Tag Archives: mobile games

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.

 

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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.

 

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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?

 

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  • 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?

 

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  • 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?

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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  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.

 

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  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.

Indie Dev and ASO – App Marketing Starts Here

As an indie app developer – the main focus is often building a great  mobile game, but the ultimate goal of serious game developers and publishers is to build a game that is played, and generates enough revenue for continued development.

Investing to make a game better is hard if there is no ROI in sight.

Revenue comes from engaged users.

It takes time to optimize a game for engagement, but a great game solves the “engaged” part.

Wait – where do the users come from?

How do mobile apps get discovered?

The answer is “mostly from app store search“.

Which means the answer is also “marketing”.

Specifically app store optimization, the art and science of positioning an app for maximum exposure and conversion for relevant app store searches and installs.

But – most developers I know really just don’t like marketing.

It is more than “uninterested”.

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The impression is that marketing represents a huge distraction from making a great game.

It’s confusing and can be expensive with uncertain ROI.

And maybe just feels a little inauthentic.

Marketing and selling are kinda gross

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You are trying to convince people you don’t know to try your game.

Worse – you have to explain to them why it is so cool.

They should just “get it”…. and maybe they will….

But marketing is more than selling your mobile game.

They need to know it exists.

In fact – any mobile app marketing effort should start with positioning your game for discovery.

Discovery by people who may be actively searching for games just like yours.

Until the LTV (life time value) of a user exceeds the CPI (cost per install), investing in advertising can be an expensive way to acquire users.

Insanely expensive.

But positioning your mobile game so that people searching the app store for your app, or apps like yours, find your app – means acquiring organic downloads from an ultra-relevant audience.

ASO starts to make sense as the essential marketing investment for an indie game.

“If you build it, they will not come” is the oft-repeated, but perfect way to capture this idea that permeates developer circles.

If You Build it They Will Come... Just Kidding...

Build it, and help them find what you built.

That’s ASO.

And it should be part of every indie developer’s plan.

Check out our guide to ASO, and other help tips here.

To check out how our software can help your game be discovered, request a demo here.