Ask and You Shall Receive…Video Game Market Research
Ask and you shall receive? What does that even mean? Before writing this off as a religious overture, hear me out here. A video game marketing professional, I find this critical. As in critically important for anyone in video game publishing. And even more important for anyone making video games.
Allow me to explain. Like any quantitative minded marketer, I think of the world as a funnel. As in One. Big. Funnel. Borrowing something that my team had created some couple years ago, check out the following.
More aptly, if you are in the business of making video games, you are already familiar with the game development framework or process. No matter how you slice and dice it, it roughly breaks down into:
I. Concept –> II. Pre-Production –> III. Production –> IV. Launch –> V. Live Service/Maintenance
Needless to say, a marketer isn’t necessarily a ninja in agile product development. Nor a 6-degree black belt in financial planning and forecasting However, allow me to illustrate. HOW CAN video game market research benefit a video game? Literally in each of Concept, Pre-Production, Production, and Live Service/Maintenance stage? And I will use a random video game example to make my point. Disclaimer: I deliberately selected games that I did NOT work on. Translation: no Nondisclosure Agreements signed OR violated here. But if you are in the business of making video games, keep reading.
But regardless, I hope you walk away with a solid understanding of how video game market research helps increase your ODDS of the commercial success of YOUR game.
Let us begin.
I. Video Game Market Research: Concept Validation
Before writing a single line of code, the developer needs to assess market opportunity and the Total Addressable Market. To get at the answer, we may get creative. Assume the developer is thinking about building a card battle game with strategy and RPG.
7 Questions to Ask a Video Game Marketing Agency or Publisher
A video game marketing professional, I get asked these questions. A LOT. When to work with a marketing agency? What about full-service shop – all things video game publishing? Especially by indie game developers. Both by actual paying clients, and by prospects. To someone new to making video games, these topics are easily misunderstood. Esoteric.
To tell the truth, I have lost count. A former brand director with an AAA video game developer-publisher and head of marketing for an early social game developer, I have been pitched a LOT. As in dozens of times each year.
Developing and marketing a video game? AND to have it become a chart-topping hit on the App Store, Steam Store, or Google Play Store?
It is a lot like being in the boxing ring with a Manny Pacquiao, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, or Muhammed Ali…in his prime. The odds are against you. No ifs, ands, and buts about it. Do not forget that for one single second. But if you ask a strapping young lad named Cassius Clay in 1964? At least you are going into the ring with a shot at immortality.
Two possible outcomes really.
Get them right? And your game has the rightful chance at GREATNESS. Be the next Super Mario, Angry Birds, Halo, or Assasins Creed.
Get them wrong? And your game will die on the vine. Like a concept aircraft, that never ever lifts off the runway.
Video game marketing, at least retro video games, is a lot like rebooting an old movie. This much I’ve found to be true. How exactly? Segmentation-Targeting-Positioning still matters. In fact, a LOT. Let’s take a close look how. Let us use Wreck It Ralph as an example. The 2012 Disney hit racked up $497 million at the box office worldwide and another $130 million in domestic DVD sales. The budget? All of $165 million per Wikipedia. What does my math say? 3.8X ROI. Even before international DVD sales and rentals! Personally I love this movie. Both for its “life lessons” teaching moments for us parents. And for the healthy nostalgia to bring back fond gaming memories… And not to mention inspiring a new generation of Generation Z and Generation Alphas to the gaming world.
What did Wreck It Ralph Do Right to Reach Its Audience? Let’s Find Out
First and foremost, who is (ARE) Wreck It Ralph’s target audience(s)? First there are the gamer dads and moms.
Demographically Precision Targeted at Dads and Moms 35-55
First, gamers aged 8 to 18 between about 1980 and 1999 would today be as young as 30 and as old as 58. What are those games we loved? This “Golden Age of Video Games” gave us such fan favorites as Qbert, Asteroids, Pac Man, Donkey Dug, Tapper and more in the 80s. As well as early PvP competitive games, whether FPS shooters like Quake, Doom, Duke Nukem (like I love as my personal video game GOAT greatest of all time) as well as 1v1 PvP combat action titles like Streetfighter and Mortal Kombat.
A fan and student of the video game industry? Then you would recognize many instances of crossovers. Retro video games crossing over and being made into a new animated or live action movies. As well as examples of video game reboot of an older movie or TV IP, being reimagined on a game platform.
Understandably the games we played, like the music we listened to, bring us back to simpler days and memories. I’d venture to say the Disney studio team did a thorough job of market research and consumer insights. Wonder why? First, to pinpoint which retro video games had the highest “awareness” and positive “favorability” among the target Dads and Moms. Second to laser focus on the precisemessages and creatives, to best activate our deep-rooted emotions of nostalgia and euphoria. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
A Healthy Dose of Visual “Memory Lane” Nostalgia for Aging Dads
Even during the “Wreck It Ralph” trailer debuted September 2012, this much was clear. Anyone who grew up with the arcades of the 80s and 90s recognizes the video game icons of the day.
Visual associations of Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Qbert, Streetfighter, and More Stimulate the “Gamer Dad” Brains in under 150 seconds
If you paid close attention to the movie’s launch trainer, you’ll notice it included a barrage of visual associations:
“Hero’s Duty” the title of which reminds us first-person shooter fans of “Call of Duty”
Gameplay of Fix It Felix (from the 2D retro pixelated layout, to the large oversized monster – aka Ralph – wrecking and destroying a red brick building that must be fixed – reminds us of “Donkey Kong”
Visuals of Pac Man and Miss Pac Man
Street Fighter good and bad guys from Bison and Zangief to martial artists Ken and Ryu
Cute and lovable Qbert and simple mindless fun of Tapper
One can defensibly argue the awareness and discovery and emotional appeal to the gamer dads and moms is sufficient to ensure both pent-up demand, viewing intent at the box office. One that translated even after the game was released to DVD and rentals, into significant DVD sales and rental revenue again.
