How Haypi Kingdom Got And Maintained Its Top Grossing Rank

Haypi, the Chinese developer behind of iOS’ consistently top grossing games in the U.S., shared pieces of the marketing recipe that helped break its title Haypi Kingdom into the top of the charts. The company spent slightly north of $150,000 across a number of channels, chief executive Gang Ren said at an iOS developer conference from Cocoachina over the weekend in Beijing.

Unlike many of the casual simulation games that usually appear at the top of the grossing charts, the company’s game Haypi Kingdom follows more of the midcore model. It has a smaller number of players who monetize at a higher rate than many of its peers do. It’s usually between 400 and 1000 on the free charts in the U.S., but almost always in the top 50 on the grossing list. Think of it like the Kabam-model of gaming, except on iOS.

In the first four months after launch, Ren said the game saw instability in its ranking and the classic spike up the charts and then decline because the company didn’t invest in marketing.

But then Haypi started spending across a number of channels in October of last year. It spent $15,000 on Free App A Day, the popular service that gives away and heavily promotes apps for a single day. He advised developers to plan ahead if they want to use the service, as it’s often booked out for months. “Free App A Day will not follow your schedule,” he said.

He also spent about $50,000 on Tapjoy, before Apple cracked down on the company’s model where it drove installs through offer walls in a network of games. Haypi also put $50,000 into Google’s AdMob advertising network and $10,000 into iAd. But Apple’s ad network didn’t perform as well, so they pulled the campaign. They also bought ads in the messaging app TextPlus and did some press releases.

“PR is like a buying a luxury,” Ren added, saying it was not really necessary.

Ren said his cost to acquire a user at the beginning of the year was about 20 cents and that the average user’s “contribution,” which appears to be the same as lifetime value although the translation was not perfectly clear, was $1.50. (If these numbers sound lower for a U.S. audience, just keep in mind that acquiring users in Asia is often cheaper, ARPU is lower in the region, and that user acquisition costs have risen in recent months with the loss of incentivized installs.)

“Our input-output ratio is really good,” he said. Haypi plans an Android version of the game in the next several months.