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Android  header logo

 ANDROID NEWS

7 top developers share the secrets of selling games on Android

Ever heard of Monument Valley and Threes!?

Product: Monument Valley | Developer: ustwo | Genre: Adventure, Platform, Puzzle
For: Android   Also on: iPhone, iPad
 
Monument Valley Android, thumbnail 1
According to successful iOS developers like Atypical Games, Rogue Rocket Games, and Slitherine, Android gamers don't pay for premium games.

That realisation dawned on them after witnessing their own and other's unsuccessful attempts at releasing premium titles on the Play Store.

However, that only tells half the story. What about the developers that have managed to hit it big with premium titles on Android? It's time we heard their thoughts on this matter.

We reached out to premium developers ustwo, Not Doppler, Sirvo, DotEmu, Coffee Stain Studios, and Rainbow Train to learn more about how to sell premium on Android and what advice they'd give to developers who have struggled to make an impact.

Rainbow Train

oO / HOOK



Maciej Targoni: "I think the most important element (to a premium game's success) is the unique look and game play. It's really hard to make a game like Monument Valley and struggle with sales.

"With HOOK or oO I did almost zero marketing. I just showed a game here and there and people picked it up just because it wasn't another Flappy Bird or 2048 clone.

"Being different is the easiest way to get through.

"I don't think too much about monetization. Game design is my main focus. I think that ads and IAPs are destroying experience, so I had no option but to make a paid app.

"Maybe it's just luck - I have no idea. I will have to replicate success with upcoming titles to be sure."

DotEmu

R-Type / R-Type II / Another World



Cyrille Imbert: "Premium is a struggle when you have to get your name out. It is such a tough and competitive market today that if you need to get people to know that your game is great and make them pay for it before trying it, you are going to have a bad time.

"The only solution if you don’t have a renowned license or a well-established catalogue is to make a game as good as you can. Never give up on the quality and try to talk directly to people and communities that might be interested in your game, the rest will follow at some point.

"Monument Valley, The Room, and Threes! are successful games that came out of nowhere because they are great games and ideas with a high level of quality. People have so much fun playing them that they do all the promotion themselves. Quality and fun are keys.

"By doing this it will also be easier to convince a publisher that your game is going to be successful… This publisher might have the means to get your name out when you don’t."

ustwo

Monument Valley / Monument Valley: Forgotten Shores



Matthew 'Mills' Miller: "Simply put from my view, quality sells on any platform. It's just a question of how much."

Dan Gray: "It's performed pretty well if you look at it individually - as a percentage of total Monument Valley revenue it accounts for 20 percent if you include Amazon and Google Play together.

"Of course there's other factors towards sales being so weighted in favour of iOS like the Apple Design Award and GOTY. But even when looking at a general influx of new players like the House of Cards featuring, revenue is around 25 percent that of iOS. Considering the number of devices out there and the amount of noise from social media it's been slightly underwhelming, but these numbers do fall in line with other developers' experiences.

"I think any promotion or noise we have always spills into other platforms, and the initial success of Monument Valley on iOS definitely helped with the launch on Android. It gave us a nice staggered release and enough time for hype to circulate before our Google Play release.

"I mean it's a struggle for anyone who wants to make premium games on either platform. Just taking a quick look at the charts in the US, there's only eight games in the top two hundred grossing on Google Play and that only changes to fourteen on iTunes. Apart from the ever present outlier of Minecraft, it's practically impossible to permeate the top one hundred for a prolonged period of time.

"One thing our team tries to stick to is the idea of "moments". If you're releasing a game with zero paid marketing the only thing you're relying on is word of mouth and general buzz. Why is the player going to mention this to a friend, say something on Twitter, or post a picture on Facebook - what are those water cooler moments?

"With Monument Valley those moments begin the first time you rotate a piece of geometry in the intro. That moment where you say "I don't understand, how do I do this?", then it all clicks into place in an unforeseen way. That's the thing you tell your friend and that's the thing you put in a family members hands and those moments are placed in every chapter you play.

"Another angle of Monument Valley is the art style and visual polish. In a world where free to play games chase thousand hour game loops, it isn't viable to commit the amount of polish we do for a comparatively short piece of content. Play on this contrast and give players an experience they simply couldn't get from a free title. Go for being a relatively small but sumptuous fillet mignon as opposed to an all you can eat buffet, it's the only way we can compete."

Not Doppler

Earn to Die / Earn to Die 2



John Daskalopoulos: "In our case, consistent promotions to our web audience, plus upselling from shorter standalone free online versions has definitely helped maintain Earn to Die's strong performance as a premium mobile title over the last few years.

"I think selling premium content is a universal problem that many developers / publishers experience across all mobile platforms. The main problem with premium games is that the upfront price instantly stalls the word-of-mouth growth potential of your game, making it much harder for your game to go viral.

"My main advice is to evaluate your monetization strategy for your game. If your gameplay is supported by IAPs, has natural placements to include interstitial ads and / or is well-suited to video ads, opting for free-to-play could end up becoming a worthwhile decision - particularly if you have struggled with premium in the past.

"This isn't to discount premium completely - as there have been a number of great premium success stories recently - but going free to play does have a number of benefits -particularly to publishers / developers who don't have an existing audience to cross-promote to.

"If premium is the chosen strategy for your game, ensure that it has the necessary hooks to attract your target audience, and have strategies in place for how to attract people past the initial pay barrier. Investigate what key factors for other premium games with similar target audiences to your own have done to achieve success, and determine if adapting a similar strategy for your own game is feasible."

Coffee Stain Studios

Goat Simulator / GoatZ



Armin Ibrisagic: "I think the main reason Goat Simulator sold really well on mobile is because it was already a pretty well-known PC game. We saw a lot of people buy it on day one.

"That initial boost right bumped us up on the sales charts, which helped give visibility to completely new customers.

"I think mobile developers specialize in mobile far too often - for us the mobile version of Goat Simulator has worked great in synergy with PC, and with other platforms as well."

Sirvo

Threes!



Asher Vollmer: "Sadly, I have no clue why Android users spend less money than iOS users on premium games. I have a hunch it might be related to the fact that Android phones tend to be cheaper than iPhones, which means that the people who buy them are just more frugal in general.

"Threes! is a very sticky game that people tend to play for a while. I think that's been the main factor in its success on any platform.

"Threes!'s success up to this point has been more about its sturdy game design and less about any sort of savvy business decisions."
 

Reviewer photo
Glen Fox 3 June 2015
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