Seems like a simple question but those who are building an app know that it’s pretty hard to get good results. One of the common answers is: create a great app and then make it go viral! Yet this is something simple to say, but very hard to do.
Here are 5 techniques that companies and developers use to get their game downloaded.
TECHNIQUE 1: ARPU > CPA
Basically, the Average Revenue for each User (ARPU) has to be higher than the cost to acquire them. Many games like Candy Crush or Clash of Clans are real cash machines because users spend a lot of money while playing the game, being it in-app purchase or advertising. This allowed companies to have players generating so many revenues to be invested afterwards into acquiring new users.
Making this circle work is very hard: you need a perfect balanced product loved by users who spend money on it, and you need great capitals not only to make the product better, but to start the user acquisition process.
The average CPA (User Cost per Acquisition) of an app on the store is about 2$ and will reach 6$ in 2016.
TECHNIQUE 2: VIRAL SHARING
This is a classic form of virality: you create a content that users want to share. Virality can be:
- black hat: people become unconscious sharers of the content
- frictionless: people share something because they want to
Example: Mangatar avatar editor
- incentivized or K-Value virality: people share a content to receive/unlock something. This is called K-Value because there is a formulation to calculate the K (the virality rate)
To understand this better, think that a Facebook invite has a conversion of 0,2% which means your users have to send an average of 250 invites during the app lifetime for the app to spread.
Example: Zynga games
Usually viral products use social networks to become viral, but in the last few years Facebook and others are trying to fight against these kind of techniques because they hardly work and because there is the risk of getting banned while using them.
Technique 3: Content sharing
This is the classic form of virality applied to games. Players want to share their achievements or their results, new players will start playing after clicking on the shared content and then they will share their achievements as well. This will create a viral circle that is going to let your game be played and downloaded.
To use this technique, your game has to focus on two things:
- content that users will want to share often (think several times per day) during a long period of time
- and content they will want to share with their friends
Mangatar is a great example: their users create avatars and share them on social networks to show their friends how cool they are, reaching million of new players from all over the world just by sharing cool content.
TECHNIQUE 4: A GREAT PRODUCT THAT SOLVES A BIG PAIN OR MEETS THE NEEDS OF AN HIDDEN TARGET
A good example for this is the indie game “F18 Carrier Landing” by RORTOS. It allowed players to play a flying simulator but in a casual way, a niche loved by players but not covered on mobile devices. There were also some competitors, but F18 Carrier Landing was by far the most high quality product thanks to 3D cool graphics and simple controls. Users talked with their friends about the game and it was downloaded by millions of users without any marketing costs.
So, basically, you can’t just have a great product: you have to solve a big pain point or meet the needs of a niche to reach the whole world.
TECHNIQUE 5: USER SUPER POWER
Flappy Bird is the perfect case history. Playing Flappy Bird gives you a kind of super power because you’re playing a very hard game that is very simple to use. If you are good at it you are considered cool and you will play to have an always higher score; on the other hand, if you have a low score you usually play because you don’t want to be considered a weak player. Moral of the story: you just play!
Try to focus on building a game where users feel like they will have super powers: if the game is too hard they will try to be heroes and prove their skills against their friends!
It’s pretty hard to get this technique right, because it’s an alchemy of many factors, but once you do it right…It’s rock’n’roll!
Most of these techniques need huge resources because, first of all, you need to create a great product, then you have to promote it and get downloads, but usually indie developers are not known for their bank account.
For this and many other reasons, developers are switching from native code to HTML5 games:
- You code once and you can publish both on the app stores and on the web, where is so much easier to get users (share a link and people just click & start playing without downloading any app!)
- HTML5 is easy and fast to code thanks to many frameworks like Construct 2 and Phaser (you can create a game without any coding skills)
- The CPA for an HTML5 game is lower than the one of a native app and there are services like GamePix who can help developers getting users, also by buying the license of your game.
So what are you waiting for? Start building your first HTML5 game and publish it on GamePix!
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