But what about new consumers? What about Millennials or Gen-Z who did NOT grow up with these games from the Golden Era?
Exploring New Worlds and Meeting New Friends? Associations of life stage changes, encouraging Gamer Dads (and Moms) to Introduce the Movie to Their Kids.
Here Disney does something really clever. Needless to say, the Disney brand convinces the aging gamer dads and moms that the movie is safe and appeals to families with kids. More importantly, what do dads and moms want more than anything in the whole wide world?
He’s Got One Chance to Play the Hero. Emotional Appeal to Gamer Dads to Be the Hero to Their Kids
The next message really hits home for parents. Wreck It Ralph was said to be nine feet tall. Vannelope von Schweetz was all of three feet six inches tall. The sheer size difference and the humorous exchanges between them? Something that reminds many dads, gamers or not, of the relationships between ourselves and our kids. This emotional appeal to dads truly pulled at the heartstrings.
In clear large captions, Dads and Moms are reminded this was a Story for Everyone.
When watching this trailer for the first time, a lot of dads felt inspired – that this was a “Must See” with the family and kids. Whatever the nature of that relationship may be, Dads and Moms were seeing themselves in the shoes of Wreck It Ralph, to fill in the blank of how the story directly appeals to them (think personalization and user-generated content.) Of course we had to see how the story ultimately unfolds. Just in case, any doubts remained?
But how would it appeal to the kids? No retro video game or movie reboot would be complete, if it didn’t successfully create appeal to multiple demographics. Right?
What about the “Kid” and “Generation Alpha” appeal? Here the Disney studio team went a completely different direction. Retro and Reboots mean nothing to someone who was never exposed to the intellectual property (IP) the first time.
The kids are instead treated to “Retro Is the New Cool” in the movie. Just as the little girl with glasses was playing with Hero’s Duty and accidentally saw the clearly out-of-place, from-another-bygone-era Wreck It Ralph in the game, the kids of Gamer Dads can expect to see:
Visual 3D Rendered Colors and both Environment and Character Art Popularized by Pixar, with a Speed of Storytelling that Generation Alphas Find Familiar and Expect
Beautiful 3D Models and Animated Characters with fully rendered and vibrant colors.
Unconvinced? Look at the prominent shading in vibrant colors on the face of Sergeant Calhoun. As well as the vivid rendering using millions of colors.
Another Legal Drug that Kids Absolutely Adore – Sugar and Sweets
While Generation Alphas knew little to nothing about retro video games, there’s one thing they CAN and DO love. When asked if he or she loves candy and sweets, the exception are those kids who say NO. The subliminal message here? Do you love candy and sweets? If Yes, you will want to watch the visual eye-candy that IS this movie.
Oh, and the fan art like the Deviantart creation of all of the Wreck It Ralph retro video game chararacters, in one place? User Generated Content and celebration of a Disney reboot of not one, but a combination of beloved video game characters and content in one place. Brave, Disney. Can we say, loved by Gen Z and Generation Alpha?
Like movies, like video games. Like I said, when marketing retro video games? There are a LOT of lessons learned from the movies… and vice versa. Deja vu. Reboot!
Platform Powerplay – Epic vs Apple. Industry First or Deja Vu?
Unless you have been living under a rock, the all-out war between Epic Games and Apple (and Google) IS the talk of the industry. And its flagship, you ask? Fortnite was said to have made $1.8 billion in 2019. Additionally boasting over 350 million players. 250 million players from the Apple App Store alone.
Epic Games’s “Nineteen Eighty Fortnite” campaign is, quite simply…. clever. Extremely controversial. Nevertheless very clever and bold. Boldly mocking Apple. And daringly appropriating Apple’s famous 1984 commercial during the Super Bowl. Yes, those many many moons ago. When Apple was the metaphorical underdog. And IBM was the Big Blue, the Behemoth, the old and stodgy. In short, Big Brother.
That being said, who doesn’t love a Biblical David versus Goliath story? By offering its players the option to buy in-app purchases on the Epic Store, Epic Games got its flagship Fornite disinvited from the Apple App Store party. And from Google. But is Apple unjustified in enforcing its developer terms and conditions?
A greater question is, is Epic Games really the innocent and bullied David of a developer?
If you ask EA, or Tencent, or Riot? Far from it. A developer-publisher does not build a $1.8 billion a year franchise (make that battle royale empire) by thinking or acting small. Nor by playing by the rules all the time. If Apple “Frees” Fortnite, then why not FreePUBG? And FreeBumble? If the New York Times gets an affiliate revenue cut for every single book sold from its New York Times bestsellers list, then is this that different?
At launch, Fortnite for Android was available exclusively on the Epic website.
When it comes to video game publishing, certain decisions are not ever taken lightly. Take for example, the platform(s) on which a game launches. What about exclusivity on the Apple App Store? Or Google Play? And what about Nintendo Switch for that matter? Or available on all platforms, all at the same time? For a period of time? Or for perpetuity? You get the idea.
At launch, Fortnite for Android was available exclusively on the Epic website. And purchases made in-app on Android? FREE from the standard 30% revenue share, uniformly extracted by Google and Apple from every other developer on their platform.
All This Hoopla over a $2 Price Differential? What!?
That’s right, you read that correctly. A measly $2 difference! Trivial? Not to the players. Pocket change? Not when you run the math. Epic Games created a mechanism for its players on Apple and Google to buy Fortnite’s V-Bucks directly on the Epic store. Instead of paying $9.99 inside the App Store or Google Play Store, Epic is being very very deliberate and smart. Rather its players are monetarily encouraged to pay $7.99 on the Epic Store.
