Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

From Desktop to Mobile: How this shift earned one gaming company hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars in revenues! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

October 4, 2021

It was in 2012 when the USD 13 billion mobile gaming market started to become all the rage in Silicon Valley. 

However, one Singaporean company was missing out on this market because its focus was on desktop, browser, and Facebook games. 

Not having exposure to this multibillion dollar market displeased the company’s co-founder and CEO, Kevin Xu, prompting him to call for a meeting with his fellow co-founders and key investors. He wanted the company to also start developing and focusing on mobile games. 

Any ideas about what this company is?

IGG (I Got Games) Inc.! 

IGG is a video game developer and publisher that was founded in 2006. It is best known for its development of various mobile games such as: 

  • Lords Mobile
  • Castle Clash
  • Clash of Lords

… and for publishing multiplayer online games in North America like Deck Heroes, Galaxy Online, Angels Online, and Voyage Century. 

When IGG pivoted to mobile gaming in 2013, more than 200 of its developers were retrained. They worked for 14 hours a day in some days to successfully roll out the company’s first mobile game, “Castle Clash.” 

Then, in 2016, IGG released “Lords Mobile,” a blockbuster war strategy game. The game raked millions of Hong Kong dollars in revenue for the company―HKD 322 million in 2016, HKD 607 million in 2017, and HKD 696 million in 2018. 

These are MASSIVE contributions for IGG! 

Speaking of Lords Mobile… 

Did you know that the game surpassed its launch goals set by IGG in 2016? 

With the help of performance advertising software Nanigans, IGG’s marketing team set up a refined Facebook campaign strategy that targeted key audience monetization milestones. 

These targets included 7-, 14-, 30-, and 90-day return on ad spend goals while adhering to specific cost per install (CPI) constraints. 

[Cost Per Install (CPI): The rate marketers pay to acquire new users through app installations.] 

Here’s how IGG marketed the launch of the Lords Mobile game: 


To attract new gamers, IGG recalled its past successful game launches to build Lookalike Audiences. The marketing team also took advantage of Interest and Broad Targeting on Facebook. 

[Lookalike Audiences: A Facebook feature that helps reach new people who are similar to a business’ existing customers.

Interest and Broad Targeting: A kind of targeting that enables Facebook’s algorithm to find the audience that fits a brand’s objectives.] 

Thanks as well to Nanigans’ flexible real-time reporting interface, IGG was able to monitor audience attributes that generated click-through conversions and maximized Lords Mobile’s impact. 


Throughout the course of the campaign for Lords Mobile’s launch, IGG experimented with various Facebook mobile app install ad formats such as image, carousel, and video ads

With the help of strategic testing, the company discovered that video mobile app install ads had 20% lower CPI and two times higher ROI (return on investment) than other ad formats. 

This helped IGG attract its target market with the right ad format and ensure creative assets were suitable to a particular geographic location. 

As for the outcome of IGG’s Facebook marketing strategy for the launch of the Lords Mobile game… 

After the 4-month duration of the campaign, the company’s marketing team saw impressive results: 

  • IGG scaled its ad spend 80 times by the campaign’s 4th week and met ROI goals while increasing the number of Lords Mobile installs in 3 months. 
  • A 40% growth in click-to-install conversion rates. 
  • The Facebook campaign strategy drove game installs at 20% lower CPI and achieved almost twice the ROI of other mobile app install ad formats. 
  • IGG’s 2016 campaign performance earned a spot on Forbes Asia’s “Best Under A Billion” list in 2018 (the year when Lords Mobile started earning HKD 58 million a month). 

This initial success of Lords Mobile’s launch led IGG to further expand its online marketing plans for the game, extend the reach of its user acquisition campaigns, and intelligently test new ad formats. 

In the past five years, IGG Inc. has recorded revenues of:

  • HKD 2.5 billion in 2016
  • HKD 4.7 billion in 2017
  • HKD 5.9 billion in 2018
  • HKD 5.2 billion in 2019
  • HKD 5.5 billion in 2020

Clearly, a part of the company’s increase in revenues from 2016 through 2018 is attributable to the success of the Lords Mobile marketing strategy and the game’s appeal to many users around the world. 

IGG Inc.’s Earning Power: Valens Research vs. As-reported numbers 

IGG Inc. (799:HKG) makes for a great case study that we come back to regularly. One great reason?

The company has proven itself to be a better earning power generator than investors might think.

So, how well has IGG been growing its business in the past years?

The research doesn’t lie—nor do the results. Earning power (the blue bars) continues to show results higher on average than what traditional databases show.

The blue bars in the chart above represent IGG’s earning power (Uniform Return On Assets). Historically, IGG has seen generally robust profitability. Its Uniform ROA ranged from 46% to 115% in the past ten years, or an average of 81%. Uniform ROA is at 68% in 2020.  

The global ROA is just 6%. 

The orange bars are the company’s as-reported financial information. If you relied on these numbers, you will see a company with terribly understated profitability. As-reported ROA (return on assets, a measure of earning power) only ranged from 14% to 40% in the past ten years. Its as-reported ROA in 2020 was only at 20%, which is over 3 times lower than its Uniform ROA in 2020. 

That’s what you’ll see in Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, and most other databases.

The company’s stock price also performed better than the rest of the stock market over the decade, which we can see in the blue line in the chart below. Its returns have been well above the market.

The numbers show that IGG has been doing well and making a profit. 

According to its website, the company consists of a team of “Innovators at Work, Gamers at Heart.” 

This means IGG is constantly working on innovative, high-quality products worldwide to explore investment opportunities and further drive long-term growth. 

By going beyond the gaming industry’s standards and understanding several ad formats that inspire action, the company maintains its strategy of quality and innovation. 

The result? 

IGG’s ability to develop “innovative yet classic games!” 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some company’s marketing strategy. 

…Only for the audience to later find out that their product was a flop, or worse, that the company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole. 

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the role of marketing is always paramount to that success. 

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies. 

However, the difference between our case studies and the numerous ones out there, is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group).

By looking at the true earnings of a company, we can now rely on those successful businesses to get tips and insights on what they did right.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve on. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful. 

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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