How could Frozen City earn 273% more ad revenue?

A city-building simulation game set in an ice and snow apocalypse. As the chief of the last town on Earth, you have to gather resources and rebuild society.
Collect resources, assign workers, explore the wilderness, conquer tough surroundings, and use various methods in order to survive.

Initially published by Felix Braberg!

Century Games deserve a lot of credit for creating Frozen City and scaling it from just 300k DAU in December to over 4 million DAU in mid-March. In the UA landscape today that is no small feat and it was all done while earning over $12.4m in IAPs. However, Frozen City at its core is still an Idle game and the massive DAU now represents a massive lost opportunity in terms of ad revenue. Holy shit! What a ride!

Is this even possible in the post IDFA world? But UA is dead?! I must be dreaming.. 

We analyzed Frozen City on #48 of 2.5 Gamers on January 22nd where I argued that Frozen City was making about $6k/day from ads. I assumed that they had a Rewarded IMP/DAU of about 3.3 and an ad viewer rate of 75%. That meant at the time they were making about 10-15% of their revenue from ads in a genera that traditionally generates 30-50% from ads.

At the time Frozen City had just two Rewarded Ad Placements:


  1. Inside the menu players are able to watch a Rewarded Ad in exchange for a common chest that’s on a 8 hour cool down.
  2. Watch a Rewarded Ad in exchange for precious resources that appear on the main screen at random points.

Frozen City ad revenue overview

Since that recording Frozen City has also added the same common chest Rewarded ad placement on weekends during events. 


The current placements leads me to think that IMP/DAU is no longer 3.3 like I thought one month ago but closer to 1.5 with an ad viewer rate of about 60% since the main RV placement is hidden away in the store. This means that with the current DAU Frozen City is making about 35k/day or about $1m/month from ads. Which is about 17% of overall IAP revenue. 


Since DAU has now increased by 189% compared to a month ago any ad monetization person will tell you that this represents a massive lost ad revenue opportunity. I firmly believe that if Frozen City were to add the following three Rewarded Ad Placements they would be able to increase their ad revenue by 273% to about $125,000 per day.

Proposed Ad placements

A Rewarded Ad to double resources gathered while offline. This placement, you’d simply be able to cut current resources gathered by 50% to eliminate the need to rebalance the economy

A main screen double resource gathering for x amount of gameplay time with an impression cap. Here also, you’d be able to decrease the number of resources gathered by 50% to avoid the need for rebalancing. 

A Skip night time for a Rewarded ad placement. This is probably the most controversial suggestion of the 3 placements as it has the risk of changing the pacing of the gameplay. But if tested and put with the proper cool downs this could be a killer ad placement.

Takeaways & last comments

If you assume that these three placements would push IMP/DAU to 5.0 with a 65% ad viewer rate and conservatively estimate a Rewarded eCPM of $18 in the USA and $7 average worldwide.

I could with some confidence say that with the current DAU, Frozen City would be making about $125,000/day from ads. But anyone who’s had experience with managing the ad monetization of any idle games will tell you that the IMP/DAU assumption could be closer to 8.0-10.0, in which case the ad revenue would be closer to $200,000/day, which would double the overall revenue of Frozen City.

There are of course no guarantees in game development but I’d just like to propose the argument that with proper AB testing Frozen City could add some serious incremental revenue gains by working on their in-game ad placements.

Take a look at the full UA, GD & Admon case study below

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