Learn how the potential ban of TikTok in the United States (which is looking more plausible than ever) and the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games stand to impact the gaming and marketing industries. Additionally, explore how Web3 games are leveraging traditional user acquisition strategies – with Heroes of Mavia used as a prime example. Finally, learn how this kind of strategy is likely to impact the web3 games space going forward.

Quick takeaways

  • A national ban on TikTok is looking like more and more like an actual possibility for the first time, given its broad bipartisan support in the U.S. House and White House.
  • The saga between Apple and Epic, as well as Apple vs. the European Union, is likely to continue for some time (and continue to have ripple effects on the games industry).
  • Web3 games are starting to leverage traditional user acquisition strategies, leading to significant growth and market attention.
  • The success of Heroes of Mavia demonstrates the potential of combining traditional user acquisition with Web3 gaming.
  • The future of Web3 gaming is promising, with more games expected to adopt this strategy and attract mainstream adoption.

Podcast Chapters

  • 00:00 – GDC and opening remarks
  • 00:31 – TikTok ban increasingly likely?
  • 07:10 – Apple’s power grab and Epic’s EU uppercut
  • 17:10 – Explosive Web3 Strategy: Performance UA
  • 21:45 – GDC and sponsor message

In-depth exploration

Dissecting a potential national ban of TikTok

A bill that would force ByteDance to divest TikTok if it’s owned by a “adversarial nation” or otherwise face a ban, has passed the house 352 to 65 on a bipartisan basis. The bill’s future remains uncertain in the senate where the leadership has said they would review. However, President Biden said he would sign a bill if it reaches his desk. The bill would give ByteDance five months to divest the assets, or make it illegal for app store operators (such as Google and Apple) to publish the app.

TikTok and it’s lobbying organization may have made a massive strategic blunder when they pushed a prompt to users to input their zip codes and showed them how to contact their representatives to defend TikTok – which led to flooded phone lines and inboxes of members of Congress. This demonstrated the power and influence that TikTok wields, and may have inadvertently led to Congress doubling down on their ban ambitions.

Breakdown and analysis

The Bill would almost certainly be challenged in court by TikTok, but also likely the app stores who have a significant incentive to keep TikTok on their platform.

TikTok made a whopping $1.5 billion in IAP revenue in 2022, according to reports. Assuming that number has grown, the app stores taking a 30% cut have a massive incentive to keep users on the app. A TikTok ban would also have a meaningful impact on marketers, including game marketers who have grown to rely on it as a major channel for driving game installs.

It’s unclear what the lasting effect would be on the overall ad ecosystem – but it seems likely traffic usage would migrate from TikTok to its competitors: Meta and Google – and even Reddit and X.

The ongoing saga of Apple vs. Epic

In mid-February, Epic announced its plans to launch an app store on iOS in Europe in accordance with the new Digital Markets Act in the EU. Tim Sweeny, in the intervening time, tweeted from his personal account about how Apple has been a bad-faith actor and exercised monopolistic control over their ecosystem.

In response, Apple banned Epic’s access to their developer accounts explicitly citing Sweeny’s tweets as part of the reason why. Following an uproar, including Epic publicly releasing their communications with the Apple team, and an inquiry from the European Commission, Apple quickly reversed their stance, allowing Epic back onto the App Store.

What does this mean?

  • Epic is bringing an Epic Store, and Fortnite, to the EU.
  • The DMA seems to be doing its job to facilitate competition within the market. (Maybe we should pass some similar laws here.)

Using traditional marketing strategies to grow web3 games

This summer will see web3 games hit adoption at a magnitude higher than anything previously seen in the web3 gaming space. This is due to a number of factors, including: web3 gaming becoming accepted on mainstream app stores, more mature games with F2P funnels, and VC capital reawakening in the current bull market.

So what is the strategy? Affordably onboarding mobile gamers through traditional performance-based user acquisition. It might sound boring or counterintuitive, but web3 has simply not been equipped to capitalize on this prior to 2024.

But Heroes of Mavia have proven the strategy’s worth. As the first game to really push this strategy for web3, they managed to quickly acquire over 1 million players.

A couple interesting things to note: 1) Heroes of Mavia focused their acquisition strategy on countries with extremely low cost-per-install (CPI) such as India and Pakistan. 2) Heroes of Mavia launched their mobile UA strategy immediately upon their token launch. This creates a strong web3 narrative (“mainstream adoption!”) which saw the value of the $MAVIA token rise drastically during launch.

By overlapping token launch with huge paid UA push, Heroes of Mavia is able to win on two fronts simultaneously: 1) As a traditional mobile game they have generated roughly $20oK in regular in-app purchase (IAP) revenue. 2) They have created a $2B+ market cap token via a strong growth narrative in web3 gaming.

In short: Expect to see this strategy replicated all over the place in web3 gaming in 2024 and beyond.

Learn more in our CGO’s full X (Twitter) thread here.

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