Sailor Moon Drops App Store Spotlight
January 29th, 2019
Earlier today, the match 3 mobile game Sailor Moon Drops announced its upcoming shutdown. While the developers didn’t give the reason, players are left wondering how this could have been avoided. For this week’s App Store Spotlight, we take a look at Sailor Moon Drops and see if App Store Optimization could have saved it from this fate.
On the Apple App Store, Sailor Moon Drops is the top-ranked app for its own name. It’s also the second-highest app for “Sailor Moon Games” searches and for “sailormoon.” Its rankings are lower for other relevant keywords, such as “Sailor V,” where it’s #5, and “Bandai,” where it comes in at #11.
Sailor Moon Drops does not rank for keywords related to the gameplay, such as “match 3” or “puzzle game.” If it targeted those terms, it could have improved its visibility in searches for those games and reached a wider audience.
The app also ranks for other moon-related keywords that are not necessarily relevant to the game, such as “moon finder” (#41) and “moon phase” (#69). Because it uses the names of several characters as keywords, it also ranks for unrelated terms involving their names such as “Ami Jukebox” (#4) and “Rei snow report” (#23) (Ami and Rei are the names of two characters from “Sailor Moon”). Because it focused its keywords around terms specific to the “Sailor Moon” series without regard to their search volume, it ranked for keywords not relevant to the game itself.
Creatives: Sailor Moon Drops uses five of the ten allowed screenshots. While each one does include callout text, the text does run for several lines on each image, making it harder for users to glance over them and get the main purpose of it. The text is designed to work with the color scheme and mood of the game and screenshots, but it also blends in with the background and doesn’t stand out.
The screenshots themselves do display the game mechanics and features well, including how the puzzle games work and the story mode. The ones that show aspects such as the various Sailor Guardians players can unlock includes multiple characters to showcase the variety of options.
Sailor Moon Drops does not include a video. A good video could demonstrate the game in action, show the characters and their special moves and showcase clips from cutscenes while accompanied by the iconic music from the show. Without a video, it has to rely on its screenshots to capture users’ attention.
Overall, while the screenshots they do use demonstrate the game well, there is room for more of them and the callout text could be shortened and emphasized to be easier to read.
Title & Subtitle: The app’s title, “Sailor Moon Drops,” uses 17 of the 30 characters Apple allows. That leaves 13 characters that could be used to add more keywords and present more information about the app.
The app does not use a subtitle, which means it’s leaving out 30 characters of keywords and misses an opportunity to provide more information about the game. It could include “match 3 anime puzzle game” to include those new keywords and quickly let users know what the app is about. If it were to index for more terms related to the game itself, it could have potentially improved its rankings and visibility throughout the app store.
Description: The description for Sailor Moon drops does not provide adequate information about the game in an engaging or appealing manner, nor does it properly utilize keywords. It summarizes the game itself in a short bullet list, but all it says about the gameplay is “line up three of the same pieces to clear them” then mentions how you can “unlock cute new poses and powerful special moves.”
Even the first line of the description talks about a sticker pack, before adding “don’t forget to try out the Sailor Moon Drops game too!” as though the app itself is an afterthought. It has little in the way of an introduction. It could talk about how the game retells the classic anime story as a mobile puzzle game, but instead it just states “The Sailor Guardians are cuter than ever as they take on their greatest challenge yet: puzzles.”
What it does say about the game does not include much in the way of keywords. When it mentions the gameplay, it says “line up three of the same pieces” instead of “match 3 pieces,” which would improve its relevance for the keyword. While it does utilize the “Sailor Moon” keyword several times, that seems to be the only phrase it’s focusing on – a single keyword alone is not enough to let an app succeed.
The app description could be improved by providing more information about the game and everything it has to offer. An introduction of a few short lines could set the mood and idea of the app before feature lists delve into everything it has to offer. This could also help it emphasize the keywords and improve its relevance for Search Ads.
On Google Play, Sailor Moon Drops is the first app in searches for “Sailor Moon” and “Sailor Moon Games,” as well as similar terms like “Sailor V.” As with the iOS version, it does not rank for terms relevant to the gameplay, such as “match 3” or “anime games.”
Its rankings for other relevant terms are more on the lower end, such as “bandai” at #14 and “drop games” at #18. It ranks in the top 10 for very few keywords, indicating a need for greater keyword focus and optimization.
Creatives: The screenshots on Google Play are identical to the iOS ones. While they do still demonstrate the various features of the game, the callout text is small and blends in with the background. This makes it difficult to read, even from a computer screen.
The Google Play version does not include a video either. In addition to showcasing the gameplay, power-ups, effects and cutscenes, a Google Play video could even include clips from the anime alongside the game. Without it, the screenshots will have to carry the creatives and the app will not have a featured graphic.
Description & Metadata: The Google Play description is the same as the iOS one. While integrating keywords throughout the description is important for building relevancy on iOS, it’s essential for indexing for keywords on Google Play.
The description mentions “Sailor Moon” and “The Sailor Guardians” multiple times throughout, but very little in the way of game-related keywords. It doesn’t mention being an anime game, a puzzle game or a match 3 game, all of which are phrases relevant to the app and that users search for.
If the description were expanded to cover the features and gameplay further, it could reach more users in searches. The app will not index for any new terms without a description tailored to targeting them.
Sailor Moon Drops was clearly relying on the “Sailor Moon” brand name to make it succeed. While that is a valuable keyword that it does rank well for, it takes more than one keyword to succeed on the app stores.
If the game were to focus on targeting more keywords relevant to its gameplay, such as “match 3” or “anime game,” it could have appeared in more searches and appealed to more users. An app needs to appear in a wide range of relevant searches to reach enough users to thrive.
While its creative sets do show off the game’s features well, the app does not utilize as many as it can. Those it does include also need to shorten and emphasize the callout text to make it easier to read. A video could also have helped with conversions by demonstrating the game in action and appealing to fans of the franchise and gameplay.
Unfortunately, Sailor Moon Drops is an example of what can happen to an app without proper App Store Optimization. While there are many reasons it could be going down, there is no question that it had room to improve. With a good ASO strategy it could have reached and converted more users, reaching a higher level of success. With its lack of optimization, the name of the moon alone could improve its rankings.
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