Many mobile app developers dream of making the next cool game. In fact, many developers start developing in the first place because they want to make games. I am not a mobile game developer myself, but in my coaching practice I have worked with a number of mobile game developers. With each app, we consistently run into the same few issues, and I want to outline some of those challenges here so you are aware of them, and have a plan to get around them.
The first challenge for game apps is generating large numbers of downloads. As we covered earlier, the main drivers of downloads for most apps are app store search, publicity you may be able to get for your apps, and existing users inviting their friends to use your app. While there are many other strategies to promote apps, these are some of the top yielding strategies for most apps.
Since app store search is so important, let’s start by considering some nuances of app store search for game apps. The problem for most games is that there is a very limited number of keywords that games can rank for that make sense. Those keywords repeat across almost all game apps. Some examples of such keywords are: fun, run, jump, game, puzzle, animal, adventure, shooting, race, points, kids, etc. You can see how most games can try to rank for a number of these keywords. The problem, of course, is that there are tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of games that any new game app would have to compete with when it comes to those keywords. And the top search spots are already taken by very strong and popular apps that have large marketing budgets, access to press, and are often featured by the app stores. It is nearly impossible for new apps to compete with them in app store search.
Since app store search is obviously a very difficult option, the potential for social invites is also severely reduced because social sharing requires an initial install base of people who like your app and share it. Since it will be very difficult to get a large number of people to install your app from app store search, social sharing potential will also be limited.
To get publicity, your app has to be truly extraordinary. If this was year 2008 or 2010, it would be much easier to get publicity. The problem is that new apps aren’t exciting these days unless they are truly groundbreaking, have serious money or people behind them, or have a truly unique story that people either fall in love with, or is something that makes them curious.
To generate downloads, you can pay different app review sites, or explore other marketing channels. Chances are that paying for app downloads will happen at a loss, and the revenue from the app won’t cover the marketing expenses. Other marketing channels, for the most part, require a lot of effort and bring only mediocre numbers of additional downloads.
If this feels depressing, it is. At least it is for me because I work with many people who face this kind of a situation often. I want them to succeed, but there is a limited number of solutions I can offer if the problems they come to be with are this challenging.
So before you begin creating your game, try to come up with a unique or interesting enough story that will help your app stand out from the mass of existing apps out there. Being good isn’t good enough these games when it comes to games. The game must be truly something special or something curious. Ask yourself whether people will truly love the app, and how you can get a cult following built around your app. Think of ways to make your game special, unique, and fun. The bar of quality and user expectation is very high.
Consider the issues I covered here during the business planning stages for your app rather than after the app has been developed. Thinking through solutions for the issues raised here before you start, can save you a lot of money and headaches down the line.
Mobile App Marketing Book
This tutorial is just one section of my mobile app marketing book. Check it out on Amazon. It is available on the Kindle which means that you can read it on the Kindle app of any smart phone.by