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Mobile games have an insanely high failure rate, but if you succeed in attracting even a tiny part of the 2.4 billion strong global gaming audience, the spoils can be unimaginable. Want to play? Let’s START!
Mobile gaming claimed almost 50% of the $134.9 billion gaming market in 2018. Video games are one the few sectors that continued to grow through COVID-9. And mobile games surpassed all game segments with an impressive 13.3% year on year growth. Apple and Android games are facing unprecedented downloads right now, but don’t let it make you think marketing games is easy.
The mobile gaming market is fiercely competitive because there are almost no entry barriers. A basic Android game can be built in just 7 minutes. Not that 7 minutes guarantees a great - or successful game. Your game will be competing against millions of other apps, so it has to be great.
Being great isn’t enough, though. You have to back your game with a strong go to market strategy. Powerful marketing is essential to even get noticed among thousands of new mobile games that hit Google Play Store and App Store every day. Even if you gain some traction at launch, you can never close your eyes to competitors that will always be at your heels.
Here are 29 actionable marketing strategies that game developers can pursue to increase the chances of their success over their competitors.
The gaming scene is saturated, mainstream, and highly competitive. Developers must know their customers to be able to create games that draw playersin. “Build it and they’ll play” simply doesn’t work. Here’s how to know your audience better.
1. Segment, Aim, Fire! You won’t get everyone to play the same game. Segmentation and targeting is essential for creating personalized experiences, relevant content, and a strong value proposition. Mobile game market can be segmented based on the following attributes:
3. Create Customer Personas: Once you have a solid sense about the people who will be drawn to your game, it’s time to prepare ideal customer personas. The persona should describe the lifestyle, background, challenges/pain points, and media habits of the customers.
4. Do Focus Marketing: The chances of success are slim if you are offering the same game that a bigger developer already rolled out. Instead of focusing on a broad genre, look for smaller niches within an established genre. The segmentation data and customer personas can help you create content and messaging for a niche audience.
Before you start marketing, make sure you don’t have a game that nobody wants to play. It should have something that keeps gamers coming back. Any successful game developers should follow the time-tested process of product development. The following tips are taken from a webinar of game experts from famous brands. They can help you create a successful game from the ground up.
5. Have a Monetization Strategy: “Let’s develop the game first and we’ll think about monetization later,” is the recipe for disaster. A successful developer must have a monetization strategy before they start working on the game.
6. Balance Gameplay and Earning: It’s the developer’s job to build monetization into the gameplay by developing pressure points where the player needs to click an ad or make a purchase. Consider gameplay and monetization as two sides of the coin.
7. Anchor Your Game Psychologically: Games like Candy Crush and Subway Surfer are so popular because they arouse emotions in people. Candy Crush evokes feelings of nostalgia and happiness while Subway Surfers makes the player feel like a rebel.
8. Go for Short Iterations: Don’t try to do everything in one go. Develop 20% of the game and complete the remaining 80% by going to your audience.
9. Always be Testing: Experts recommend testing several times in a month and making small changes to improve the interface and game play.
10. Aim to Retain More Players: A game needs at least 30% retention to have a chance of success. Most games have encouraging retention on Day 1, but lose players as the gameplay develops. Why did players lose interest? Only your customers can tell you. Talk to your customers and find out what they want in the game and what they don’t like.
Now that you know your audience and have a game you think they’ll love to play, it’s time to work out a marketing strategy. The strategy provides a holistic view of the marketing efforts including the marketing channels, messages, monetization, budget, campaigns, activities, and timelines.
11. Select Game Marketing Channels: Select the marketing channels that your target customers use the most, such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram -- and tap into gamer networks such as Reddit (the channel has subreddits for popular games as well as an Overwatch subreddit for general chatter), Discord, Twitch, and Steam. Also take a look at these 17 best channels for mobile games user acquisition.
PUBG Subreddit on Reddit
12. Fine Tune Messaging: Knowing your customers allows you to create targeted and messaging both within and outside the game. The messaging should correspond to the stage they’re at in the game as well as in their buyer’s journey. For example, you can create one marketing message to deliver when a person sees your game for the first time and another for when they start playing.
13. Rationalize Monetization: The segmentation data can tell us a lot about our customers’ buying habits, motivations and disposable income. Track the player’s journey within the game to determine when they’re in the best frame of mind to make a purchase.
12. Run Multichannel Campaigns: A successful game must have a multichannel marketing plan targeting all suitable channels with consistent and customized campaigns. This is where a digital marketing agency like JoshMeah & Company can be of great help. It’s one of the marketing agencies that have cross-channel expertise and have helped app developers make it big.
