UK-based app developer Rebellion has achieved 3.5 million downloads on all three of their games across the Windows Phone and Windows 8 platform in less than 12 months. Rebellion’s Judge Dredd vs Zombies, Zombie HQ, and Guns 4 Hire have reached an incredible amount of success on a platform that many developers often overlook.
In a recent interview with Emilio Salvador Prieto, James Valls, Senior Producer at Rebellion reveals some of the strategies that his studio used to maximize their success. So, what are the keys for accumulating millions of downloads and making tons of money with apps? You may be surprised, but according to Rebellion there are multiple factors that come into play. One of the biggest is gameplay. You have to start with a good game. For example in Judge Dredd vs. Zombies players get to wage war with four lethal zombies through 30 challenging levels. “The game experience needs to be different enough each time that it attracts repeat players,” added Valls.
Marketing Strategy Formula
The key to successful marketing campaign is to have a game that can sell itself. According to Rebellion Marketing Coordinator, Robbie Cooke, “You can spend advertising dollars to acquire each player if you like, but in a freemium model, those new players won’t be worth the investment if they don’t come back, so good game design, merchandising, and support all contribute to retaining and converting users.”
There are limitless possibilities when it comes to app marketing and you never quite know what will take off. Sometimes having a good icon will attract people and in some cases, like with the notorious hit app, Flappy Bird, social media and word of mouth can skyrocket your game from obscurity to popularity practically overnight.
Cooke’s take on marketing is, “You can do all these things, but your success still has a lot to do with the game. The game itself has to get players talking and sharing it with friends. Windows Phone is a relatively young platform with lots of evangelist, so we’ve found that word of mouth has been incredibly beneficial.”
Another Tip for Success
An interesting inside tip that Rebellion divulged during the interview was there process for targeting audiences and why it worked so well with the Windows platform. The company is regularly collecting data to assist them in decision-making during app development. Ensuring that your game is available to your core audience and in the user’s language is important. Rebellion always tries to translate their games into as many languages as possible for the largest reach.
“Before we even consider pursuing an idea, we ask ourselves if there will be an audience for it,” stated Valls. “Windows Phone has garnered many tech-savvy users because they understand that the Nokia Lumia hardware is very good. Fortunately, these young, tech savvy users also like to play games on the move, so they sort of select themselves on Windows Phone.”
CEO of Rebellion, Jason Kingsley recently had a lot to say about the Microsoft mobile platform, “You can see positive reaction to our various games on Windows. For example, Guns 4 Hire is performing favorably on Windows compared to other platforms. Different platforms offer different advantages, and one of the great things about Windows Phone games is that they’re also available on Windows 8. Guns 4 Hire currently has more players and better average revenue per player than on other mobile operating systems.”
App Monetization & the Bottom Line
Rebellion believes heavily in focusing on the user’s experience and the app’s gameplay for success. The studio doesn’t claim any particular business model as the best technique for app monetization instead they insist on designing the experience and letting the game drive the business model. The company has experimented with all the various business models. Currently they feature free-to-play, premium, and subscription apps.
When it comes to boosting revenue through (IAP) in-app purchases, Rebellion has discovered that the key to converting a user from free to paid is to provide them with value. “A user has to want to make that first purchase, so we have to offer gamers something valuable at a low introductory price.”
On F2P games, Valls concludes, “Players invest nothing to play a free game, so they won’t continue playing if they are not enjoying themselves right away.”
(Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog)