Apps are a part of our lives in every way imaginable, from the way we communicate to the games we play. This extends beyond mobile gaming – even traditional games are starting to embrace apps as a tool for enhancing the game experience. Yet while most board games with a mobile app element view the app as just something users download after buying the game, App Store Optimization can help transform the app into a new channel for user acquisition.
What are Tabletop Apps
Board games and tabletop games have begun using apps as a means of enhancing the game experience in several ways. For some, they simply exist to replace pen and paper requirements, like the “Munchkin Level Counter” app, but other games are making the apps a required part of the experience. For instance, the game “Unlock” uses its app for multiple purposes within the game. Players purchase the individual “Unlock” games, then select the game within the app and use it as a timer, enter codes for certain puzzles, solve in-app mini games to unlock more clues and get alerts when certain time-based events begin. The app is an essential component of the game. Similarly, “Xcom: The Board Game” requires a companion app that controls the timed phases, introduces obstacles and coordinates the alien invasion the players must defeat. In a sense, it becomes a game of players against the app, while still being a board game at its core. While the apps are great tools for enhancing the in-game experience, game designers should also look at the app as a means of reaching new users. That is to say: they can improve their offline sales by improving their online ASO.
ASO for Board Games
It may seem unusual to use App Store Optimization to market a physical game, but improving the app’s visibility within the app stores can increase its visibility and appeal to potential customers. Developers hope that users will find the game’s app, so the descriptions include information about the main game, including how it works and what the app brings to it. Essentially, they’re using the app description as an advertisement for the game. In order for it to fully work, however, the app itself must be optimized for the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Improving its organic reach and visibility will put the app in front of more users, which in turn can draw new players to the game. For instance, Unlock’s app page mentions how it’s based off escape room-style games, yet it does not rank for “escape room” keywords. If it optimized its keywords to put an emphasis on the escape room gameplay, it could rank higher in searches for those terms and appear before users interested in escape room games. That could in turn convince them to buy the “Unlock” games, or even just make enough of an impression on them that they’ll consider buying the physical game when they see it in stores. Similarly, Xcom: The Board Game is the 12th-highest app for the “xcom” keyword, losing out not only to the related mobile game XCOM: Enemy Within but to several competitor apps as well. If it improved its App Store Optimization strategy, it could rank higher in search results and appeal to users who are searching for XCOM: Enemy Within. Fans of the franchise, now aware of the board game’s existence, could then get the app and buy the board game to use with it.
Tabletop and board games are finding new ways of integrating apps into their gameplay, yet they’re failing to utilize their app store presence for all its worth. When the apps are just viewed as an add-on to the game, the game’s makers are missing out on the marketing opportunities the apps present. With an effective App Store Optimization strategy, game developers can improve the visibility of their mobile apps within the app stores. Well-optimized apps with attention-grabbing creatives and engaging descriptions can entice users to not only download the app but to find the game and buy it. No matter what the app, there’s still much to be gained from App Store Optimization.