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Marketing: What else can I do to promote?

06-26-2010, 01:44 PM
#1
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
Marketing: What else can I do to promote?

My game 180 has been available on the App Store for nearly 2 months now.

This is my second App, following a much simpler game released last August.

For 180, our critical reception has been remarkable, but our actual sales are very lackluster.

What we've done:
-2 videos

(how to play)

(hardcore gameplay)

- huge TA thread (160+pages)

- Contest to win iPad/game console, and iTunes gift cards

- Blog Updates nearly daily (discussing retrogames, and development notes), promoted on several different big websites including front page of Gamasutra

- Facebook page w/ nearly 500 fans

- twitter account w/ nearly 5,000 followers, updates daily

- title is easy to write/spell for stupid people (180), and works in several different languages

- has mascots (most puzzle games don't have anything for people to relate to)

- cross promotion with a minor celebrity

- game is unique, familiar at first play but quickly you can see how it is different and addictive (yes, the "A" WORD!). We tested the heck out of it!

- gave out swag at E3, regularly hand out stickers/items


- met several reviewers/etc in person and demo'd the game 1st-hand

- sent out promo codes and gift codes to several known reviewers/websites at all the usual places, along with the usual PR stuff

- made a Japanese YouTube video and Press Release

- lite version available (a month and a half now)

- dropped price from 1.99 to 0.99

- freeAppCalendar.com promotion (we got HUGE download numbers, but didn't effect sales one bit)

- appearing on some smaller to decent sized websites with interviews, podcasts

- excellent iTunes reviews. Ranks are alright, what you'd expect after going free for 2 days..

- game is easily accessible for casual and hardcore

- openFeint integration

- posting on neoGaf iPhone thread

Our known issues (things working against us)

- Game title is not descriptive if you don't know what this game is about

- it's a match-3, even though the mechanic is unique people's first reaction is "ohhh another match-3"

- screenshots aren't terribly descriptive, and are not very interesting out-of-context

- no zombies or ninjas

- Apple (unintenionally) screwed up our promotional campaign with TONS of "dud gift codes." I sent several (100+) out to many important people, only to find out later that when they tried to redeem, many of them just errored out (I had no way to check this). Majority of these are people who I don't get a second chance to talk to, and they won't think twice about trying to figure out what was wrong.

- started out at 1.99, should have been .99 and let it stay that way.

- we should have milked our free campaign a few days longer (instead of merely 2)

- game was intended to release @ Thanksgiving 2009. It launched just shy of May 2010, which is so late that it is almost suicide to put out a puzzle game of any sort that looks like this...

- no ads in Lite version, no in-app purchases right now

- some negative reaction to the App Icon (I don't know if this is the vocal minority, though)

- WAY overestimated the reaction we would get to our expensive contest (there was almost no interest/discussion)

- our "how to play" video was poo-poo'd by "normal" gamers

- can't seem, for the life of me, to get any mention on the front page of any big iPhone-centric sites (biggest we got was probably Destructoid, for a moment) and no feature by Apple.

SO THEN.. what crucial things have I missed? Obviously I have spent a lot of time and energy on this production. I know all the usual rules apply: "don't expect one app to 'make it,' try to put out as many different quality applications as possible, foster relationships with gamers/websites, etc." Please let me know if you have any more input for things I should try to get a little more support for this game. We are planning to put out an update at some point soon, but what (and when) exactly that will be remains to be seen, up to the programmer of course..

Thanks for your help!

Last edited by headcaseGames; 11-26-2010 at 07:46 PM.
06-26-2010, 02:18 PM
#2
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,975
Is that contest still going?

