Solicited as an “endless Frogger”, over $1 million from a free-to-play title has been earned exclusively through ad revenues. Here’s how Andrew Sum and Hipster Whale Ben Weatherall made success from humble beginnings.
Let loose into the world last November, developer Hipster Whale released a modern Frogger with no end. Those looking to find out why the chicken crossed the road can find solace in “Crossy Road”, downloaded over one million times before the end of the first month. Through the use of Unity ads, and an extremely proven and addictive formula, Hipster Whale had earned over one million dollars in the free-to-play title. As one of the most important stats to mote on their road to prosperity, Hipster Whale left their ads up to you. That’s right, you can skip the ads entirely or view them intentionally, leading to the title’s success. Only those willing to see advertisements are viewing them, leading to prosperity for the company and happiness from the customers.
“We far exceeded any financial goals we had. We were aiming to make enough money to fund development of future titles.”
“Matt and I aren’t fans of consumables, so we wanted to be transparent with our in-app purchases.”
In speaking with Gamasutra, Hipster Whale emphasized their work with ads to generate in-game currency. Using this currency, players can buy “pulls” on a slots-like machine that can award characters and cosmetic changes to the title.
“We aimed to design something that would be appealing to everyone, rather than a system that only a small percentage would contribute to. Matt had seen video ads in other games, so we brainstormed for a while about how they could work in our game.”
Of course Crossy Road wouldn’t be where it is without the free-to-play structure before them, so Hipster Whale looked to their peers for inspiration.
“We were also inspired by games like Dota 2, where any real money you invest into the game has no impact on the gameplay. We were mostly inspired by Flappy Bird and the ‘one more go’ feeling it invoked.”
Certainly they made a success of their research, as Crossy Road continues to drive ahead on the iOS App Store, the Google Play Store and on Amazon devices with over 20 million downloads globally, and presumaby well more than $20 million in ad revenues. Let’s hope that Hipster Whale can move forward with their funding to create another smash hit, and not become the next Rovio simply recycling the same branding.