Game of War – Fire Age, Clash of Clans, Candy Crush… Any of these sound familiar? They should. These three mobile games are ranked among the 10 most successful of all time. Chances are you have played at least one. Does the name Rovio sound familiar? Of course it does. That is the developer of Angry Birds. How about Zynga? Surely you haven’t forgotten Farmville. So how is it that these games, all available for free, and not one of them published by a major game developer, came to be so wildly successful? Let’s take a look and see what these indie developers have in common.
Before you even begin to develop the first parts of your mobile game you need to decide what kind of game it will be. Would you prefer it to be RPG, action, or strategy? You should also have layed out who your target audience is. Do you want to market to teens? Four out of five adults own smartphones, while only three out of five teenagers do. Knowing the best time to release the game is also crucial. You don’t want your game to drop on the same day as the new Resident Evil or Grand Theft Auto. Think about holidays (especially Christmas and its predecessor, Black Friday). Depending on the type of game and your intended audience, there are days and even months where release is highly recommended and not recommended at all. You are going to have to do a little bit of research. Additionally, consider what market would be appropriate for whatever you are creating, and how to appeal to potential players. Is your game going to be free to play or will you charge your customers for the download?.
FIND A NICHE
While it is important for you to love the game you are developing, you can greatly increase your chances for success if you can find an uncrowded corner of the market. Take a look around and see if you can pinpoint a style of game of which there are very few, or at least very few that are well done. This will enable you to put your own spin on what you are creating and also help you to stand out from the crowd. Games with highly detailed story lines and different player modes consistently perform better than those without. Your best bet at getting a new player to download your game is to make sure they understand it: how to play, what the objective is, what the rewards are, etc. If you can amass all of these things into your development, you are well on the road to success.
Very few people are going to spend their hard earned money to buy a game they have never heard of from a developer they have never heard of. This means that making your game a free download is your best place to start. The free download is a solid, proven strategy for game developers. This provides the basic play for free features and also provides an available upgrade that the player can purchase. Making your game free gives you the best possible chance for the widest audience available. Now in this case, free doesn’t actually mean “no money”. There will be ads and of course, the ubiquitous in-app purchases that we see in almost every single game. These in-app purchases allow the player to pay money for advanced capabilities, equipment, characters, etc. In-app purchases are also used as an indicator in the success of the game. If users are willing to shell out real bucks for virtual goods and services, it is an indication that they are really into the game. In-game ads are also very common across the market. Developers have had varying degrees of success with these, mostly depending on the type of game that is being played. The more casual and laid-back the game, the more likely users are to tolerate ads. The more intense and competitive the game is, the more likely players are to find the ads obnoxious, but these are also the players most likely to pay for upgrades.
Of course none of these items is as important as making sure that you have developed a good, solid game. One free of glitches, that is captivating, entertaining, and rewarding. Advanced planning and research are key elements to making sure that your game is a success.