Cracking the Code: Top Troops Case Study Reveals Global UA Secrets!

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Let’s start with introducing the company Socialpoint. Socialpoint is a world-renowned game developer and publisher, specializing in mobile gaming with 2M unique daily users, 300+ employees and 14 years of history. And counting! In February 2017, they were acquired by Take-Two Interactive, one of the top gaming companies in the world.

Now the interesting part, it seems like they have been soft-launching games under a different account: Parrot Games SL

If you open up their website you will find a terrible design but also different links to privacy policy, etc!

After clicking on these links, look where we get:

Yep, exactly! Take-Two legal.

Top Troops vs. Battle Legion History Lesson

It soft launched back in July 2021 and was released globally  – on October 4, 2023. Pretty long soft launch, right?

Social Point released this game while Battle Legion was in a very good shape spend vs. revenue-wise. It was early 1:1 Battle Legion, even with the same units and then they killed it and relaunched it with the Merge unit progression later in July 2021.

There was one other game Game of Nations under Stillfront which is basically dead.

Here we have an early gameplay video from Top Troops soft launch!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fCUyup8INw

These games leverage the battle/strategy element, but we had also a few interesting games trying to leverage Merge mechanics for male audiences in the mid-core genre. Playtika’s Merge Stories, which they shut down already with the whole studio:

Then we have Merge Vikings from Metacore which I thought its not even getting new updates and its dead. My former colleague explained the new season in the new YouTube video:

Why the fuck am I talking about this? I thought you would appreciate a bit of a history lesson on how this game went from soft launch to Global launch and which games are in this category.

Top Troops: Adventure RPG Gameplay Overview

Top Troops: Adventure RPG is a new adventure RPG title brought to you by Zynga Inc. The game tests the strategic and commanding skills of the players as decisions related to deploying units and merging them with the enemy units that are defeated to make them stronger and better in terms of stats and raw numbers. The game works on the conquest approach as players can unlock new territories for conquest after defeating the dark army and gradually annexing the lost empire.

Understanding the basics of the game

Top Troops follows a very basic gameplay which is pretty easy to understand and makes the experience a smooth one for new gamers. Top Troops: Adventure RPG offers strategic gameplay with plenty of varied and unique battle units at the disposal of the players in the game to assign on the battlefield.


Each unit is expandable and upgradeable by merging them with other units of the same character. With each battle won and territory unlocked, players can get their hands on new battle units which then would be available to be used against the dark army later on in the game. The game follows a well-defined story, where players lose their full empire to the dark army and then gradually build up from scratch.


For each territory players unlock there will be rewards in the form of battle chests which will contain rewards such as currencies in the game and maybe some battle units if players are lucky, If you have three of the same troops and new troops they can be combined to form new and more powerful battle unit. The game has a very detailed class of battle units available for the players to choose their armies from. Be sure to check our character tier list to choose the best among them.

Understanding how the merging works

Top Troops banks on the merging gameplay which offers the game a unique genre of game altogether. The basics of the feature are to have a better and bigger army to deter the enemy forces and recapture the lost territories. To do this, however, the players should have three copy units of the same unit after which they can merge them all into one and form a better and bigger army force.


To merge the characters, players need to just simply select and drag the identical battle units together in one place. The game will automatically do its bits and add the battle units together making them better and bigger in terms of both numbers and statistics. Merging troops is the core concept of the game based on which most of the game revolves and is also vital for the players to win battles in the game. Hence it should not be ignored.

Troops are not the only features of the game that can be merged, the game also allows the players to merge chests in the game, thus giving access to better rewards which could be accessed via the players in the game, the game in itself is a bit tricky and resources play a huge part in the game, hence the merging of chests should not be ignored by the players in the game.

USER ACQUISITION & NUMBERS

Looks like the game peaked already after a bigger push last week, but let’s see how it goes.. It already looks quite bad in the first week after global, but they pushed both on Android and iOS

I tried to compare the global launch week to the Battle Legion global for obvious reasons!

