Playing with Privacy

Mobile games privacy: obstacle or opportunity?

More than ever, the mobile gaming industry has to meet regulatory and industry privacy requirements. Also, provide great user experiences and ensure monetization and ad revenue growth. Our industry insiders explore how to meet these challenges, with examples from successful mobile game publishers.
by Usercentrics
Oct 20, 2023
Playing with Privacy
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The introduction of GDPR in 2018 marked a significant turning point. Since then, many thought the apps industry had successfully navigated the initial challenges.


However, the resurgence of the privacy conversation, propelled by a lack of real implementation of legal requirements and by new, stringent requirements from regulators, particularly targeting tech giants, has thrust this topic back into the spotlight more than ever before.


Many app and game publishers are now racing against the clock to implement a Google-certified CMP by January 16, 2024. Premium advertisers are requesting that publishers work with the TCF standard from the IAB. Additionally, the Digital Market Act (DMA), with enforcement of designated “gatekeepers” set to arrive in March 2024, may introduce further demands on app and game publishers regarding data privacy.

Real world challenges and solutions for mobile games privacy

Despite these challenges, early adopters of privacy adaptations are beginning to witness new and promising opportunities emerging from these changes.


Recently, a panel of industry experts got together to discuss these challenges and why privacy is no longer just a “nice to have”. It’s a regulatory and user requirement, but also a competitive advantage for monetization and growth.


Gamesforum’s John Speakman sat down with Usercentrics’ Director of Product, Valerio Sudrio; Homa Games’ Head of Mobile, Manel Martínez; and AdInMo’s CEO, Kristan Rivers. We’ve distilled their conversation to some key insights.


Prepare to discover the challenges, unveil the secrets to monetization, uncover the art of crafting impeccable user experiences, and witness the rise of consent management platforms (CMPs) as a key driver of success.

As Valerio noted early in the talk, however, the games industry has a long way to go: “The GDPR has been there since 2018. The reality is, a few months ago, we analyzed hundreds of apps available in the EU, and over 90% of them didn’t show a compliant banner. They weren’t collecting consent in a compliant way.”


Google is now also requiring privacy compliance actions from companies using their services, so achieving and maintaining compliance has become even more important for many companies. Manel noted, “…potentially our monetization may be compromised in the future with Google saying, ‘Well, we won’t serve ads if you are not compliant.’ Then that’s where we start to pay more attention, because we see this risk there. So I think that’s a really big change and the reason a lot of people are now putting a lot of interest in this.”

Understanding mobile gaming compliance challenges

Navigating the complex world of mobile app privacy compliance is no easy task, especially for game developers. Manel Martínez from Homa Games noted, “We as publishers or game developers usually take a lot of time and effort on developing the games, the core mechanics and everything. We put all the other things aside and we usually don’t pay that much attention. we just want to know, ‘What’s the minimum thing I need to do to be more or less compliant and not get a big fine or whatever?’”


But today and moving into the future, that’s no longer enough. Privacy requirements are becoming more stringent and ubiquitous, and are affecting the bottom line. Manel also added, “We have tons more apps live in the stores. Back in the day, we were forced to add this simple GDPR banner, and we did it. Two years later, now we have to add TCF, and we see this recurring issue year over year.”


Game developers are finding themselves in a continuous cycle of adapting to new regulations. But they know it’s not a game they can avoid playing. It’s about compliance, player trust, and ultimately, revenues.


Impact of privacy compliance on game monetization

Privacy compliance isn’t just about ticking regulatory boxes; it’s about boosting your monetization efforts. Kristan commented, “We’ve been trying to push this message at AdInMo of increasing consent and trust, because for us the benefits of doing this properly were obvious, immediate, and significant, you know? And by that, I mean the commercial impacts of this.”


However, small development shops don’t have entire departments and extensive resources to put towards compliance, testing, and maintaining these functions. As Valerio noted, “…this is complex stuff, so it’s not something where a game developer wakes up and becomes a legal expert.”


However, Usercentrics has solutions for games publishers of all sizes that don’t require developers to be privacy lawyers or Data Protection Officers. Valerio added, “We have out-of-the-box banners that perform very well, so they can just use those. They’ve been tested with a lot of publishers and publishers. They are pretty high performing.”


