As mobile gaming becomes an increasingly popular pastime, cutting through the noise with successful game app promotions grows more and more difficult. With more than 5 million apps available for download on the App Store and Google Play, the marketplace is crowded and customers are inundated with choices. For mobile developers wondering how to promote a game app, there are some tried and true strategies that can help your app rise to the top.
In this article, we will explore eight effective ideas for how to promote a game app, from pre-publication to launch time all the way through to your post-launch press push.
Jump to a section...
8 Ideas For How To Promote A Game App
#1: Conduct market research
Before you even develop an app, take the time to survey the mobile gaming landscape. The ubiquity of mobile games today means that no one game exists in a vacuum, and it’s important to understand what else is on the market. Search for games that are similar to yours to ensure that there is an audience ready and waiting for your release. You can also look for trending topics, genres, or search queries to anticipate how your game will satisfy consumers’ desires and capture their attention. Market research and analytics tools like App Annie, Sensor Tower, and Newzoo will help you identify market opportunities based on observable trends.
#2: Learn from competitors
Even if you’ve already completed development on your game, studying your competitors is still a valuable exercise. Search the app store as if you were a user searching for your game, and take note of the way your direct competitors deploy app titles, icons, descriptions, and keywords for example (learn more about these in our post on how to market a mobile game). What do their visual assets, like screenshots, gameplay videos, and trailers look like? Studying your competitors’ tactics (and the reviews and feedback they receive from users) can help you learn from their mistakes and set yourself apart.
#3: Soft launch your game
Starting with a soft launch will help you release the most polished app possible. Sorting out the flow of your game, perfecting the design elements, and debugging issues don’t happen on storyboards or during development; they are all made possible by real-world testing during a soft launch phase. It’s important to define your KPIs so you know what you’re testing for, and make sure to include both creative elements and your marketing and monetization strategy in your testing plans.
Typically, the alpha testing phase occurs during development and is focused on the functionality of the game from a tech perspective. Because the beta testing phase puts the playable game in front of real users, it usually occurs once you’re confident that all the major development issues have been fixed. Depending on your launch strategy, you may want to run a closed beta phase with a select group of game testers, or an open beta phase that invites the public to complete game testing and contribute their feedback before the official release.
#4: Consider pitching publishers
If you’re a mobile game developer, partnering with a publisher can have its benefits. Third-party publishers are often very selective, so successfully pitching your game will give you the confidence that it’s ready for the market. Even if a publisher rejects your game, you’ll be able to benefit from their insights, feedback, and assessment of how marketable your game is in its current state. It’s important to remember that pitching to game publishers is also a financial decision — while many publishers will manage the promotional effort around your app, they’ll also take a cut of your revenue. Here are some major publishers to consider partnering with:
#5: Find promotional partners
Creating promotional opportunities with outside partners or with other games in your portfolio is a solid marketing option. First of all, it can be a cost-free arrangement — you and your partners agree to promote each other’s games in an attempt to introduce your users to other games or apps they may appreciate. Look for other developers with similar (but probably not identical) audiences, or crossover demographic categories or points of interest.
Cross-promotion also leverages the power of in-app advertising to get your title in front of interested parties. Try to choose similar or topically relevant games in which to display your ads; those apps will have the opportunity to earn ad revenue, and users that have already downloaded games like yours will be more likely to make the leap. These cross-promotional benefits factor into paid marketing, which is a crucial part of promoting a game app. Make sure to develop a paid marketing strategy that incorporates performance advertising best practices based on benchmarks in your industry. Our report can help you get started:
#6: Expand to new app stores
When it comes to mobile game marketplaces, the primary focus is on the App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android devices. There are 2.22 million apps available for download in the Apple App Store, and 3.15 million apps available through Google Play. But that doesn’t mean those are the only two options when it comes to reaching mobile gamers and increasing downloads. Here are some alternative app stores and distribution channels you can use to promote your mobile game:
The specifics of your mobile game and the audience you’re trying to reach should factor into the channels you use to promote your game app. If you took the time to conduct market research, you should have a pretty clear idea of the most effective app stores and channels to increase your game’s discoverability. This will help increase the success of your mobile game marketing strategies.
#7: Make the most of forums
Drumming up a conversation about your game app is an organic, authentic way to promote it more widely. Post about it on the forums and directory websites where committed gamers gather to discuss the latest and greatest apps. There can be risk involved if your game isn’t up to snuff, but assuming you’ve conducted market research, studied your competitors, completed alpha and beta testing, and other steps outlined here, you should be able to feel confident about players’ responses to your app. Forums can also be a great place to find dedicated beta testers and eager early adopters to weigh in on your pre-launch development progress — but respect forum rules by checking to make sure self-promotion is allowed wherever you’re posting.
#8: Connect with the press
Securing press coverage is also a great post-launch promotion strategy. Reach out to gaming publications and websites or contact journalists directly with information and visuals designed to pique their interest and inspire them to write about your app. A well-crafted press release can help you capture the press’ attention, and there are internet-based PR tools that make it easy to identify and connect with the right reporter or individual at a publication.
For developers with budget resources, creating a beautiful press kit is also an option. Press kits can be digital and focus on visual assets like photos and videos, or they can be physical collections designed to impress using products related to the game experience.
At MOLOCO, we help developers promote game apps through fully optimized campaigns that grow their user bases and expand revenue. Partnering with MOLOCO means benefitting from our proprietary machine learning algorithms, unlocking the ability to target quality users at scale, hit ROAS goals, and transform data into long-term sustainable growth. Ready to learn more about how MOLOCO can help you promote your game app? Contact us today.