The mobile gaming market is very saturated. That makes it hard for publishers to stand out.
This approach can significantly improve the results of your user acquisition campaigns.
To help you get started, I’ve analyzed examples of motivation-led creatives from top-performing games.
But first, let me explain what motivation-based advertising is and how it works.
What Are Motivation-Based Creatives?
Here’s what you need to know about motivation-based creatives.
As the name implies, this advertising approach is based on player motivations.
Understanding why people play mobile games allows for a more personalized ad strategy that results in more downloads.
Here’s the thing.
The main challenge for publishers in 2023 is acquiring more users in an oversaturated market. What makes it even harder is that publishers usually stick with the same audience when advertising their game. This approach can’t yield good results anymore.
Thus, the solution is to expand the target audience and find new players.
The best way to do that is to leverage player motivations when advertising a mobile game. In other words, by connecting different player motivations with gameplay in ad creatives, publishers can reach a more diverse audience.
Remember, there are more mobile gamers than ever before. All major markets experienced growth during the pandemic (12% increase in the US, 18% in the UK, and 22% in Korea).
This alone makes it obvious that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. The same creative can’t resonate with such a large and diverse group of people.
That’s why motivation-based advertising is the way to go.
Facebook Gaming has identified 8 primary player motivations, i.e., reasons why people play mobile games. This is very useful for the creative process.
Here’s an overview of each one.
For some players, the ability to express their identity and creativity through mobile games is the most powerful motivator. They like to personalize a game and leave their mark, whether it’s by building, designing, decorating, or customizing characters.
This group of players is motivated by social connections. For them, mobile gaming is a social activity. That can include playing against other players, playing with friends, collaborating with others, or joining a guild.
Data shows that many players are driven by a sense of accomplishment when playing mobile games. Games they find interesting include building, creating, managing, and even exploring new areas.
This motivation also relates to feeling accomplished. However, it’s more about honing one’s skills and mastering every aspect of a game. They always look for ways to get better in any game they play. Steep learning curves and difficult games are appealing to them.
Many players get a thrill from discovering new areas, items, or characters in a game. They’re mainly driven by exploration. Furthermore, this group of gamers feels excited when they stumble upon interesting findings and acquire a wide range of items.
For many players, gaming is all about winning and beating other players. This group of gamers is highly focused on defeating others and achieving victory. Furthermore, they enjoy playing the role of a king, queen, or an emperor and take satisfaction from running the game.
For some people, mobile games are a way to immerse themselves in another world and escape reality. Role-playing, going on wild adventures, and losing oneself in a fantasy world is what they seek in a mobile game.
Some players simply want to relax and pass the time while commuting, waiting for an appointment, or winding down after a busy day at work. For them, it’s not about winning and mastering difficult adrenaline-fueled games. They tend to be attracted to simple, slow-paced games that include puzzles or cards.
12 Examples of Motivation-Based Creatives
Check out these awesome examples of motivation-based creatives from top-performing mobile games!
1. Design Home
Design Home is a simulation game that allows players to live the life of an interior designer. They can improve their decorating skills and get access to real-life furniture from popular brands.
As you might guess, many ads for Design Home are based around self-expression as the main motivator.
One such example is the creative above.
It opens with, “Build your own home!”. This is something that instantly grabs the attention of players who love to express themselves through design and decorating. It’s a great hook and it’s bound to attract this specific group of gamers.
Another player motivation Design Home ads focus on is relaxation. Most creatives for this game are slow-paced and have a very tranquil atmosphere. Furthermore, they often include the “Play and relax” call-to-action. It speaks directly to the audience of players who simply want to relax and pass the time while playing mobile games.
Learn more in our article on Design Home’s advertising strategy.
2. Rise of Kingdoms
Rise of Kingdoms is a popular strategy game from Lilith Games. This creative is quite clever and unique.
