The Business of Mobile - Make Money with Android, mobile advertising and App Store Optimization

Friday, August 7, 2015

A New Case Study on Android Mobile Game Publishing and Monetization

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Last year I did a case study on publishing and monetizing a new Android mobile game.

Those series of posts were rather popular with you readers. Hey, everyone is interested to find out how much one can get for downloads and revenue right?

That game has garnered over a 1.2 million downloads as of this writing. Not bad for "hardly working" on it.

So, I just published about 24 hours ago this awesome Tiny Course Mini Golf Game on Google Play.

Tiny Course Mini Golf!

Development Time


It was developed over the course of a month. But I did not really spend a full month on it. It was more like a couple of hours here and another hour there.

Then there were many days not touching the project. Seriously, I need to work on procrastination.

So, if one were to consider the proper full time in development, the game probably took about a week to develop.

Peaceful golf courses filled with spikes!

Giving Users more Value


My previous golf games usually consisted on a single course only. This time around, I decided to give users a bigger value for their download.

I initially planned to release 5 courses of 18 holes each, and later on add a few more. But instead I dropped the initial release to just 3 courses.

So look out for the updates coming out over the next weeks. I'll be looking at keeping this one updated for a longer period, and hope I won't run out of resources for creating more and more levels.

Is value always going to be a positive return? Well, experience has thought me that nothing is guaranteed in this business.

A look at the desert-themed mini golf course


Monetization Strategy


The game uses Heyzap ads, both static and video inters. The ads are shown in hole 6, hole 12/13 and the menu screen. I will see how this setup goes in the love-hate relationship department with the users and my wallet.

The game has also been approved for sale on Amazon for $1.99 . Lets see how that performs there too.

One of the initial release courses

App Promotion


I've gone full blown cross promotion on this one (besides getting family ad friends to download). I need to get a new app up the charts, and I'm hoping this one will make it.

So I'm doing cross promo via Heyzap for this too. Will give you some updates on this as we go along.

I've also used twitter, and well, only 1 fellow developer was kind enough to support the game to give it a download over the last 24 hours (if you're reading this, thank you very much!). Still, better than 0.

I'm not sure what other promotion methods I'll be using going forward, keep reading this blog to see the progress , will you?

Challenging jumps and drops in the Mini Golf game


Better Stats


OK, this might sound lame, but I could use more downloads to get the stats to a better more meaningful format.

The bigger the numbers, the better and more accurate (whatever that means) the results will be.

So, if you haven't yet, go download the golf game and lets see where the game goes.

Download Tiny Course Mini Golf on Google Play


Cheers!
Bill




Thursday, July 23, 2015

Nintendo, The Missing Giant in the Mobile Games Scene

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Probably a new trend is about to start, and might change the mobile game space as we know it.

Going Mobile


One giant woke up a little late. Maybe they did wake up early, but decided that they aren't gonna get into the mobile gaming space.

Nintendo is probably the last big name missing in the mobile space. And as many must have predicted, sooner or later, they had to get into this space.

And now they are. The pressure must be really great, and let's face it, not keeping up with tech will surely be a tech company's demise.

Its not like we have a lack of Mario clones in the first place. There are better options sometimes out there, and updated to be great on mobile.

On that count too, any indie developers using their IP in the stores better get your acts clean. Who knows when they gonna start submitting DMCA take downs.

Late To The Party


The mobile gaming world is so far ahead, a new comer might not be able to rise to the top.

But let's not play out Nintendo at all. These guys been in the business long enough, and have great IP and moolah that they really will be making their presence felt.

It would really be awesome to see how they dethrone current leaders. (Big budgets surely).

Lots of lessons to learn from all this.

Setting A Moral Trend


Nintendo said they will be doing a free-to-start gaming style.

Now, this means that to further in the game, one has to make a purchase.

And Nintendo said that they don't quite like the free-to-play idea. Thus their IAP will have a limit.

I'm guessing this "moral", and not psychologically manipulating users to spend money, attitude might be the next on how mobile game companies be judged.

Nintendo is also looking at making only a handful of games, and continuing to improve those for the long term.  (Check out my previous post on the shift of the mobile apps game)

A great strategy we can implement in our ventures.

Interesting Times


While the initial gold rush of the mobile space might be over, or at least lessened down, its still full of great adventures ahead.

As the shift moves towards better quality against quantity, towards better user engagement, and more innovative money making ideas, the mobile gaming space really has matured.

Cheers!
Bill

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Game's Changed: Thriving & Surviving in the Mobile Stores!

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There was a time, not too long ago, where you could release a mobile app and get much downloads for it.

It didn't matter what that app was, or how good it was. You could always be sure to get downloads for it.

Those great old days..