Two weeks after global launch, they are sitting on 300k installs and around $1Mil in revenue. How did I come up with that? Listening to Felix and all his Excel sheet Admon mambo jumbo. External tools say 400k in IAP revenue, which is multiplied by a sadness multiplier of 2 = $800k in IAP revenues. Given the DAU and the few ad placements I saw, I would expect this game to have 20-25% Ad revenue.

I would expect to see way better numbers outside of the United States. One of our stronger geos was also South Korea!

UA Channel mix

Applovin is NOT the biggest channel in terms of spending. What a surprise! Well, they started last week according to some tools and that had an effect on the scale immediately. Since Zynga acquired Chartboost, no other mediation is an option. Right? No MAX, no UA fun.

Google

  • Looks like Google is the biggest channel. Especially YouTube placement!  We will check why.

Facebook

  • A bit of Facebook here and there.

TikTok

  • They have an official page with content on Tiktok which they use as spark ads afterward. Very CLEVER!
    • Spark Ads is a native ad format that enables you to leverage organic TikTok posts and their features in your advertising. This unique format lets you publish ads:
      • Using your own TikTok account’s posts.
      • ​Using organic posts made by other creators – with their authorization.

Unlike Non-Spark Ads (regular In-Feed ads), Spark Ads use posts from real TikTok accounts, which ensures that all views, comments, shares, likes, and follows gained from boosting the video during the promotion are attributed to your organic posts. There’s no limit to how many times you can use the same organic TikTok posts as creatives in your ads.

Mintegral, Unity, Ironsource, and the rest

  • it depends on the tool I use; some other channels are still relevant. 

Diversifying the UA portfolio efficiently is not an easy job. Here, we can see a good baseline of plenty of channels.

Influencer Marketing

  • they are running quite big influencer campaigns since the global launch. Well, it kinda makes sense for this type of game!

Merge CPIs

I am not using again the usual CPI image, because I don’t have merge games in there. Maybe I should refresh the picture with new data! Anyway, everybody knows Merge games have SUPER HIGH CPIs. We are talking $40+ in the US for Purchase campaign optimization, for Value optimization we are getting above $50.

That’s why its really mind-boggling why Top Troops use a LOT of merge mechanics in the creatives. I would do it slightly differently, which I am explaining in the creative section! Scroll down …

TOP IAP SKUs

CREATIVE STRATEGY

Looking into the Mobile action ads gallery for creative research. These are the types of creatives they run:

  • UGC
  • merge
  • not a lot of emphasis on the battle itself
  • cartoonish narrative based
  • hooks (especially, good old no wifi hook!)
  • top war, hero wars or storm shot inspiration (show both)

These fake creatives won’t work since Top Troops doesn’t have any of this implemented in the onboarding (not even Custom Product Pages for these types of creatives)

Top Troops creatives

UGC

Fake Creatives (could you guess which games they are inspired by?)

The biggest spender on YouTube!

Narrative creatives

Hooks

Best Battle Legion creatives for inspiration

Takeaways & last comments

  • You need both killer UA & monetization strategy for a successful global launch. It’s not easy to do it without one or another. With Top Troops, it looks like the scale could be limited by the Merge genre CPIs. I would focus more on the battle mechanic rather than Merge mechanic in creatives.

 

  • I am surprised by how many different creative concepts the creative team of Social Point introduced from Day 1. Especially the inspiration coming from Top War, Hero Wars, and Stormshot. There is no shame in using fake ads. I LOVE IT! 

 

  • Playables, playables, playables. After seeing the recent scale of Applovin, you need to start adding more playables to the mix to keep the campaign healthy. Same with new videos – every week 2-3 new videos!

 

  • Great diversification of UA channels! Kudos.

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As always, special thanks go to Mobile action for providing the creative insights! You are awesome!

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