Mobile game development is only a part of the full software cycle. If you wish a successful mobile game, you will need to research the market and work on promotion even before the actual development has started. Mobile game developers face many challenges today. To combat these challenges, adapt by starting with your mobile game promotion today. The early bird gets the worm.
Back in the early days of video game development, during the saga of Sega, it took ages to create a game. Developers had to write and code the complete game from scratch. They had to code everything from the most mundane elements to the more complex systems. And I mean everything.
Nowadays, game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine allow modern game developers to skip ahead and cut out a lot of time. Engines like these greatly accelerate game development time which leads to a higher density of games present on markets and app stores. Developing a mobile game on an existing framework will reduce the costs of development, making your marketing budget that much higher.
Since game developers don’t have to start every single game from scratch thanks to frameworks like Unity, we saw a boom of video games happen. This explosion has caught mobile games too which had gained mainstream popularity in Japan in the early 2000s. It took a few years before Europe and the United States caught up with the trend. Today, mobile games are a multi-billion dollar market with an expected revenue of $74.6 BN by 2020, according to Statista.
The baby-boom of mobile games brought tears of joy to marketers all around the world. While we celebrated the birth of a new prosperous market, game developers shed tears of misery. The overabundance of mobile games means a bigger and wiser competition is lurking behind every corner.
No more is it just enough to have developed a game. We pour many hours into (pre)planning and preparation even before the game starts with development. Gaming developers today, and especially mobile gaming devs, need to keep things like mobile app retention rates and different mobile gaming platforms in mind.
For this reason, it has become more difficult to launch a successful game. To combat these changes and the encroaching competition, you can adapt by starting with your mobile game promotion today. The early bird gets the worm, after all.
Without further ado, here are our top 9 tips on how to promote your mobile game.
We would all like to create our vision of a paradise, but leave the fantasies aside if you are serious about mobile gaming success. While there are exceptions to the rule, we cannot afford to lose our market share because of shortsightedness.
To avoid developing a game for a non-existing audience, it is imperative to do exhaustive market research. Research types of games and find trending niches. If you are doing your research before developing a game, make use of trends.google.com to find trending search queries on Google, the world’s most prominent search engine. Seeing what people search for is usually a good indicator of some interest.
If, on the other hand, you’ve already developed a game, research your competitors. See what functionalities and features they have and which of them they did better than you. Be honest with yourself. This approach will help you determine your points of focus and will save you headaches later on.
This point draws heavily from the latter. While you can certainly use any of the app competitor analysis tools, I advise you to first dive into app stores as a user. Try to find as many similar mobile games you can. Look at games within the same genre.
To learn from your app competitors, you should make a list of everything of note while you are browsing. Look at different user reviews. Focus on your competitors’ titles, screenshots, and descriptions. Make note of their video script. See where and how they distribute their keywords across their app listing.
Promoting your mobile game is more than just putting your game up with the rest of the app forest. If you want to succeed, you will have to prepare yourself thoroughly. And preparing means doing your homework before every decision. After all, a game with better functionalities has better chances at fortune and fame.
How hard can it be to sign with a publisher? Very. While finding a publisher is no easy task, finding the right publisher can seem like an impossible task. A game publisher will indeed take care of your game’s promotion, but they will also take a part of your game’s income.
Even if you don’t want to get published by a third-party, you can often get substantial and concrete feedback from them. A game publisher will focus on the marketability of your product and it is insights like these that could help you the most.
Testing is a recurring advice of mine. If you are as indecisive as me, take a look at the numbers. They don’t lie. Hidden beneath a pile of data, you can find the shiniest gems. The same advice applies to mobile game promotion.
Be sure to test your products and assure that the quality is up to industry standards. You want to squash as many bugs as possible before your set launch date, but focus more on bad game design issues. According to an empirical study by Steam, users are much more likely to leave a bad review due to bad game design than bugs.
We can split game testing in several different phases:
Alpha Testing – game still in development, the focus is on hardware and software failures Beta Testing – game is almost ready for production, no major issues should exist Closed Beta Testing – testing is done with a closed group of testers Open Beta Testing – testing is open to the public
We might argue that putting the game in „early access“ is a form of testing. Whether that’s the case or not isn’t of much concern to us right now. Focus on testing your project for the sake of improvement. Splitting your testing into phases will make your life much easier and the end result more enjoyable.
Mobile game promotion is fairly difficult to do without proper app search optimization (ASO). If you’ve done your homework and understand your competitor’s point of view, you will have the minimum experience required to approach your mobile game’s ASO.
Without organic traffic from the app stores, your game will be gone from your audience’s radar once you turn off your marketing campaigns. Organic traffic is vital for your mobile game’s life.
Think of a good title and work on it. Try to ask your friends and family for opinion. You can also survey your audience and see what they would like, but keep in mind that a good ASO title will have the main keyword as a part of the title, sometimes even as the title.
Also, work on the other parts of the listing. Screenshots, description, game icon, and videos, these are all the elements that you will need to focus on. You should A/B test them each to verify your decisions. If you are feeling overwhelmed, pitch your pleas to a specialized agency such as Udonis.
You should put your mobile game on alternative app store markets and directories. Google Play isn’t the only place for Android apps. Some other alternative app store markets that you shouldn’t neglect are:
Amazon Apps and Games AppBrain SlideMe itch.io
It’s essential to choose the right mix of traffic channels since correctly leveraging all the different marketplaces available holds the key to improving your mobile game’s discoverability.
Having the right cocktail mix of marketing channels will serve as a firm leverage to improve the discoverability of your mobile game app. Once again, proper market research will save you hours of time and frustration.
Run paid campaigns across social media. You will need stunning creative, gameplay videos, and an appealing message. Think of your audience and what might appeal to their interests.
You can control both Facebook and Instagram ads through Facebook Business Manager. Split testing your ads will prove imperative in taking your piece of the pie on social networks. Consult our guide to mobile ads testing for further explanation.
Google’s Universal App Campaigns (UAC) will help you get your mobile game into the hands of users. Google will take all the data from your mobile game’s listing on Google Play, including keywords. You can use the creative from your game’s listing as your Google Ads creative. But, we advise you to do it properly and design different graphics and videos specifically for promotion purposes.
While we are on the topic of Google Ads, test different display networks. Many of them specialize in video games. On average, the cost of user acquisition is higher compared to UAC but it might not be the case with your game. You will only be sure once you test it.
Cross-promotion is a free way of mobile game promotion. You can cross-promote a mobile game either in your other games (if you have any) or you can approach other developers in the hopes of reaching an agreement. Try to find developers on associated internet forums and cross-promote your games. This is a case of „You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.“
Developing a game used to be a gargantuan task. Today, developing a game is only a part of the full software cycle. If you wish to become successful with your mobile game, you will need to research the market beforehand and work on promotion even before the actual mobile game development has started. Otherwise, you will face many challenges and obstacles as a mobile game developers in your life. For example, persistent bugs, flawed game engines, and hunch-driven decision-making, can drive a good game to ground.
Mobile game promotion is the cherry at the top of the iceberg. The first point of contact a mobile game has with its audience comes from the app store listing. Your title, screenshots, and app description play a big role in the successful advertisement of your mobile game. For this reason, your cherry needs to be a succulent, sweet fruit that appeals to a specific target audience.
Mobile game marketing is a joint effort and a show of collaborative power. Don’t fight your uphill battle alone. Reach out to us and we’ll show you where your users lie.