Recently in a Re/code interview with Natural Motion’s CEO Torsten Reil the secret on how to make apps successful was revealed. Reil credited the success of his company’s latest free-to-play mobile hits like the racer CSR Classics and family game Clumsy Ninja to only two steps: Designing for buzz and endless testing.
“We generate games that people talk about,” said Reil. “Everyone is cloning existing games that work well. That is not sustainable.”
Designing for Buzz
With the multitude of apps released daily and heavy competition for ranking in the app store, Torsten makes a very valid point. The method of cloning apps can only get you so far and with today’s changing copyright policies, being original will become the determining factor of success later down the line. Design and originality that can grab users’ attention and spread via word of mouth is extremely powerful in the mobile industry. If we look closer at some of the top games currently dominating the charts and those in the past they’ve all possessed that something extra that made them stand out.
For example, In Natural Motion’s CSR Classics players have the opportunity to race the ‘greatest cars ever made’ depicted in realistic yet striking 3D graphics setting it apart from the rest of the thousands of racing genre games out there. Clumsy Ninja’s cute bright-eyed character and interactive adventure gameplay made users take notice also.
Even Supercell’s Clash of Clans and King’s Candy Crush skyrocketed to the top because they both brought something visually different that during its launch created a significant amount of buzz.
Testing and More Testing
During the interview Reil discussed the business of games like a Silicon Valley guy, dividing his time between Natural Motion’s headquarters in Oxford, England and San Francisco. “The next Clumsy Ninja or My Horse can build off an old category but do something new with mobile technology,” he said. The second step that is essential to make a successful app is testing and more testing prior to launch. According to the CEO, Natural Motion assembles a six person focus group 3-4 times per week, soft-launches all of its games in smaller app markets first, and then continues to test the apps’ features after launch by forwarding A/B tweaks out to a small subset of players.
Although the endless testing may seem like overkill, Natural Motion has received incredible results from it. “Clumsy Ninja increased its revenue per user fivefold, thanks to what the company learned from testing during a Singaporean soft launch,” Reil said.