Nadir Garouche: “A successful game is one easy to understand and play, but hard to master”

Written by Tappx
Created Jun 14, 2023 - Updated Jul 28, 2023

After more than a decade working in game and app growth with the big players of the industry, Nadir Garouche made it to work as a freelance User Acquisition and ASO Consultant. He now continues to help developers grow their downloads and audiences not only through organic methods such as ASO, in-store featuring, and influencer marketing but also through paid user acquisition campaigns across all types of channels. We talked to him about the current app landscape and the challenges for the future. 

How are you doing, Nadir? Busy months of work?

Hi, I’m great, thanks. Happy to see the sun finally appear every day here in Berlin. The last few months haven’t been so busy with work actually, as it was my decision to focus on other items such as personal development or learning new things. 

Sounds great! Why is it still convenient to attend industry events such as GamesForum Hamburg? What do you expect from them?

I think every large event with game professionals is worth attending if you can. I look forward to seeing friends and making new connections. What I expect the most in terms of learning is to see how developers are approaching ROI measurement these days and what they’ve been doing in terms of live ops and ad monetization strategies to grow their revenue.

You have more than a decade of experience in growing games and apps, what is the most important lesson you have learned over the years?

Indeed, I’m not feeling so young anymore, hehe. I’d say the most important lesson I’ve learned is that in gaming you have to act fast. For instance, if you see early good metrics for a game you’ve been testing, push UA strong in every channel quickly and have enough budget for as long as the metrics are great. CPIs rise fast, target users get tired quickly and competition will catch up soon, you have to make the most of the first weeks of launch.  

What, in your opinion, are the essential features of a good game?

For any type of game, casual or hypercasual, and any genre, I’d say the one key factor that will make a game successful is that it should be easy to understand and play, but hard to master. Meaning it will require lots of attempts and time spent to beat levels or level up, therefore increasing your retention and monetization. What’s also important is to keep adding content to a game, as people can consume levels or characters very quickly. Also to add social features such as leaderboards, and clans, and to frequently have special events or challenges.

Keep adding content to a game as people can consume levels or characters very quickly.

So, if the game has all that, could user acquisition be a piece of cake?

It will then make UA easier but not really a piece of cake, as UA is challenging whether you have a developed small puzzle game or if you are King. If you have a perfect live ops strategy and an optimal game in terms of features and content, you’d always need to come up with the right creatives and messaging to get more people coming in and to keep them engaged. 

What are your current favorite UA channels, by the way?

Right now for casual games, I am seeing good results with Unity ads. On Android, I’m also seeing good results with Facebook right now, and TikTok. But with TikTok, although it can bring really a lot of users for low CPIs, the engagement I’m seeing is less than Facebook. 


Tips to develop a winning ASO strategy

ASO is mandatory most of the time, but it is a long-term job. There may be some who think it is impossible to win the battle there. What would you say to them?

ASO has become even more difficult than before, as the practice has become a bit more sophisticated now and more developers are doing it. I think it’s hard but not impossible. Constantly test your assets and you’d definitely nail it at some point in terms of conversion rate optimization. Also for keywords, make sure you optimize every language thoroughly. 

What happens when you’ve been working ASO for months and Google or Apple decides to change the search algorithms? Is it your bad nightmare?

Not really, that’s just how it is. Same as with SEO on web. You just have to constantly adapt and react. 

An app may have many downloads, but users don’t open it or uninstall it after a while. I know it depends on the app, but taking this into account, what is the most important UA KPI for you?

To determine the quality of UA traffic, after traffic metrics such as CPI, CTR, or IPM, I’m looking into D1, D3, and D7 retention and also into engagement, like how many levels people play in a day, how many rewarded ads they consumed, and Return on Ad Spend.

Can you tell us some hacks to prevent users from uninstalling your app? I am thinking about those newsletters with a funny gif that make you think twice before clicking the unsubscribe link. 😅

Unlike with newsletters, on apps, you don’t have the chance to show a message before people uninstall the app. So, nothing you can do while they click on “delete”. What you can do though, for people for which you have the ID, is to re-engage them on UA channels where you can do so. 

Of all the things that can go wrong with a UA strategy, to what extent would you say the problem may be a budget that is too tight?

Small budgets are a good idea for testing things out, but when you know your game has great potential and the UA channels are doing good for you, you should uncap your budgets to give enough room for exploration. 

The AI question is almost mandatory. We now have tools that automatically generate in-game dialogues, some that can make dozens of different creativities in a few seconds, and others capable of writing professional descriptions for app stores by giving them just a few details. What would be the ultimate AI innovation for UA?

I would say the ultimate AI thing that could innovate UA would be a service that autonomously manages the creation, set up, and maintenance of campaigns, and also that opens new channels without the need for any manual input. 

Last but not least, fraud traffic, privacy regulation, AI… What, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge for UA at the moment?

I think the main challenge in UA is still how to efficiently measure ROI on iOS. Every developer that I talk to mentions iOS as the top item they are struggling with. Even if SKAN 4.0 is going to make things a bit easier to measure events, it still won’t allow measuring ROI just like before. If they haven’t done so yet, companies should switch their ways of measuring results to using a blended approach method, or to use incrementality to qualify the quality of every new channel they are testing. 

Thanks, Nadir for your time. It has been a pleasure to learn from you.

You’re welcome, thank you too!

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