top of page

Tencent: Guerilla Game Publishing

2017 marked the year where 100 man battle royale games stole the gaming headlines as PUBG (Player’s Unknown Battle Ground) is currently the most played PC game in the world with over 3 million concurrent users killing each other at the same time.

With such popularity, it is only a matter of time you will start seeing clones of these games pop up in the app store.

Tencent, a Chinese multinational holding conglomerate, according to Newzoo, considered the biggest gaming company in the world, reportedly generating over $12 Billion in gaming revenue on a yearly basis has taken a unique approach in creating their own PUBG Clone. Guerilla Game Publishing

What is Guerilla Game Publishing?

In the marketing world there is a very popular cost efficient marketing strategy called Guerilla marketing.

Guerrilla Marketing is an advertising strategy that focuses on low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results.

With CPI cost reaching heights of $10 – $30 a user its becoming very clear for publishers that the cost of publishing far exceeds the price of development. Therefore;

Tencent has taken the unconventional approach and has also found a low-cost method to potentially yield maximum results.

Tencent have outsourced to 3 different capable game development studios to create a clone of PUBG in a certain timeline with the mindset that the best game wins ( Best = Highest potential to succeed)

Android Police has found 2 of the studios working on these clones, the first being

TIMI Studios Group, Official PUBG Website Here <-

Game Trailer:

and the other being

Lightspeed & Quantum Studio. Official PUBG Website Here <-

Game Trailer:

The 3rd studio is yet to be known.


Guerilla Game Publishing:

Guerilla Game Publishing is a gameng development strategy that focuses on low-cost unconventional Publishing tactics that yield maximum results. Coined by yours truly.

I mention low cost due the ever increase price of CPI in the mobiie gaming landscape. Publishers are spending anywhere from $15 for a user to just download your game. These CPI prices are creating a can’t fail mentality for the top publishers in this space which is inadvertently leading to unconventional publishing tactics to maximize their results

What was common in this space is for Publishers to throw as much sh*t at the wall to see which ones sticks and run with it but Tencent has decided to take the Guerilla Game Publishing approach with this new trend in the gaming space.

Cost Breakdown.

Guerilla Game Publishing focus’ on low cost to yield maximum results and one has to think, How is it possible that outsourcing to 3 different studios to make the same game possibly be the low cost alternative to what current publishers are doing today?

Cost for developing a AAA game.

In the current mobile market it cost anywhere from $2 Million to $8 Million in developing a triple A game like PUBG on the mobile space.

This is peanuts compared to how much money is required for User Acquisition and liveops.

If you’re talking about an average of $10 CPI for this space, it’ll cost you around $1 Million to get in 100,000 users into your game on a monthly basis.

I’ve discussed this in my previous post but 100,000 New users a month can yield a DNU around (6666 users on a daily basis) assuming the publishers purchase rate is 50% of the new users. (Factoring in Organic Users)

Even with this marketing budget that will yield around 100,000 DAU on a monthly basis.

What this means is, for Tencent to run and operate this game at 100,000 DAU pace they are required to spend over $1 Million in advertising a month (assuming CPI stays at $10)

Therefore, although developing the game will cost you around $2 – $8 million dollars, operating the game for 1 year will cost you over, $12 million just to keep the game at 100k DAU, and add another $6 million annually for the dev and liveops team. And you’re looking at closer to $18 Million investment on a yearly basis. Freemium games are mapped out as a 5 year development run making the total investment to operate a Triple A Freemium game is closer to a $90 Million in investment.

Making the dev cost a drop in the bucket compared to how much it cost to run liveops and acquire new users.

A/B Testing

Freemium games now is about tuning your in – game metrics to justify marketing spending, whatever approach the publishers decided to take. This means that on release the dev team and BI team constantly coordinate to A/B test features and results to fine tune and maximize their output.

What better way to A/B Test your game than to hire 3 different studios to develop the same game and to make sure that you don’t miss the boat on the latest craze and gaming. The time to tweak a single game can take months of years as its very common to see delays in game releases due to underperfoming metrics causing the publishers to request the developers to improve their in game metrics. See Dawn of Titans post regarding this (Spend 21 months in beta). The risk to bank your investment on 1 studio, Tencent thought it would be better to bank on 3 different ones to see which studio can come out of the gates with the best performing game, the publishers can back with Millions of users to cash in on.

Again Guerilla Game Publishing is defined as a gaming development strategy that focuses on low-cost unconventional Publishing tactics that yield maximum results.

A/B testing is all about optimizing a feature whereas, Tencent has taken A/B testing to the entire game development process and is A/B testing development studios to make sure from launch the game / studio with the highest base line metrics will usually yield the maximum results for the publishers. Overall yielding a better cost efficient investment if the idea is to operate this game for 5+ years.

It’ll be interesting to see if we start to see more Guerilla Publishing tactics from big publishers going forward. And hopefully i can start using this term as a legitimate marketing / publishing strategy in the freemium space.

bottom of page