The character tells us his story – he starts as a criminal. After he’s been left stranded on a desert island, he begins collecting resources, expanding the island, and building a city. In other words, he ends up extremely successful despite his initial hardship.
It’s a dramatic story about overcoming adversity.
Player motivations that are the most prominent in this creative are power and progression.
Players who are motivated by power enjoy defeating others and coming out on top. We see that with this character – he starts off with nothing, but manages to become extremely powerful and defeats the enemies.
Another distinct group of players this ad targets are people who are motivated by progression. They love building, creating, managing resources, and exploring. We see all of that in this motivation-based creative.
The character explores new areas, takes advantage of the available resources, expands the island, and builds a city. All of that leads to immense progress in the game and allows him to defeat his enemies.
The CTA says, “Build your own kingdom”. This is another aspect of the ad that speaks to progression and power as motivators.
Above, you can see another motivation-based creative for Rise of Kingdoms, which solely focuses on progress as a motivator.
It shows players how to manipulate the environment, build a port, and start trading. That results in more resources and the city quickly grows.
This clear demonstration of how to advance in the game appeals to players motivated by progress. They yearn for that sense of accomplishment.
The CTA is, “Explore, battle, conquer”. It speaks to a couple of different player motivations. “Explore” is all about the discovery and progress motivation, while “battle” and “conquer” play on power as a motivator.
3. Project Makeover
Project Makeover is a match-3 puzzle game with fashion, décor, and storytelling meta layers. The goal of the game is to give clients the makeover of their dreams.
Many Project Makeover ads, like the one above, are motivation-based creatives with a focus on self-expression.
It demonstrates how makeovers work in the game. Players can choose the type of makeup, hair, clothes, etc., for their clients. Because there are so many different options available, each player can express their own creativity.
It’s a great example of how to connect a specific player motivation with gameplay. Also, notice that Project Makeover is not targeting match-3 players, but rather gamers who might be interested in the game’s meta layers.
Learn more about this game’s advertising strategy in our Project Makeover article.
4. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
This Hogwarts Mystery creative is also based on self-expression as a motivator. Customization is a big part of this Harry Potter adventure game. Players can fully customize their avatars and design their dorms.
Even in the game’s app store description, there’s a clear connection between self-expression and gameplay with the title – “Express your creativity.”
It’s smart to demonstrate it in ads as well.
In this motivation-based creative, we see two screens, the before and after footage. Then, we’re shown how the customization took place. It’s very similar to The Sims – players can customize the appearance of their avatar, from head to toe.
However, only some Hogwarts Mystery ads focus on self-expression as a motivator. Others leverage different motivators.
This motivation-based creative for Hogwarts Mystery targets gamers whose main reason for playing is escapism. For them, it’s all about adventures and immersing themselves in a fantasy world.
Also, another motivator that’s important for this creative is discovery, as players are invited to explore the Harry Potter universe.
This group of players is the perfect target audience for Hogwarts Mystery.
This game heavily references the Harry Potter movies and books. We see that in this creative. It ties in well with the escapism and discovery motivators.
The first two scenes of the gameplay footage are parallel to the ones we saw in the Sorcerer’s Stone movie – students in the grand hall and the sorting hat. That’s quite clever because players are shown that the game follows the Harry Potter movie. In other words, in the game, players can experience all the famous scenes/events from the movie. That’s an important USP for this game and highlights the escapism motivator.
5. Lords Mobile
Lords Mobile is a fun strategy game from IGG. Its publishers also use a motivation-based approach for many of its creatives.
This one connects gameplay with the expertise motivator. In other words, it targets players who enjoy improving their skills, a steep learning curve in games, and the feeling of accomplishment.
In the creative above, all of that is demonstrated through gameplay. We’re shown how important it is to choose the right troop formation to beat the enemies.
Another motivator that’s present in this ad is power. Players who love winning will be attracted to this game because a big victory is shown in the creative.
6. Words With Friends
This motivation-based creative for Words With Friends by Zynga is all about social connection. That’s a very obvious choice considering this game is all about playing with friends. It’s one of its biggest assets.
