How Indie Game Developer Petr Šimůnek Used In-Game Ads to Turn His Hobby Into a Career

Anzu’s intrinsic in-game advertising solution has quickly become a hit with indie game developers, offering them a way to monetize their games without compromising the player experience. In this blog series, we sit down with a number of indie studios that are using Anzu’s solution to understand its impact.

We were excited to speak with Petr Šimůnek, an indie game developer and PhD student based in the Czech Republic, who has garnered a huge player base with hit racing titles Motorbike Evolution and Engine Evolution, both of which are available on Steam. Players can choose from several different vehicles and go head-to-head against each other with high-action density on various custom racetracks.

Why did you decide to implement in-game ads?

I had developed a game I really cared about and wanted to see if I could make a living from it. I had been looking for all sorts of ways to monetize my games for a long time — I was trying to add additional motorbikes and new skins, but whatever I did, it seemed like nothing was working. When I added a new skin system to the motorbikes, there was barely a measurable increase in revenue. And when I added premium motorbikes, this also didn’t help. 

I was also very wary about in-game monetization practices, as I know that for many developers, it ends up being a lot of work with no results. I knew I needed to find an out-of-the-box solution that would allow me to monetize my games without disrupting gameplay for players. After doing a lot of research, I found that Anzu’s solution was a good fit. A member of Anzu’s team reached out to me, and things went quite quickly from there.

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Were the ads easy to integrate into the game?

I found that it’s very easy to get started with intrinsic in-game ads. To really master them it can be a long process, but in terms of getting them working and having a basic setup that is able to enhance the player experience, I found it very simple. With my first setup, I was able to quickly generate impressions and saw an increase in revenue within hours. I was also able to easily integrate the ads into the surroundings. Not before long, things started to snowball into the results I have now, and the ads have generated very good results.

How have the ads performed over time?

The gameplay in my titles is very fast, so this means that when you’re playing, you pass the advertisements around the racetrack’s boards very quickly, and they need to be visible. Over time, I’ve improved the placements to help them fit better into the surroundings of the games, and I find that they fit really well into racing titles. Occlusion was also difficult to begin with, but it only took a few hours to fix. Once I got things working, they were very easy to improve.

Since using intrinsic in-game ads, I’ve been able to make a living out of the game alongside my PhD studies and other work. Most of the success I’ve had over the past two years is thanks to Anzu. At some point, Anzu was generating 80% of my revenue, and intrinsic in-game is allowing me to make more than what I make on Steam on in-game purchases. Overall, it doesn’t cost me anything to have intrinsic in-game ads in my games, and Anzu is helping me make between 50 to 80% of my income. 

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How have your players responded to the ads?

Thanks to intrinsic in-game ads, I have twice the number of players since last year. When I started experimenting with the layouts, I tried making the placements different sizes. I found the ads didn’t work with the gameplay when they took up more than 20% of the screen, but I’ve found that as long as they are smaller than that, they work and players are happy, and when you find a suitable environment for the placements, players say they feel like they are part of the game.

Overall, I’m very happy with Anzu’s solution as it allows game publishers like me to adjust placements based on a game’s setup, and it has allowed me to figure out how they work best within my games. After all, every game environment is different, so it’s important developers understand what works best for them and their players.

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How has your experience with intrinsic in-game ads influenced your studies?

I’m doing my PhD on the procedural generation of virtual worlds, and I’m focusing on the quality of the game environment in relation to the gameplay. For example, when you’re generating a racetrack in a game, you want to maximize the quality of every in-game asset and everything that might be next to a track when someone is playing.

At times, a player can be trying to access something in-game from a distance, and the assets in the distance don’t have as much detail. One idea I’ve had is for a system for procedurally placing billboards around a racetrack, with an algorithm that will determine the best spot for placing ads. Overall, my studies are focused on further researching this topic.

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Lastly, what would you say to another studio thinking about using in-game ads to monetize their games?

Try it! It doesn’t take anything from you apart from a few hours to integrate it, and there is the potential to earn a huge amount of revenue from intrinsic in-game ads without taking anything away from the quality of the game.


Find out more about how you can launch your intrinsic in-game ad journey by reaching out to our team!

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Maor Wurembrand

Maor is Anzu's Director Of Growth Management and works closely with lots of our game publishers.

Maor Wurembrand