Crossy Road At Home: Hipster Whale Indie Game Marketing
2020. What a year! Just as the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world… Indoors dining, bars, and pubs? Gyms and barbershops too? The same businesses and politicians leading the charge to reopen the world’s economy? Retreating, back-peddling… Most of them, at least. Right back to closures until further determination. This year? We have come to know hibernation. Virality and Pandemic? No longer obscure, esoteric concepts. But rather something touching our lives. As in each and every single day… What’s one to do with all the idle free time, stuck indoors? For many of us, screen time, video games, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Apple Music, you name it. The enterprising maestros at Hipster Whale? The indie game marketing experts who made Frogger bigger, faster, better… In App Purchase micro-transaction style…
In case anyone questions Crossy Road’s Ubiquitous “Translation: Everywhere” Marketing, and Discoverability, Check It Out on the App Store, Google Play, Amazon Store, Android TV, and More…
Indie Game Marketing – Crossy Road Topical Promotion, Minus Wukong’s AAA Pomp and Awareness
Clearly there are more than one way to do indie game marketing right. As the world stays home, we keep busy with either work or play. In September, we were wooed, wowed, and ahhhed by the indie blockbuster Black Myth Wukong. Like any well-heeled AAA, the Chinese indie future classic teased an awe-inspiring gameplay trailer via IGN.
Other indies? Some opted for a lower-key reveal. The play side of things has seen significant changes. Many encouraged people to stay at home. In other words, play at home, having fun, infection-free, and healthy.
Early on in the pandemic, many developer-publishers banded together. Given hyper-competition – from hyper-casual idle games to eSports – and the state of the video game industry, it was understandably inspiring. Many games offered unlimited playtime, boosters and power-ups…FREE. Again to keep people entertained while isolated.
With everyone doing their part, Crossy Road has adapted to the theme of the pandemic and has released their new At HOME update.
What’s so special anyways? Crossy Road’s At Home update was very inclusive. As in encompassing the environment art and map. Busy city highways and railroad tracks evolved into living rooms with rugs, furniture, and Roombas. The pandemic and shelter in place are here to stay a while? Why not embrace and laugh and celebrate the change.
New At HOME Crossy Road Content
The update has an overhaul on the map that features interiors rather than the colorful exteriors that we are used to seeing on the Crossy Road app. The main focus? Its cast of adorable playable and unlock-able characters. While traditional console gamers may see this as nickeling and diming, for most mobile, Amazon, or Android TV players of Crossy Road? Merely in-app purchases where the individual purchases are already in line. As in in line with what we have already paid in $.99 to $3.99 bundles. Totally consistent with video game pricing that we have already seen and embraced.
Our famed chicken crossing the road is now a chicken who’s crossing across to the other side of his apartment with a coffee mug in its hand. The new playable character roster includes:
- Home Chicken
- Frying Pan
- Sad Plant
- Toilet Paper
Marketing strategies across platforms
Mobile game marketing is a relatively newer field compared to marketing console or computer games. Clearly I’m over-simplifying. Anyone in video game marketing can attest to this. There’s a complete art and science in fields like Instagram marketing, Tiktok marketing, video game market research, app store optimization, and more. In the last decade, we have seen some amazing marketing. For games like Candy Crush, Temple Run, Angry birds, just to name a few. But arguably the best mobile game marketing still comes down to one avenue, one channel. Word of mouth. Whether in-person, from one friend to another. Or aptly disguised as user generated content or UGC.
Just in case anyone questions this… Just look at the clever update post. One that lets us relax and laugh at the technical challenges of working from home. Not to mention a deluge of many many web conferences. Complete with audio issues? Been there, done that.
In the last month, Among Us the game has seen a surge in users after PewDiePie played the game. Now everyone and their uncle is playing among us and sussing everybody.
Crossy Road is an endless version of one of Frogger, which many of us think of as the grand-daddy of the entire genre.
Not to take anything away from other accomplished studios making video games. Clearly we have seen browser games like sheepish come out that mimic the gameplay. Crossy Road? It brings out the same game with a whole LOT more humor and characters. Translation? Engagement and long-term retention. All by keeping the game fresh and interesting.
