If you’re into strategy games, I bet you played Lords Mobile: Kingdom Wars. Even if you didn’t, you at least heard of it.
That’s because of their smart advertising strategy and superb user acquisition campaigns.
With Lords Mobile, IGG has mastered the method for gaining worldwide attention and acquiring millions of users. It’s every developer’s dream to be that successful.
To get you started on that path, I analyzed Lords Mobile advertising techniques. Furthermore, I’ve dissected Lords Mobile app store page, which can help developers improve app store optimization.
How Successful Is IGG’s Lords Mobile: Kingdom Wars?
Let’s look at some numbers to see how successful this strategy game is.
Unless stated otherwise, the data in this article comes from AppMagic, a leading mobile intelligence platform. Get 3 days of free access to all AppMagic’s features, as well as 10% off, by clicking this link.
Lords Mobile Downloads
Let’s start with downloads – one of the essential mobile game KPIs.
In the years following its 2016 release, the downloads for Lords Mobile were on a steady incline, reaching their first significant peak in June 2019 – just shy of 9 million downloads for that month. After that, the downloads dwindled a bit and weren’t quite as high during 2020.
However, this was not the end for Lords Mobile, as downloads soared once again in June 2021, reaching almost 10 million. In 2022, the downloads were in the 4 to 7 million per month range, which is still good.
The most impressive number is Lords Mobile’s all-time download count which stands at almost 380 million!
Lords Mobile Revenue
Up until 2021, Lords Mobile’s revenue was pretty steady, ranging from $25 million to $35 million per month. Then, in January 2021, the game’s revenue skyrocketed to $63 million!
Unfortunately, that wasn’t long-lasting and the revenue quickly went back down. However, the game’s monthly earnings never went below $20 million, which is still something to be proud of, considering most games never get to such numbers.
Moreover, Lords Mobile’s all-time revenue has gone past $2 billion, which is certainly something to boast about.
If you want to learn more about Lords Mobile’s monetization strategy, click here.
Reviews: What Users Have to Say About Lords Mobile
The majority of Lords Mobile reviews are positive (4.3 on Google Play).
A user named Boba Stu says, “Lords Mobile is a blast! The game is very leading for at least the first five castle levels. The fights are shown through graphic representations of cartoon characters. It seems to be a very user friendly game. A lot of little things go on simultaneously in your own area, so one can pick up the game, get some stuff going, and leave it for a bit. Rewards a plenty as well.”
However, there are also mixed and negative reviews.
The most common issue for players is that the main focus of the game is how much you spend. Many call it a pay-to win game. One player says, “You will never be able to win any fights unless you are willing to empty your saving account and sell your body on the streets. I have spent around $100 and I am constantly being destroyed by players 10x my might. This is a huge waste of money. Avoid this game at all costs.”
Let’s be honest here, many F2P mobile games rely heavily on in-app purchases. Oftentimes to the point where you can’t make real progress in the game without making a purchase.
Lords Mobile is no different.
Love it or hate it, the success of this game is undeniable and there are great lessons developers can learn from Lords Mobile.
Who Is Playing Lords Mobile: Kingdom Wars?
According to GameRefinery, the three main types of mobile gamers who are attracted to Lords Mobile are Skill Master, Thrill Seeker, and King of the Hill.
Here’s how GameRefinery explains each of these player archetypes.
“Skill Masters are always on the look for ways to become better and better in any game they pick up. They see hard difficulty and steep learning curves as appealing rather than repelling qualities. Skill Masters are passionate about improving and honing all aspects of their gameplay and gain satisfaction when others acknowledge their high level of skill.”
“Excitement and suspense are attributes Thrill Seekers associate with an optimal gaming experience. They want to experience adrenaline rush rather than spend their time on slow-paced game-play requiring lots of strategic planning and thinking.”
King of the Hill
“Kings of the Hill prefer games with a high degree of competition with other players. For this player type PvP-action is the best (and often the only) way to get the most satisfaction out of gaming. Kings of the Hill enjoy the sense of power resulting from competing against friends, acquaintances or random people and then outwitting, outmaneuvering and outlasting them.”
