Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Friday, October 8, 2010

App Store Success Story

If you're looking for a way to succeed in the App Store, you should take a look at what happened with Hungry Shark. This blog post on GamesBrief lays it out very nicely; the game had done very well in the UK as a paid app (250,000 copies!) and they wanted to take a big bite out of the American market. So they introduced it as a free game during Discovery Channel's Shark Week, and it hit the #1 spot for six days in August. Now they're moving 250,000 copies per day as a free app. So what, you say? Well, about 7% of those go on and pay 99 cents for the full version.

If you're doing the math, after you take out Apple's 30% cut, they're raking in a cool $12,000 or so. Every day. Pretty good for a free game, isn't it?

Note, though, you have to have a damn good game to start with, with good production values. They were clever enough to tie in to an external event that provided a PR hook, and they pushed the connection. They were clever enough in the design that they could create a free version that was fun, and there was enough impetus to get a reasonable number of conversions to the paid version.

Could this be duplicated? Yes, but more likely is that you'll have to work on each piece of the puzzle for a while to make it happen. Your conversion rate may be very low, so you'll have to tweak the design or improve the added value to boost the conversion rate. Using the analytics provided by someone like Flurry you can improve things based on what users are doing. Getting the word out to all the right web sites, getting the review copies in the right hands... orchestrating the buzz is very important.

Still, it all starts with a good game at its core. Marketing can help a good game succeed, but in this era of widespread information and reviews a mediocre or poor game won't make it, no matter how much rich creamy marketing you put on top.

The old market of packaged goods in retail stores, where an EA exec once famously said "We could sell dog shit in a box", is going away. Good riddance. Now you have to have a good game, and good marketing, to succeed. The customers are better off being surrounded by good quality games.

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