13. Decide the Marketing Budget: The marketing strategy will also give you a clear idea about how much you’ll need to spend on marketing. As a thumb rule, many successful indie developers suggest marketing spending 25% to 50% of the development spending.
Mobile games often don’t have websites, but a website can certainly place you ahead of the game. You don’t have to be EA Games or WB to launch a great website, but having a great website makes you look like those big budget companies. That’s not the only advantage of a game website.
14. A Web Address: The website is your game’s home on the Web. The competition in the games market is intense. Play Store and App Store just aren’t enough.
15. A Blogging Platform: You can blog about your game and share the blogs with players and influencers. Players may comment on your posts so you can learn what they want from the game. Keep them engaged by giving them what they want.
16. A Place for Storytelling: A blog also allows you to tell stories about your game’s characters. Build up their unique personalities that your customers can relate to; and look for franchising opportunities.
17. An SEO Opportunity: A website and a blog give you plenty of space to use focus keywords that relate to your game and audience. Anyone searching for a game like yours on Google will be more likely to find your website and visit.
18. PPC Advertising: Advertising for Free-to-play (F2P) games may not seem like a good idea, but if you have a paid game or an F2P game that’s doing well, you can always try PPC advertising, for which you need a website.
MAKE YOUR GAME FAMOUS. SPEAK WITH JOSH
YouTube is a great channel for marketing games. Game channels like Minecraft, Fortnite and GTA have over 300 billion combined views. Your game can be on a roll even if you can get a few million views. Most people would rather watch a video of the game than read about it, which makes YouTube indispensable for game developers.
19. Create Promo Videos: Create promo teasers with the most exciting and thrilling parts of the game. Publish them to your channel or use them as video ads via YouTube advertising.
20. Set Up A YouTube Channel: Watch VidIQ videos to learn how to establish and make the most from your YouTube channel.
21. Publish Gameplay Videos: Encourage gamers to play your game and publish the video to YouTube. Also publish gameplay videos to your channel.
22. Make Your Videos Discoverable: Over 30 million people use YouTube to watch almost 5 billion videos every single day. To be seen, your videos have to be optimized for the right keywords. Use tools like ahrefs to find out what people are searching for and use the search terms in the title and description of your video.
23. Learn How YouTube Works: Consult this guide to marketing your app on YouTube to get a better understanding of the world’s biggest video channel and second biggest search engine.
There are hundreds of thousands games out there on Apple and Google Stores. For your game to be successful, users must be able to find it when they search the Store. How can your game get found on the limited mobile screen space?
24. App Store Optimization (ASO): Use Google Keyword Planner or other keyword research tools to find the right keywords and optimize the title and description of your game. Search the Store for keywords relevant to your app and get keyword suggestions from the drop down panel. Here’s a deeper dive into ASO which should help you.
25. Use Search Ads: Promote your game using Google Ads and Apple Search Ads. Search advertising is the shortest way for new games to appear on top of searches, from where people can see and install them.
26. Link to Your Game Page: Your blog, website, and social media pages can be very effective at driving users to your Store listing.
27. Gather More Reviews: Game ratings and reviews are one of the key factors that Google’s algorithms use to rank games during Play Store searches. Thank people for positive reviews and respond to negative reviews with a view to learning and resolving the problems that unhappy customers are facing.
Free-to-play (F2P) games may need 80K to 100K daily users even to be moderately successful. Any successful game developer should keep an eye on the number of installs, uninstalls, active users, and customer feedback to stay on top of the game.
28. Use GameAnalytics: You’ve probably heard of GameAnalytics—a free analytics tool that helps developers and studios bring clarity to their games portfolio. It allows you to collect and understand your player data, measure the game’s performance in real time, identify and fix issues, and do a lot more.
29. Use Google Games Reporting: Google has launched the beta version of its games reporting. You can access games reporting from the menu at the top of the left pan. The tool provides the four categories of games reporting—acquisition, retention, engagement and monetization.
This brings us to the end of the roadmap to games marketing. We have covered the broad highlights, but the devil is in the details. It may be tough to develop the game and work on marketing at the same time. Development and marketing need diverse sets of skills to master. It may be wise to team up with a “strategic, crafty marketer leading a talented, ambitious marketing agency”. That’s Josh Meah and he can help you win the marketing game. Contact us for a free 30 minute strategy session with Josh and you won’t regret it.
The art is building the right growth campaign. The science is in the results.