So Epic gets its players to buy virtual currency from Epic directly for $2 less than the same bundle on the App Store? But why? Because this trains players to buy in-app purchases from Epic directly. For every 1000 V-buck bundle sold, Epic nets $7.99. Rather than having gamers buy as an in-app purchase directly inside the Apple or Google Fortnite app. In which case, Epic would have netted $9.99 less 30%, which nets out to just under $7 per bundle.
To anyone who thinks a $2 discount is not significant, think again. If this creates precisely the monetization and purchase behavior Epic wants, what gives? It doesn’t take years of consumer insights or market research, on video game pricing to predict the revenue mix by sales channel, fast-forward 4 weeks. Who stands to lose? Simply Apple. And Google.
Thirty percent of $1.8 billion is a lot of money. $540 million to be exact – paid to Apple and Google, last year.
FreeFortnite! FreeFortnite! Shots fired. Missiles launched. War declared. But CAN Epic win the war against Apple and Google? If Fortnite’s banning on the App Store and Google Play Store is any indication, most likely NO.
Was this fallout between a powerful video game developer and the publishing platform, an industry first?
But let us rewind the clock ten years. The year was 2010. Another high-flying video game developer and publisher. Different platform.
On the brink of filing for IPO, Zynga did the unthinkable. Zynga launched its own social network to compete against Facebook. The motivation? You guessed it. To protest Facebook’s anti-competitive practices. And to resist the Facebook policy of charging developers an ungodly sum of 30 %, to market and publish on the Facebook platform.
What’s at stake? In the case of Zynga in 2010? Zynga had a $597 million year in 2010, net of platform fees and revenue share. Assuming this was $597 million after giving Facebook a 30% cut, Zynga COULD have had a $853 million year! Clearly a $250 million sum is worth going to war over for Zynga in 2010.
Fallout from Facebook’s new policies banning auto-notifications and negotiating for better revenue share, Zynga launched its own website and game discovery platform.
And what about Facebook? Just testing its Facebook Credits, a universal currency across all of Facebook’s 500 thousand+ developers. The revenue share? You guessed it. Thirty percent.
When Facebook changed its developer policy and banned Facebook developers from auto-posting on user newsfeeds, who cared? For one, consumers cared. Who in their right mind, liked seeing their newsfeeds stuffed with meaningless “help a friend on FarmVille” requests?
From Zynga’s angle? This one obscure change hindered Zynga’s viral marketing. Think of it as limiting Zynga player’s user-generated content. Except the content was really developer-auto generated. Check out the following video, amongst 1000s, that cropped up. To address one need. Quite simply, to turn off auto newsfeed postings. All the joys of social media marketing 1.0.
Facebook was responding to user feedback, and defending its share of revenue from all Facebook developers.
Wait, so Facebook was addressing the experience of real users? Yes. Shouldn’t Facebook get compensated for helping Zynga acquire hundreds of millions of players? And in so doing, making Zynga very cash-rich and IPO darling in 2010? Seems reasonable.
Since Zynga derived a majority of its revenue on the Facebook platform in 2010, it benefited from the discoverability afforded by the platform.
$540 million is worth going to war over for Epic in 2020. As $250 million was worth going to war over for Zynga in 2010.
Fast forward to 2020. By the same token, it was estimated Epic got over 250 million downloads from the Apple App Store alone. To those of us coming from mobile marketing, we appreciate the media value of those users ranged in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The many millions of users Epic acquired on the App Store weren’t free. So should Epic be granted FreeFortnite? Or abide by Apple and Google’s developer policies? You know, like every other policy-compliant game and app developer?
FreeFortnite? Does that also mean FreeSupercell? Or FreeTinder? So SHOULD Epic Games pay a princely sum for the discoverability of its app, without which arguably Epic would not have had a $4 billion+ franchise on its hands.
In case you are wondering, Zynga and Facebook made up. Zynga agreed to an undisclosed set of terms of payment and revenue share from Facebook. Guess it’s only fair.
What does that mean for Epic and Apple and Google? Only time can tell. But platforms serve a distinct purpose. And derive a lot of power. And Yes. Apple explicitly stated. No links or side-stepping in-app purchases. Nobody forced Epic to publish on iOS. Since it chose to, Epic explicitly agreed to the iOS developer’s business terms. Building a link for players to make in-app purchases on the Epic Store? A legal breach.
Platform powerplay. Deja Vu. Well played. But nice try, FreeFortnite.
TikTok for Mobile Video Games: 7 Keys to Activating Gen Z
So, you have decided to make your mobile video game popular on TikTok. It’s a decision that you just cannot go wrong with. Just take one look at TikTok’s numbers quarter over quarter.
TikTok is unknown territory for most mobile video game developers. Consider the sheer popularity of this social media platform however? Make sure your mobile video game marketing strategies includes TikTok. Period.
The majority of the TikTok population is Generation Z. It is crucial for the mobile video game developers to understand the intricacies of TikTok. Most importantly, how to genuinely capture the attention and activate Generation Z.
This is exactly what we are going to cover in this extensive TikTok guide for mobile video game developers. So, without further ado, let’s dive in. And figure out what it takes to activate Generation Z in 2020.
What is the Generation Z?
Generation Z is often referred to to the generation that was born between 1996 and 2010. In other words, the generation that follows the millennials. Digital natives raised on the internet and social media, Gen Z is a must for any marketer. It is important for the video games industry to understand the characteristics, traits, values, and trends that can help them develop in-depth statistics of Generation Z. About their screen and social media consumption, social behavior, interests, communication style, psychographics, and more.
