App Reviews: 5 Steps to Optimize your Game’s App Store Presence

By Hayley Pearce | August 26th, 2014

App reviews, ratings, referrals, social media endorsements and shares are all beneficial to highlighting the quality of your app or game to potential users browsing the app stores. But just how influential are app reviews, Facebook Likes and the like on click-to-install conversion rates and how can you encourage your players to review and Like your app or mobile game? A 2014 survey carried out by Newzoo, the games market research company, found that good app reviews are universally cited as one of the main reasons for a user to install a mobile game in the first place. In China, Japan and the USA, players place a great deal of value on the reviews a game had garnered from others. Over one-third, 34 percent, of Chinese players, 31 percent of Japanese players and 32 percent of American players reported that favorable app reviews were one of the main factors behind their choice to download and play a game. Here are our top five tips for securing more (and better) app reviews:

1. Good game = good app reviews

First and foremost, one of the most obvious ways to secure good app reviews: Ensure you create and update your game with your user in mind. A game that inspires strong positive emotions, engages users and is a joy to play will encourage strong reviews. Your key ingredients for and main points to consider are:

  • Glitch-free user experience
  • Clean and attractive design
  • Engaging in-game events
  • Unobtrusive advertising

App reviews and ratings

2. Optimize your advertising strategy towards high install volumes and high user LTV

More installs from well-targeted users who engage more and spend more time and money in your game can only mean positive app reviews. Optimize for LTV and ROI first, and the reviews will follow. The users who like your game and are invested in it are much more likely to leave 5-star reviews, and the most effective way to get these users onboard is through optimized advertising campaigns.

Positive app reviews and ratings

3. Ask your players for reviews and offer incentives

The next way you can ensure your users leave app reviews? Ask for them! In your app store description, at certain points of play or at the end of a gaming session, integrate a pop-up with customized text such as: Enjoying this game? Leave a review!

App reviews notification text

If you like, you can offer your users rewards in return for app reviews, such as new levels or new lives. On the topic of offering incentives, some may view this as unethical behavior which may serve to skew your reviews towards positive, favorable ones. To avoid falling into this trap, make it clear that you are requesting your users to leave honest reviews.

4. But in general, be contactable before users leave bad reviews

While every mobile publisher should want honest app reviews, to hear the good, the bad and the ugly, it pays to only show off an app or games’s best side to potential new users. But while credit where credit is due is important and vital for your app’s presence in the app store (rating and review count is, as we have seen, highly effective in persuading users to click ‘install’) it’s still important to know where you can improve.

Get more app reviews: include contact details on your App Store landing page

Ensure you include your correct contact details – email address, social media URLs and website – within your app store landing page. Encourage players to contact you with feedback or criticism so problems can be dealt with in a timely fashion. Monitor your inbox and show you care by communicating with your users; it may save you receiving a negative review. If a negative review is left, on Google Play at least, you as the developer or publisher can respond. It’s then your job to turn that negative into a positive: let them know you are addressing the issue or provide a solution.

5. Never underestimate the power of good PR and Branding

Build and maintain friendly and functional relationships with a selection of key press contacts and industry critics, like bloggers and journalists. Offer them an exclusive trial of your game prior to release date, provide honest feedback and propose that they be the first ones to review your game (once you have integrated their comments into your final version) when you go live. An inclusion of your game in a tweet, their next article or a blog post might follow too!

Branding encourages app reviews: Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter profile

Creating a media buzz around your game is just the start, and always easier if you ramp up your efforts to create brand awareness organically. Strong social media presence (take a leaf out of Sonic the Hedgehog's book and create a Twitter account for one of your game’s characters), giveaways and conference attendance are just some of the ways you can increase the hype, leading to more app reviews. What strategies have been successful in securing more app reviews for your game?

Hayley Pearce

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