Category Archives: Mobile Gaming

GDC 2018

GDC 2018 Wrap-Up

With the 2018 Game Developers Conference (GDC 2018) a fond but recent memory, it’s time to look back on what happened at this year’s event. From the latest in AR and VR to mobile marketing, there was never a dull moment throughout the week of the conference.

Sessions and Seminars

There were multiple seminars, panels and sessions covering gaming news. One highlight was a look at “The Year in Mobile Games” and best practices for launching games on mobile devices.

Of course, the sessions covered far more than mobile games and delved into a wide range of topics from game animation to AI systems to customer care. The panels covered all aspects of gaming and game creation, from conception to beyond the launch to provide a full understanding of the lifecycle of game creation.

 

GDC 2018 Expo

 

There were also multiple halls filled with exhibitors of all types, including big-name studios such as PlayStation and Xbox. These companies gave demos of upcoming games, as well as a live stream of the highly popular game “Fortnite.”

Companies and organizations of all shapes and sizes had a space for themselves at GDC. There were vendors marketing their streaming services, game animation studios, smaller studios looking to make a name for themselves, and so much more. Of course, Gummicube had its own booth, for all those interested in optimizing their app store rankings; after all, mobile games can benefit greatly from strong ASO.

Independent Games Festival

Independent developers were treated well, with a showcase space in the IGF Pavilion. Developers were also able to show off their new and upcoming games with the Day of the Devs showcase. They also displayed historical greats from MAGFest, accompanied by a keyboard rendition of video game tunes.

 

IGF Pavilion

 

Developers also showed off their game’s unique mechanics at the alt.ctrl.GDC area. One game, “Wind Golf,” had players blow into a machine to play a game of miniature golf. Another that stood out was “Puppet Pandemonium,” a multi-player game where two players took the role of puppeteers. Players had to use Muppet-style puppets as both characters and controllers and performed their lines as part of the game.

GDC Awards

At the end of the week, the winners of the 18th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) and Independent Games Festival (IGF) awards were announced.

In GDCA, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” took home the Game of the Year award. It also won for Best Design and Best Audio.

“NieR:Automata” won the Audience Award, and was nominated for several others.

“Cuphead” won Best Debut and Best Visual Art, while Gorogoa won Best Mobile Game and the Innovation Award.

For Best Narrative, “What Remains of Edith Finch” beat out several tough competitors. “Horizon Zero Dawn” won Best Technology, and Superhot VR won Best VR/AR Game.

Individuals like Tim Schafer and Rami Ismail were also honored, who earned the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Ambassador Award respectively.

 

 

 

After Hours

Even after the exhibit halls closed, game developers, studios, publishers and more enjoyed after-hour mixers and networking parties to make new connections and meet future talent.

If you attended GDC this year, let us know your thoughts, what you enjoyed and what you learned in the comments below!

If you’re a mobile game developer looking to optimize your game for the app stores, then check out our official Mobile Game hub post for helpful tips and tricks.

Improve Visibility for Mobile Games

Cheat Codes to Improve Visibility for Mobile Games

The App Store and Google Play Store are teeming with millions of apps, a great deal of which are mobile games. The gaming industry has come a long way since old-school arcade games and even home or portable consoles. In fact, games have been accessible on-the-go since the original 1976 version of Snake launched on mobile devices in 1998.

 

arcade-games

The mobile gaming industry has boomed, generating $59.2 billion dollars in 2017. Additionally, Google reported $4.5 billion dollars in revenue in Q3 of 2017 alone. This explains why competition has skyrocketed within the industry over the past few years.

Game developers want to take advantage of this lucrative industry, but to do so, they need a way to beat their competition. In order to stay competitive in downloads, search results and players, developers need to utilize App Store Optimization (ASO), which will help put their game ahead of the competition.

How Do Developers Improve Visibility for Mobile Games?

A strong ASO strategy starts the same, no matter what category your app falls under. However, it’s imperative that game developers evaluate their competition and the current market. Starting here will help them get a better understanding of how to optimize their games to reach their potential audience.

For a mobile game to become more discoverable and relevant within the app stores and its respective category, developers need to create a well-thought ASO strategy that pays close attention to the app name, keywords, description and creatives.

1. Attract Users with a Unique Name

The app name is key – it highlights the game or brand’s name along with its most important feature. Developers should start by optimizing their app name to get a better understanding of what keywords to target and integrate throughout the other pieces of their metadata.

2. Become More Relevant with Keywords

Users tend to search in 2-3-word phrases regarding the type of game they want to play. With this in mind, developers know where to start when choosing their keyword selection. Looking at casual games, for instance, the most obvious keyword to target is, of course, “casual.” However, since many games can fall under this umbrella, developers should also choose more niche keywords that are relevant to their app’s core features and functionality. Depending on the type of game, developers can include terms such as:

  • Classic arcade games
  • Puzzle games for free
  • Match 3 RPG
  • Action adventure games

If users search for the term “match 3 RPG,” they’ll notice that the third and fourth games feature that keyword in their title. This is a good start, but because they aren’t ranked top for that keyword, they should bring more focus to the keyword and integrate it within other areas of their app’s metadata to improve their visibility.

 

match-3-rpg

 

3. Explain the Game with the Description

The description is the largest area for developers to explain what their game is about. Developers can go into the storyline, core features, functionality and more, but they need to make sure that they get the most out of the time spent highlighting these features and gameplay by integrating high-volume keywords.

Since there is so much competition, it’s crucial to incorporate relevant keywords to increase a game’s overall ranking and visibility. Developers need to be wary of how they place keywords, however, as they don’t want to stuff them where they don’t belong; that raises a red flag on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. If keywords are used more naturally, users will be more inclined to download the game.