In the United States, Generation Z is said to be the largest consumer demographic. Finishing college by 2020, they will be entering the workforce starting next year. How can you attract the attention of this generation on TikTok? Well, for that you have to dive deeper into TikTok’s consumer insights to create meaningful marketing strategies. All to activate and influence this soon-to-become largest cohort of consumers.
7 Keys to Successfully Activate Generation Z
Here are some of the best ways for video games developers to come up with a solid TikTok marketing strategy to attract Generation Z. Let’s discuss them in detail.
1. Generation Z’s TikTok Usage Patterns
Why has Tiktok grown so quickly with Generation Z? First because Tiktok was designed to satisfy their constant need for more content. It emphasizes on short-form video content and makes the platform easy to use.
Additionally, Tiktok has successfully fired up Generation Z’s desire for entrepreneurship and becoming an online creator or an influencer. Generation Z experiences little fear or friction before creating content. Content that will help them build an audience of like-minded people.
Generation Z uses social media platforms like Tiktok, YouTube, and Instagram to show the best version of themselves. Contrary to popular belief, this is more related to projecting self-confidence rather than insecurity.
2. Gen Z Vs. Millennials: TikTok Usage Pattern
It is very important to factor in the TikTok usage pattern of millennials and Generation Z. 42% of the 13-16-year-olds use TikTok which shows that the social media platform is gaining momentum among young teens who are very much into mobile video gaming.
Almost 40% of the total TikTok population comprises the Generation Z. Millennials make up the rest of the users. When it comes to content creation, Generation Z is way ahead than millennials. Millennials, on the other hand, are more likely to “consume” content on the platform.
3. Social Causes/Purposes Gen Z Uses TikTok For
With so much information going around on the internet, Generation Z is very much into showing their concern about different socio-political issues in and around the country.
What does this mean exactly? They are very much against turning a blind eye to issues. Whether about racial injustice, or inequality or about gender bias and more. And their inclination towards speaking out against injustices can be found across Tiktok.
For example, the #blacklivesmatter had over 6 billion views on TikTok. Instead of creating dancing and lip-sync videos, which is what TikTok is made for, Generation Z uses the opportunity to raise voice against injustice.
This behaviour pattern can be used by mobile video game developers to attract the attention of Generation Z. Creating content in support of social causes and purposes can bring you closer to your target audience.
4. Personal and Relatable Communication Style
Millennials and Generation Z are unforgiving when it comes to being manipulated online. They have been on the Internet and social media platforms for a long time. They clearly know exactly when you are hitting them with fake content.
Using Tiktok to attract the attention of Generation Z through insincere content and highly aggressive sales copy? Forget it. Not gonna work. Your entire focus should be about making your content and Advertising more personal and relatable.
Google claims that almost 26% of Generation Z expect retailers to provide a personalized buying experience based on the customers shopping patterns and preferences. Needless to say, authentic voice, genuine ratings and reviews for your mobile app or game is key. This is true whether to attract Gen Z’ers on Tiktok, or as part of your mobile game’s overall app store optimization strategy.
Therefore, make sure the content you publish on Tiktok is what your target audience is looking for. Want to create an impressive brand personality in the minds of your target audience? Start by giving them what they want.
5. Creating Snackable Content in Bulk
To succeed on TikTok, you will have to invest in creating short snackable content with a major focus on video. One of the reasons why we recommend you create search content is because the average attention span for Generation Z is reducing drastically.
While the average attention span for the millennial generation stands at 12 seconds, the same for Generation Z is a mere 8 seconds. Well, this is even less than the attention span of a Goldfish. So, what’s the reason behind this plummeting attention span?
The most common reason that also has been well documented for the significant reduction in the attention span of Generation Z is the growth in the number of digital platforms. Generation Z often finds themselves using many digital platforms simultaneously.
How exactly? Generation Z can be found to be using 5 digital platforms simultaneously- at the same time. The shorter attention span is also the reason why Generation Z hates non-skippable ads and pop-ups.
Targeting Generation Z with video ads? We highly recommend using a shorter format. TikTok, therefore, is a great social media platform for you to share your video content.
However, you must invest in creating more and more content for your target audience. Make it easier for them to remember your brand. But, this should not be an excuse to create low-quality content. Your video should be extremely entertaining and high quality at the same time.
6. Taking Privacy Protection Policies Seriously
Generation Z is quite concerned about privacy protection. Almost 88% of the Gen Z population ranks privacy protection at the top of their list when it comes to consuming content on the web.
Less than one-third of Generation Z claims to be comfortable sharing personal information online. But 61% believe they can do it without any concern with brands they trust.
How do you do that? Want to gain the trust of your target audience on TikTo? First, you have to step up. Be 100% transparent when collecting user information from Generation Z. Be wholeheartedly committed to keeping data safe and secure.
7. Ability of Micro-Influencers to Rule Generation
Need a helping hand? Partnering with micro-influencers who are popular in your niche can play a huge role in making your brand successful on TikTok. Influencer marketing has always been a powerful marketing tactic. And the potential size of the population you can attract when done right? Positively HUGE.
There are many popular Gamers on TikTok. Influencers create highly entertaining sometimes niche content for their audience. Generation Z population is very much inclined towards gaming, especially with the eSports revolution. There exists a great, under-utilized opportunity. One for you to create your OWN highly-targeted audience on this social media platform.
But why are video platforms so successful? One of the reasons why influencer marketing works on video platforms like TikTok on YouTube is because almost 70% of the teenage population easily relate to online creators than traditional celebrities. Online creators are simply more relatable and trustworthy. Aka One of Us.
Therefore, invest in micro-influencers on TikTok. Invest in them to help them help YOU. Influencer marketing is a relatively expensive marketing technique but it can bring you exceptional results in a short amount of time, when done right.
