Backdrop to Our Backstory
Back in the early days of video game development, during the saga of Sega, it took ages to create a game. Developers had to write and code the complete game from scratch. They had to code everything from the most mundane elements to the more complex systems. And I mean everything.
Nowadays, game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine allow modern game developers to skip ahead and cut out a lot of time. Engines like these greatly accelerate game development time which leads to a higher density of games present on markets and app stores. Developing a mobile game on an existing framework will reduce the costs of development, making your marketing budget that much higher.
Since game developers don’t have to start every single game from scratch thanks to frameworks like Unity, we saw a boom of video games happen. This explosion has caught mobile games too which had gained mainstream popularity in Japan in the early 2000s. It took a few years before Europe and the United States caught up with the trend.
According to research by GoldenCasinoNews, the video game market will grow to become a $93 billion industry by 2024. The mobile game market makes a majority of the overall video game market. Today, mobile games are a multi-billion dollar market with expected revenue of $56.6 billion by 2024.
Baby-boom of mobile games
The baby-boom of mobile games brought tears of joy to marketers all around the world. While we celebrated the birth of a new prosperous market, game developers shed tears of misery. The overabundance of mobile games means a bigger and wiser competition is lurking behind every corner.
No more is it just enough to have developed a game. We pour many hours into (pre)planning and preparation even before the game starts with development. Gaming developers today, and especially mobile gaming devs, need to keep things like mobile app retention rates and different mobile gaming platforms in mind.
For this reason, it has become more difficult to launch a successful game. To combat these changes and the encroaching competition, you can adapt by starting with your mobile game promotion today. The early bird gets the worm, after all.
Without further ado, here are our top 9 tips on how to promote a mobile game.
1. Do a Market Research, Before Development and Promotion
We would all like to create our vision of a paradise, but leave the fantasies aside if you are serious about mobile gaming success. While there are exceptions to the rule, we cannot afford to lose our market share because of shortsightedness.
To avoid developing a game for a non-existing audience, it is imperative to do exhaustive market research. Research types of games and find trending niches. If you are doing your research before developing a game, make use of trends.google.com to find trending search queries on Google, the world’s most prominent search engine. Seeing what people search for is usually a good indicator of some interest.
If, on the other hand, you’ve already developed a game, research your competitors. See what functionalities and features they have and which of them they did better than you. Be honest with yourself. This approach will help you determine your points of focus and will save you headaches later on.
2. Learn from Your Competitors
This point draws heavily from the latter. While you can certainly use any of the app competitor analysis tools, I advise you to first dive into app stores as a user. Try to find as many similar mobile games you can. Look at games within the same genre.
To learn from your app competitors, you should make a list of everything of note while you are browsing. Look at different user reviews. Focus on your competitors’ titles, screenshots, and descriptions. Make note of their video script. See where and how they distribute their keywords across their app listing.
Promoting your mobile game is more than just putting your game up with the rest of the app forest. If you want to succeed, you will have to prepare yourself thoroughly. And preparing means doing your homework before every decision. After all, a game with better functionalities has better chances at fortune and fame.
Reflect on your game. It is only one in an abundant forest of apps. What makes it stand out?
3. Pitch to Mobile Game Publishers
How hard can it be to sign with a publisher? Very. While finding a publisher is no easy task, finding the right publisher can seem like an impossible task. A game publisher will indeed take care of your game’s promotion, but they will also take a part of your game’s income.
Even if you don’t want to get published by a third-party, you can often get substantial and concrete feedback from them. A game publisher will focus on the marketability of your product and it is insights like these that could help you the most.
4. Mobile Game Testing
Testing is a recurring advice of mine. If you are as indecisive as me, take a look at the numbers. They don’t lie. Hidden beneath a pile of data, you can find the shiniest gems. The same advice applies to mobile game promotion.
Be sure to test your products and assure that the quality is up to industry standards. You want to squash as many bugs as possible before your set launch date, but focus more on bad game design issues. According to an empirical study by Steam, users are much more likely to leave a bad review due to bad game design than bugs.
We can split game testing in several different phases:
Alpha Testing – game still in development, the focus is on hardware and software failures
Beta Testing – game is almost ready for production, no major issues should exist
Closed Beta Testing – testing is done with a closed group of testers
Open Beta Testing – testing is open to the public
We might argue that putting the game in „early access“ is a form of testing. Whether that’s the case or not isn’t of much concern to us right now. Focus on testing your project for the sake of improvement. Splitting your testing into phases will make your life much easier and the end result more enjoyable.
5. Work on your Mobile Game ASO
Mobile game promotion is fairly difficult to do without proper app search optimization (ASO). If you’ve done your homework and understand your competitor’s point of view, you will have the minimum experience required to approach your mobile game’s ASO. According to App Radar, 70% of mobile users use app store search to discover new apps.
Without organic traffic from the app stores, your game will be gone from your audience’s radar once you turn off your marketing campaigns. Organic traffic is vital for your mobile game’s life. It is more than clear your game’s rank in the app store is directly related to the number of installs you can expect.
For this reason, you should optimize your listing according to the app stores’ ranking factors. The basic elements of an ASO strategy are:
Title and description optimization
Think of a good title and work on it. Try to ask your friends and family for their opinion. You can also survey your audience and see what they would like, but keep in mind that a good ASO title will have the main keyword as a part of the title, sometimes even as the title.
Also, work on the other parts of the listing. Screenshots, description, game icon, and videos, these are all the elements that you will need to focus on. You should A/B test them each to verify your decisions.