4. Entice Users with Creatives

When it comes to mobile games, users want to see what the game will look like. That means that the interface, artwork, graphics and more should be highlighted through the icon, screenshots and preview video(s). It’s important to have stunning creatives that wow and entice users, or else they’ll be less likely to convert.

Developers can start this process by breaking down creatives and asking questions like:

  • Does the icon feature a branded image?
  • Is it recognizable and memorable?
  • Does it clearly highlight the app’s core feature?

 

video-game-icon

 

  • Are screenshots featuring colors that are consistent and on-brand with the game’s identity?
  • Is character art or in-game content displayed?
  • Does it feature a call to action that incorporates high-volume keywords?

 

final-fantasy-dissidia-mobile

 

  • Does the preview video meet any guidelines or requirements?
  • Are different core features being highlighted?
  • Is the poster frame relevant to the game or does it not display a key feature?

 

creatives-for-mobile-games

 

Asking these questions creates a helpful starting point for game developers. From there, they can create stunning creatives that capture users’ attention and clearly highlights their game’s core features.

Thoughts Moving Forward

Mobile game developers need to create an ASO strategy to make their game more visible in the app stores and stand out against the competition. Having a solid strategy will not only help mobile game developers compete against big-name game companies but also help them see larger conversion rates and increased revenue.

Action Games: Genre Showcas

Genre Showcase: Action Games

There’s nothing quite like an action game – the intense concentration, the quick decisions that determine victory or defeat, and the feelings of joy when you finally complete a level or conquer a challenging foe. Mobile action games are a very popular genre, meaning that the market is teeming with competitors that are trying to encourage users to download their game instead of yours. Those that stand out from their competition leave the rest to uncover what tactics they took to succeed.

There are many App Store Optimization (ASO) factors at play, but one of the keys to standing out is a strong description. Not only does it highlight the game’s core features and encourage users to download, it needs to be formatted to engage the audience on both the App Store and Google Play Store. Developers can achieve this level of engagement by utilizing high-volume keywords that draw in users and make them interested in downloading.

Keyword Combat!

Everyone wants their game to stand out, which means they need to play the ASO game and incorporate keywords throughout their metadata. If you want a great example of an ASO description at work, then look at Zombie Gunship Survival. It’s a new entry in a popular franchise, but it also utilizes high-volume keywords in its title and description to ensure users will find it.

On both the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store, anyone searching for “zombie” or “survival games” will find it quickly based on how well it incorporated those keywords into its title, subtitle (iOS) and short description (GP) alone. In the long description, it sprinkles important keywords like “zombie apocalypse” and “tactical operations” throughout to achieve a better reach.

While the description does have a focus on keywords that are relevant to the game, it also makes sure to integrate them properly into each line. It doesn’t try to cram in keywords whenever they have a change, but instead integrates them when it’s appropriate. In doing so, the game ensures it will not only be found, but appeals to the specific audiences searching for games of that genre.

 

action-games-zombie-gunship

 

Intense Formatting Action!

While targeting keywords in the description will help users find the game, it also needs to encourage them to download. As such, the descriptions should be formatted in a way that are quick to read so the general idea of the game is easily comprehended.

Descriptions can also incorporate quick feature sets or bullet lists so readers can easily understand the game’s core features at a glance.  Lengthy sentences can appear as frustratingly large blocks of text, so it’s important that the descriptions be kept short and sweet.

Take a look at MARVEL Contest of Champions – the first line users see before clicking “read more” is just “The biggest names from the Marvel Universe are ready to battle!”

 

action-games-marvel-conquest

 

This sentence is quick, to the point and already entices users by addressing the game’s core features: fighting and their favorite Marvel characters. The description namedrops familiar names such as Wolverine, Deadpool and Iron Man, which can also be keywords. None of these sections are more than two sentences, although they still take up a good portion of the screen.

The description also has sections dedicated to each aspect of the game, with bullet lists that cut right to the key features. Even without reading the lists themselves, the all-caps introductory titles for each section clearly tell users all they need to know.

It’s All About Tone

Action game descriptions should portray a sense of the action to let the users know what features they can expect. If the tone of the description is dull when explaining how users will fight or even explore levels, then it does nothing to entice them to download.

Developers need to think of the description as a sales pitch to get users hyped for “ferocious fighting challenges.”

Look at Cat Quest – it boasts “a grand adventure of dragons, magic, and cats,” while adding dramatic flourishes like “risk life and limb delving into dungeons for epic loot.” These quick, intense sentences add hype to its features while explaining them.

Another key point to address is that a game like Cat Quest incorporates cat puns like “pawesome real time combat” and “faster purr-formance.” These puns represent the overall tone of the company/game, incorporate keywords and effectively portray the game’s features.

 

cat-quest-action-game

 

What the Critics Are Saying

If a game reaches a big enough audience, it’s almost certain to be reviewed by a gaming website. Don’t be afraid to share the critical acclaims you receive, especially if it’s from a trusted or renowned source.

The same goes for any awards the game may receive. If the game starts receiving praise, you can update the description as acclaim and awards begin to accumulate. Positive reviews, awards and acclaims will encourage potential players to make the leap and download.

ASO: The Unseen Action

Action games need to bring all the intense gameplay and intense fight scenes alive with a proper description. While the ASO techniques listed above may not be as big and flashy as the games themselves, they play an important role in a game’s success. Any developer that leverages an ASO strategy is sure to win the coveted top spots among action games.

puzzle-games

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.

 

puzzle-games-top-charts

 

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.

 

puzzle-game-candy-crush

 

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.

 

puzzle-games-coloring-apps

 

  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.

 

puzzle-games-kuros-classic-and-cookie-jam

 

  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!