Monetization benefits come from more than just legal compliance. They stem from user trust. When players know their data is treated with respect, they’re more likely to consent to data collection and to engage with ads and in-app purchases. It’s become a part of building a reputation in the gaming world, a reputation for treating players’ data with care and respect, and reaping the rewards. Increasingly, premium advertisers also require proof of consent to enable access to the highest quality inventory.

Prioritizing gamer experience for winning results

In the gaming world, user experience is king. Manel from Homa Games stressed the importance of A/B testing to find the sweet spot for compliance and user experience. Valerio from Usercentrics agreed, “Sometimes you think you need to do a fancy banner with dragons and then people will like it more, but actually maybe a simple message saying, ‘Hey, this game is free thanks to your consent,’ etc. It can work.”


The lesson here is clear: make consent processes as seamless as possible. Enable players to quickly get into the game and start having fun and get invested before asking for their consent. No one likes popups in the middle of the action. It’s all about timing. Make the consent request to players when they’re most receptive.

Consent management platforms (CMPs) like Usercentrics’ app consent management play a vital role in simplifying the compliance journey for game developers. Valerio explained, “We have our own A/B testing tools, so they can run A/B tests simply using our technology and our analytics.” Manel concurred with the importance of testing and optimization, noting that, “at Homa that we are a very data-driven company, and we test and measure everything.”


CMPs provide the tools to conduct A/B tests, manage consent preferences efficiently, and enable data exports for more advanced analytics. Whether you’re a small studio or a gaming giant, CMPs level the playing field in the realm of privacy compliance.

Mastering privacy, user engagement and monetization

Manel Martínez reflected on Homa Games’ approach to building user trust while achieving compliance, with great user experience being at the core of it, “I think that’s the way to go, to let them trust that we take care of it. And this mindset is the best thing that’s happening these days.” Manel also noted that with their CMP implementation, Homa quickly saw “between 5 and 10% of ad LTV worldwide, which is great.”


Kristan from AdInMo also mentioned that, “AdInMo’s SDK is in hundreds of games, so we start to see this pretty clearly across all of them. Where we’re getting trusted consent we see generally higher ECPMs… since we have that trusted consent, ECPMs go up. We’re seeing ARTDAUs and LTVs of 3X to 10X higher when we have consent plus TCF string for those audiences that have that versus those that don’t. That all comes back to everything we’re saying here about both the quality of audiences and the quality of advertisers that participate in this ecosystem when that trusted consent is there.”


Success stories like Homa Games’ illustrate that compliance isn’t just about adhering to regulations, it’s about building trust with players. When players trust you with their data, they become more engaged and, ultimately, more valuable to your business.

Selecting the right CMP for compliance today and tomorrow

Choosing the right consent management platform is a crucial decision for game developers. Valerio advised, “Even if you’re not a large publisher, but you have aspirations of publishing more apps, it’s very important that the CMP can accompany you on that. So it can help you to manage multiple apps, multiple markets.” Not to mention multiple regulations as more of them come into force around the world.


User experience and customization is also very important with a CMP. As Valerio also noted, “We saw with other publishers that we worked with that they had a 95% opt-in rate simply because they put up a very clear message. ‘This game is free thanks to ads,’ and a lot of people were agreeing to give consent, but obviously—and Manel made a very good point—it’s also on the quality of the banner. So how fast it appears, and it shouldn’t crash anything. The experience should be at par, and the customization as well.”


The lesson here is clear. Don’t just grab the cheapest or easiest CMP you find. Consider your long-term goals, the flexibility and scalability of the platform, and whether it aligns with your specific needs. The right CMP can be a game-changer in your privacy compliance journey.

Discover how easy mobile apps compliance can be

The gaming industry’s approach to privacy compliance is evolving rapidly, driven by regulatory changes and user expectations. Check out the full video for all the insights from our experts. Their perspectives offer game developers and publishers guidance on how to navigate the intricacies of privacy compliance while maintaining a positive user experience and boosting monetization.


In the gaming world, it’s not just about playing by the rules. It’s about creating a win-win scenario where players enjoy seamless experiences, developers benefit from increased ad revenue, and everyone’s data privacy rights are respected. It’s a new level in the gaming industry, and the experts have spoken: it’s a level worth mastering.


Get started with your 30-day free trial of Usercentrics App CMP today. Find out how easy apps compliance can be, and what it can do for your business.


Usercentrics does not provide legal advice, and information is provided for educational purposes only. We always recommend engaging qualified legal counsel or privacy specialists regarding data privacy and protection issues and operations.

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