We have shared in-depth information related to the latest TikTok statistics for Generation Z. Always remember to take a more personalized approach in the decision-making process. Video game developers understand what the young generation likes. It is equally important to have a one-on-one discussion with their marketers.
Come up with groundbreaking marketing strategies. Be authentic, be real, personalize communication, and give Generation Z what they want – in short snack-able video format. Respect privacy, and be transparent. When needed, seek help from trusted micro influencers. Help them help YOU.
We hope this piece of content brought great value to you. If it did, feel free to subscribe to our weekly newsletter as we bring all the latest updates from the world of online marketing. Have questions? Put them down in the comments section and we will reply as soon as possible!
Platforms for Young People to Start Making Video Games and Monetizing within 30 Days
Traditional video game development and publishing is big business. Expensive big money business.
According to Newzoo, the gaming industry is estimated to be over $152 billion a year, Check out the State of the Video Game Industry and research. Gaming is bigger than music AND movies, combined! And making video games is expensive business. Let us not forget video game marketing and publishing. Especially if you consider the AAA video game development budgets for large game developers like EA Sports, Lucas Arts, and more. Video game development cycles spanning 24 months or more, with 100+ people full-time staff dedicated to a given studio are not unheard of.
Does that mean only the AAA developers and publishers can create fun games that players love? Of course not.
Must you go through years and years of formal game production school and hope for a lucky break? Just to get a chance to create console-quality game content and get PAID? Absolutely not. Not anymore.
Now more than ever before, young game developers and CONTENT creators can make playable games and make money in as little as 30 to 90 days
AND make good money for their creations. As well as make the game discoverability easy and built in!
At the Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2019 Conference, Roblox’s CEO David Baszucki, said it perfectly. Its category summed in 2 words. Human Coexistence.
He seems to be onto something really really big. As of July 2019, Roblox drew over 2 million creators of 3D virtual experiences. And translated into 100 million+ active people – primarily boys and girls aged 8 to 13 – playing Roblox games every single month.
There is currently an Roblox exchange rate of $.0035/R$. You DO have to be a member of Roblox Premium and over 13, as well as have a minimum balance of Robux. But if you ARE, you can cash out your Robux for real money.
Roblox’s creator community ranged widely. Its 2 million creators spans from young creators getting their start in game design and coding, to teams of ten or twenty people forming studios.
I had the pleasure of meeting Roblox’s CEO David about ten years ago. He is about as smart and genuine as game CEO’s get. Ten years ago, Roblox was the mainstay of boys 7-11. Today it attracts a loyal following over 100 million players – both young boys AND girls. Trust me. If you love having fun, exploring and socializing in Roblox, you MUST check out Roblox Studio.
Manticore Games: Like Youtube did with video creation, Manticore is on a mission. Mission to disrupt creativity and game making. Period.
Currently in a 100-spots Creator Payouts Pilot Program, Manticore is testing a simple model based on an easy premise. The more people play your game, the more you should get paid.
Yes, but what about the learning curve? Say to create a multiplayer game? 24 months? Nope. 12 months? Nope. 6 months? Not even that. Take a look at the following screenshot. The Core engine lets you create and customize gameplay, social as well as scenery inside of its user interface. You can create multiplayer or single-player games. WITHOUT writing code. Should you like to learn step-by-step game development, check out Manticore’s Core Game Dev Bootcamp.
Manticore’s Core Game Dev Bootcamp is all of four weeks.
Age requirements to join the Creator Payout Program? You DO have to be legally considered an adult in your country. IF you get an invite from Manticore. So in the United States, anyone aged 13 to 17 can participate, with parental permission.
PER month, a creator gets paid $3 for every Averaged Daily User. Fairly simple math. What does it mean, for those of us familiar with free-to-play and subscription models?
Manticore’s creator payout model already accounts for 2 key metrics: Scale and Retention.
If you have 1000 players on the 1st of the month, steadily bleed users through Day 3, but manage to retain only 100 players who stick around until the 30th? Well then, you get paid only for the averaged Daily user player count. In this case, in month 1, getting a total of $1432 for the 477 Daily Averaged Users.
If you have 1000 players on the 1st of the month and retain the same 1000 players on the 30th, you are paid for the 1000 Averaged Daily User. Or in the scenario below, in month 2, getting a total of $4425 for the 1475 Daily Averaged Users.
MONTH 1 – January
MONTH 2 – February
Month-averaged Daily Users
Of course, even breakout hits and the big money-makers on Roblox and Manticore Games are not accidental surprises. Solid consumer research, player testing and fun, engaging gameplay are all expected table stakes. But for young people who are looking to get started making video games, built-in mechanics for video game marketing? Definitely check out Roblox and Manticore Games.
ASO: App Store Optimization – Secret Weapon in Mobile Video Game Marketing
Why care, you may be asking? When influencing and marketing to gamers, App Store Optimization or ASO is a key tenet. ASO is key to organic Discoverability in mobile app marketing, video game marketing . To reign supreme in the fiercely competitive application marketplace, it is crucial you refine your approach. Start diving head-first into the advantages of ASO to maximize your chances of succeeding on the app store.
To do that, you will have to first understand the nitty-gritty of App Store Optimization. And that’s exactly what we are going to do here in this post. Let’s cut to the chase and dive right in!
What is App Store Optimization?
App Store Optimization is also known as mobile app SEO. For a video game marketing professional, the entire goal of App Store Optimization is to improve the ranking of mobile applications within app stores like the App Store, Google Play, Windows store, etc. Mobile apps specifically created for iOS, Android, and Windows phones. Not the only key to Discoverability. But critical to organic discoverability that the mobile marketer doesn’t have to PAY for.
What exactly happens when you rank your applications on top of these Online application stores? There are many goals to ASO. ASO increases your brand exposure. ASO also generates more positive app reviews and ratings. Which boost the audience engagement with the app. This in turn creates MORE organic discovery of the app.
