Genre Showcase: Puzzle Games

When you’re bored and looking for a way to kill time while improving your quick-thinking skills, what do you do? Do you pull out a crossword and start testing your vocabulary? Do you grab a deck of cards and enjoy what could be a frustrating game of solitaire? Now that we have handy mobile devices at our disposal, we’re quick to forget about these physical objects and go for their digital counterparts.

These are often found in the form of mobile puzzle games. Since the puzzle game genre can span across categories such as casual, board games and puzzle itself, we should first give puzzle games a definition for the purpose of this article. These games are oftentimes a test that assesses an individual’s problem-solving skills, ingenuity and knowledge to arrive at the correct solution.

But since there are so many games that can fall under the puzzle umbrella, how do competitors in the current ecosystem stand apart?

This is where creatives come in – they play a key role in helping users easily recognize the app while understanding its core feature and functionality. By looking at how top puzzle games are creating icons, screenshots and even preview videos, we’ll surely find some commonalities that can be used by others looking for a shot at the spotlight.

Common Themes Among Icons for Puzzle Games

If we take a look at the Top Charts in the App Store, we’ll notice many commonalities among various puzzle games and their color choices. Four out of the top six apps under the ‘puzzle’ category in the App Store use bright colors that immediately grab a user’s attention.




Colors that are primarily used for puzzle games are:

  • Pink
  • Light blue
  • Bright red
  • Green
  • Orange

Along with these colors, the icons themselves incorporate supplementary treatments such as drop shadows or starbursts to make one particular element of the icon stand out. The icons themselves feature either puzzle boards or pieces and characters from the game to help users easily identify it. Take Candy Crush Saga – a casual puzzle game that has been out since 2012 – for example. Most would say that they don’t even need to know the game’s name because it is instantly recognizable by its bright colors and distinguishable in-game puzzle pieces. This is why when users are browsing through the app stores, many will typically know that this icon belongs to Candy Crush Saga.




Screenshots That Capture Attention

Screenshots are key for developers to highlight their app’s core features. Since there are many competitors, and often times these competitors have very similar apps, their screenshots tend to be nearly identical.

If we look at two games that are under the “board” category for the App Store, Pixel Art and UNICORN 3D, we’ll notice that both take a very different approach to screenshots while still having similarities.




  1. Each screenshot illustrates 3D elements in pixel-style artwork from in-app gameplay.
  2. While both have a different color scheme, they want users to know that the game itself is a colorful way to bring art to life.
  3. Both focus on their core feature, which is coloring. Pixel Art actually takes their first screenshot a step further and shows a user interacting with the game.
  4. Each screenshot has short and concise callout text that integrates high-volume keywords to highlight the game’s core feature. UNICORN 3D’s callout text is a bit longer and uses punctuation, but it still effectively conveys the message.

It could be said that these games’ screenshots follow effective trends and apply basic ASO best practices when creating their screenshots. Regardless, their screenshots are surely contributing factors to each game’s success and are a key reason why each has managed to convert users.

Simple Yet Engaging Preview Videos

While screenshots can often get the job done and translate the game’s core features, sometimes users want to see the game in action. That’s when they turn to a preview video (if available) to see what the game is like.

Preview videos are exceedingly valuable because not only do they show the game in action, but they also give users a glimpse into the app’s interface and functionality. This can be the breaking point for some puzzle games because if users don’t easily understand the game’s mechanics, they might turn around and install a competitor’s app.

If we look at Cookie Jam and Kuros Classic, both of these games highlight their app’s mechanics within just the first few seconds of the preview video. Similar to screenshots, each app takes a slightly different approach, but the two are inherently the same.




  1. Both have callout text to explicitly say what the game is. Each one’s callouts are lengthy enough to explain either the game’s core feature or address the gameplay.
  2. Per Apple’s guidelines, both feature in-app content. Each preview video features fun in-app animation to show what happens when users complete a puzzle or match pieces.
  3. Both incorporate a color scheme that is on-brand and attractive to users. As we noticed in the icons, many puzzle games tend to leverage the same colors. Each of the above apps incorporate these colors in a variety of applications that highlight their app’s functionality while staying on-brand.
  4. Each preview video is uncluttered and clearly expresses the app’s core feature. There’s no guessing what type of games these are, which helps users easily decide on whether they want to install or not.

