Mobile games are the no.1 category in Apple’s App Store by revenue, engagement and availability. Mobile games are so popular that almost every mobile phone user has at least 1 gaming app downloaded to their device.
Games like Pokémon Go and Candy Crush Sage have dominated the UK and US mobile games markets for years. This year Grand Theft Auto V has dominated the mobile games market. Depending on which gamer blog you read, the list of top 10 games varies depending on the count of downloads or daily players. However, what is common is the few game types that attract online audiences.
According to Statista, these were the top mobile game genres in the US in 2021 by iOS revenue share:
- Puzzle (21.18%)
- Casino (18.9%)
- Strategy (17.17%)
- RPG (14.23%)
- Simulation (10.4%)
- Shooter (5.56%)
- Lifestyle (3.86%)
- Sports (3.4%)
- AR/Location Based (1.67%)
- Driving (1.6%)
- Arcade (1.34%)
- Card games (0.62%)
- Hyper-casual (0.06%)
Top Mobile Game Subgenres of 2021 by Download. According to AppAnnie’s State of Mobile 2022, these subgenres got the most downloads in 2021:
- Action (Hyper-casual) – 4.01 billion
- Puzzle (Hyper-casual) – 3.78 billion
- Simulation (Hyper-casual) – 3.15 billion
- Kids (Other) – 2.57 billion
- Driving (Simulation) – 1.63 billion
- .io (Hyper-casual) – 1.41 billion
- Runner (Action) – 1.20 billion
- Creative Sandbox – 1.12 billion
- Simulation Sports – 1.10 billion
- Pet (Simulation) – 0.90 billion
While developing a mobile game can be costly and time-consuming, with an estimated development time between 6 to 9 months, it is the marketing of a game that ultimately determines its success. Much of the groundwork for marketing would have begun in game development, such as user persona, target market, competitors and USPs.
However, there are still active steps a marketing team needs to commit to when creating a strategy and launching a campaign to ensure the success of a new game release.
Creating an online presence
Creating a presence outside of the app store environment is one of the most successful ways to attract a new audience.
Advertising the game using clips and narrative-driven marketing allows you to showcase the core features of the game such as play, images, and USPs. This can be done by creating a website, landing pages or social media presence for the game.
The website can be used to promote the game, generate leads and collect vital data about your target audience. The space allows marketers to share game secrets, updates, teasers and more.
A website also allows for games developed by unknown or independent developers to be found. While the market is dominated by some of the biggest developers and their subsidiaries, a Google search will reveal some games that are not in the top 10 list but provide perhaps better gameplay than those on the list.
By incorporating keywords and following SEO guidelines, marketers can find a new audience. A website that showcases the game can be an attractive draw not only for a gaming audience but also for advertisers. Your game is developed to make money, and one of the best ways to secure revenue is by selling advertising space, adding backlinks and making agreements with affiliates. Making connections with the right partners can elevate the prestige of your game and increase your exposure.
Reviews and forums
In gaming, customer reviews influence consumer purchasing decisions in the same way they do for restaurants and bars.
These reviews not only inform your potential audience about your game but also affect the ranking of the game. New mobile games and apps are ranked by customer reviews. The best, those that are rated 4.5 stars and higher, feature in an app store and appear at the top of search result pages.
For a new game, it is important to generate as many reviews as possible. Asking people to rate your game is very common, and also very important for your game’s success.
Customer reviews also help your development team. People can report bugs or common frustrations and items can respond fast to fix issues or improve gameplay.
Simple ways to get reviews and ratings
- Install an app review plugin that allows you to prompt users to review your mobile game after a number of sessions or a set time period. If gamers want to rate the game, they’re taken directly to the app store to complete a review.
- Include a feedback button which redirects to the user’s email client or messaging app. This reminds the gamer to give you a review at a time they are not immersed in gameplay and are more likely to take the time to write a review.
- Using a mobile customer service platform with an app review plugin directs the user to a live chat window rather than the app store. This helps to minimise negative reviews by dealing with feedback while the gamer is online.
- If you have localised versions of your mobile game in markets such as China, your chosen open-source plugin should be configured to the Android operating system – China’s Android device penetration is 71.4% vs iOS at 27.1%.
- Forums can be used to build trust and generate discussion. Creating a sense of community among gamers ultimately adds value to the user and developer.
While you will field positive and negative feedback, an open platform that encourages conversation between users, and open the forum for your developers and PR team to respond, can help your game become well-known and respected.
Social Media needs to be fundamental to your marketing strategy. It is also important to know what social media is most common to your desired audience. While Facebook might be popular with some segments, others rely on WeChat, Qzone, TikTok, QQ, and Sina Weibo. These platforms, used in the Asia region, are important for your customer reach.
Regular posts with updates, fixes, news, and special promotions should be engaging and targeted.
As part of your marketing process, you should set benchmark KPIs and track your analytics.
Users can also be incentivised with promotions to connect their social accounts and invite friends to download the game.
South Korean developer, NHN Entertainment, before releasing the role-playing game Crusader Quest, launched a pre-registration campaign. It targeted its ads in more than 20 countries towards known role-playing game fans, high-paying gamers and retro games players.
The cost per installation was between US$1.50-US$3.00. In just 6 months, the game was downloaded 600,000 times and doubled its ROI on ad spend compared with other media.
Videos are the best way to advertise a new game. A teaser with a backstory of the game, examples of gameplay and accomplishments and even professional gamers on YouTube playing your game are all great ways to reach an audience.
Streaming sites in local markets are a haven of potential. If you want your game to be internationally accepted, you need to think outside YouTube and Twitch.
While Twitch has massive potential for game marketing, with over 15 million daily active users, 220,000 Twitch affiliates, and over 726 million hours watched per month, it is not the only platform. Afreeca TV, GoodGame amnd Kakao.TV are all alternatives with massive numbers of registered users.
As your game increases in popularity, it is likely you will expand to other platforms, in new markets. Researching the most popular platforms in the regions your downloads are increasing is a good way to broaden your appeal and accessibility.
App store optimisation
App Store Optimisation (ASO) is the same as SEO, but for apps. ASO aims to rate apps at the top of search results pages in app stores to attract downloads.
The right keywords are important in ASO. Choosing your app title and adding descriptions that accurately reflect the game type, your target players and other adjectives that capture the attention of your audience.
A good ASO strategy includes clever use of gaming keywords and natural search language. Tweaking your content and working on keywords and combinations leads to the best results.
Tools like Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Sensor Tower or AppTweak show the top rating keywords users are entering to search for mobile apps. Using this information can help inform the content you create. Using these relevant terms for your app store title and descriptions helps place your app higher in rankings.
The number of downloads, ratings and reviews also affects search results. Nurturing these leads on other platforms and forums as discussed will also contribute to your ASO.
Developers with localised versions of mobile games can partner with local companies to gain the right insights into new audiences.
As with any product or service, a digital marketing plan is essential. You need to tell the right people about your new game, how exciting it is, how they can interact with the game, and where to download it. You need to be found in search engines with high-quality content and the right keywords. You need to adjust your metadata and create visual content that engages audiences. Monetizing your gaming app can be done with relative speed when the right tools are applied.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
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