Lightning Strike Games Development Blog

06-26-2010, 02:21 PM
#3
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
iPad contest has just ended, a day ago.. but the high score contest is still active for a few days. I will update the website today to reflect this.
06-26-2010, 02:23 PM
#4
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,975
Quote:
Originally Posted by headcaseGames View Post
iPad contest has just ended, a day ago.. but the high score contest is still active for a few days. I will update the website today to reflect this.
Ok, I'll try to go for the highscore contest then. By the way, I think the game is really fun

Lightning Strike Games Development Blog
06-26-2010, 02:24 PM
#5
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Here No More
Posts: 792
This is not meant as a shot, or to flame, but starting a thread such as this might help.

If you bring attention to your app, even if it is about it not selling, it will bring awareness.

My suggestion is to go to as many sites as you can and start a similar thread, certainly could not hurt.

Good luck with bringing awareness to your apps.
06-26-2010, 03:06 PM
#6
Jeez dude sounds like a serious effort!

Only think I can think of is something were now thinking of doing, which is including a "please rate our app" link within your app to encourage people playing the game to rate it, rather than just those that delete it...

Take a look here: http://arashpayan.com/blog/index.php...ing-appirater/

What I would say is that a lot of it is a about luck... The best you can do is put yourself in a situation where your more likely to be lucky, and you seem to be doing that quite well so keep going and I'm sure you'll get a success soon !

Assyria Game Studio -(For Business Enquieries Click Here)

Get normally paid games for FREE at DailyAppDream.com - If any developers want to run a free promo on any of their games then check out the site (it's free)
06-26-2010, 03:21 PM
#7
Well, I think you've done it all, and then some in terms of marketing -- much more then I think most devs do. As hard as it might be though, you might have to start looking at the game itself for why its not doing as well as you would like.

There are a few things that stand out to me, personally (please don't take offense -- the game looks great imo). For example, while the mascot is a great idea, I don't think the girl has that wow factor that could really draw people in and give the game a unique personality. In Angry Birds for example, you take one look at those things (or even read the name) and you're like "Whoa, I am totally intrigued." -- one of the whole reasons people get sucked in is because of the theme and characters; I mean heck, apart from the characters even Angry Birds is really just another physics castle destroying game. I don't even see any focus on a mascot in your pics or description to really bring the title to life and give it personality (can you choose characters or what?).

The other thing that stood out to me is the combo effects, which didn't look all that satisfying. Sure its a minor detail, but its ALL in the details... Fruit Ninja epitomizes this -- its a game that has VERY repetitive and stale gameplay, yet its presentation and fruit slicing effects instantly grab people and draw them in, even by looking at the screen shots.
06-26-2010, 03:43 PM
#8
I'd also say in terms of marketing to the gaming audience you are far better off going a bit retro or hardcore in terms of the style...

Our game "The Glowing Void" has sold twice as many units as "The Mirror Maze" even though both got the game eurogamer rating, and The Mirror Maze was mentioned on touch arcade's home page, while The Glowing Void wasn't...

I believe this is as Mirror Maze was very much a casual looking game (and intentionally so, it was basically prime colours, with a little bit of gloss), while The Glowing Void was neon glowing and quite retro...

I consider the concept of Mirror Maze as far better; it's unique and hadn't been done on the App store, while "The Glowing Void"s primary gameplay mode was essentially a filler genre game with rotation (although we added other gameplay modes to enhance the experience, and spent a long time tweaking the physics to be an improvement over the existing ones on the market).

Perhaps consider going out of the norm of the "match 3 market" (as it's saturated as it is), and replace some of the graphics with something more hardcore looking? This might make it stand out from the crowd a bit more, and as a gamer I still enjoy match 3 games but all of them seem very much target towards a casual market, which puts me off a little; but the slight added complexity of flipping the pieces etc makes a more hardcore feel potentially justified?

Just a thought as I imaging it would be a week long job tops if you just quickly swap in some new artwork and release a "hard core" or re-named version also?

