How Mobile Developers Can Get Noticed Noticed Among 800k Competitors

Mobile has changed the way we play, shop, and interact with one another.

Remember that week we spent hours hunched over our phones, trying to navigate a 2D bird across a Super Mario-like landscape? Or when masses took to the streets to catch Pokemon and collect rare items with their phones?

Mobile games drive close to 40% of the total revenue in the global games market. Last year, app stores offered nearly 800,000 mobile games, compared to the 17,000 titles available on PC and game consoles.

So how will mobile developers break through in this cluttered market? And what does this mean for traditional gaming companies?

We asked some mobile experts to learn about the latest trends and predictions in the market this year. Here’s what they had to say.

Level 1: Knowing Your Opponent

“The opportunity here for mobile app developers is massive, but rising competition and costs in a crowded market makes it harder to break into this market. The costs of gamer acquisition and retention are also steadily increasing.”

Michael Mace, VP of Product Marketing at UserTesting

“The markets are cluttered with low quality first and second attempts of people wanting to ‘give it a go’ or just releasing their side project. Above them are the studios who moved to full-time mobile game development and are able to pump out mobile games faster than you can read this article.

But the games that make it into the top 100 are almost exclusively from studios that either have a number of investors behind them and are ready to spend a lot to acquire traffic for their game, or have a large portfolio of games and a cult following that will consume anything that is cross-promoted through their network. If you’re not a viral hit success and you have no user acquisition strategy in place, forget about getting somewhere on any of the markets.”

George Boychev, Marketing Expert at Casualino JSC

Level 2: Upping The “Wow” Factor

“Today we have a bigger market, greater audience, and fewer rules. The emergence of mobile games has allowed people to play games more frequently over a shorter period of time. Traditional games have begun to shift to shorter game cycles so that rewards and/or punishments are received more efficiently.”

Jason Yang, CEO & Co-founder of Veewo Games

“Creating a great mobile gaming experience requires a much higher standard for usability and simplicity than most people realize. Hundreds of thousands of mobile game user tests have uncovered common mistakes when developing a mobile game, such as cryptic controls, unclear tutorials, genre conventions, and a failure to balance making a game both challenging and fun. By avoiding these traps, mobile app developers can set their game apart and gain a competitive advantage over the coming years…”

Michael Mace, VP of Product Marketing at UserTesting

Level 3: Find Your Clan

“In 2017 we will see more major partnerships and acquisitions involving the leading mobile game developers. PC and console game companies will increasingly leverage their triple-A intellectual property with mobile game developers. We saw this with Nintendo Super Mario and DeNA and Square Enix Final Fantasy and Machine Zone.

Gaming companies benefit from accessing the massive and growing mobile market opportunity, while mobile game developers benefit from traditional game publishers’ powerful brands and passionate audiences.”

Terence Fung, Chief Strategy Officer, Storm8

Level 4: Big Data & Targeting FTW!

“If you do have a decent budget and a clear idea on how to spend it, you are in for a treat. All four major platforms have their own paid user acquisition services – Adwords Universal App Promotions, Apple’s Smart Ads, Windows 10’s Ad campaigns and last but not least – the Amazon Mobile Ad Network. Everyone is invested into giving the advertisers all the freedom and targeting options they want. Some platforms are definitely ahead of others, but keyword suggestions and volumes are on point. You can target the exact keywords you want people to find you and narrow the audience from there. With some trial and error, you will easily learn the basics and start reaching the right customers!”

George Boychev, Marketing Expert at Casualino JSC

“Mobile development has allowed game developers to break into the field more easily. The designing procedure has become more manageable and simple and the cost of game development has dropped significantly. The portability of smartphones has allowed game developers to track big data easily. This helps developers innovate promotion strategies based on big data.”

Jason Yang, CEO & co-founder of Veewo Games

Level 5: Power Up Your Revenue With Subscriptions

“Over the years, subscription apps have also become more commonplace in consumers’ lives with offerings from entertainment media (Netflix, Spotify) to dating apps (Tinder, Hinge).

Last summer, Apple announced a way to facilitate subscription revenue for game developers, increasing the developer revenue share to 85%. Since then, a number of developers have introduced a subscription component. Subscriptions can benefit developers given a higher revenue share with the app stores, customer loyalty and revenue predictability presuming a developer can deliver strong enough customer value that leads to high payer conversion.

In 2017, expect developers to launch games with fresh game mechanics or episodic content that’s highly valued by consumers and are much better tailored for subscriptions.”

Terence Fung, Chief Strategy Officer, Storm8

3X Combo: Big Data, Segmentation, & Personalization

More than half of all U.S. cell phone owners report that they now play mobile games. Consumers have more games at their fingertips than ever before since mobile games are easily accessible and also easy to produce. The iOS store alone receives 500 new game submissions a day.

It also now costs over $3 to acquire one mobile user. It’s becoming more expensive for developers to get their games in front of consumers and it’s even harder to build loyalty.

That’s why app marketers will need to be strategic with who they target, when and how. According to our experts, the developers that will come out on top are those who leverage big data insights, fine tune their targeting, and identify new revenue models.

Moral of the story: There are no cheat codes when it comes to disrupting the market and building a loyal following, but applying this combo over time can produce some pretty sweet results.

Want to ramp up engagement and loyalty for your mobile app? Here are some other posts you might find helpful:

6 Ways to Use SMS to Engage Your Customers

The Art and Science of App Monetization

6 Ways Bitly Can Supercharge Your Mobile Strategy


Just getting started with mobile? Want to tweak your strategy? Download our eBook to learn how to build, optimize, and promote your app!

Denise Chan @denisechan26
Senior Content & Community Marketing Manager