Key Takeaways

Despite the number of games that can fall under the puzzle genre, there are many commonalities among their creatives. Nearly all puzzle games feature:

  • Bright, bold colors that engage with users
  • A recognizable object, character or element
  • Callout texts in screenshots and preview videos

It’s because of these characteristics that puzzle games are able to attract users and capture their attention. Many of these games follow what could be considered as “standard” practices in the mobile puzzle game space, however, each implements these practices in their own unique way to stand out and capture a user’s attention.

AR Marketing VR Marketing

Tips for Marketing Your AR or VR App

The number of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality apps available on Google Play and the Apple App Store is growing fast, and saw an increase of over 200% in 2016 alone. Still, when compared to other app categories, AR and VR are still in their infancy.

With GDC 2018 closing in on us in less than two weeks, developers are scrambling to make last minute optimizations to their apps, and also come up with unique ways to stand out both on the show floor and in the app stores. Traditional mobile app marketing may not be enough, however, so developers are looking to new and innovative ways to market their AR or VR apps.

Here are four ways to help market a Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality app, both online and in person.

1. Always Start with ASO Best Practices

You can’t talk about marketing an app without talking about App Store Optimization. However, since AR and VR apps are already unique, it means you need to think even further outside of the box. Making sure your title, icon, screenshots and preview video are all aimed towards an AR/VR audience is key.

Your title is one of the most important elements, since there are no explicit categories on the app stores for AR or VR. Including specific keywords, such as “Virtual Reality,” or the more commonly known abbreviation “VR,” in your title will help users find your app.

Your icon should also include imagery that clearly reflects the nature of the app. Including an image of a VR helmet or the letters “AR” are great ways to help your app stand out as users scroll past.

Your screenshots and preview video are going to be especially important, as they can showcase the uniqueness of your app. Making sure your screenshots call out important unique features that cater to AR or VR should be your priority, and your preview video should demo exactly what the in-app experience is like. Take a look at other apps on the app store for great examples of how this can be done.

2. Tell A Story

When you’re marketing your app, whether it’s in a blog post, app description or meeting face-to-face with your intended audience, create a story around the experience. Be sure to be honest and transparent about your app and brand so potential users will pay more attention to the app.

The narrative you create doesn’t necessarily have to revolve around the app’s features, but can rather focus on what drove you to create the app and the passion behind it. This may seem counterintuitive, as you’re not directly talking about the features, but this will drive interest nonetheless.

3. Utilize New 360° Technologies

The wonderful thing about AR and VR is it no longer requires a special device to understand what a user is seeing. Creating a 360° video and posting it on your website or YouTube means you can share it across social media and allow potential users to understand what your app is about without even having to download anything.

Users who view this video on their phones can use their gyroscope to move the video, while users on a computer can click and swipe for a similar effect. You can even use apps like Periscope for a live demo so users can interact with the video!

4. Connecting with Deep Linking

Deep linking is providing users with a link that takes them directly to a specific part of an app, or to the product page on either the App Store or Google Play Store if they haven’t downloaded the app yet. This can be a great way to offer special content only available to those who show up in person or are offered the link online.

If you’re looking for a great way to promote your app during GDC (or any other convention) you can combine deep linking with QR and display the code right at your booth! Doing so will draw foot traffic to the booth as well as users to the app, creating buzz that will help your app grow.

This is a great time to consider Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality, since the market is so new. If you already have a VR or AR app, it’s also a great time to get creative with how you market it. Optimize the app’s metadata, tell a story, provide an experience and remember to always think about your user first – if you do, your app will be able to reach a wider audience and help the field grow.

This post is part of our Blog Series on Gaming and GDC 2018. Click the link to see other posts in the series!

casual games

Genre Showcase: Casual Games

Casual games are a nostalgic American pastime that only continues to grow each year – especially in the mobile space. What began as quarter-eating arcade cabinets has grown into a massive industry, and casual games can now be found on phones around the world.

