How to Stand Out in Mobile Gaming as an Indie Developer

3 Min Read

The mobile gaming industry is estimated to be worth US$174 billion by 2021, up from US$68.5 billion this year. This comes as no surprise as demand for mobile games has been on the rise in recent years, with over 1.8 million apps on the App Store and two million apps on the Play Store.

And with almost a third of the world’s population (2.4 billion to be exact) now playing mobile games, it’s no wonder why more and more app developers are looking to enter this highly-lucrative market. But this begs the question, how do you as an indie developer stand out from a sea of sharks on the hunt for goldfish (supposedly)?

Get your house in order first

Building an amazing gaming app was just the first step in your long, arduous journey to making it in the big leagues. What you do from here on out will determine your success in your quest to acquiring as many users as possible. The first of which should be to build a foundation from which you can launch your attack. This means building a brand that is relatable and instantly recognisable.

A good starting point would be to tie in your app name with your logo and in-game aspects such as characters and environments to ensure consistency across your game. Experiment with different colour schemes, font styles and font colours to find a consistent theme that best represents your brand and apply it to all of your collaterals. Once you’ve got that covered, it’s time to make your app visible.

Improve your visibility on app stores

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, think of App Store Optimisation (ASO) as the cousin of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). However, instead of websites, ASO relies on metadata to rank apps on app stores. In a nutshell, ASO is governed by two types of metadata – those you can control and those you can’t.

The ones you can control are factors such as your app title, description and keywords field, as well as app category and preview video. On the other hand, external factors that contribute to your game’s ranking on app stores include ratings, reviews and number of installs; to name a few.

Granted, optimising your game to rank higher on app stores is easier said than done. You’ll have to conduct your own keyword research, reply to user reviews and regularly update your app to maximise your chances of ranking higher. But ignoring this part of the process would be the equivalent of rushing an enemy base with no backup – suicidal.

New is always better

Barney Stinson made a good point when he said, “New is always better,” in How I Met Your Mother. Staying relevant by constantly updating your app is hugely beneficial not just to your ASO, but to your user experience as well.

This doesn’t just apply to bug fixes and maintenance issues, though. Keeping your game fresh can also be achieved by introducing seasonal or festive updates such as limited edition in-game items, promotional offers or even full-blown seasonal events for holidays such as Halloween and Christmas.

You can also do this for holidays within the countries you wish to launch your app in. For example, the Lunar New Year, Hari Raya and Diwali are major ethnic holidays that shouldn’t be missed out on in markets like Southeast Asia. Do some research, localise your content and whatever you do, do not do this.

Everything works, until it doesn’t

It’s tough being an indie developer in mobile gaming. Going up against a multitude of competitors and big-name developers in the industry is no walk in the park. This guide is by no means the be-all, end-all to acquiring more users for your app.

It is, however, a good starting point for the less initiated who are looking for a fighting chance to go up against the big boys. One important point to note is to be adaptable. Don’t assume the tactics that are working now will continue to produce the same results in the future. Everything works, until it doesn’t.