If you’re a cat person like me, definitely try out Neko Atsume by Japanese App Developer Hit-Point, the intensely quirky and insanely cute F2P app for both Android and iOS. In just one year after the release, the app has reached 10 million downloads and most of them happened even before the English version of the game was rolled out. That speaks volumes about how compelling and well designed this app is. In fact, the app is so popular that it will be turned into a live-action movie in 2017.
Neko Atsume is the kind of game where you can “just look and enjoy”. All you need to do is to purchase food, toys, and furniture, place them in your garden, and wait for the adorable stray cats to come. In exchange for your kindness, the cats will leave behind gold or silver fish, which you can use to purchase more goodies later on.
Without investing a significant amount of time or skills, any person, even children, can enjoy and complete the game within 2 – 3 weeks for free. No cheats, no complexity, just daily check in to refill the food and interact with the adorable stray cats. You cannot even spend more than 5 minutes at a time on the app because nothing new will happen unless you leave for a while. I’d assume that Neko Atsume probably has impressive retention rate for this reason.
As a person working in mobile marketing industry, I find another great thing about this app is its in-app native ad support. As marketers, we know people can easily get annoyed when ads pop-up and interrupt their experience during the game, but it’s not the case with Neko Atsume. The way ads are displayed here is really subtle and kinda cute, too. If you pay attention to the corner of the main menu, there will be a cat that brings you a brochure and you can choose to open the brochure (ad) or not.
Now that I am given the choice to view the ad, which makes a huge difference than being passive, I actually want to click on the brochure because, you know, I don’t want to let Snow, or Spooky down (they came all the way here and they also don’t come very often).
Besides Neko Atsume, there are other apps that are also great at displaying ads without sacrifice user experience like Disco Zoo by NimbleBit and Nonstop Knight by flaregames. By seamlessly and creatively showing ads this way, it’s wouldn’t be a surprise to me if the conversion rate for the in-app ad campaigns in those games is high.