Using psychology to market your mobile game

There is no magic solution to create the perfect video ad for a mobile game. However, some things can help the process. Sometimes, knowing how to frame information can really make a change. 

Rely on intrinsic motivations

Intrinsic motivation is the act of doing something for its inherent satisfaction rather than for some separable benefit or consequence. What does it mean for app marketing? Well, you need to target core needs to trigger satisfaction in the potential customer. That will push them to download your game and play it for maximum enjoyment. 

There are a few core needs that can be useful for mobile game marketing: 

  • Autonomy: they are motivated when they can act independently and feel like they have the space and possibility to make their own decisions
  • Mastery/Competence: they gain satisfaction from becoming more skilled
  • Purpose/challenge: they want to feel that what they’re doing matters and pursue personal goals
  • Control: they want to have control over their environment
  • Cooperation and competition: intrinsic motivation is boosted when people help others and can compare their performance
  • Curiosity
  • Recognition: people like having their accomplishments recognized by their peers

All there is left to do after that is to choose the right intrinsic motivation to trigger a positive response from the viewer. Users who follow internal motivations will feel more engaged and uplifted, meaning that if your video ad is convincing enough, you will push them to download and enjoy your game in the long term. 

Creating a positive engagement is also a great way to reduce your churn rate, users will be more satisfied and will tend to be long-term users as well as attached to your brand. It is not enough to just grab attention, you need to build a strong rapport with users.

Follow the self-determination theory

The self-determination theory establishes that everyone has 3 key psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When these needs are fulfilled, the quality of motivation improves as well as satisfaction. In marketing, and especially mobile game marketing, improved motivation means a longer and deeper commitment to the game. 


The goal is to target these different needs in your creatives to trigger a specific motivation from potential users. 

For relatedness, the goal is to focus on a community aspect, make the viewer feel like he would be part of a team, that the game is waiting for them. Both CTAs and visuals need to address the viewer directly and make them feel welcome and needed. 

For competence, it’s important to show potential achievements, show an evolution, or even competition boards. The player needs to feel like they will be able to prove themselves and compete against others. Show them how they can level up and the goals they need to reach.

Autonomy is easier to highlight. This is about having a personalized experience, show worldbuilding, and character customization. They need to feel in control of the experience and know that they have the possibility to shape it to fit their personality and desires. 

Take advantage of the Peak-End rule

Everyone wants their ad to be memorable. Although the hook and the first few seconds of an ad are crucial to keep users’ attention, it’s not what will make it memorable. According to psychology, the peak-end rule tells us that people judge an experience based on how they felt at its peak (positive or negative) and its end, and not an average of moments or a total sum of feelings.

The peak-end rule effect occurs whether the experience is pleasant or unpleasant. This means that there are two key moments in your video ad to take into account: the peak and the end. Many people focus on the hook and it’s indeed an essential part of video ads, however, their goal is to keep users watching the video, and it won’t be what they take away from it.

Choosing the right emotion to associate with your peak moment is important, this is the takeaway they will associate with your game and your brand. The peak can be both positive or negative emotions but it will impact long-term brand recall and conversion.  

For mobile games, this means that the peak of your video should be exciting gameplay sequences, you need to show high-energy moments as well as good achievements. The goal is to trigger a positive response, so the viewer will download your game to give it a try. Excitement is a great way to take advantage of peak-end rule.  

Intense battles or high-rewards achievements can make a difference and show users what your game brings to the table. 

These are some tools to help you figure out the most efficient way to advertise your mobile game. With so much competition, it’s not always easy to stand out from the crowd. Using psychological tricks can help boost your ad’s effectiveness while showcasing the best characteristics of your game. And don’t hesitate to reach out, we’re here to help!

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