PAC-MAN was considered to be the first ever casual game when it was released in arcades across the nation in the 1980’s. Since then, casual gamers have enjoyed classics like Tetris, Solitaire and Snake and have grown to love newer titles such as Candy Crush Saga, Farmville and more.

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 2.48.42 PM

Casual games aren’t going anywhere, especially since they’ve been growing in popularity since the 80’s. In 2016 alone, casual mobile games saw 23.9 million downloads. Casual games are popular with almost every age group and demographic, in large part because the gameplay is simple and can be played in short bursts of time, like during work breaks or when a user just wants to pass the time.

Users also enjoy casual games because of their sense of familiarity – they know what to expect, as most games follow familiar formats that are simple and somewhat predictable.

Mobile games tend to have high download rates in the App Store and Google Play Store, even when compared to other genres, which means there is a fair amount of competition at hand. But how do developers of casual games compete with big-name competitors or games that have similar gameplay? One way to ensure that their app is seen by users is to optimize their keywords.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Keywords

Some users might go directly to a category on the App Store that they know has casual games, but most will search using words and phrases to describe what they’re looking for. These searches, which tend to be 2-3-word phrases, are vital to apps getting discovered. Developers should seek to target keywords that are both high-volume and relevant to their app to improve its visibility.

Now, if we think about casual games, which can be games in several different app categories, how are developers supposed to choose the best keywords to make their app visible?

If developers want to compete and get their casual games seen, they’ll need to focus on:

  1. Relevancy
  2. Popularity
  3. Long-tail keywords
  4. Competitors

By focusing on these four factors, developers will be able to get their casual game appearing in more user search queries than before, which is sure to increase their download rates.

1. Relevancy

Relevancy is key for every app, especially casual games. Developers need to start thinking outside of the box to make sure that their game appears for keywords that are specifically relevant to its core features.

If we search for “arcade,” which classifies as a casual game, we’ll see that Jenga is actually the first game to appear. It beats out other games such as PAC-MAN 256 (a recognizable arcade classic) and Paper Toss most likely due to its description containing a feature set geared specifically toward the keyword “arcade.”


Jenga also includes “arcade” in one of their screenshots, unlike PAC-MAN 256. As such, we see that because they targeted the word and integrated it throughout their metadata more than other apps they’re currently ranking better for the keyword and appearing first when users search for “arcade.”

2. Popularity

When targeting keywords, it’s good to create a balance between low and high-volume keywords. By taking this approach, you’re able to appear for more commonly searched phrases like “puzzle” as well as more niche keywords such as “match 3.”

The casual game Gummy Drop! didn’t just magically become #1 for “match 3” – they had to work their way up that spot. Their description contains the keyword three times, and they also target the keyword in their title and screenshots. The developers for this app knew that “match 3” was a high-volume keyword, and decided to integrate it as much as possible throughout their metadata without overusing it to the point of being considered “keyword stuffing.” Thus, by recognizing the importance of this keyword and taking advantage of it, Gummy Drop! was able to claim the #1 spot.

3. Long-Tail Keywords

On top of targeting one-word keywords such as “puzzle,” “casual” or “arcade,” it’s optimal to target longer keywords so the game appears for a multitude of phrases. If a developer has a puzzle game, they surely want to target “puzzle,” but it would also benefit them to target keywords such as, “puzzle games” or “puzzle games for free.” While one keyword is higher volume than the other, incorporating both phrases into the game’s metadata will help it appear for multiple searches instead of just one.

4. Competitors

Because the number of games that can be classified as casual is incredibly high, the category has loads of competitors. In turn, these competitors are targeting the same keywords, either because it’s relevant to their game, or they notice that it’s a high-volume keyword and want their game to appear for it.

If we search for “classic arcade games,” we’ll notice that nearly every game in the top ten features what many would consider as a “classic game.” These games are all vying to appear first for the same keyword, which means that they’ll have to be careful. Similar to Gummy Drop! having to work its way up, new games won’t instantly take the top spot just because they’re targeting the keyword.