Assyria Game Studio -(For Business Enquieries Click Here)

Get normally paid games for FREE at DailyAppDream.com - If any developers want to run a free promo on any of their games then check out the site (it's free)
06-26-2010, 06:41 PM
#9
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
Foursaken - yeah, the mascot thing is tough, in general. It's pretty hard to know when a design will catch, and when it will flounder. We've all seen several huge companies struggle with that issue over the years - best example is the Doodle Jump... thing, it looks like something anybody would have drawn on their notebook in high school (maybe that's why it was successful!) but there's nothing to it that would stand out if you didn't already know what it was. I intended to do a lot more to playup the characters, but for a bunch of reasons we didn't get further with it - though I am satisfied with the place they do hold in the game.

Combo effects were another sticking point as well. early in development, people asked us if they were going to be elaborate/etc. Ultimately between programming time/memory available we leaned on the light side, but we wanted that stuff to be subordinate to the gameplay anyway; when combos/chains are going off, the player is supposed start lining up more moves immediately to keep within the rhythm of the gameplay - so we wanted to downplay distractions and keep the game moving fast and clean. Taking cues from Tetris Attack, where they handled it very well (but yeah, 1st time players would be let down, I agree)

Assyria - style has been a hugely difficult issue in development of this game. We compared it to a ton of other games that shared our desired audience, and we went all over the spectrum in the course of designing it. Ultimately the game needed to be clean, slick, and polished - but also subdued, again to support the gameplay (that's harder to accomplish with this kind of game than I'd expected!) Sady, this doesn't make for intense screenshots, but as a designer I'd prefer a game with strong, memorable gameplay over flashy looks that aren't supporting the gameplay. Ultimately, we decided to make something that would appeal to kids and girls, but when demonstrated to a hardcore player (familiar with more popular, yet complex puzzle games) they'd feel right at home as well.

Making a hardcore/renamed version is a thought, but I am still considering that what we are presenting currently should not be too difficult to sell, it just needs a little more exposure in the right places.

But I don't know. If ten different people chime in, in this thread and say "I hate the look. change the look" then that's certainly saying something
06-26-2010, 07:42 PM
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by headcaseGames View Post
Sady, this doesn't make for intense screenshots, but as a designer I'd prefer a game with strong, memorable gameplay over flashy looks that aren't supporting the gameplay. Ultimately, we decided to make something that would appeal to kids and girls, but when demonstrated to a hardcore player (familiar with more popular, yet complex puzzle games) they'd feel right at home as well.

Making a hardcore/renamed version is a thought, but I am still considering that what we are presenting currently should not be too difficult to sell, it just needs a little more exposure in the right places.

But I don't know. If ten different people chime in, in this thread and say "I hate the look. change the look" then that's certainly saying something
I don't think the look is bad at all, but as you say it doesn't "Grab you" from the screenshots... And in an impulse buy market place where everything is so cheap I think screenshots are really the vitally important bit...

The reason I say a hardcore look may be better is as you are putting an awful lot of work into marketing the game to gaming press (E3, Demanoid, Touch Arcade etc)... But casual players are unlikely to read up on gaming blogs/ magazines, it's the proper gamers which will read from these outlets...

So I'd say if your going for the casual look then focus on the mass market media, and not games media (so newspapers, maybe radio, hone in on where "kids and girls" consume their media if thats the target market your going for and advertise and focus your PR efforts there)... Also I agree that I think the icon could potentially be changed if it is the kids market your going for as (maybe this is just be being a young guy), but she has her boobs covered with a logo which could be taken the wrong way by parents considering it as a purchase for their children to play etc.

Essentially what I'm gradually learning is to put aside my own tastes and really just focus in on the target market and ensure all the effort is being directed in the right place and really design the product and marketing plan around them... This is something I think we could have done better on our last title Mirror Maze (albeit sales have been ok), and are trying to improve on with the next title.

It does look like a fairly well polished, quality product so the best of luck !

Assyria Game Studio -(For Business Enquieries Click Here)

Get normally paid games for FREE at DailyAppDream.com - If any developers want to run a free promo on any of their games then check out the site (it's free)

Last edited by AssyriaGameStudio; 06-26-2010 at 07:49 PM.