Investing in App Store Optimization is a great decision. Given the incessant growth of mobile and Internet technologies, people are going to need mobile solutions in their daily lives. The number of app downloads has only been increasing if you look at the last 10 years. In the last year itself, a total of 204 billion apps were downloaded across the world which is a 6% increase from 2018.
Thus, it makes complete sense to invest your time and resources into App Store Optimization.
Important Factors For App Store Optimization
There are many factors that you will have to consider if you want to perfect your App Store Optimization. Let’s talk about these factors in detail.
The title is what most people use to identify your application in an App Store. Apart from that, it also helps you to improve your rankings because a relevant title (that includes the target keyword) can help you rank at least 10% higher. Make sure the title is unique, descriptive, and keyword-rich.
Let’s compare two possible titles.
VERSION A: ASO: App Store Optimization – Secret Weapon in Mobile Video Game Marketing
VERSION B: ASO in Video Games
Clearly Version A is targeted at a more granular long tail search for keywords like “App Store Optimization” and “Mobile Video Game Marketing.”
Keywords are important to your App Store Optimization quest. Just like in SEO. You will need to put your most important keywords while ensuring that you don’t overdo it. Keyword stuffing can get your app penalised by Google. Make sure you do proper keyword research to ensure your product falls in the right list of applications.
I’ve always had great results benchmarking my top competitors. The above shows a simple keyword profile that shows keyword research, including Apple Search Ads. This informs competitive offensive and defensive strategies. Which in turn helps the video game marketing professional find greenfield and under-addressed keyword opportunities.
The app description is pretty much like the content you put on your site’s landing page. If you are successful in making a user click on your app, that description must be able to close the deal for you. This can be done if the description tells the customer what the app does, the problem it solves, how easier it is to use the app, and why the app is worth the price.
You will never go wrong with high-quality screenshots. It is a crucial factor of your app store page change the screenshot adds to its visual appeal. You should definitely use this part of the page’s real estate to your advantage by taking screenshots of the key benefits and most engaging parts of the app.
App Preview Video
Most app stores will allow you to upload 30 second long videos to showcase your app’s features and benefits. The best way you can use the app review video feature is by uploading recordings of in-app experience and showing what the users can expect from the app’s UX.
Putting the app in the right category will not only help the app store index your app correctly, it will also help the users understand what your app does. The app category should best describe your mobile application. However, if you want it to rank quickly, you must go for a category that is least competitive and put your highly optimized application in it.
App Icon Design
The app icon is one of the most significant parts of your app. It is how your users will recognise you on their phones. So, you must take your time to come up with a great icon design. Most importantly your Icon should be engaging and eye-catching.
Online users are always looking for what other people have to say about your application. It is therefore important that you collect positive app reviews and encourage your existing customers to leave their feedback for the app.
Take a look at the below. This screenshot from AppAnnie, shows the aggregate ratings and reviews, aka Star Ratings for Minecraft, unified across the App Store, Google Play and Microsoft Store. It becomes abundantly clear where the game is loved and highly rated (5-star reviews) vs poorly received (1-star reviews)
App Store Analytics
There are many powerful App Store analytics tools that you can use to design your mobile marketing strategy to perfection. The tools will help you get actionable insights and allow you to make changes that will eventually Boost Your App Store rankings. Some of these App Store analytics tools are Sensor Tower, Appstatics, Appnique, AppAnnie, Appfigures, Applyzer, and more.
See below for a high-level App Store analytics dashboard for Darkness Rises. In one place you can clearly see the top keywords – which directly impact Discoverability – both at the CATEGORICAL level (RPG, MMO, MMORPG) in addition to the COMPETITION targeted by the game (Assasin, Diablo, Skyrim, etc)
Not but not least, in this same single view, you can also get an estimate of the game’s actual download volume and revenue, in one shot.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising your online presence to create better user experience and drive more traffic towards your business website.
It can help your website get quality traffic from search engines. Since you want relevant traffic to your website, it is important that you optimise your site with the relevant keywords. Keywords are essentially the terms and phrases your target audience uses when searching for your products online.
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the most important part of any digital marketing strategy because it prepares your site for the incoming traffic. Since all your digital marketing efforts are going to revolve around your business website, it is important that you optimise your site to create a solid foundation for your online marketing campaigns.
Factors Responsible for Search Engine Optimization
Let’s discuss the various factors responsible for search engine optimization.
Page Title + H1 Tags
One of the most crucial On-Page SEO factors is the page title. The page title should be optimized by using your primary keyword in it. Website crawlers are always looking for your title tag to determine the content and intent of your page. Let’s say the page is about hiking. The page title appears on the tab where the website is opened while the heading tag is what appears on the page. Let’s say the blog is on xyz.com’s blog. The page title will read something like ‘10 Best Hikes in Colorado | XYZ Blog’. However, the H1 will just have ‘10 Best Hikes in Colorado’.
The page URL can be optimized by including your primary keyword in it. You should make sure that you don’t use any special characters in the URL. It should be kept short so that it is easier for both the users and search engines to read and remember the URL.
While a keyphrase ‘battle royale’ shows that a user is looking for battle royale games, a keyphrase ‘battle royale monetization’ clearly shows that the intent of the search is to find the monetization opportunities of battle royale games. The page URL for such a query for the former should be ‘www.xyz.com/games/battleroyales’ while for the latter, it should be something like ‘www.xyz.com/games/battleroyales/monetization’. This is perfectly structured and easy to remember.
The use of sub-heading and header tags is important to give your content a definite structure. This will also give you an ample opportunity to place your primary and secondary keywords inside your content.