But the question is, how to attract these players?
To find out, keep on reading.
App Store Optimization Dissection
Organic user acquisition refers to a marketing strategy that achieves app installs without the use of paid advertising. Primarily, that’s accomplished by improving the game’s visibility in the app stores, i.e., ranking high in search results and boosting conversion rates.
That’s why app store optimization is essential for organic user acquisition. However, it’s also important for paid UA. A user may see an ad, but make the final decision whether to download a game after learning more about it on the game’s app store page.
Below, I dissect Lords Mobile’s Google Play page and explain each ASO element.
Let’s start with the game title. Lords Mobile is the brand name for this game. However, on Google Play, you’ll notice the full title is Lords Mobile: Kingdom Wars.
The purpose of the addition of “Kingdom Wars” is to illustrate what the game is about. You know right away that Lords Mobile is about wars between different kingdoms.
Additionally, it’s a keyword this game can rank for, which is a smart move.
It’s a win-win.
If you browse the app stores, you’ll notice most games do this. For example, Castle Crush goes even further. The full Google Play title for this game is Castle Crush: Epic Battle – Free Strategy Games. This title is packed full of keywords. Plus, it gives you a very clear idea of what the game is about.
Does the Lords Mobile icon look familiar to you?
Of course, it does.
I could list hundreds of (mostly strategy) games that use this icon style.
You know the drill, face turned to one side, mouth open, screaming. Online, you’ll find it described as ‘action mouth’, ‘shouty man’, or ‘tough dude yelling’. On Reddit, it’s often ridiculed and turned into a meme.
So how come so many mobile game publishers decide to go with this icon style? What’s the secret behind it?
Let me explain.
Two games that are at the root of this trend are Clash of Clans and Game of War. Once those games came out with this icon style, everybody else started doing it.
What’s important to understand here is that giants like Supercell test every little detail of their app store page. That includes the icon. It obviously performed best and boosted conversions. Otherwise, Clash of Clans would have a different icon.
Here are the main reasons why this icon style performs well.
- Humans respond well to faces. We have evolved to recognize and remember faces – it’s what helped us survive. It speaks to something deep in our human nature.
- Because the faces are angled and facial expressions are exaggerated, this icon style exudes excitement, drama, and action. It makes you think the game is fun to play. If the facial expressions were neutral and measured, the game would seem boring and you wouldn’t download it.
- It creates a feeling of familiarity. Most players recognize this icon style and either consciously or subconsciously connect it to popular games like Clash of Clans.
So if something is shown to work, it’s expected that others will jump on that trend. That’s why you see a variation of it in Lords Mobile’s icon. And it’s a very smart move.
I could ramble on about creativity and how every icon should be 100% unique, but that’s not always the best advice. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to follow creative trends.
However, never follow trends blindly – make sure to test them for yourself and see how well they perform.
Lords Mobile App Promo Video Breakdown
When users are browsing app stores, game name and icon are the first things they see. If they’re interested, they’ll visit the game’s app store page.
Some will install the game right away. Others will need a bit more persuasion so they’ll look for additional info on the app store page.
Most commonly, the thing people gravitate to is the app promo video. It’s the most engaging way to learn more about a game.
Furthermore, app promo videos are known to boost conversions. In general, people respond well to videos. If they’re good, they can hold people’s attention and persuade them to complete the desired action, i.e., install the game.
For that reason, successful mobile game publishers put a lot of effort into their app promo videos.
Lords Mobile is no different.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of it.
The impression I get in the first couple of seconds of this app promo video is that it’s a lot like a movie trailer. The scenes are very cinematic, there are dramatic sound effects and a voiceover.
Storytelling is also on point.
All of that is quite engaging and it made me continue watching – I wanted to see what happens next.
As the video continues, there are dynamic, well-edited action scenes of dramatic war battles. The viewers are introduced to different heroes, i.e., game characters.
