a TikTok success story for mobile games ⎮ Case Study

Mobile Games

January 31, 2023

If you’ve taken a look at some of the most successful UA campaigns recently, you’ve probably heard about The zombie game exploded with a strong TikTok ad campaign and rose to the top of the charts. 

About was released on July 21st, 2022, by the Singaporean company Habby. Over the past few months, it got over 50 million downloads and over $100 million in revenue. The game took the #1 slot across iOS and Android on August 12 in the US and held it for a couple of weeks.

source: AppMagic

This game is considered a roguelike survival game where the goal is to survive against waves of zombies. To help you, you can buy upgrades for your characters, which led the games to earn 500k USD/day from IAP (in-app purchase) according to Matej Lancaric. 

source: Habby

The ASO creative strategy

The ASO strategy is pretty similar between both stores for Surprisingly, the game gains a ! in the App Store name.

There are also more screenshots on the Play Store than on the App Store. The App Store listing page only has 5 screenshots, and there are 3 additional ones for the Play Store listing page which seem to be simple captures of the game.

Each screenshot underlines a feature of the game, with one character on the front and color-coded CTAs. The use of ! gives a sense of dynamism and urgency, as well as building excitement.

The game captures in the background of the screenshots are more focused on action. The prominence of the color red is clearly linked to action-packed moments of the game. It stands out from the gray background. The first screenshot puts an emphasis on the challenge (which comes back for the third one, showing potential players they will have to defeat bosses). 

The second screenshot is more focused on personalization, it shows users that they can have a personalized experience, even in a roguelike game by exploring skill and weapons combos and figuring out what works best for them. 

It’s a great way to take advantage of gamer motivation, and ensure that everyone will find what they’re looking for in your game. 

Things switch up for the preview videos, the video is in landscape mode for the Play Store, to take full advantage of the YouTube reader while it stays in portrait for the App Store. 

The Play Store version starts with the main character getting ready for battle, the focus is on the character and his accessories. They are building the video to be like an action movie trailer. While the App Store version is less focused on action and shows off more of the zombie fighting side. is also making the most of in-app events (and promotional content) in both stores. This is a great choice, ASO wise because in-app events are linked with a boost in conversion and organic traffic. They’re a great ASO tool that should definitely be taken advantage of.

From game updates, to new cosmetic equipment availability, IAE allows you to show how alive your app or game is and to reduce churn rates. 

A UA strategy focused on TikTok’s success came from their bet on TikTok as a UA tool. They spent the largest amount of their ad budget on TikTok, making it their number one UA platform and inundating the social network with game ads.

source: Matej Lancaric

This bet on TikTok clearly served them well, helping the game rise to the top of the charts in several countries. When the TikTok campaign was launched, most of the video creatives were very simple, focused on screen recordings of the game with sometimes a voice-over and/or some overlaid text.

The main goal was clearly to use TikTok’s algorithm and ad platform to reach a relevant audience and make them more familiar with the game by increasing its visibility. This did work, people became accustomed to seeing the game and brand awareness rose exponentially.

Most of the voiceovers and texts were about building a sense of community as well as mentioning the personalization aspects of the game. Narrators would often mention seeing another person playing the game and being appalled at their weapon of choice. 

This creates a sense of belonging to a gamer community, interacting in some way with other players and comparing strategies. The fact that the actor is also judging the other person’s choices is a subdued way of underlining personalization. It means that each player will have a unique gaming experience because their choices (whether it be weapons, accessories, or tactics) will actually have an impact.

Banking on the UGC creative trend

Now,’s creatives are more diversified, and just like every advertiser on TikTok, they’re started to include UGC ads in their roster.

source: TikTok Ad Library

Most of these play on the humorous side, or different styles of native TikTok content. In the ad just below, a mother is interacting with her two kids while promoting The diversity of influencers/actors in those UGC ads shows that is targeting a wide audience.

source: TikTok Ad Library

UGCs or UGC-like ads are the biggest ad trend on TikTok right now, it’s no surprise that everyone is investing in it, especially successful games. Playing on TikTok-like content helps ads feel more genuine, they will stand out less on users’ For You pages. 

This is TikTok’s golden rule: don’t make ads, make TikToks. And followed that advice for its latest slew of TikTok ads. These UGC ads look like regular TikTok content, there is one with a fake street interview (something that works really well on the platform), and the mom ad above is a direct wink to all the family and mom influencers on the app. 

This marketing strategy is clearly working for the zombie game, whose success in both stores for the past few months has been impressive.

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