SmileyGamer is a mobile games publisher based in Belgium, with a strong focus on, and success with, seasonal match-3 games. The company was founded in 2016 by Jochen De Schepper, following 10 years as a self-employed online and mobile game developer.
Best known for its popular Christmas Sweeper franchise, SmileyGamer was acquired by Phoenix Games in 2020 to help grow and increase its footprint. SmileyGamer’s biggest title is Christmas Sweeper 3, with a dedicated user base that has been playing, and spending, for years, returning to the game every season without fail.
Building on 10 million downloads
Phoenix Games saw SmileyGamer performing exceptionally well in the industry, having hit 10 million downloads as a result of successfully finding its niche in the incredibly competitive match-3 genre. While annual revenues were already exceeding €5 million, Phoenix Games identified substantial uplift potential with the studio’s seasonal evergreen titles.
While these seasonal titles were evergreen on a year-on-year basis, maintaining their popularity and profitability throughout the year was one of the studios’ biggest challenges to overcome.
Improving user acquisition, ad monetisation and live operations
Following the acquisition in October 2020, Phoenix Games implemented a plan to improve user acquisition, ad monetisation and live operations, working with SmileyGamer on executing new and upcoming seasonal titles, alongside further scaling the success of the existing games portfolio.
Phoenix identified an opportunity to expand SmileyGamer’s UA by applying sophisticated user value forecasting and more in-depth data analysis tools, targeting and bidding in a more focused manner. This applied both to new user acquisition and paid re-engagement.
Phoenix Games’ machine learning user acquisition algorithm is particularly well-suited to games with long-term live operations and monetisation. Based on dynamic forecasts, it optimises bids and budgets across all UA channels, maximising profits for any given game for the full lifetime.
Phoenix Games also identified that it could improve Ad Monetization revenue by tweaking the mediation setup to get higher value from the most valuable players.
Maximising seasonal revenue
The studio has already increased its return on ad spend by +74% within the first Christmas season following acquisition, alongside a 14% increase in Ad-ARPDAU.
Since its acquisition, SmileyGamer enjoyed its most profitable Christmas season of all time due to the impact of the uplift products from Phoenix Games, and its focus on profitable user acquisition.
Phoenix Games will continue working with SmileyGamer on its upcoming seasonal-themed games to improve live operations quality, and applying machine learning to truly personalize content.
Jochen De Schepper, founder and previous owner of SmileyGamer said: “It’s been great to have had the opportunity to grow SmileyGamer from the ground up over the past five years. I am excited to move into a new chapter and pass the reins over to Phoenix Games, since I know they will continue to make it a fantastic success, and no doubt do an even better job than I ever did.”