Keyword placement can be perfected by placing your keywords in the first hundred words of the content. Once you do that keep placing your keywords two to three times every hundred words. The keyword placement should be as natural as possible to ensure a seamless reading experience for your users.
Meta descriptions are an essential part of the On-Page SEO checklist because it allows your content to stand out in this search engine. It also is a crucial role in boosting your click-through rate.
It gives online users an idea of what they can expect in the content. It is important to have a meta description that is around 50 to 160 characters long. The meta description should have a natural and active voice and should resist being spammy.
Like for a company putting puppies for adoption, they can use a description like ‘Find an Australian Shepherd rescue or search your local shelters and rescues for an Australian Shepherd puppy or dog for adoption’. The keyword here is clearly ‘Australian Shepherd Puppy’.
SEO is a process that helps to boost the user experience of your site. You will first have to make your content extremely easy to understand. Make sure there are no broken links in your content. The font type, size, and color should be optimized to boost readability. Not just that, the buttons on your site and the overall site navigation should be optimized to reduce the bounce rate.
LSI latent semantic indexing keywords are essentially the keywords that are semantically related to your primary keyword. Optimizing the content using LSI keywords will definitely help your content boost its quality and get higher ranking on search engines.
Keyword cannibalization should be avoided at all times because you don’t want to confuse search engines. If the crawlers find two or more web pages having the same primary keyword, it will make sure neither of the pages are ranked. Each page of your website should have one primary keyword.
The attention span of online users is reducing significantly. This is an alarming situation for site owners that don’t optimize it for loading speed. If you want your visitors to stay on your site for a long time, you will have to consider speeding up the user experience.
All the above On-Page SEO changes will not work if you don’t optimize your website for mobile. Google has been pushing towards creating a mobile-first ecosystem. Therefore, website owners should make sure their site has a responsive design and can adapt to the screen size of any smart device.
Similarities and Differences Between ASO and SEO
There are many differences and similarities between ASO and SEO. The former is even sometimes called SEO for mobile applications. Let’s go through the similarities and dissimilarities between the two.
The objective of ASO Is to make the application ranking higher for or a certain keyword. The ultimate goal of App Store Optimisation is to increase the number of downloads. Keywords help the applications gain better discovery, which brings high traffic to the applications’ page.
Search Engine Optimisation on the other hand is done to bring more qualified traffic to a certain website by making it optimized for search engine rankings. The better the Optimisation, the better will be its ranking on search engines. Higher the traffic on the site, higher will be the number of leads you get and higher will be the conversion rate.
Search intent is very important when it comes to optimising an application or a website. When it comes to App Store Optimisation, the search queries associated with any application is mostly shorter than that of any brand or its products and services.
people searching for an application mostly enter qualities that are related to specific features of the app. On a search engine, however, people tend to enter longer and more specific search queries in order to get answers for the specific question or get information about a certain product or service.
The ranking factors for ASO and SEO are quite different. For App Store Optimisation, developers have to take ASO ranking factors like app title, subtitle, long description, short description, keyword density, keyword field, in-app purchases, publication name, backlinks, crash rate, reviews and ratings, retention and engagement, conversion rate into consideration.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation, factors like keyword placement, content quality and relevancy, content structure and length, meta tags, URL, page speed, backlinks, retention rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, and more are responsible to create a highly optimized website.
The KPIs of App Store Optimisation and Search Engine Optimisation are different as well. For ASO, the KPIs can be the number of organic downloads and installs, conversion rate, keyword visibility and rankings, average ratings and reviews score.
For Search Engine Optimisation, the key performance indicators can be organic sessions, conversion rate, bounce rate, pages per session, keyword visibility and rankings, average session duration, page load time, and number of backlinks.
Differences Between App Store and Google Play
When we talk about the differences between App Store and Google Play especially in the terms of App Store Optimisation, there are 5 key differences we should always consider. We will take the example of Call of Duty: Mobile to help you better understand the differences.
The app title is important in both App Store and Google Play. However the main differences in the number of characters allowed in both of them. The former allows for 30 characters while the latter gives 50. If we take Call of Duty: Mobile into consideration, its title takes 21 characters on both the stores.
Subtitle Vs. Short Description
Again, there is a difference in the amount of room for the short description. For App Store, you will get 30 characters and 80 characters on Google Play for the short description. Call of Duty: Mobile has mentioned ‘Battle Royale, PvP, Sniper’ as its short description and the same on App Store.
If you are optimizing your application for App Store, you should not worry about the long description as it is not a ranking factor. For Google Play, however, you can optimize your long description with relevant keywords. You should maintain a keyword density of 2-3%. When optimizing for the App Store, you will want to focus on creating an actionable long description while on the Play Store, you can optimize the description to make it more searchable. And that’s exactly what Call of Duty: Mobile has done on their respective pages.
You can upload a total of 10 screenshots on App Store while you can only upload 8 on Google Play. The screenshots are very much visible on the App Store but on Google Play, users will have to open the app listing. Call of Duty: Mobile has uploaded 7 screenshots on both the platforms.
App Previews Vs. Promo Videos
You can add up to 3 preview videos on App Store while you can only add one promo video on Google Play. The videos play a crucial role in Conversion Rate Optimization for your application listing. Call of Duty: Mobile has uploaded one video on both its platforms.
There you have it. We have shared everything you need to know to optimise your mobile application for the app store. We highly recommend seeking help from ASO experts who can guide you through the process and help your application rank higher. Have questions? Feel free to put them down in the comments section. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!
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Wondering how to get started with App Store Optimization in 2020? Check out this extensive App Store Optimization guide to take the first step. Read now to know more!