Overall, the production value is very high. Every scene is animated and well made.
However, that’s now always a good thing.
Here’s what I mean by that.
While the promo video for Lords Mobile looks cool and flashy, it doesn’t authentically represent the game.
After watching this video, one might expect that Lords Mobile has insanely advanced graphics and game mechanics.
That’s not the case.
Now, I’m not saying Lords Mobile is not a good game – it looks pretty good and it’s fun to play. However, it doesn’t look that good.
When there’s a disparity between how the game is presented in an app promo video and what it’s really like, players get disappointed and frustrated. That, of course, can lead to high churn rates and poor user retention.
For that reason, it may be a good idea to include authentic gameplay footage in promotional videos. Both Google Play and Apple App Store advise it.
Including some animated scenes is fine – it can make the promo video more interesting and engaging, but let the focus be on authentic gameplay footage.
Just like Lords Mobile app promo video, the screenshots also don’t represent the game in a fully authentic way.
Most commonly, one would upload screenshots from the game. Lords Mobile graphics are not screenshots (apart from maybe two).
However, the graphics showcase the best game features – formations, kingdoms, wonders, monsters, and heroes.
Another important part of app store optimization is the game’s description.
Granted, not everybody will read it, but for some, it may be what makes them decide to download the game.
“Are you ready for a REAL fight?”
This is the first sentence of Lords Mobile’s app store description. It speaks directly to the user (are you ready), their motivations and interests (a real fight).
It’s copywriting 101.
Additionally, it challenges users, which is another smart tactic that’s often used in mobile game ads.
Furthermore, the description for Lords Mobile lists and explains important game features. For example, the ability to build your kingdom and utilize different troop formations.
By reading it, it’s pretty clear what the game is about and what’s its USP. Moreover, it serves as an additional explanation of features. In other words, it accompanies the app promo video and screenshots well.
Paid User Acquisition: Lords Mobile Advertising Strategies
While organic UA is important, paid user acquisition is usually what results in the largest number of users.
IGG advertises Lords Mobile on several different ad networks like Facebook, Unity Ads, Vungle, and AdMob.
Most of Lords Mobile ads are video ads. That’s quite expected considering it’s the ad format that has the best conversion rate.
For that reason, I mostly analyze video ads. However, I did include one high-performing banner ad in my analysis.
Ready to learn Lords Mobile advertising strategies?
Let’s dive right in!
Dissection of Top-Performing Lords Mobile Ads
I’ll start with the Lords Mobile banner ad you can see above.
The first thing I notice is that this ad is pretty simple and straightforward. That’s a good thing. A great ad needs to have a very clear message.
While it’s difficult to portray all game features and how it’s played in a banner ad, there’s still a lot of information we get about the game.
Firstly, it is instantly clear that this is an ad for a strategy game (there’s a swordsman, archer, troop formations, canons, etc.). Furthermore, the kingdom is visible in the ad which is the center point of the game.
The call to action is pretty standard – play now – but it’s big and visible. There’s also a Lords Mobile logo at the top-right corner.
Notice that the color scheme is well put together and it follows the game’s logo. The emphasis is on the blue and yellow/orange contrast, which can be seen throughout the ad.
Furthermore, the composition of the ad, i.e., the arrangement of elements is harmonious and asymmetrical. There’s a nice balance between the three warriors on the left (and the diagonal strip of blue below them) and the Hero, logo, and CTA on the right.
The yellow/orange arrow is also a nice touch. Its purpose is twofold. One, arrows are used in strategy games to aim. Second, it is strategically placed so that it leads the eye from the left to the right side of the ad. It also emphasizes the troops in the middle.
Overall, this banner ad is quite successful – it’s visually appealing and it makes the game look interesting.
Lords Mobile AdWords/AdMob Video Ad
This Lords Mobile video ad is all about war. It’s 30 seconds of pure mayhem.
