Strategy Games Advertising: UA Tips for Developers and Marketers

Strategy Games Advertising: UA Tips for Developers and Marketers

Strategy games advertising is not just about getting people to see your game. It’s about really understanding the simple yet vital details needed to successfully promote your strategy game in a market that’s already overflowing with options.

Let’s dive into the basics to make sure your strategy game not only gets noticed but also flourishes and attracts a loyal player base.

Strategy Games Market Overview

Strategy games have carved out a significant niche in the gaming industry. They provide players with intricate challenges that involve planning, decision-making, and tactical execution. Players can also enjoy plenty of subgenres – from real-time strategy (RTS) and turn-based strategy (TBS) to tower defense. Common themes often tap into fantasy, history, historic war, military, and zombie settings, adding an extra layer of allure for players.

Market data reveals some compelling insights.

According to AppMagic, a leading mobile intelligence platform, the strategy games market peaked in terms of revenue worldwide around mid-2021. While revenue has decreased slightly from that peak until now, the market remains highly lucrative.

Yes, it’s competitive, but it’s an arena worth stepping into if you have the right tools and approach.

mid-core games cpi 2023


When we talk about the financial metrics that matter for strategy games, CPI (Cost Per Install) and ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) are front and center.

On average, acquiring a new user for a mid-core game, which includes strategy games, will set you back around $2 per install, according to Liftoff. That’s roughly twice what you’d pay for user acquisition in the casual games segment.

Now, if you’re cost-conscious, Android offers a more budget-friendly route. The average CPI here is just $0.73, making it nearly five times less expensive than acquiring an iOS user. But before you jump in, consider the long-term financial health of your game.

That’s where Day-7 Return on Ad Spend (D7 ROAS) comes into play. It’s a metric that provides insights into the revenue you can expect to generate from new users seven days after installation.

When it comes to mid-core games, the numbers are promising but it requires a patient strategy. The breakeven points for these games tend to stretch further than their casual counterparts. To put numbers on it, the overall D7 ROAS for mid-core games is around 4.3% versus 7% for casual games.

Understanding these metrics is crucial as you navigate the intricate world of strategy games advertising. While there are upfront costs and competitive pressures, the potential for long-term profitability is there, provided you make informed decisions.

Wondering which strategy games have found the recipe for success? Let’s find out!

Top Strategy Games in 2023

These lists include top strategy games of 2023 so far.

Top Strategy Games by Downloads in 2023

  1. Plants vs. Zombies
  2. Lords Mobile: Kingdom Wars
  3. Clash of Clans
  4. Evony: The King’s Return
  5. Age of Apes
  6. Plants vs. Zombies 2
  7. Doomsday: Last Survivors
  8. Stick War: Legacy
  9. Clash Royale
  10. Rush Royale

Top Grossing Strategy Games in 2023

  1. Clash of Clans
  2. Puzzles & Survival
  3. Evony: The King’s Return
  4. Rise of Kingdoms
  5. Top War: Battle Game
  6. State of Survival: Zombie War
  7. Age of Origins: Tower Defense
  8. Last Fortress: Underground
  9. Lords Mobile: Kingdom Wars
  10. Whiteout Survival

User Acquisition Tips for Strategy Games

Navigating user acquisition for strategy games is like playing chess; every move counts. Let’s explore some actionable tips that can serve as your playbook for drawing in players and keeping them engaged.

mobile gamer

Understand the Strategy Gamer Demographic

The type of gamer attracted to strategy games is often a cut above the rest, typically falling into the category of midcore gamers, which is in between casual and hardcore gamers.

They tend to possess a deeper interest in game mechanics, are willing to commit more time to mastering complexities and show a desire for challenges that go beyond the straightforward gameplay found in casual games.

Moreover, they are more likely to engage in longer gaming sessions, delve into community discussions, and take advantage of in-game purchases to enhance their experience. Their spending habits often reflect this higher level of engagement. While casual gamers may sporadically make smaller purchases, midcore gamers are more inclined to invest in premium features, season passes, and exclusive content.

