The 2016 edition of the Pocket Gamer Connects kicked off on Thursday, April 21, bringing together the mobile gaming fraternity to the Indian tech hub of Bangalore. The popular international mobile gaming conference has participation from developers, Indie stars, publishers, and giants such as Google, Reliance Games, Rovio, Microsoft, among many others.
The AppLift squad attended the event to catch up on the latest trends in mobile gaming marketing. Our Senior VP of Advertising, Andrew Birnbryer also spoke on two panel discussions: “The Mythical Golden Whale” and “Cracking the Code: Mobile Marketing and New Tools of the Trade.”
With plenty of packed sessions to keep us busy, we came back with key learnings for game developers to find success. Please note that the bigger part of these tips is fully applicable to other app verticals than gaming. For those who couldn’t attend the event, here’s our digest:
Focus on Quality
The quality of a game shapes its long-term success. Before hurrying up to get the game published, it is important to make sure that it meets the basic expectations of its target audience.
Kunal Soni from Google Play first touched upon this in his keynote address when he spoke about building games for success, and if there was one consistent opinion across all sessions and speakers, it was a unanimous vote for quality.
AppLift’s Andrew emphasized on good quality as paramount for success. “As long as the game is of good quality, people will spend - doesn't matter if they're in India or not - look at it as a global thing,” he said.
Analytics is the Oxygen
Another crucial metric for app and game developers is the use of analytic tools. The ability to understand who the users are, where they are coming from, and what their behavior is, can go a long way in defining the success of a game. Certain key metrics such as sessions, Average Revenue Per Paying User (ARPPU), Monthly Active Users (MAU), retention and conversion rates can help developers get a better understanding of the user acquisition strategy as well as their ROI. For smaller budgets, particularly, getting the right analytics and tracking tools to understand the user base and behavior is paramount before thinking of platforms to scale.
App Store Optimization can also offer a lot for little spend. Improving an app’s discoverability on the store can go a long way in driving installs. Simple tricks can be used in ASO strategies, and can offer valuable returns. It is a given that app icon and name are the gateway to app discovery, and hence, these must be unique and catchy, as well as with strong keywords that have a high relevancy to the app, but also high search volume with low competition.
LTV > CPI
The lifetime value of users (LTV) is one of the most important success metrics to measure the performance and profitability. When looking at user acquisition, for long, Cost Per Install (CPI) has been a common metric that developers and advertisers looked at. However, that is slowly moving in favor of LTV, as they realize its ability to help establish better performance goals by allowing to spend intelligently to where the most valuable users are, thus ensuring better ROIs in the long term.
Ketchapp’s Christian Calderon, speaking on “How Ketchapp grew from indie to global hit maker”, emphasized strengthening LTVs by re-engaging app users with the right messages at the right time. Different channels may deliver differing LTV and thus it is important to recognize which channels to focus on for maximizing your ROI. For this purpose you need to track post-install, behavioral events within your app which can serve as proxies for the lifetime value of the users acquired.
Make for Global, but Localize if Needed
An interesting debate to emerge from sessions was the need to localize games for specific markets, such as India, versus building for global. One of the key conclusions to arrive was the need to develop creatives specific to the market (such as languages like Hindi), but having a global outlook towards the game. The success of some games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush show that if a game is built right, it will find global success. However, certain games must be localized to reach wider audiences. It is important to be aware of certain cultural sensitivities that can affect a game’s reach as well as acceptance across audiences. Localization and culturalization, when done right, can help in expanding a game’s reach as well as rankings in the app store.