to be done, and technical errors to fix. And the second upside is the rise in revenue, as we benefit from 100% of the potential of our users.

Mintegral: What do you think of the hyper-casual gaming market in its current state? Do you think there is still room for growth? What kind of trends do you think we’ll be seeing in the future?

Anouar Benattia: As I said before, the market is crazy. I think there’s still a lot of margin for growth, one proof of it being the newcomers in the market in the past 6 months, and our success in less than a year. As the audience is getting more accustomed to hyper-casual games, and more eager to play more qualitative experiences, we’ve noticed the surge of the current trend of multi-gameplay games. 

Mintegral: What advice would you give to other developers looking to grow and improve in terms of game development processes, UA, or monetization?

Anouar Benattia: Generally speaking, the most important thing to do these days is acquire knowledge: you should play all the top-charting games you can, read on all of the articles out there published by ad networks, publishers and developers, and truly immerse yourself with the hyper-casual culture. 

Mintegral: What does the rest of 2020 look like for TapNation? Are you working on any big projects at the moment or anything interesting you’d like to share?

Anouar Benattia: There’s many more games coming before the end of 2020 here at TapNation, lots of exciting stuff that we can’t wait for you to play. Currently, we’re also organizing our first Hyper Contest, which consists of developers and studios competing against each other to create the best performing game out of a motion design we created and tested. It’s happening in October 2020, and I recommend to all studios reading this to apply.

We’ve got more App Chat interviews coming soon, but if you’re an app developer or publisher looking to be featured in one of our upcoming editions, please contact the Mintegral team today!

Vali Scorus is Mintegral's Content Marketing Manager, responsible for digital and social media content. Vali has over 10 years of experience covering the gaming industry.
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