Apple Who? Secrets of Mobile Games That Succeed on Google Play
Insights & Best Practices
July 29, 2015
Getting a foothold in the mobile market has always been difficult, whether on Apple's iOS or Google Play. In the past two years, however, game publishers increasingly report that iOS has become even more intimidating ? while Google Play presents an easier target.Earlier this year, Chartboost data found that, for the first time, Google Play has surpassed iOS in mobile game sessions in North, South and Central America. Given that it had already surged ahead in EMEA, all signs point to Android claiming the top spot globally by the end of 2015. But does bigger necessarily mean better?In some cases, perhaps. Read on for three situations in which mobile game developers might be swayed toward Google.
1. You've got a social game with major growth potential
The developing world is blowing through growth targets. And in most developing countries, Android phones are taking a majority of the market.Large, slow-moving markets like the United States are fought over by the world's biggest publishers. Many of their users are already committed to favorite games. Developing markets, on the other hand, offer enthusiastic new smartphone owners and different sharing and social networking habits ? a combination that can work out quite well for developers. "It's interesting that you'll often see massive organic traffic in countries where you don't do user acquisition," says Anya Shapina, a co-founder at growth marketing agency Game Changer.Developing markets aren't all that Android has to offer, though. Worldwide, Google Play just seems to deliver up more users, especially once you create a foothold. "We also see the organic rate on Android to be 2-10 times more than on iOS," says Shapina. Which isn't to say more users automatically means more dollars: "Where those users come from is another matter ? not all monetize. But we infer that word of mouth works much better on Android," adds Shapina.
2. You've got plenty of time and you're in it for the long haul
Both Apple and Google maintain nearly identical lists of applications ? the so-called "top charts," sorted by most downloaded and highest earning. However, Google Play sorts its list differently.[caption id="attachment_9619" align="aligncenter" width="900"]
Image via the App Store[/caption]"Google Play considers a longer period of time and weights app engagement as criteria for its Top Free charts. As a result, established apps have a longer shelf life on Google Play Top Free charts," says Matt Casertano, SVP of game operations at top developer SGN.
"Google Play considers a longer period of time and weights app engagement as criteria for its Top Free charts. As a result, established apps have a longer shelf life on Google Play Top Free charts."
Matt Casertano, SVP of game operations, SGN
The iOS charts, on the other hand, are faster-moving and remain easily affected by massive marketing spends from the likes of Clash of Clans, Game of War and Candy Crush. This means that Google's charts are often a better target for a small developer who can spend time honing engagement. Google tracks both how often an application is opened, and when users uninstall it.The flip side of the iOS charts is that new games do regularly appear, often pushed up by an Apple editorial feature. But features aren't guaranteed, and may not give a permanent foothold. "Quite simply, you have to monetize at an eye-popping rate to stay [at the top], and be very aggressive and smart about acquisition," says Shapina.
3. You're courting mid- or hard-core gamers
Android users have a reputation for monetizing much more poorly than iOS. By now, though, it's common knowledge that Google Play is responsible for a large, and rapidly growing share of overall mobile game revenue.Not just any game fits the bill, though. Currently, Google Play's top grossing charts are dominated by strategy, card battling and casino games. So it stands to reason that these more niche, gamer-oriented genres will help developers form long-term growth around paid user acquisition.[caption id="attachment_9617" align="aligncenter" width="900"]
Image via Google Play's Top Charts[/caption]"If you have a casual game or female-oriented game, I'd suggest going on iOS because you have a greater chance of profitability," opines Shapina. On the other hand: "If I had several titles in mid- and hard-core, I'd be doing Google Play all day long," she says.
"If you have a casual game or female-oriented game, I'd suggest going on iOS because you have a greater chance of profitability. If I had several titles in mid- and hard-core, I'd be doing Google Play all day long."
-?Anya Shapina, co-founder at?Game Changer.
The bottom line: serious developers will always launch on both iOS and Google Play, but devs that don't have editorial support from Apple or huge marketing budgets will do well to consider where to place their strategic focus. For many, Google Play will reward a patient, player-focused approach.