Harder To Be Noticed


These days, its gotten tougher. Honestly, it not only affecting you, it also affected me and that other indie developer reading this post a few minutes ago.

You see, there is a shift. The game of app publishing has changed.

Some call it the death of reskinning. I don't totally agree on that though. Reskinning is very much alive, its just  mutated. And for the better.

There was a time, when the best way to build a great revenue stream being a mobile developer was by volume releasing apps on the store.

I've committed that sin too! (And a few others, but that's for another blog post!)

These days, this doesn't get you far. With a bazillion apps on the stores (thanks much to reskinning), it is not easy to pop up to the surface.

This is where the shift comes in.

The New Shift


Now a days, quality trumps quantity. Forget mass releasing apps, the boat for that had left the jetty.
Make fewer apps and games, and build on that. For the long term! Keywords : LONG TERM!

Even if you're reskinning apps and games, add quality to it. Add long life and VALUE to it. Make users want it for a longer while. This is where the shift of reskinning has headed.

You can make more money having one successful app than you can with many unsuccessful ones. I've been there, and I know this is true. Just too bad I did not take the opportunity to build on those successes. My lost!

Plus there are other benefits too, like less stress thinking how to spam the stores, less stress updating your apps to comply with store policy changes. And good karma and love of the human race!

Some say you end up in heaven too! Oh joy!

So, how's a new developer to proceed with this?

How To Grow Your Mobile Business


Well, if you're new, then by all means build your portfolio of apps. These will be your advertising vehicle for your major apps down the road. Use this portfolio to lead users to your big game changer.

But remember, you don't need to spam with reskins. Reskin smartly! You never know, even your reskins could be that hit app for you!

Happy Dev-ing!
Bill

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mobile Game Development: Make a Great First Impression

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An often missed point from many app store optimization topics is "great first impression".

First impression matters tremendously for any app, and more so for mobile games.

A first impression will hook a player longer. So make your first impression BIG!

Take a look at the intro of the first Half Life game. Or Elder's Scroll: Morrowind when you first step off the ship.

The impressions from these games are still fresh in my mind many years later. (OK. The Half Life one got annoying the 3rd time around).

When making your game levels, start off the game with one of your best aspects and effects shown.

Its often a habit to keep our best till further into the game, where we think that a gradual improvement will keep users wanting more.

While this may be true in some cases, it can also cause your users to forget about your game after the initial game play. 

Big impressive impressions, when it comes to mobile games, should also take place at the stores.

You want a potential user to be impressed when they first see your app's page.

Ensure your first 2 or 3 images are the ones with the biggest bang.

If you have a video, make that impressive (explosive!).

Avoid showing the title screen or the game menu as your first screenshot. I often see indies making these mistakes. It kills potential conversion.

So, go get this part of your ASO fixed and improve your downloads.

Cheers!
Bill

Monday, June 29, 2015

What mobile app or game to make next?

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A Million-Download App


I want to make another million download hit.

In fact, I want to make that every time I release an app.

But I know (and have faced) reality, and there are times I release simple, life-lacking mobile games. These are more for my satisfaction that I have completed another one.

Sometimes too, these come out of a challenge for myself.

I recently tried making a pinball game in Unity3D. It is published, with a modified and simplified gameplay. And it took just a day to do it. Ketchapp be the inspiration!

You never know when your release will be a hit , eh? Flappy bird probably best falls into this category.

The Secret to Mobile App Success

This really is a secret to mobile app success. Maybe not each and every app, but eventual apps.

So I sat down today, and tried to list out where I've been successful. I guess one of the mantras of successful people is, "do more of what works ".

My list went with the usual suspects. Golf games, soccer/football, pool/billiards, basketball games.

These are where I've found most of my hits. Games that hit a level that at least gave back a decent amount in revenue, especially beyond the first month.

While I continue to explore new fronts, aircraft dogfight and racing games, I know these are where I need to focus to continue a level of growth.

Its the same reason EA focuses on certain games year after year. Or why Rovio keep releasing more angry birds variants.

Once you find a formula that works for you, repeat it.

Of Angry Birds and Naughty Pigs


Do note though, that one person's formula will almost very likely not work for another.

So if you're thinking making "angry pigeons" is gonna make you a million download hit, you may want to think it again.

Create a portfolio of games, see where you get your hits from, expand on those.

Cross promotion comes in very handy in these cases too. A player playing a racing game is more likely to download another racing game.

And about the Translation


And speaking of downloads, my last post about the influence of translations on app downloads, well, it has continued to maintain its run. I added a few more missing translations, and it gave a slightly more upwards swing.

ASO - Download increase after app store description translations (click to enlarge)


Guess this time the translations came through.

Cheers!
Bill