Don’t put ads in version 1 of your game

Time and time again, I see folk release what is often their first game on the Google Play Store. This is great! I take a look and am confronted with an ad filling the screen, which I have to sit through before I’m able to continue playing the game.

This post isn’t a complaint against ads. For many, they are a necessary evil to generate income. But let’s consider some facts.

Michael has created a game called Michaelsoft Flight Simulator. 5 people have downloaded it. Let’s assume each person gets subjected to an average of 5 adverts – that’ll be 25 ads shown in total. The minimum payout of Google AdSense is $100. There is no way in hell each ad view is worth $4.

So what Michael has done is:

  • Line Google’s pockets with a few pennies, which he won’t see any of;
  • Make more work for himself by adding ads in the first place;
  • Drive away the few users he had, stifling the app’s growth.

Don’t be like Michael. Instead, I would say it is better to wait and see where your game goes. If it grows into something big, sure, consider adding ads. If it doesn’t go anywhere, there’s no point making your few users’ lives a misery.

Granted, in the unlikely event your app becomes successful enough to warrant the inclusion of ads, there are downsides to consider:

  • Users may be unhappy that their previously-ad-free app now has ads;
  • Users could stick to an older version of your app that doesn’t have ads, though this small group has an overlap with users who would patch the ads out of your app or find another means of blocking them.

Regardless of your app’s popularity, you should refrain from bombarding users with ads or other obstructions immediately. Last night there was a radio app I installed… oh look, it wants to send notifications. Deny. “This app might not work without notifications” — I don’t care. Now we have a video ad for Temu or some junk along those lines. Finally, I arrive at a login screen. By this point, I’ve had enough and just use the web player instead.