Many players, especially during the pandemic, are seeking connections with family, friends, and even strangers. For them, this is the main motivator to play mobile games.
In this creative, we see a very touching mother/daughter relationship expressed by playing Words With Friends together.
The title says, “Some bonds can’t be broken”. We can imagine many families and friends are apart from each other due to the pandemic or other life circumstances. This ad creative positions Words With Friends as a solution to that. A way to stay connected even when physically apart.
It’s easy to see how people who crave human contact and relationships would download this game.
7. Gods of Olympus
Gods of Olympus is a strategy game with a Greek mythology theme. Players control Greek gods in real-time combat.
This example of a Gods of Olympus ad is clearly about power. It targets players who are driven by winning and want to achieve victory no matter what it takes. Furthermore, this group of players enjoys playing as a king or emperor. I can see how commanding Greek Gods is appealing to these gamers.
The captions clearly speak to them – “Command the gods to destroy your enemy” and “Win great battles!”. This is a great example of how to zone into very specific player motivations.
Another important thing to mention about this creative is the use of cinematics. While there are a couple of cinematic scenes, there’s also a lot of gameplay footage. This approach is good because a few cinematic scenes are just enough to make the video more interesting. But the gameplay footage adds balance and makes it authentic instead of misleading.
8. Merge Dragons
Merge Dragons is one of the most popular merge puzzle games. In many merge games, including this one, players need to complete different tasks to get access to new areas of the map.
The creative above shows just that.
This specific part of gameplay appeals to players who are driven by discovery. It’s a great example of connecting gameplay with a specific gamer motivation.
This ad for Wordscapes targets players who want to improve their cognitive skills while playing games. In the first few seconds of the ad, there’s a caption that says, “Playing Wordscapes 10 minutes a day sharpens your brain.”
This is a clear benefit of the game and it’s a smart choice to emphasize it right at the beginning.
Additionally, this creative targets gamers who play mobile games to relax and unwind. That’s achieved with the soothing and peaceful beach theme.
10. Cooking Madness
Most arcade cooking games are very fast-paced and exciting. Cooking Madness is no exception.
Just like it’s demonstrated in the ad, being quick and getting the right orders before the time runs out can be quite challenging.
This type of gameplay attracts players who are driven by a sense of accomplishment and mastering different skills. In this case, the necessary skills are cooking the right meals, serving them to the right customer, as well as time management.
Furthermore, this motivation-based creative appeals to gamers who are thrill-seekers because the core gameplay is fast-paced. Trying to complete all orders while the clock is ticking gives players that rush of adrenaline.
11. CSR Racing 2
Finally, this is another example of a mobile game creative based on the self-expression motivator. It’s for CSR Racing 2, a racing game.
While racing cars is fun, many players are driven to these types of games because of car customization. The creative above leverages that player motivation.
It shows a couple of different pimped-out cars that look unique and cool. The messaging in the ad is also in line with the self-expression theme – “Race with style”, “Customize your ride”, and “Make your mark”. It’s a great way to further emphasize player motivations and connect them to gameplay.
12. Star Trek: Fleet Command
This is another example of how to target players who are motivated by making progress.
As we’ve established, this group of players is really into upgrading because it makes them feel accomplished. This ad for Star Trek: Fleet Command zoned into that specific motivation, ignoring everything else.
We see the USS Discovery, a magnificent ship, get various upgrades to make it even more powerful, which is bound to ignite excitement in a progress-motivated player.
It doesn’t hurt that this ad creative stars Rainn Wilson, i.e., Dwight from The Office.
Another group of players that might find this type of ad creative interesting is gamers who enjoy becoming powerful and ruling the game universe.
Final Thoughts on Motivation-Based Creatives
We predict that the motivation-based creatives trend is here to stay. It’s easy to see how utilizing this approach can help developers reach a broader audience, which is why we recommend you try it!