How can Ice Hockey World Championship influence the downloads of sports games? We’ve asked Nikolay Rakushin, the founder of PlayMobileFree Studio.


Image Credit: PlayMobileFree

Given high installation price and low app visibility, user acquisition is getting increasingly challenging.

Market leaders use different methods to tackle the issue. But as a rule, right branding is the matter. Some buy popular IPs, expecting to cut UA costs (Kabam, Glu). Others invest money in development of their own brands in order to turn them into drivers of sales (Rovio, MachineZone, UbiSoft).

Both scenarios require great resources that may lack with many teams. They need to come up with new ways to attract users, which are both effective and efficient.

One of the solutions, which hasn’t gone mainstream yet, could be a release of tailor-made updates for sports events as part of regular updates schedule or special editions dedicated to them.

Nikolay Rakushin, the founder of PlayMobileFree, shared his view on the efficiency of one of the approaches.

PlayMobileFree is a small Moscow-based studio, specializing in casual games. A year ago the company launched Mini Hockey Stars – a multiplayer PvP-project for Google Play.

The project is all about hockey. The game mechanics vaguely resembles Smash Land by Supercell. There’s a hockey rink with eight big pucks, two competing teams, and a small puck. The goal is to score a small puck using big ones. The game is turn-based with online multiplayer.

It was released a month prior to the start of 2015 Ice Hockey World Championship. Originally it was promoted with cross-traffic from other studio’s games. This, as well as getting to New Releases categories at Google Play, helped the project to achieve a milestone of 10k downloads per day. When the game left the category, the downloads dropped to 2-3 k per day.


The game saw the revival of user interest when the Championship came closer to its end, at quarterfinals, that is at the most intensive and exciting time when medal events are being held.

At this stage, the game downloads grew fivefold. In the Czech Republic, the host country of the Championship at the time, the game ranked 4 in the Top 10 downloads overall.


“Due to the kick-off that the Championship gave to the game, we have been enjoying an incredibly big, nice and juicy long tail,” Nikolay says.

Icon adjustment for all the countries where the game was released also had its role to play in purchases generation. For example, in Russia, the icon showed three pucks – a regular one and with the USA and Russian flags accordingly. In the Czech Republic and Canada, the Russian flag was replaced with flags of their countries, respectively.

The project release as such or event-specific update can hardly serve as a one-box solution for games to achieve high ranks. Neither will adjustment of marketing materials for each and every local market do any better, though. But as the experience of PlayMobileFree shows, these tools can give an important momentum to the app, thus cutting costs on marketing.