Recognizing the unique attributes of this demographic can be the cornerstone of your strategy games advertising campaign. Tailoring your approach to resonate with these specific player traits will not only increase the chances of user acquisition but also contribute to long-term player retention.

Focus on Quality Over Quantity

In a market where the CPI tends to be on the higher side, especially for midcore titles like strategy games, the traditional approach to user acquisition just won’t cut it. Instead of fixating on getting as many installs as possible, the emphasis should be on the quality of those installs.

Advanced targeting techniques can be your best ally here.

Utilize analytics tools to identify characteristics or behaviors common among your most engaged players. Once you have a good grasp of who your ideal player is, tailor your advertising to reach individuals who mirror those traits. This ensures that you’re reaching out to players who are not just likely to install your game, but also to engage with it over a longer period.

Why is long-term engagement so crucial?

Because strategy games, by their very nature, are designed to be deeply engaging experiences that players commit to for extended periods. These are the kinds of players who will contribute to a higher Lifetime Value (LTV), and optimizing your ad spend with that LTV in mind is far more beneficial than focusing solely on initial conversions.

It’s a selective approach, but one that yields better returns in a market as competitive and nuanced as this one.

mobile game market trends 2023

Use Lookalike Audiences

If you’ve already identified your most engaged players, you’re sitting on a goldmine of data that can dramatically enhance your user acquisition efforts.

The concept of lookalike audiences leverages this exact principle.

By creating a profile of your top players – those who play frequently, engage with in-game purchases, or are active during events – you can target new users who share similar characteristics.

Why does this justify a higher CPI?


Players who closely resemble your most engaged users are more likely to become equally valuable players themselves. These are the players who will engage deeply with your game, contribute to in-game revenue, and possibly become evangelists for your brand. When you factor in the higher Lifetime Value (LTV) these players bring to the table, the slightly elevated CPI becomes a worthwhile investment.

mobile game whale

Target Whales

Whales are the high-rollers of the gaming world. These are the players willing to invest substantial amounts of money into in-game purchases, season passes, and exclusive content.

Given their high spending habits, attracting even a handful of these players can have a significant impact on your revenue stream.

Leveraging data analytics is key to identifying these high-value individuals. Look at metrics like average transaction value, frequency of purchases, and length of gaming sessions to pinpoint who your whales might be. Once you have this information, you can adjust your high-CPI campaigns to specifically target this lucrative demographic.

The rationale is straightforward: when you’re dealing with players who bring in higher revenue, it becomes easier to justify a higher CPI. Essentially, you’re not just aiming for more installs, but strategically targeting those who are likely to contribute the most to your game’s financial success.

For more tips for catching whales, check out my guide on how to market to whales.

Ad Network Diversification

It’s an age-old piece of wisdom that still rings true today: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The same goes for strategy games advertising – more specifically, choosing the ad networks .

While you might have found an ad network that seems to offer reasonable CPI rates and decent performance, relying solely on one platform is a risky move.

Diversification across multiple ad networks gives you the advantage of flexibility and a broader reach. Different networks have unique strengths, audience segments, and targeting capabilities. By spreading your advertising spend across multiple platforms, you can tap into these varied resources to find the most cost-effective routes to your target audience.

The benefits go beyond cost savings, though.

Diversification also provides a safety net against potential downturns in a single network’s performance. If one platform experiences a sudden increase in CPI or a decrease in quality installs, your overall campaign won’t take as significant a hit, since you’ve distributed the risk.

marketing funnel

Focus on Deep Funnel Metrics

When it comes to strategy games advertising, front-end metrics like clicks and installs might seem like the most immediate indicators of a campaign’s success. While these numbers provide some insight, they only scratch the surface.

To get a well-rounded view of your ROAS, you need to go beyond the superficial and dig into deep funnel metrics.

By deep funnel, I’m talking about metrics that provide insights into in-game behavior and player engagement. These could include average session duration, level completion rates, and most importantly, in-game purchases.