NBA 2K21: New Gen Console Video Game Marketing Pricing Justified or Gouging
Pre-orders for Take Two Interactive’s NBA 2K21 is here. Kotaku staff writer Ash Parrish‘s NBA 2K21 Will Cost $70 on PS5 and Xbox Series X has opened up Pandora’s box. An age-old debate, the question basically boils down to this. About something seemingly sacred – about video game marketing and pricing.
Is a $10 price premium justified to get the exact SAME game on next-gen consoles? Or is this a reckless assault on the $60 price tag we’ve all come to accept for AAA games?
If the thread of 170 comments posted in the last 48 hours is any indication, there is no easy answer.
One thing I know for sure. No matter what the publisher marketing and PR team says, there can be no pleasing everyone. Without addressing the right from wrong, or getting into the details of making video games and publishing economics. Allow me to distill the factors, and the types of consumer research and insights, that video game marketing and video game publishers, take into consideration.
Video Game Pricing
Video game marketers have multiple tools for consumer insights and market research at their disposal. To answer questions about “willingness to pay” and “ability to pay” marketers can conduct one or more of:
Discoverability is hard and needs to be thought-out and designed-in, from the start.
Consumers have choices. In fact, lots of choices. The world has come a looooooooooooooooooong way since the days of single-player FPS games like Duke Nukem, even if that IS still the Video Game Greatest of All Time. Although my mind is permanently numb from visions of kicking ass and chewing bubble gum.
In his blog, Simon mentioned the 4 keys to “Memetic Shareability.” What are they exactly? These are: Quirky Hook, Stunning Art, Gif/Replay Exports and Genre-Like Signifiers. A few examples quickly come to mind.
GAME-CHARACTER COLORATION: In Heroes of Dragon Age, the Twitter-featured character tier progression for Saboteur Hawke
Visually contrasting and storytelling. The clear Character Tier Progression (headware from None to stylized Hood; Armor from leather to iron to steel to gold-trimmed steel; matching weapon evolution) were classic RPG attributes, where color and fabric connotes Rank, Defense, Damage and more, not to mention visual appeal. What does this mean? Simply encouraging player “Peacocking” and sharing on Twitter, Pinterest, and more.
CONSUMER INSIGHTS VIDEO GAME GREATEST OF ALL TIME: DUKE NUKEM
Duke Nukem was and arguably always will be my favorite video game of all time. Does it have a market among battle royale fans of Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile?
The first PC game that I paid for. With a HUGE $40 of my own money at the age of 20, I chose Duke over a pub crawl or infrequent meal of tacos in college. Will brand equity aid discoverability? Consumer Insights hold the key.
Menacing flying aliens wielding rocket-propelled grenades. Shade-bespectacled foes with tusks the size of Siberian boars. Gratuitous scantily-clad young ladies dancing on stages, hips gyrating rhythmically to the electric pop background music.
The frequent drops of weapons – from rocket-propelled grenades, to shotguns, to pistols, and ammo – stimulate the mind. In pure single-player mode, it’s easy to pick up, put down, save progress. While heart-pounding exciting and exhilarating as ever, the ability to save and reattempt levels makes it forgiving.
Playing the 2011 reboot Duke Nukem Forever on my Mac this week during the coronavirus shelter-at-home, I got to relive some of my early college years. The nuclear waste and dancers still grab the eyeballs, even as I have laddered up in age.
This begs the question though. I paid an entire $40 for the full game in 1996. And again in 2020, I paid $40 for the game + downloadable content on Steam. HOW can this game be reimagined for a different revenue model – say, monthly subscription or free-to-play in-app purchases.
As a video game marketing consultant, I wondered. If I were marketing this game as a Premium-Priced 1-time Download on Steam:
What are my best options for maximizing branding (reactivating awareness) amongst existing fans of the Duke Nukem franchise?
How do I best build excitement among brand-new first-person shooter fans?
How can the game acquire and convert multiplayer battle royale games like Fortnite or PUBG?
Which messages would resonate best with each of these audiences?
Which promotional tactics do I have to maximize downloadable sales?
Is a time-limited MASSIVE discount promotion (say 50%, 60%, even 70%) the only way to crack the STEAM Store charts?
Are there media channels (whether IGN, PCGamer, or EuroGamer) that can drive measurable sales?
Should the developer choose to turn this game into a Free 2 Play, mobile games, what are some of the best content and monetization strategies?
How much time and resources should they devote to strictly Organic Discovery, like Apple or Google App Store Optimization?
Is it more advantageous to launch during the Shelter in Place campaign (i.e. in the next 4-8 weeks)?
Or does it make more sense to create “evergreen” paid media advertising campaigns, that run throughout the year?
What types of analytics and attribution are required? And can these be put in place on startup budgets, without breaking the bank?
From experience I know this much.
Consumer Insights and good old-fashioned market research are key to rock-solid brand positioning and laser-focused activation.
A combination of qualitative consumer research – targeted at the target consumer persona can answer these questions about how (1) Brand Loyalists like me and (2) fans of battle royale FPS and 3PS titles like Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, and Call of Duty can best be activated.
That and how and where the video game marketing budgets are best spent. Is it more advantageous spent on paid media on Facebook, Google UAC and the likes? Or strictly through trusted influencers through the likes of Youtube, Twitch Prime and reviewers?
These are precisely the types of questions that I help my clients (video game developers and publishers) solve, in order to maximize media coverage and measurable revenue and profits. And in a strange, inexplicable way, I relish the challenge of helping a game developer shop on startup, even shoestring budgets.
If you have a promising game project that you like to promote and burst up the STEAM Store, Apple App Store, or Google Play Store – and like to tap into the marketing expertise of someone who’s worked on both branded and original-IP games on Facebook, PC, Apple, and Android, reach out to me.
In the meantime, make sure to stay safe, play apart, but always, always “kick ass and chew bubble gum.”