With new updates every few months, Crossy Road has retained its users by offering more characters and terrains to play in. although the gameplay remains the same, the unlock-able merchandise is the main marketing way.
App Store & Google Play Store
When it comes to App Store Optimization (ASO), there are a handful of things that you can keep in mind to market your app successfully. These include:
- Number of Downloads
When we compare how differently the app has been uploaded on App Store and Play Store, it is apparent that the Play Store app page just has the video.
To understand the gameplay and art style of Crossy Road? Plenty good enough to understand both. And for a player to decide whether it’s his or her game. Or Not.
The video also contains different characters. And more importantly how to unlock them via in-game purchases. Or by playing the game and earning coins. Translation into game design terminology? Pay or Grind. One way or the other. You know you want these characters!
The game boasts over 100 Million downloads plus a 4.5 rating, which is good enough for an app to be listed as some of the most games played and is also recommended in similar game searches. So overall, for the Play Store, the app is pretty well handled.
Looking at the App Store for iOS, there is a slight difference in the way it is marketed over there.
The game similar to Android is advertised with a trailer video, but along with that, there is also a description which reads, “Hop till you drop, Crossy-Road is a perfect retro-style romp.”
For a detailed analysis of marketing retro video games? Check out the post about Wreck It Ralph, and how it was done with classic marketing genius.
On the one hand, the App Store has a video – updated with the At HOME video content. By contrast, the Crossy Road page on the Google Play store does not. You know what else? The App Store game page uses the Endless Arcade Hopper line below the title above the rating of the game. This further describes the gameplay on iOS. On the hand, the game page on Google Play Store merely uses the developer’s name.
What does this mean in layman’s terms? A better description converts an app page visitor into a download much more successfully. Although the star ratings being the same on both stores, the listing on the App Store is superior. The more descriptive screenshots – illustrating the game play – makes the App Store likely higher-converting than that on the Play Store.
What does this all mean in terms of the player community? For one, the Crossy Road community has been very active. Translation: on Facebook the community has expressed plenty love for the At HOME updates. Yes, the Hipster Whale team changed the cover photo and profile picture. But they went further. By coming up with a few creative posts, the team has entertained the community. All the while, keeping the community active in asking questions and contributing to the conversation.
A unique artwork and caption highlights how we all have been maintaining a safe distance and have been using online methods to communicate with each other.
Finally, the big reveal, the latest At HOME update on Facebook, is a video that has a caption highlighting some of the main features of the update and what to expect.
The update looks like fun, and the way it is presented to the people who are struggling with the lockdown is a good way to increase more downloads.
Indie Game Marketing: Twitter
With Twitter, the posts related to the At HOME update are the same as Facebook, but with the addition of the hashtags, #CrossyRoad #Quarantine life added to them.
With similar posts across both platforms, the word has gotten out pretty well, and any users who are regular players will be rushing to check out the new update as soon as they can.
Since the update is something that everyone can relate to, creating graphic posts with captions that connect to people through both copy visual and caption is the best way to go. The At HOME update is very well advertised on both platforms, keeping all these points in mind.
Crossy Road on twitch has seen some activity in the form of streamers playing the game with the last Crossy Road Pac-man update. With the new update, streamers will need to be pushed a little to start advertising the game once again.
Since Crossy Road is not much of a competitive game and most twitch channels are running due to highly competitive games, creating content that is humorously appealing will do the trick.
The At Home update has been promoted has a lot to do with how people cope with the pandemic and the drawbacks that come with it, letting us acknowledge and laugh at the limitations and constraints that we ALL deal with.
The whole update is about how we are well acquainted with the things we have inside our homes, and our technological devices are what’s keeping us sane in this house arrest sort of a situation.
The game is light-hearted and fun to play to pass the time, and combining the comfort of your own home with the gameplay is a gentle reminder of how we are lucky enough to be the ones who are still safe, and we need to stay safe. The update is a sort of public service message to everyone to stay put and stay at home a bit more in these trying times.
The developers, along with providing the users with a fun new update, made sure they did their part in flattening the curve as many other forms of media have done. Kudos to the team for doing their part and promoting this update, and let’s hope we all come out of this alive and kicking. Stay Safe.