This article is based for IOS games only. To be honest we don’t have much experience launching mobile games in the Android Market. However, with our extensive experience in launching countless games for the Apple Market, here are a few insights that you probably don’t wanna miss out on. In a nutshell there are just about 2 things you need to keep in mind for the publishing phase of the game. I was thinking of writing 500+ words to give a good introduction about the IOS market and how it works, and maybe write some content for search engines (yep, you gotta do all that these days in the age of penguins and pandas) but i decided against that. I can imagine the people coming on this page would probably have the basic know how on how things are done, so ill explain the knowledge as quickly as possible.
THE INITIAL BOOST FROM APPLE: BLAST OFF!!!!
Ever come across those websites or apps which showcase app information, discounted app prices, just updated? Well these are the websites or apps which are a part of Apples affiliate group. How much money they earn is a different chapter all together, but in this post we are discussing about how these websites and apps promote your game.
When your game is launched these websites pick up your app’s information from the Apple database and pop up on a lot many places. Not only for new games, but apparently they also showcase apps which have recently been updated. This explains why game publishers see a spike in downloads when they update their game. This system is a win win for everyone. I am not sure if Android market has this but for IOS, this is a morale booster for the indie publisher.
The issue is… that same day your app goes online, there are probably a thousand more there to give you competition. On an average you probably should easily see 1000+ downloads on the first day of launch, buy you can very well can see 5000+ on the same day if you do these two things right.
1) ICON, ICON, ICON, ICON, and yeah ICON
Imagine this: You are seeing a page full of 50 icons. You wanna download something interesting today. Maybe you wanna be the uber cool guy who discovers a really cool app and wants to boast in front of your friends. Scrolling through you glance upon an icon that has just come out of a Steven Spielberg movie. A great looking girl riding an even greater looking bike……. the tires are on fire, a gun in here hand and behind there is Optimus prime chasing her. It looks like the girl is just about to jump out of that little ICON. You get so freaked out looking at the icon, you press the download button.
BOINGGGGG!!….. that’s the first thing YOUR app needs to do.
Depending on what your subject is, this is one aspect you CAN NOT! miss out.
In all honesty… and this is a harsh truth….. It does not matter if you have the next temple run or angry birds inside that game. If your ICON sucks, you pretty much have nailed the coffin. For an indie developer having no money to advertise the games and absolutely no fan following, this is one weapon you wanna utilize the most.
Here is a personal Example:
We initially launched our first 3D game with the Icon below. I was personally proud of the game we created, and was expecting the world out of it.
The Icon, i personally thought was pretty decent. It went well with the game concept and had some decent art work. As per what i know today, this icon is average looking and will generate some interest but it’s not “top charts” material. When we launched this game we got 1500 + Initial boost from apple, and over a few days it died down. In all honesty it was pretty disappointing as i knew that the game had good potential.
When we had almost lost hope – the internet world was full of the ” GANGNAM STYLE ”
What the heck we thought… !! Our character looked a bit like the Gangnam Guy, why not re launch the game and make a Gangnam Parody out of it.
And so was born: The Gangnam Style FLY! Here is the icon we used as a parody to the Gangnam Style video.
The same game…..the same graphics. everything single thing the same…. but with one change…this time the initial boost on the first day got us 15,000+ downloads. Till date the Gangnam game has got over a million downloads. BTW, we recently changed the icon again…
Hope you guys have got the idea..about how important icon is.
Moving on to the second most important thing.
THE 1st SHOWCASE SCREEN of the Game:
Well, it’s the second thing you see in the game after the icon. It’s basically a summary of the game in an image. Just like the icon, it’s gotta tell a story.
Here is a quick example of what i mean.
Searching the APP STORE for ZOMBIE game: this is what comes up in first two results.
Every one has played Zombie Highway. In fact this was one of the game which deserved by $4.99 for the plasma gun..
Coming back to the main screen, do you see how it generates interest of the user – as one sees a car in full speed, zombies trying to attack it and the guy shooting them. Well that there is the entire summary of the game. Now imagine the game game having a bogus screenshot of the in-game. Well, that wont be generating any interest, and no interest = no downloads.
In this second specimen, we come across ZOMBIE RUN. The most original running game made for the iphone. (pun intended)
The developer, made a game like Temple run. That’s cool because everyone want’s to follow the success formula. The ICON, if you look at it, basically has the same color combination as temple run… but still is different. The cleverly awesomeness of this developers mind does not end there. In the main screenshot, the angle is taken exactly as Temple run, and the words “AZTEC TEMPLE” (yeah, right) is mentioned on top. Even, In the subconscious mind of a chimp, it would know that this game is something like temple run… Let’s download it…. and right there…!!!! The developers motive is met and the game is downloaded.
I have to point out that these tactics can be called cheap – But in a pool of millions of apps – if being a little cheap can get you a lot of downloads.. then i think it’s all ok. I surely advise against copying things 100% – but being smart is absolutely fine.
Hope this article helps all Indie mobile game developers a bit. It certainly helped us and we wanted to share this knowledge with people looking for it.
Best of luck!