Developer Chat: Global Gear on Creating Great Games, Attracting Users, and Raising Revenue

Over the past 7 years, Japanese developer Global Gear has launched over 100 mobile games – and gamers love them! The company was started by two people who were eager to take on the burgeoning casual game market in Japan. Since then, they've expanded to a team of 16 and counting. We chatted with them to find out how they've boosted user acquisition and monetization while maintaining their glowing reputation.

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What Gets the Gears Turning

What types of apps is Global Gear interested in, and why have you chosen to dive in to these genres?

Global Gear: We're interested in Idle games and casual SLG games. They're very compatible with rewarded video ads, and are easy to monetize because they offer many good places to show video ads in general. And we're careful about how the ads are shown. For example, when we show an interstitial ad, we make sure the close button or skip button is easy to find. This helps to ensure user experience – something Global Gear always keeps in mind when integrating ads

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It's amazing that Global Gear has developed over 100 games, each with a very good rating. Could you tell us how you made it happen? What's the secret sauce?

Global Gear: We have a lot of enthusiastic users. Our most hardcore fans are female users in the 25–40 age range. And when we develop a new app, we reach out to our fans on LINE, which is 100,000 users strong.

The games we develop require much more time than a hyper-casual game. It usually takes 4 months to develop a game and ensure that it's well-considered and bug-free.

How do you structure your teams to facilitate productivity?

Global Gear: Each game usually needs a team of one designer and one game developer.

Working Toward a Global Reach

Many of your games have topped the charts, but it's not because Global Gear invests heavily in user acquisition campaigns. What strategies do you use to promote the games?

Global Gear: We start with a test promotion, and make improvements based on the results. Then, we launch a full-scale promotion.

For an example of the kind of promotion we do, consider our game Miniature Aquarium (ミニチュア水族館). Our ads for this game follow three creative directions: basic intros to the game, success-and-failure demos, and "amateur vs pro" gameplay comparisons. Since the game has been around for a long time, we also create video ads that involve seasonal in-game promotions to attract new users. Every week, we make 5-6 new creatives.

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Promoting games this way has been good for our retention rates and LTV. The day-1 retention rate is around 40–45%; by day 7, it's about 20%, and by day 30, it's still at 5%. Users who are retained for 30 days have an LTV of around 120–130 JPY.

Do you have any strategies for improving DAU, RR, and LTV?

Global Gear: We review and decide on improvement measures using analytics to improve at points where there's a high rate of withdrawal. We find that it's best to leave more than a month between upgrades.

How about your monetization strategy? What ad formats do you primarily use in your games?

Global Gear: Our games are designed with ads in mind, so there are many good opportunities to place ads while maintaining good user experience. The ratio is around 70% rewarded video ads, 15% interstitial video ads, and 15% banner ads.

Going into High Gear with Pangle

What do you think about the Pangle SDK? How has your eCPM and ARPU performance been after integrating Pangle?

Global Gear: The performance has improved significantly. eCPM and revenue are about 1.5 times what they were before. Pangle is one of our biggest profit drivers.

What’s next on the horizon for Global Gear?

Global Gear: Global Gear focuses on the Japanese market for now, but some of our apps have also found success in China. So we hope to expand into the Chinese market, as well as the US market eventually.

P.S. We're looking for a new game developer who can work in the Kyushu area!