Google’s new ad policy won’t kill hyper-casual games according to experts

Hyper-casual experts Felix Braberg, Matej Lancaric, and Roman Garbar believe the market will adapt.
Hands holding a phone, playing a hypercasual game with Google Play logo in the background

Last week, Google announced a number of changes coming to its advertisement policy in order to provide a better user experience on mobile apps and games, which directly affect hyper-casual game studios and their ad-monetized games.

Related: Google to reduce service fee and allow devs to use other pay systems

A grace period till September 30 was given to studios and app makers in order to adjust their ad models. industry experts like Eric Seufert an analyst and games industry expert fueled the flames by sharing the following message on Twitter:

“Google’s forthcoming restrictions around ad placements in Android apps are absolutely going to kill the Hypercasual gaming category. Note that I’ve heard that Android accounts for something like 75% of HC installs globally.”

However, other industry experts who are much closer to the hyper-casual games scene like Felix Braberg, Matej Lancaric, and Roman Garbar disagree with Seufert. Mobilegamer.biz‘s Neil Long interviewed these experts and according to them, while the industry will need to adapt, things aren’t as drastic as Seufert believes. You can read their opinions below:

Matej Lancaric (User acquisition consultant):

“As long as you implement interstitials that show up between sessions or in parts of the game that don’t interrupt the current gameplay you should be fine. What exactly is ‘unexpected’ remains to be described, because it could be just everything. All interstitials have the ability to close after five seconds. The problem is ads shown during levels and app opens, which I rarely see.

“There will be some kind of transition period with a lot of Google Play builds rejected and you will need to find new placements for interstitials. But nothing huge is happening. Hyper-casual will survive, as they usually do! They are supposed to be dead already.”

Roman Garbar (Tenjin’s marketing director):

“Google Play’s new guidelines will undoubtedly trigger the latest wave of doomsaying from ‘experts’ that don’t actually work closely with hyper-casual publishers. I’d argue that the drop in eCPMs due to ATT opt-outs in 2021 had a greater impact on hyper-casual developers. And, while some may argue that this latest hit represents the fourth horseman of the apocalypse, I disagree.

“Rewarded video is unaffected by the new guidelines. It is rewarded video – not interstitials – that’s the most lucrative ad format, as well as being far more user-friendly. Cramming in a load of interstitials was a bad practice long before now. There’s a direct correlation between the number of ads you show and user retention rates. Quality products do not swamp users with ads, they make ads a natural part of the overall experience.

“The times when hyper-casual games’ monetization strategies were based entirely on ads are long gone. This new wave of games uses IAPs and subscriptions in addition to ad monetization. And let’s not forget that Google is also in the ad monetization business with Admob, so introducing overly harsh guidelines on ad monetization would be shooting themselves in the foot.

“Hypercasual games – particularly those relying on poor advertising practices – will take another hit.But, for hyper-casual developers that use ads effectively as part of a diverse monetization strategy, it’s far from a knockout blow.”

Felix Braberg (Ad monetization consultant):

Google reps, in the weeks leading up to this announcement, have been pushing hard on their new ad unit the ‘rewarded interstitial. I can’t help but think that these changes in their policy is to drive devs to use this new ad unit as it’s not covered in the new guideline change and its usage has so far been somewhat lackluster.

My takeaway from this is that in the short to medium term there will be a lot of devs with rejected builds as Google subjectively decides what’s annoying, but after a while game developers will adjust to the new norm. We’ll also see a lot more devs starting to use the rewarded interstitial.”

Neil Long also interviewed GameBake CEO and co-founder Michael Hudson, who is “less positive about the guidelines”:

“These are harsh rules that go a step too far and make it much harder for hyper-casual games to be profitable on Google Play. It is already a very tough and competitive market and this is really killing the opportunity for newcomers to come and disrupt things.

“The bigger and more established players will be the ones to dominate, as they have the networks to be able to scale traffic to games and climb the charts via their own network, therefore reducing their costs against competitors.”

Thank you, Neil, for this great interview!

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