How to make a successful game project with 33M installs and 30% in-app purchases

#freeplay #hypercasualdigest #meta
November 21, 2022

Usually, hyper-casual games earn no more than 5% of revenue from in-game purchases, which encourages developers to build a large number of ads into the game. This situation discourages users and significantly reduces LTV. But what if we told you that it’s possible to raise that number to 30% by increasing the user session duration, and reducing the number of ads, while at the same time increasing ad revenue? Please read the story of our publishing of the hit game Stone Grass.


The young and talented development team “Pixel Head” came to us with the idea of creating a runner game where the user had to mow the grass. The team knew how to make beautiful grass graphics, and together we decided instead of a runner, we should develop an ASMR project aimed at a meditative and soothing process of mowing the grass. We hit the ground running and started developing a prototype.

“Stone Grass was our first game published for the PixelHead team, and success came immediately. The relaxing lawn mowing simulation game received an incredible 40 minutes of average playtime at day 1, which, surprisingly, carried on for the next days” FreePlay’s Head of Publishing Ivan Spizharskiy said.


The user’s motivation for making an in-game purchase must be clearly justified. The players must understand why it benefits them to buy something for the money they could spend on a cup of coffee. Such motivation requires careful preparation of the project and a global strategy for the development of the game:

1. In-depth content

In order to encourage users to buy, we decided to create an in-depth project with many levels where perks that come with a purchase boost the joy of playing. . We’ve decided to create a level generator to speed up working on levels. It took about a week, but in the long run, it accelerated development time by a factor of 8 and allowed the game to launch with significantly more content.

2. Visible improvement of the track.

Another way to show the user the game’s depth and encourage them to buy is an option to upgrade the player’s abilities. The player mows the grass with the track as part of the gameplay. We’ve decided to create a visually obvious opportunity to improve it: adding saw blades, increasing the amount of prongs, etc. When buying an upgrade with in-game currency, the user cannot fail to notice the upgrade of the machine.

3. Motivation to Upgrade

To motivate the users to improve the track was important to create some limitations that a less developed machine can’t handle. The challenge here was not to break the meditative process of the game, which is what the users came for. So we’ve decided not to restrict the machine, but to slow it down. Slowing is not a complete stop but only a reminder that by making improvements, the process of playing the game will be more enjoyable.

“Additionally, we did not forget to test various discounts on in-game purchases, appearing at different game moments and creating additional motivation to buy for the players” Ivan concluded.

To find all these approaches to improve the game, we combined the brilliant potential of the young and dedicated PixelHeads and our experience as a game publisher with 800M+installs. As a result, we got the game with 30% IAP, which is mind-boggling!


1. Meta-game

Another thing that helps users understand the depth of the game and added to the main gameplay was Meta-game. We experimented a lot with how much of the user’s time should be devoted to it. As a result, we found out that there shouldn’t be a lot of meta in this type of project, and it shouldn’t distract the user or be mandatory. The balance allowed us to improve the player’s LTV.

2. Boosters

Often HC games add various boosters to the gameplay, allowing you to speed up the gameplay or quickly overcome multiple constraints. After experimenting with them in our gameplay, we found out that in ASMR projects, boosters disturb the monotonous soothing rhythm and ruin the experience, which reduces the player’s LTV, so we refused them.

3. The frequency of ads

Another critical question is how often we should show ads so as not to annoy users. Experiments have shown that due to the significantly higher duration of the game session compared to competitors we get the best revenue when we reduce the display frequency. On average active users play Stone Grass 2,5 hours, while daily average playtime with ad monetization is 30 minutes vs 10-15 minutes baseline in hyper-casual games. The user stays longer in the game and ends up watching more ads with lower frequency, and we get a win-win situation.


Stone Grass is already a hit, and we continue co-developing the project with FreePlay as the publisher and PixelHead as the development team. We’ve been testing other mechanics, such as cutting down trees, but mowing grass is still the most popular and calming gameplay option.

All the rules and experiments we were able to learn from the success of Stone Grass can be applied to any hyper-casual project and help you create a real hit:

“To achieve a high level of in-game purchases, create a deep game with lots of elaborate content”.