How I got thousands of new players with a comic strip, maintaining a sub-$1 conversion rate

Advertising games is quite a fun activity from my point of view, since there’s a ton of ways to express both the product and your very own ideas, as well as having multiple challenges to tackle. The hard thing is to express your game in a cost-effective and fair manner to your audiences. I’d like to tell you a story about limited workforce, not showing the actual game while also telling a relevant story about and engaging people in a fun manner.

Firstly – I need to state, although it’s a well known fact – that today’s advertisement is ruled by video. There aren’t many simpler ways to effectively show the key features of the product and, aside from short demos (although that’s mostly applicable to the simplest games), there’s probably no better way to showcase the game. Sure, there’s a ton of fake ads – looking at you, Guns of Glory – and it’s unfortunately quite hard to compete with them in mind. Although they often don’t promote competitive products, they create a vile aura around gaming advertisement in general. Mistrust is a natural occurrence now, and there’s no simple way to gain trust of the potential players, hopefully soon to be frequent buyers in the world of F2P games.

Idk who this lad is, but he displayed these fake ads quite nicely and compared them to the actual gameplay.

I believe there are two approaches which are fair towards the audience:

  • show the game as it is and talk about its features, presenting actual gameplay,
  • focus on the features, don’t show the actual game, using content to depict features – not misleading footage.

I decided to take a second route when advertising The Pride of Taern on Facebook.

The game itself has its downside – it’s only browser-based, so advertising it to mobile players would be throwing cash away. It’s also visually past its prime, so we didn’t want to showcase the actual gameplay. The biggest hopes revolve around the new, hopefully soon to be released, version of the game. The ad campaign had one simple goal – to generate conversions from PC users in order to maintain a stable playerbase.

Firstly, I focused on what are, I believe, key features of the game, or rather things that differ it from other browser-based MMOs. It has an actual storyline and gameplay not revolving around waiting for structures, fleet and whatnot to be made, and it kind of reminds me of oldschool RPGs, like, say, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights (2002 – not to be mistaken with the OG MMORPG from 1991), or even multiple instalments of Ultima franchise. There were also other things, like basically no escort quests and unique combat system, but let’s stick to the presence of storyline.

Neverwinter Nights was a pretty cool game.

My boss decided that people, who’d be able to make an animated skit for me should rather make animations for the actual game rather than promotional content. Still, I wanted to convey a presence of the storyline in a lighthearted and engaging way, so I decided to make a… comic strip.

Comics have multiple advantages over other types of storytelling:

  • they are easy to read,
  • production costs are often quite small compared to making video clips,
  • they can be sort of interactive if we use a carrousel-type post (on FB),
  • they are, mostly, considered to be a fun and light-hearted medium of entertainment, and most importantly,
  • they won’t be mistaken with the actual game footage.

The skit, spanning 4 frames, depicted a young rogue chatting with an elder mage. The dialogue went along the lines of:

  • Thou hast to kill The King of Wolves!
  • Fine, why though?
  • Uhh… I don’t really know, honestly.

The last line spanned across two frames and the last one showed the rouge in a manner expressing the state of “are you bloody serious, mate”.

The copy said something along the lines of:

“Do you miss times when RPGs were telling actual stories?

Taern’s more than a history – it’s a great new world to embrace!

Register now and get a free premium account with this promo code: akjfkajdhfak

Play now at http://www.taern.pl”

Of course, there were emojis to enhance the lightheartedness of the ad and, as you can see, there are also present:

  • strong display of a feature,
  • introduction of an added value for the prospect (although I should’ve used scarcity approach to make the ad even more engaging),
  • CTA.
Here’s the preview of the ad (in Polish)

The effects were stunning. The ad was monitored via an observation pixel, which is the most reliable way to monitor in-app conversions, and, despite the fact that it wasn’t displayed on mobile devices, managed to gather, over many times it was ran, 4979 conversions for $4875,16, which gives us about 0,98$ per registration.

This approach proved to be a correct one and I’ve also ran other comic strip advertisements for TPoT, although this one was the most successful.

In this post, I simply wanted to share that you don’t need to make fake ads, resulting in disruption of the gaming advertisement market and that ads other than videos can still be a viable form of advertisement in social media if done correctly and in a fun and engaging way. 

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