How To Get Featured on App Store and Google Play

get-your-mobile-game-discovered

GET FEATURED ON APP STORE AND GOOGLE PLAY

Getting that first feature for your mobile game often feels like an impossible dream.

At GDC 2015, Mike Rose, talent scout at tinyBuild, made waves on Twitter announcing some astonishing statistics at his session: Every 24 hours in 2014, 500 new games launched on the iOS store, and 250 on Android.

In other words, calling the mobile game market “crowded” is a bit of an understatement. And though everyone knows a featured slot on the Apple App Store or Google Play drives attention and downloads your way, getting that first feature for your mobile game often feels like an impossible dream — especially when you’re just starting out.

I recently tackled the problem of discovery with a panel of mobile game industry experts at Casual Connect Europe in Amsterdam. Here, the insights they shared about how to nab that elusive feature:

Shazia Makhdumi, global head of educational apps and games at Google Play, is passionate about empowering content creators. While she accepts that getting a featured slot on Google Play is game-changing, she was keen to push the emphasis back on mobile developers to make great games. Put quality first, she says, and you’ve got a fighting chance.

“It’s really not about the budget,” she added. “If you have something that people are excited about and a user base that you’re building through organic channels, through social channels — everything else follows from that.”

“It’s really not about the budget. If you have something that people are excited about and a user base that you’re building through organic channels, through social channels — everything else follows from that.”

Games that showcase new technology innovations, like wearables, also get top billing, she said. Not surprisingly, Google and Apple are more likely to feature titles that make their own tech look good. Seasonality can help, too: Makhdumi’s team creates topical collections of mobile games, so having a holiday or seasonal hook can significantly boost a game’s chance of discovery.

Rob Simister worked at Microsoft for nine years, and he’s now a senior director at mobile gaming giant Kabam, dealing with key partnerships and business development. Kabam’s clearly doing something right, as its Marvel: Contest of Champions game brought in $400 million in revenue last year.

While some mobile game developers see dealing with Apple and Google Play as a barrier to publishing, Simister said, that’s the wrong approach. These platform’s editorial teams are actually a (sometimes small) collection of people, and when dealing with people, it’s all about relationships. Some larger companies like Disney even have full time employees dedicated to this courtship. So it’s important to reach out, work alongside them, and — above all —  treat them with respect. Your reputation matters and will be reflected in where your game stands.

“It’s a very powerful thing that they can potentially [give] to your app, so they need to be treated with a lot of respect,” said Simister. “And that’s not just because I’m sitting next to somebody from Google,” he joked. “That’s common sense.”

“It’s a very powerful thing that they can potentially [give] to your app, so they need to be treated with a lot of respect. And that’s not just because I’m sitting next to somebody from Google. That’s common sense.”

But that doesn’t mean constantly bugging your Google or Apple contact. “They’re not going to expect or want everyone to phone them up every minute of the day,” he said. “You’ve got to be smart about this. You’ve got to look at it from the perspective of the platform holder. What’s in it for them? Why should they feature your game?”

The final member of the panel, Michael Chang, has advised on investments worth billions of dollars and acquired the Canadian game studio Bight Games for publishing giant Electronic Arts in 2011. He shared an example of featuring gone wrong from the former indie developer’s big mobile hit, The Simpsons: Tapped Out.

“There’s also a downside to featuring,” Chang told the audience. “If you do a very good job of convincing a partner that they should profile your game, you’d better make sure that game stands up.”

“There’s also a downside to featuring. If you do a very good job of convincing a partner that they should profile your game, you’d better make sure that game stands up.”

When The Simpsons launched, he said, it had so many users it practically “melted the servers.” But the player experience was terrible and, as a result, Electronic Arts’ relationship with Apple took a beating.

“You can well imagine what the relationship with Apple would be after something like that,” said Chang. “If you fail, you’re going to have to live with [the platform holder] for a long time, and they’re going to be very unhappy with you for a while.”

Source: Chartboost.