Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mobile Gaming Industry Breakdown Part 1: User Acquisition

This guide covers high level success strategies and also the basics, so there should be something for everyone from industry veterans to first-time indie devs. If you like it check back next week for part 2!

User Acquisition or "UA" is now the dominant marketing paradigm in mobile gaming. App Stores are crowded and the chance of users finding your game organically is minimal (unless you're lucky enough to be featured). For many mobile games advertising is their only hope of growing their user base.

Important Keywords and Acronyms:

CTR - Click Through Rate of an advertisement. Number of Clicks/Number of Impressions. A CTR of 2% would be considered very good.
IR - Install Rate. After a user clicks your ad and lands on the App Store landing page, how many of them will go on to install your game?
CPI - Cost per Install. Amount of money you spend on advertising/Number of Installs. This is essentially how much you pay for each player.
A/B Test - Test 2 different versions of creative content such as your app's icon to see which delivers better results.

User Acquisition is often the most expensive part of a game's cost. It can be up to 10x more expensive than developing the game! Here are some good ways to lower a games CPI

Like what you're reading? This blog is updated every week! Subscribe on the right hand bar for updates via Twitter or Email.

Success Factors

Target the right players (the type who will be playing your game) and TEST if the following materials are appealing to them:

Name: The name should be memorable and stand out compared to other names. It should match the games theme and give players an idea about your game. Make sure to utilize any IP or popular trending elements of your game. Test the name and refine until you have a name that your target audience will be drawn to.

Icon: Your game's icon is the #1 most important factor in determining whether a player will decide to download it. Like the name it must be tested and refined. Simple designs work best because icons are small. High contrast will make your icon stand out. Utilize A/B testing to see what works best for your game.

After this, it's very important that your game is easy to download. Large games are often abandoned and forgotten about mid-download. Take a page from Nintendo with Super Mario Run - let the user download the app, play the first level, and then ask them to download the rest of the game.

After you've optimized your name, icon, and file size it's time to look at the rest of your Store Page's contents.

Reviews: These are key, as players will look to the review of other players to determine your game's quality. Make sure to incentivize your players to leave your game a good review. Don't forget reviews are reset with every update.

Screenshots, Description, SEO: Several articles can be written about each of these. Test, test, and test again to make sure everything on your Store Landing Page is optimized for the highest Install Rate. Optimize your SEO to maximize organic search traffic.

Being Featured: Although this should be at the top, it is so difficult to do nowadays that you certainly can't rely on it. Top 5 featuring on the App Store will yield you 1 million free downloads a day from players who just open their App Store. Featuring depends on your game's uniqueness among its competition, the "fun factor", and having a full feature-set that fully utilizes the device (for example if you release special versions at iPad Pro resolution you have a shot at being featured in the iPad Pro apps section). Finally: Platform matters. Being featured on Amazon is far easier than being featured on Apple's App Store.

Invest in Good Creative: Having a constant source of good banner art and videos is one of the cheapest ways to reduce your CPI. Good creative makes everything in the process cheaper, because it makes players more excited to try your game. If you're doing targeted advertising you should not show a player the same piece of creative more than 3-5 times. So every 1-5 weeks you'll need a completely new set of artwork and creative to stay fresh. Creative is the best ROI because it lowers your CPI across the board.

Bottom Line:

User Acquisition is the most expensive part of the game monetization funnel. Reduce your costs here by investing in good creative content for advertisement and your store landing page. Test everything to find out what works and what doesn't, and use your test data to refine and improve your creative.

Next week we will be covering Part 2 of this 5 part series: Retention. Learn the most cost effective ways to keep players playing your game for a long time. If you find this information useful please subscribe or bookmark and check back next week!