A big key to success in the digital market is getting the most out of the store through which you sell your game. Digital markets for games vary in how they choose to expose their users to new content, and it’s essential to understand what you can do to get as many new players as possible through these stores. This is especially true with the free to play model where the only barrier to entry for your potential customers is the discoverability of your title.
It’s no secret that the “top” lists in the App store are the linchpin of discovery, and getting a spot in one of the coveted “Paid”, “Free” or “Grossing Apps” list is a serious boon to any new game. No new app just strolls into a place in the top charts however, so below we’ve outlined some tips for improving the discoverability of your game. Most of these tips are applicable to both the App Store and the Google Play store and aren’t limited solely to Games, they are good tips to follow when launching any new App.
1. Titles, Descriptions, Key Words and +1’s
Make sure your target audience can find your game as easily as possible. It’s simple to overlook seemingly trivial aspects of your page on the App store, but the search engine that is used on the App store relies entirely on key words, the App Name, the publisher name and keywords found associated with the product and in-app purchases. Top App Store Optimizers claim that you’ll need about 2,000 key words and key phrases per language so get writing! Anything that someone might search for that ties to your games should be included: mechanics, power ups, environments whatever it takes to get your game in more search results.
In the Google Play store, the number of +1’s your game receives has a big influence on the ranking of your game in search. And unlike the App Store, Google pulls from mentions of your game across the web (not unlike how they rank web search results) to decide where your game gets displayed in search results in their store. Try and make sure anytime somebody mentions your App in review or in a blog post that a link to the store page is included. Encourage users to +1 your game after they download it, ingame rewards can be incentive for this, just the same as with Facebook Likes.
2. Strong Visual Elements
As important as your Keywords having striking, eye catching visual elements on your App Store or Google Play Store page can make or break the discoverability of your App. Your icon, like any good logo, should be striking, appealing and memorable. It’s the first thing anybody searching for your App will see. Try and avoid using words in your icon, and if you do make sure to use a graphical typeface instead of a stock font. Intelligent use of colour and contrast so your icon stands out is essential too. Try and ensure that its aesthetically pleasing, you don’t want users deleting your App just because the icon looks ugly on their home screen. Likewise with your screenshots, choose some that show your game in its best light. Again, these are the only tools you have to work with to convince potential users to download your game so you need to put a lot of thought and effort into choosing the images that will best represent your game and draw in potential new users.
3. Correct Categorization
The dream is to end up on one of the Top lists of All Time for Games, but don’t forget these lists can be filtered by category. Its through these filters that a lot of users discover new Apps. Try and use this to your advantage, Make sure you you have entered your game under the right category, choose one that best represents the strongest features of your game. If your game spans multiple genres, try and think which aspect is the most appealing, a racing game with RPG elements would probably be better off entered in the racing category rather than adventure, for example. Also note that certain categories of games get a bit more exposure on the App Store than others, with regards to collections and promotions the App store puts together. Puzzle Games and Action Games show up the most in App store collections, which can be a good shortcut to being featured.
4. Make full use of sales and promotions
If you’re developing a premium game, you should make every effort to have your game included in any sales or promotions the App store might be running. If the success of Steam has taught us anything, it’s that sales on online stores can provide a huge boost to your figures, and these days premium games have to compete with free to play games, so a lowering your price can be a huge boon when vying for players who otherwise would only spend money on in-app purchases for free to play games (if at all). For free to play games, embrace any sort of seasonal promotion that’s going on; Halloween themed levels in October, Christmas skins in December, anything that will likely get you included in a collection or even featured. The App Store and Google Play Store hold these seasonal promotions frequently and they can often be your best bet for getting discovered, especially around Christmas when new devices are being received as gifts and first time users visit the App store.
5. Do what you can to get featured
Everybody wants to get featured, a front page position on the App store is a surefire way to get eyes on your game. Short of having a contact at Apple or Google, the best thing you can do to get featured is develop your App so that it promotes whatever the store managers are pushing at that time. For example, Google releasing their Material Design updates for Android means that you would have a good bet of getting featured if your game incoperated the design elements that Material Design promotes: http://www.google.com/design/spec/material-design/introduction.html. If there is a new iOS version out, try and harness whatever upgrades have been included. Particularly if a new device has launched making a game that takes advantage of the new technology is a good way to increasing your chances of getting featured. Don’t forget that the primary reason Google or Apple want to feature you is because they think your game will make them money, so don’t be afraid to push the current agenda, a place on the front page can be a golden ticket for many games.
Keeping these tips in mind could help you get your game the attention it deserves on the App Store or Google Play Store. There’s so much competition out there that making every effort to have your game stand out from the crowd is key to success. It’s not something you can skip over, and after putting all the effort into making a game there no point falling at the last hurdle because you didn’t put the effort into optimizing your app store presence. Its as important as SEO for websites, you’ve got to get your game out there and maximize its discoverability. With Free to Play games more than any other, it’s a huge volume of users you want and big numbers will only come when your game can be found on the App store with relative ease compared to the competition.