Tracking these deeper metrics not only offers a more nuanced understanding of player behavior but also helps you identify trends that could be crucial for long-term engagement and revenue.

For instance, if you notice that players who reach a certain level are more likely to make an in-game purchase, you can focus your efforts and budget on campaigns that encourage reaching that level.

Similarly, recognizing that a particular in-game item is popular among high-value players could inform future development and marketing strategies.

Run Retargeting Campaigns

Let’s face it, even with the best user acquisition strategies, not every player will stick around for the long haul.

Churn is an inevitable part of the gaming landscape, but that doesn’t mean those lapsed players are lost causes. Retargeting campaigns are your ticket to re-engage these high-value players and bring them back into the fold.

Given the higher CPI generally associated with strategy games, one of the best ways to maximize your advertising spend is to focus on retention.

Players who have already shown an interest in your game are more likely to become long-term, engaged users, particularly if they are given compelling reasons to return. It’s much more cost-efficient to retain an existing player than to acquire a new one.

So, how do you go about running effective retargeting campaigns?

Start by segmenting your churned players based on factors like how far they progressed in the game, previous in-game purchases, and length of inactivity. This data will help you tailor the incentives you offer, making them relevant and attractive to each specific segment.

For example, players who churned just before reaching a higher level might be enticed back with a bonus that helps them level up more quickly.

Strategy Games Advertising: Creative Trends with Examples

Ad creatives are the heart of any successful campaign and the same goes for strategy games advertising campaigns. Let’s dive into the latest trends that are making waves and offering fresh ways to grab players’ attention.

Narrative Integration

One of the surefire ways to grab attention in the sea of strategy games advertising is to weave narrative elements right into your ad creatives. Players aren’t just looking for another game; many seek an immersive, narrative-driven experience that a well-crafted story can provide.

Take, for instance, the ad creative for Beastlord.

This cinematic video ad has been a top performer among ads for strategy games in terms of impressions.

It doesn’t just showcase gameplay or features; it tells a compelling, albeit heartbreaking, story of a lioness protecting her cub from attackers. The narrative is gripping, emotional, and serves to engage potential players on a deeper level.

In fact, all top-performing ads for Beastlord feature similar emotionally charged storylines, proving the effectiveness of this approach.

So if your strategy game is rich in story, don’t hesitate to bring that front and center in your ad creatives. Even if it isn’t – create one for your ads. A good story is the perfect emotional hook and has the power to turn a casual viewer into an interested player.


Another advertising trend that’s making an impact in the strategy games sphere is the use of mini-games within ads. Originally a staple in casual game advertising, this interactive format has found its way into strategy games, but in a more intricate form tailored to the genre’s typically more engaged audience.

A standout example is an ad creative for Evony: The King’s Return, which ranks as the second top-performing creative in the strategy games category.

This particular ad features a mini-game where the objective is to shoot down opponents rolling toward the player on barrels.

The catch?

The player can only move left or right.

Interestingly, this doesn’t even represent the actual gameplay of Evony, but research indicates that players are generally unfazed by this discrepancy.

The success of this format isn’t exclusive to Evony.

Other titles like War and Order and Age of Origins have also adopted the same concept for their mini-game ads, further demonstrating the trend’s effectiveness.


Cinematics can elevate your ads from merely informative to truly immersive and offer potential players a visually stunning glimpse into the world of your game.

A master of this approach is Supercell, the studio behind wildly popular games like Clash of Clans and Clash Royale.

Their ad creatives are almost cinematic masterpieces in their own right, full of high-quality visuals and sound that you’d expect from a big-budget movie.

One memorable ad for Clash Royale, for example, features an awe-inspiring slow-motion combat scene set to the backdrop of powerful choir music. The result is so compelling that this ad has consistently ranked among the top 5 best-performing creatives in the strategy games genre.