Millions of soldiers are rushing to attack the kingdom – they just keep coming. But all of them are destroyed. There’s even a counter for the number of kills.
The best thing about this video ad is that it’s so damn satisfying to watch. It’s almost hypnotic.
Keeping users engaged until the end of the ad – check!
Aside from being visually appealing, this ad also does a good job of portraying what it’s like to play the game. More specifically, choosing different troop types. As well as the upgrades of said troops. It’s clear from the ad that as you earn more coins, you can upgrade them.
Overall, this video ad is pretty simple. It’s basically just one long scene, so no editing is required. But there’s a plethora of different sound effects, as well as music.
In the end, there’s a simple “Play now” CTA.
Above you can see a variation of this ad. The concept is pretty much the same, but this one is made for Facebook.
If you’re interested in how to create ads for Facebook, check out our guide on video ads for social media.
Lords Mobile Unity Video Ad
The concept for the Unity ad is all about troop formations, which is one of the main game features.
There are four different troop types, and six different troop formations players can choose from in the game. That’s what you can see in the ad.
Furthermore, this ad gives players information on how to play the game. More specifically, how to choose troop types and set up different troop formations.
Additionally, it shows that players need to be about the choice, i.e., that they need to choose the formation that will deal maximum damage to the enemy troops.
Lords Mobile Vungle Video Ad
Lords Mobile Vungle ad is very similar to the aforementioned Unity ad. It’s a variation of that same concept – showcasing different troop formations during a battle.
The difference is that the ad for Unity was a standard 16:9 video and for Vungle it’s 9:16, which is a full-screen ad for mobile devices.
Furthermore, there’s a couple of animated scenes in this one that zoom in on the troops.
Lords Mobile Facebook Video Ad #1
By now, you probably noticed a pattern when it comes to Lords Mobile video ads – each of them focuses on one main game feature.
This is a strategy most publishers use, and it works quite well. It allows you to target users based on their specific interests and motivations for playing. Plus, the ad is simpler and easier to understand when it’s explaining just one or two features instead of ten.
In this Facebook ad, the emphasis is on the RPG aspects of the game. More specifically, the way players can level up their Hero.
The first few seconds of the video are quite interesting and engaging. We see the Keeper of the Oath (the first Hero players get) fall to the ground, surrounded by rabbits.
It’s creative, unique, and surprising which makes me want to keep watching. I want to see what happens next.
This is why an ad intro is so important. If it’s not interesting enough, you lose potential players right out the gate.
This Facebook ad continues with several scenes of collecting resources and building a shelter. Once the Hero levels up, he fights a pack of wild animals. This adds some action to the ad.
In the end, as the Keeper of the Oath is defeating the animals, a Lords Mobile logo and CTA (Play now) appear. There’s also a search bar and “Available on” graphic at the very bottom. This is a nice addition because it encourages people to search for Lords Mobile in the app stores.
Lords Mobile Facebook Video Ad #2
Above, you can see another Lords Mobile Facebook ad that has a very similar concept to the previous one. It also focuses on RPG-style campaigns.
Furthermore, the intro is pretty much the same – the Hero is being thrown into this world (this time by a huge hand). He begins to work on the crops.
But suddenly, everything changes. The plants wither, the video turns black & white and the upbeat music is replaced by a sad one.
This scene lasts only for a few seconds before everything is back to normal, but it is strategically placed. Even such a brief change of pace in a video makes it more interesting, dynamic, and keeps viewers engaged – you never know what can happen next!
The last part of the video showcases different buildings, i.e., the city-building aspect of the game.
The end card is the same as in the previous video.
The ad copy is constructed as a game tip – “Make sure you have enough farms! You can’t fight without food!”
This is a smart strategy – it’s important to educate future players on how to play the game. It boosts engagement and user retention.
Lords Mobile Facebook Video Ad #3
This Lords Mobile Facebook ad has a different concept altogether – it’s about leveling up dragons.
