Having been an independent developer for over a decade, I know that one of the hardest parts in this industry is getting the word out whenever we’re launching a new mobile game. Finishing the game is half the battle, most people say, but I personally think (especially nowadays) it’s only about a third of the battle. The success of your game not only lies on how good your game is but also on how you play your cards pre- and post-launch. Here are some suggestions based mostly on my experiences on what you can do to maximize your product launch.
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Always aim for quality. Gone are the days when we can release games that we’ve finished over a game jam. It’s true that you can bank on luck but at the end of the day, a better looking (and playing) game will always have an advantage. Part of the success of your game will depend on how it appeals to players so work hard on it. Show it to other people before you release or conduct a beta testing process where you can gather feedback from players.
Beef up your social media channels.
Do this even before your desired launch date. It will take a while to get followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook so at least have a (simple) content roadmap 1 or 2 months before your “estimated” launch. Post early screenshots, share your development experiences and talk to fellow developers–these are just some of the things you can do pre-launch to gather interest about your game and at the same time build buzz.
Use app store tools.
Google Play for example, lets you run experiments and A/B tests on your game’s store elements like app icons, screenshots, featured banners, etc. Take advantage of these tools to maximize your organic visibility. Monitor the “user acquisition” panel from your Google Play page as you conduct these tests. These stats will show you how many will download, buy or buy repeatedly from your game. If you can get those numbers up, you are on your way to launching successfully. This will take a bit of time and a lot of trial and error though, but it will be all worth it when you launch.
Build a press kit and landing page.
Your press kit (or landing page) should contain materials about your game–screenshots, app icons, logos, etc. This makes it easy for the media to contact you and gather info about your game should they decide to write about it or feature you. A landing page will also allow you to monitor page hits, clicks and link backs. The more sites that link back to your page, the better your page rank will be on most search engines
Do your research.
Because there’re so many games out there, there’s always a chance that your product will look similar to another game. Find these games and figure out what the devs are doing in terms of marketing and reach. You will always find a strategy or two if you look at how other devs are doing their own marketing. Learn from those who have more experience than you.
Do a little bit of ASO.
App Store Optimization is a big topic and deserves a separate blog post but I thought I’d mention it anyway because it helps a bit even if you only know the basics. I personally use searchman.com to find apps and their keywords. And then I use these keywords as reference when making my own set of keywords for my app. Keywords are what most people “search” in the app stores. The idea is to rank higher in the search results and make your app visible to more users.
Monitor your launch stats.
After you launch, continuously monitor your game’s stats. Are you converting your page views to downloads? Are you convincing players to buy your in-app items? Are there show-stopping bugs that need to be addressed quickly? Why are people giving your game 1 or 2 stars? Watch out for these and figure out how you can address them. These days, mobile games should be treated more as a “service” rather than just a product. You can’t just make a game, release and forget about it. Players will know if you’re dedicated to your game and if you keep supporting and updating it. Building a community around your game will take time and it all depends on how determined and dedicated you are.
Whew! There’s a lot you can do and believe it or not, most of them do not cost anything but your time and dedication. Good luck with that launch and keep working hard!