The lesson here is clear: If you have the resources to invest in cinematic-quality advertising, the payoff can be significant. These ads do more than just turn heads; they create an emotional, visceral response that can drive user engagement and installs.

lords mobile gameplay ad

Game Mechanics Teasers

For strategy game aficionados, the nitty-gritty of game mechanics is often the real draw. It’s not just about dazzling graphics or emotional storylines; it’s about the challenge and intellectual engagement that come from resource management, troop deployment, and strategic planning.

So why not make this the star of your ad creatives?

A case in point is Lords Mobile, whose ads distill complex gameplay into bite-sized, easily digestible video snippets. These gameplay ads feature simplified versions of key game mechanics, such as base building, resource gathering, and combat.

It’s a quick overview of what players can expect.

While these ads might not capture every nuance of the game, they can certainly pique strategy gamers’ interest.

If your strategy game has unique or innovative mechanics, a teaser-style ad can be an excellent way to pique interest. Even if you simplify the mechanics for the sake of brevity and clarity, the goal is to ignite curiosity and encourage downloads.

After all, once players are hooked by the basics, they’ll stick around to master the complexities.

lords mobile ad creative

Decision-Making Scenarios

Another rising trend in strategy games advertising is the use of playable ads featuring decision-making scenarios.

These ads aren’t just for watching; they often invite potential players to engage directly by making a strategic choice, like troop selection for an impending battle. The outcome unfolds right in the ad, providing a bite-sized taste of the strategic elements that define the game.

Lords Mobile, for instance, employs this type of interactive ad quite effectively.

Most often, these ads focus on troop selection, allowing potential players to experiment and see the immediate consequences of their choices. This hands-on experience does more than just entertain; it brings the strategic elements of the game to life in a way that static or non-interactive ads simply can’t.

dragon city ad creative

Testimonials and Reviews

Nothing speaks to the quality of a game like testimonials of those who have actually played it.

Incorporating player testimonials and reviews into your strategy games advertising campaigns can be a game-changer. These authentic insights serve as powerful social proof and help to persuade potential players that your game is worth their time and perhaps even their hard-earned money.

Both Dragon City and Lords Mobile utilize this tactic effectively.

Dragon City, for example, features ads that show real people playing the game and passionately talking about their experiences. Lords Mobile takes a similar approach, adding an extra layer of authenticity and relatability to their advertising efforts.

But don’t think you have to limit yourself to “real” players.

Many successful campaigns also use actors who portray enthusiastic players, and as long as the message feels genuine, this tactic can be equally effective. Whether real or acted, the idea is to humanize your advertising, lending it an authentic voice that can resonate with like-minded individuals looking for a deep strategic experience.

Liveops Retargeting

When you’re navigating high CPIs, retargeting campaigns can be your life raft.

Liveops retargeting is a particularly effective way to do this. These ads aren’t just generic reminders; they spotlight recent updates, special events, or new content, which gives lapsed players a compelling reason to return.

Clash of Clans offers an intriguing example of this tactic in action.

One of their retargeting ads features a clever scenario where a man encounters a future version of himself. This future self is a social outcast because he stopped playing Clash of Clans right before it rolled out “the greatest update known to man” in 2023. The message is urgent and personal: “Start playing again and save me – save us.”

The brilliance of this approach lies in its emotional resonance.

It’s not just about highlighting new features or content; it’s about tapping into the fear of missing out and making the call to return to the game feel like a life-altering decision.

If your game regularly updates with fresh, engaging content, (which it should), liveops retargeting can be an invaluable tool.

Strategy Games Advertising: Final Thoughts

From understanding your core demographic to employing cutting-edge creative trends, there are countless avenues to explore for maximizing user acquisition and retention for strategy games.

But remember, the most effective campaigns are those that manage to capture the essence of the game, resonate with players, and offer compelling reasons to dive deeper.

As you consider your own approach, I’d love to hear what’s worked for you. Feel free to share your insights in the comments below.

Data source: AppMagic, a leading ad intelligence platform. Get 3 days of free access to all AppMagic’s features, as well as 10% off, by clicking on this link.


About Udonis

Udonis is an independent full-service mobile marketing agency that acquired more than 300,000,000 users for mobile games since 2018.

Visit udonis.co


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