MapleStory M

MapleStory M doubles
acquisition and triples ROI.

Apple Search Ads helps a PC online game developer launch
MapleStory M for iOS, attract new audiences, and retain more customers.


  • Reach loyal players of the PC online game.
  • Achieve a positive return on ad spend within 90 days.
  • Acquire new players.


  • Use brand keywords to attract original fans of MapleStory.
  • Introduce MapleStory M to a new audience using competitor keywords.
  • Optimize keyword performance with insights from Search Match.


  • Revenue from in-app purchases exceeded goals within seven days.
  • Acquisition goals were achieved in half the time expected, resulting in a 350 percent ROI in 90 days.
  • Customers acquired through Apple Search Ads had a 2.5x better retention rate than new users from other platforms.

A classic game reaches
new audiences.

MapleStory M, a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) by developer NEXON, transports gamers to Maple World, where they can develop skills, defeat monsters, and band together to hunt and share rewards. Launched in 2003, MapleStory is considered one of the first commercially successful online personal computer games to hit the market. In 2019, NEXON relaunched the classic game as an app for iOS and Android. “We wanted to show original players that this game is timeless and relevant, and can be enjoyed in a whole new way on mobile devices,” says Tsutomu Morita, Marketing Manager for NEXON Japan.

Drive growth with keyword optimization.

To attract fans who played the original game, the NEXON team focused on brand terms with Apple Search Ads, such as a shortened version of the game’s name, Maple. To tap into new audiences and expand the discoverability of MapleStory M, NEXON focused on competitor terms and keywords specific to games in the MMORPG subcategory.

Apple Search Ads also offered NEXON an unexpected but invaluable insight. “By using Search Match, we found untapped potential with keywords related to other game subcategories, such as first-person shooter games,” says Morita. The team quickly learned they could increase discoverability with a brand-new audience unfamiliar with MapleStory M. “This real-time analysis helped us find a highly engaged audience, eager to play our game,” says Morita.

After the first three months of running Apple Search Ads campaigns in Japan, the NEXON team had exceeded their ROI goals by 350 percent. MapleStory M quickly became one of the top-downloaded games on the App Store in Japan. NEXON attributes the efficiency of Apple Search Ads to the immediate success of their app.

“Within a week of running Apple Search Ads, we saw revenue break even with our ad spend,” explains Morita. “This allowed us to continue investing and gain insights with Search Match to reach brand-new players. We reached our three-month acquisition goal in half the time,” added Kosuke Tsuna, User Acquisition Manager at NEXON Japan.

Beyond exceeding ROI goals, NEXON also found the acquisition and retention rates among customers acquired through Apple Search Ads was higher than those acquired from other app promotion platforms. “The 90-day retention rate from Apple Search Ads customers was 2.5 times higher than other platforms.” says Tsuna.

Scaling success to new markets.

Now that NEXON has achieved unmatched performance and a top rating on the App Store in Japan, the team is setting its sights on continued growth with Apple Search Ads. New updates will be added to MapleStory M monthly, providing more opportunities to raise app visibility with new players and keep existing players engaged. “Running campaigns with Apple Search Ads far exceed our expectations and has given us the ability to identify trends for future success,” says Morita.

The 90-day retention rate from Apple Search Ads customers was 2.5 times higher than other platforms.

Kosuke Tsuna, NEXON

Company Snapshot

  • Games category
  • Founded in 1994
  • Based in Tokyo, Japan

View on the App Store