After you’ve optimized your app store listing, you will have to track ASO performance by monitoring relevant KPIs. You don’t even have to do it manually. There are a number of ASO tools that can help you with this.
Apply Special Focus to an App Promo Video
Out of all these ASO elements, an app promo video is the most important one, as it drives the most conversions. Here are some tips on how to make a good one.
You should start by writing an app promo video script. This is where you outline the concept for the video. When it comes to length, aim for 15 – 30 seconds, that’s more than enough to explain your game to users.
If you don’t know how to edit videos, you can give your script to a professional on various online services. You can hire a freelancer, someone on Fiverr or Upwork. Of course, you always have to be careful with who you’re hiring, since not everyone can make a good promo video or follow your script the way you want it.
Make sure you give that person a good description of what kind of video you are aiming for. Also, don’t settle for just any kind of video they sent you as their first draft. Be demanding, ask for the exact realization of your vision.
Besides all of these factors, have in mind that inspiration is good, but copying is not. Just because one game has a lot of downloads, a great retention rate, and it overall does well on the mobile game market, doesn’t mean that copying their promo concept will do the same for you. Get inspired, follow the trends, but stay unique.
By now, you are aware that promo videos can be the deciding factor for some users when they’re about to download or buy your game. So, make sure that it looks good and that it is a good representation of your game.
As per Google Play and App Store recommendations, an app promo video should include real gameplay footage. The goal is to be truthful about how your game looks and what it’s about. You may have seen videos for games that consist solely of animations. While that may look cool, it’s ultimately a bad choice. Once people download the game and see that it’s nothing like the app promo video, they will most likely delete it immediately.
Poor user retention. And when you can’t keep the players you have acquired, you can’t monetize them, and your revenue suffers.
Furthermore, make sure to include a CTA at the end of the promo video.
6. Make Use of Alternative Store Markets
You should put your mobile game on alternative app store markets and directories. Google Play isn’t the only place for Android apps. Some other alternative app store markets that you shouldn’t neglect are:
- Amazon Apps and Games
- Huawei App Gallery
It’s essential to choose the right mix of traffic channels since correctly leveraging all the different marketplaces available holds the key to improving your mobile game’s discoverability.
Having the right cocktail mix of marketing channels will serve as a firm leverage to improve the discoverability of your mobile game app. Once again, proper market research will save you hours of time and frustration.
Run paid campaigns across social media. There are various social media networks you can use to advertise your mobile game, but the goal is to find what works best for your game and focus your efforts accordingly.
The main benefits of using paid social media campaigns for your mobile games are:
The results will come faster than from organic
More impressions for increased awareness
Audience targeting is under your control
You will need stunning creative, gameplay videos, and an appealing message. Think of your audience and what might appeal to their interests. Even though these kinds of creatives require both time and budget, they are worth it.
Speaking from experience, investing in quality video ads is one of the best things you can do for your mobile game. Did you know that in-app video ads have a 7.5 higher CTR than display ads?
Generally, all kinds of video ads have higher engagement rates than static display ads.
You can control both Facebook and Instagram ads through Facebook Business Manager. Once you set paid social media campaigns for your mobile game, you have to constantly track and optimize them for
Split testing your ads will prove imperative in taking your piece of the pie on social networks. Make sure to check our guide to mobile ads testing for further explanation.
8. Google Ads – Universal App Campaigns & Display Network
Google’s Universal App Campaigns (UAC) will help you get your mobile game into the hands of users. Google will take all the data from your mobile game’s listing on Google Play, including keywords. You can use the creative from your game’s listing as your Google Ads creative. But, we advise you to do it properly and design different graphics and videos specifically for promotion purposes.
While we are on the topic of Google Ads, test different display networks. Many of them specialize in video games. On average, the cost of user acquisition is higher compared to UAC but it might not be the case with your game. You will only be sure once you test it.
Cross-promotion is a free way of mobile game promotion. You can cross-promote a mobile game either in your other games (if you have any) or you can approach other developers in the hopes of reaching an agreement. Try to find developers on associated internet forums and cross-promote your games. This is a case of „You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.“
Another way to cross-promote is to advertise in other mobile games and apps. As you might know, in-app advertising is a very popular monetization method where developers show ads in their app or game and earn ad revenue. Those ads can be ads for your mobile game. It’s particularly effective to have ads for your game appear in similar games. However, that’s more costly.
Finding What Works For Your Mobile Game
Developing a game used to be a gargantuan task. Today, developing a game is only a part of the full software cycle. If you wish to become successful with your mobile game, you will need to research the market beforehand and work on promotion even before the actual mobile game development has started.
Otherwise, you will face many challenges and obstacles as mobile game developers in your life. For example, persistent bugs, flawed game engines, and hunch-driven decision-making can drive a good game to the ground.
Mobile game promotion is the cherry at the top of the iceberg. The first point of contact a mobile game has with its audience comes from the app store listing. Your title, screenshots, and app description play a big role in the successful advertisement of your mobile game. For this reason, your cherry needs to be a succulent, sweet fruit that appeals to a specific target audience.
Mobile game marketing is a joint effort and a show of collaborative power. Don’t fight your uphill battle alone. Reach out to us and we’ll show you where your users lie.
Since 2018 till today, Udonis Inc. served over 17 billion ads & acquired over 75 million users for mobile apps & games. We’re recognized as a leading mobile marketing consulting agency by 5 major marketing review firms. We helped over 20 mobile apps & games reach the top charts. Want to know how we make it look so effortless? Meet us to find out.