Games Get First Real Super Bowl Feature, Was it Worth the Money?

Surprisingly based on overlapping demographics, video games have not featured widely in Super Bowl commercials in years past – maybe because the big franchises launch in late summer through the fall, maybe they were unwilling to spend the big money on the ad space, or something? But this year three ‘freemium’ mobile games spent big – but was it worth it?


The three games – Clash of Clans, Game of War and Heroes Charge – all spent $4.5 million each for a 30 second spot. The games are ‘free to play’ smartphone games that are all very popular on iOS and Android, and make loads of money through in-app purchases of ‘recharges’ or gems or other things to help players win battles and make progress. It is a high risk gambit – Game of War launched a $40 million campaign including getting supermodel Kate Upton as the face (and body) of the game.

For games such as these, exposure is critical – this is why most of us get a Facebook message every day from someone playing one of these games looking for us to join. The games use coerced word-of-mouth by giving you the ability to avoid paying by sending out Facebook messages. So it is easy to imagine the lure of putting the game out in front of the estimated on average 114 million people who were viewing the game (with a peak over 200 million!).

But AppFigures asks … was it worth it?

According to the report … too early to tell. When they looked at the time span from early Saturday through late Monday, with the Super Bowl in the middle, we in terms of the top grossing iOS and Android games Clash of Clans and Game of War were already on top, but Heroes Charge on iOS seemed to get a bit of a bump after the game, but not significantly higher than where it started on Saturday.

A more important metric for a ‘freemium’ game is downloads – this should correlate with potential revenue. And on those charts there is a definite bump putting Game of War just above Clash of Clans and seeing Heroes Charge make a major surge for both iOS and Android.

Here is a quote:

To answer our original question, Yes — buying a really expensive TV spot is a sure-fire to get your app a good amount of downloads and even put you on the map if you weren’t. Whether it’s the only way to achieve that is an entirely different question. If we learned one thing from this campaign it’s that when it comes to user acquisition, Kate Upton has a leg up on Liam Neeson.

My fave? Liam Neeson channeling his Taken persona in a spot for Clash of Clans:

What did you think of the Super Bowl commercials? Do you play the games? What do you think of the approach?

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!