You’ll have to be strategic and incorporate this keyword throughout your app’s metadata to ensure that it appears in a user search in the first place. From there, you can steadily work on building your game’s visibility until it’s ranked at the top.

Remember the Importance of Keywords

Without keywords, your game just won’t appear in a user search. That’s why targeting and incorporating relevant, high-volume keywords is so incredibly important. Keep in mind that there are thousands of casual games, which means that there’s competition everywhere. However, by focusing on keywords that are relevant, popular, long-tail and also targeted by competitors, any casual game developer will stand a chance at optimizing their keywords, and in doing so stand out against the competition.

This post is part of our Blog Series on Gaming and GDC 2018. Click the link to see other posts in the series!

what to expect at gdc 2018

What To Expect At GDC 2018

With the 2018 Game Developers Conference approaching, developers and attendees are busy preparing their schedules for a busy week of exploring all the latest developments in games. However, that encompasses a wide range of subjects, and there is quite a lot to do and see. Here are the major things to expect at GDC and look forward to.

1. Game Development

For both professional and aspiring game developers, GDC contains seminars and panels covering all aspects of game development. This includes topics from programming to marketing and everything in-between. Among the wide range of subjects, there are such intriguing gems as Riot’s session on “Understanding the Social Values of Your Players,” Flux Game Studio’s “How to Scale an Indie Game via Outsourcing” and MEGO’s “Cryptocurrency in Games.”

Between panels, there’s an entire exhibition hall filled with the latest in games and innovations. Several large studios will have massive booths displaying their new games and accessories, with lengthy lines of people waiting to try out upcoming games.

2. Mobile Gaming

Of course, mobile apps are an important aspect of today’s game landscape, so there are several sessions dedicated to mobile gaming.

  • King, the studio behind hit games like Candy Crush and Bubble Witch 2 Saga, will be hosting a panel on what does and doesn’t work for design teams.
  • Kongregate will be discussing the making of their “Animation Throwdown” mobile game and the pros/cons of going cross-platform.
  • Scopely will be discussing mobile free-to-play games.

For those who make or are interested in mobile games, they should prove invaluable.

3. AR & VR

In recent years, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been seeing huge upswings in innovation. At GDC, developers creating games using these technologies will have their latest creations on display, showing off the current potential of virtual and augmented reality.

However, the exhibition hall is for more than just demonstrating and selling games. Exhibitors will be displaying products in a wide range of aspects within the gaming industry, including:

  • Ad monetization
  • Funding and venture capitalists
  • Gamification
  • Marketing
  • And many other aspects!

While you’re there, don’t forget to keep an eye out for all sorts of free gifts from the various vendors; anyone leaving GDC without at least a free t-shirt or two must make an active effort to avoid them.

4. Alt.ctrl.GDC

GDC is not only a celebration of what games are but of the innovation behind them. In that spirit, it hosts alt.ctrl.GDC, an interactive space where clever designers have created games with controllers that are anything but traditional. Previous years saw such creative ideas as a game controlled from a cardboard box and colander helmet. Another featured a game with a joystick and a single line of LED lights to represent the gameplay. No doubt there will be a variety of unique and inspired game designs on display.

5. Independent Games Festival & Developers Choice Awards

Additionally, the Independent Games Festival (IGF) Pavilion will honor and display this year’s most well-renowned indie games. These are the products of independent developers pouring their hearts and souls into creating new, unique games, and managing to create something bold and entertaining. There won’t be any large game studios in the Pavilion, but the quality of these indie developers can more than compete with any of them.

Speaking of competing, GDC always wraps up with the annual Game Developers Choice Awards. This is the 18th annual awards show, recognizing the greatest in creativity, technology, and artistry in the past year’s games. There are a wide range of awards, such as the Innovation Award, Best Narrative, Best Mobile Game, Best VR/AR Game, and of course, the coveted Game of the Year.