It starts with an unhatched egg at level 1 and ends up as a full-grown dragon at level 100. In a way, this is a tutorial on how to level up a dragon – what to feed him, etc. However, it also serves the purpose of showcasing this particular game feature.
Notice there’s a hand pointer doing all the selecting, feeding the dragon, etc. You have probably seen this in many other ads. The main reason advertisers use it is that it creates a feeling of immersion in the video ad.
That way, when you watch the ad, it feels as though you’re the one who’s playing the game.
The second part of the video depicts the dragon attacking a kingdom, engulfing it in flames, and finally defeating it. The scenes are very dramatic and create a sense of action. That’s important because it makes the game look fun to play.
5 Lessons You Can Learn From Lords Mobile Advertising and ASO Strategy
Here’s what you can learn from Lords Mobile’s advertising strategies and app store optimization techniques!
Invest in a High-Quality App Promo Video and Video Ads
Successful organic user acquisition depends on how well you present the game to users in the app stores and how you rank.
The best way to achieve that is with a good app promo video – it is the most important element of app store optimization. Unlike screenshots or descriptions, a promo video is rich in content. It can capture the excitement of playing the game.
Organic user acquisition goes hand in hand with paid user acquisition.
That’s why you also need video ads. Lots of them.
As we have seen in the first section of the article, top-performing Lords Mobile creatives consist almost exclusively out of video ads. All of them were created so that they appeal to the target audience and showcase game features in the best light.
However, make sure to combat ad fatigue. If a user sees the same game ad over and over again, it loses its effectiveness. Variety is key here and for that, you need to boost creative production.
Focus on One or Two Game Features Per Ad
You may think showcasing as many features as possible is the goal of video ads. However, that’s not the case.
It’s a much better strategy to focus just on one or two. You’ll notice that in all Lords Mobile ads.
That way, the ads can appeal to the user’s specific interests and their motivation for playing mobile games. For example, if an ad focuses just on a game’s social features, that will appeal to social gamers, i.e., those who enjoy playing against other users or playing with friends and family.
Create Ad Variations for Different Ad Networks
If you look at Lords Mobile’s video ads, you’ll notice they take the same concept and create different variations for different ad networks.
In other words, ads are adjusted to the requirements of a particular ad network.
For example, content policies and video specs are not the same for Google and Unity Ads. That’s why you need to have a specific ad network in mind when creating a video ad (variation).
To learn more about how to create video ads for ad networks, click here.
Localize Your Ads
Know those ads I have analyzed in the first section of the article? Well, all of them are localized, i.e., translated into several different languages.
Above, you can see an example of such an ad. This one is localized for Thailand.
Translated to English, the ad copy says something like, “Protect your troops to protect your kingdom!”
The captions in the video are also translated into Thai.
So, why should publishers localize ads for their games?
Well, if you’re targeting multiple markets (which you should) then it makes sense to create ads in the local language of a particular country.
Not only that, but it’s a good idea to create culture-specific ads.
That means you might have to change the concept of the ad to fit a particular culture. For example, you might add some cultural symbols. Or make a themed ad that references important holidays for that country, e.g., Chinese New Year in February.
It makes sense – people want to see ads in their local language as well as references to their culture, where appropriate.
Furthermore, the ad content and tone preferences also vary across different countries.
Let me give you a few examples.
According to Facebook’s Gaming Report, 47% of US strategy gamers think ads should showcase the main gameplay, and 45% of them like a challenging tone in ads. 69% of Japanese strategy gamers think characters and story are the most important elements of an ad. Additionally, the majority of them (57%), respond best to a humorous tone in ads.
You can learn more about gamer preferences in our Strategy Games Report.
Split Test Everything
What separates successful publishers like IGG from struggling developers is that every single aspect of their UA strategy is meticulously tested.
That means every app store element (title, icon, promo video, screenshots, description, keywords) as well as the most important elements of video ads (format, length, CTA, assets, ad copy, video, and sound effects, etc.)
There’s no room for guessing, especially when you’re spending millions of dollars on advertising campaigns.
That’s It, Folks!
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