Card, Developers

WildCard Games leverage AppLovin’s holistic solutions to accelerate growth

by Claire Tak on Jul 20, 2021

WildCard Games reimagines classic games such as Cribbage, Backgammon, and Hearts into mobile games. The studio’s COO, Josh Chandley, recently wrote an article on  PocketGamer.biz to discuss their exceptional, holistic approach to growth using AppLovin’s software solutions

We followed up with Josh to get the backstory behind their unique challenges and how their small team achieved such growth.

Finding new users in a specific vertical

WildCard Games reimagines classic card games with a very specific audience—GenX and Baby Boomers. This proved to be both an advantage and a challenge. 

Josh pointed out, “We serve an audience that already knows about our games. If you’re 40 and download a card game to your phone, it’s probably not your first day playing the game—it might be your 35th year. So, the audience has an attachment to these games and value their memories to them.”

Despite the fact that GenX and Baby Boomers grew 30 percent within the last year, the biggest hurdle is figuring out how to reach them. The audience is unique, so Josh said it can be difficult to get understand their behaviors using traditional video game research. 

“When we asked our audience why they’re not playing games on their phones, the response was: ‘I didn’t know I could.’ It was a unique problem because we have people who weren’t gamers before. Now, they’re realizing they can use their phones to play games. It’s been a slower adoption, which was our biggest challenge.” 

Also, because the audience knows these games so well, they already have expectations of what the game is supposed to be like before they even start playing, which can also be challenging for monetization. 

WildCard Games turned to AppLovin’s solutions and expertise to help the studio quickly scale and reach their target audience.

Partnering with AppLovin

When Josh first switched to AppLovin, he hoped to increase process efficiency in his daily workflow, such as being able to quickly set up A/B tests and maximize ad monetization across all of their games. 

“The support from the AppLovin team has been a titan for us and has had a huge impact on our performance.”

After utilizing MAX, AppLovin’s in-app bidding solution, Josh was pleased to see an immediate ad ARPDAU of over 20 percent for Ultimate Cribbage, their most popular game.

Josh said, “A/B testing is so easy and so fast. What used to take a day only takes 20 minutes.” This is especially important because WildCard Games runs on a lean, seven-person team. 

Tips for reaching your audience

On the flip side, there are advantages to this particular audience, including a higher retention rate. The team found success through mixing qualitative and quantitative strategies and always leading with curiosity. 

Josh had a few suggestions for how to reach their audience and scale. 

  • Prioritize data: “Data has to be at the core of your company in order to effectively acquire and monetize players.” 
  • Define a specific LTV proxy: “I have seen app developers seriously harm their projects by focusing on short-term metrics like ARPDAU—which is a poor proxy for LTV. Set a specific LTV proxy, such as day 30, 60, 90 ARPU, and take the time to truly optimize for player value.”
  • Take calculated risks: “Don’t be afraid to soft launch very early, try radical experiments, and rebuild your game around what is working. The biggest advantage of being small is the ability to be hyper-agile and reorient the team much more rapidly than competitors at larger levels of scale.”

An exciting time for growth at WildCard Games

“I’m excited to say we’ve closed a major funding round so we can accelerate our growth even more! This means we can hire more talent in Seattle.”

Josh recognizes that scaling the team comes with challenges, and for him, it was learning to accept changes as they come. 

“I acknowledge that the skill set I developed to help grow WildCard to seven people won’t be the skill set that grows the team to 70. I’ve transitioned from doing a lot of different jobs to advising and guiding a lot of amazing people as those tasks became full-time jobs. Maximizing the capabilities of our team is now the greatest, neverending, challenge.”

Together with WildCard’s CEO, Ian Oliver, they are heavily focused on creating the ideal environment and culture for their team to be happy and productive. Among other perks, they provide high-end computers and offer excellent benefits to employees. They also have a beautiful, hybrid office but most importantly strive to create an environment where people can do their best work and focus on the right goals. 

Check out WildCard’s LinkedIn to see their open roles. 

What’s next for WildCard Games?

With the team’s hard work and AppLovin’s software solutions to help support their growth, WildCard Games expects to triple its headcount by next year. 

“If you think the game experience starts with the first time someone opens your app, you’re wrong. It starts with the first impression and AppLovin really exemplifies this innovation. We were able to grow our LTV by over 100 percent and AppLovin will continue to be a big part of our growth.”

Claire Tak is Marketing Manager, Content at AppLovin.