What to expect at GDC

Looking Forward: Even More To Expect at GDC

When all the gaming is done, and awards are claimed, then it is time to mingle. There are mixers and networking spaces held around the convention center after the floor hours have ended. This is a great time to make new contacts and friends within the gaming industry. Networking is key to any career, so attendees shouldn’t hesitate to reach out and meet new people.

Yet with all that to look forward to, it is but a taste of all that the Game Developers Conference has in store. For those who are involved in the gaming industry or looking to get a foot in the door, it’s an event that should not be missed. It’s only a few weeks away, so the time to start planning your schedule is now.

This post is part of our Blog Series on Gaming and GDC 2018. Click the link to see other posts in the series!


GDC 2018

Gaming & GDC

Game developers are gearing up for the Game Developers Conference 2018 in San Francisco. Many are excited to experience the expo, attend networking events and, of course, represent at the coveted Independent Gaming Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards.

This year we’re sure to see new innovation within the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality spaces, but there’s also going to be a plethora of great information and inspiration for every aspect of gaming!

This is why Gummicube has decided to create a series of blog posts dedicated to gaming and GDC. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing articles on marketing AR/VR, an in-depth look at three popular mobile gaming genres, a guide to what to expect at GDC and an update to our popular Gaming Cheat Sheet.

This post will serve as your “one-stop shop” for content regarding the upcoming conference and provide you with links to each post once they are published.

Check back over the next few weeks to make sure you have all the information you need to make GDC 2018 the best experience possible!

What to Expect at GDC

Whether it’s your first GDC or you’ve been every year, there’s always something new and unique to experience. In this article, we’ll take a look at what you can expect to see in the expo and during the panels. We’ll also give some tips to making the most out of your GDC experience.

Genre Showcase: Casual Games

Our first gaming genre showcase will focus on casual games, an ever-growing app category that populates millions of smartphones. Games like Candy Crush, Minion Rush and more have loads of competition, yet an app with just a few differences can stand out from the crowd and quickly gain popularity. We’ll take a look at why keyword choices are so important with casual games and how finding the right keywords can improve your app’s visibility.

Tips For Marketing Your AR or VR App

With the ever-increasing popularity of VR and AR, it’s no surprise that Gaming is leading the way in those fields. As with any new technology, new ways of marketing emerge as the tech and the markets around it develop. This article will take a look at the current state of the industry and where we predict it’s going over the next year. You’ll also receive some tips and tricks on unique ways to market an AR/VR app.

Genre Showcase: Puzzle Games
March 13, 2018

Before smartphones were smart, we had phones that played simple games, many of which were puzzle-based. As one of the most common genres, mobile puzzle games have come a long way since the days of Snake and Tetris clones, but they still tend to be simple and fun. With such a rich history and frequently similar gameplay across many of the apps, standing out often times depends less on the gameplay itself, and more about the creatives. We’ll look at the genre as a whole and analyze commonalities and differences between popular apps’ icons, screenshots and preview videos.

Genre Showcase: Action Games
March 15, 2018

With smartphone technology allowing developers to create nearly console-quality experiences, it’s no surprise that action games have become so popular. Games like MARVEL Contest of Champions, Dragon Ball Z DOKKAN BATTLE and Rules of Survival are great examples of how advanced the gameplay has become. We’ll look at the most popular games in 2018 so far, break down what makes them popular and how they use their title and descriptions to make a niche for themselves.

Cheat Codes to Market Your Mobile Games (Update)
March 20, 3018

The final article for the series will be an update to our popular ASO for Mobile Games Cheat Sheet from early 2017 that showcases ASO best practices for mobile games. This will combine the concepts we talked about in the Genre Showcase posts and put them into one place to easily access and reference.

Looking Toward the Future

2018 is promising to be an amazing year for mobile gaming. Augmented Reality has become the focus of many developers, while Virtual Reality is still a major interest for PC and console gaming. The Gaming Industry will continue to grow, with new players frequently entering the scene. While having a solid game is most important for success, strong ASO strategies will help you drive downloads and get new users to try, and hopefully keep using, your app.

App Store Optimization (ASO) Blog | Mobile App Marketing