28. March 2015 · Comments Off on How We Brought A Game Back From the Dead · Categories: Game Design · Tags: , ,

Case Study for an iOS Game RedesignZombie Granny

Today our game “Zombie Granny vs. Aliens Outer Space Battle” is FINALLY live in the iTunes App Store.

Insert “mini” celebration and a big sigh of relief here.

You see, over a year ago, we purchased a reskin code in order to make “Zombie Granny.” The original artwork was just OK, but we added our own sound files and tried to pep things up a bit. We conducted proper app store optimization (also known as “app search optimization” or “ASO”); picked good keywords; wrote a nifty title and description and had it translated into 28 languages; made screen captures and submitted it to Apple.

The game was rejected.

Apple told us that it mimicked too many other similar game types so our submission wasn’t going to make the cut.

Drats.

We put the game on the backburner and moved on. We knew it needed a game redesign, but other priorities pushed it farther down our to do list. However, a month ago, we resurrected “Zombie Granny” and used the artwork and sound to create an entirely new game (and not a reskin). We also added a few new granny characters; picked new keywords and re-wrote the game description.

After a couple of bumps (translation: two more rejections by Apple), we were able to get the meta data fixed to our reviewers’ liking and the game was finally approved.

We didn’t give up. We just tried something different.

You can download “Zombie Granny” for free here:

http://apple.co/1G1Nvct

Also today, we’re releasing “Polar Penguin Frozen Iceberg Treasure Hunt.” This is a cute, free fish-grabber game. It’s available here:

http://apple.co/1HUvr6e

And, since Easter’s almost here, we’ve updated a few of our popular Easter games:

Stayed tuned! More game updates and new game releases are coming soon.

24. March 2015 · Comments Off on Why Your New App Bombed · Categories: ASO · Tags: , , ,

Everything, you feel, is in place for your app launch!

The best keywords have been selected.Why Your New Apps Bomb

You wrote an awesome and well-optimized app description and have applied other app search optimization (ASO) techniques.

Your app was translated in every possible language.

Your screen captures best reflect the app.

Ready?

Launch day is here and, unfortunately, nothing happens.

A few downloads. A couple of in-app purchases were made and you collected a few bucks from Chartboost (or others). No reviews. No buzz. Nada.

What happened? Now what?

Yep, we’ve been there. Done that. We’ve expected many of our new apps and game releases to set the world on fire and we’ve suffered a little post-release letdown. It’s going to happen.

Here are some ideas that might help your next app launch return better results.

Create some pre-launch buzz

Start a count-down of sorts on Twitter and other social media channels letting everyone know “our cool app will be launched on Friday!”

Release screen captures (think #screenshotSaturday) every day of your app as you get closer to the launch date.

Consider offering promotional codes prior to launch. Maybe those receiving an advance copy will be kind enough to publish a review of your new app.

Create a contest leading up to your launch date.

Write and distribute a press release

This can be effective if you use it for a big launch (not for every reskin release or app update). In most cases, your local media might be interested in your new app launch.

Some feel press releases don’t create more downloads. However, it depends on the app. Do gamers read press releases? Maybe not. However, if you’re releasing a business app, that might be of interest to business publication readers.

Write a blog

You should be writing at least one blog post a week (no matter what). However, as you get closer to releasing an app, users like to read the story of ideas; app creation; hurdles, etc. Think ahead as you create the app and tell the story along the way. Post a bit.ly link to your blog in Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Be real

In everything you do with your app’s pre-launch and launch activities, be a real person talking with real people.

Use your own voice. Start a conversation.

Don’t SPAM Twitter or Facebook with constant app release posts and telling everyone how awesome your app is. They will get ignored. If you talk with your audience along the way, they will be very interested in your new app.

 

 

17. March 2015 · Comments Off on How To Generate Game Ideas · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, Top Games · Tags: , ,

Before the coding; the artwork; the music, all games must start with an idea.

Will your audience be interested in your game? That, my friend, is the $64,000 question.

Here are a couple of ways you can do some simple research to stimulate your brain cells and generate game idhow to generate hot new game ideaseas for a hot game theme or an app.

Conduct Game Research

Within the iTunes App Store (or Google Play), start researching the most downloaded apps in various categories.

Take for example, the Strategy section of the Games category. Monsters, dinosaurs and jewels seem to be popular, so perhaps a game with one of those themes might be a good idea. Zombies and bug-smasher type games have dropped out of the Top 25, but they still remain steady.

Be sure to take the time to download and try popular apps to learn more about them and what features they have to offer. You’ll definitely generate many good ideas for your own app and how to make it better.

Follow Trends

You need to be a trend watcher and pay attention to news, sports and entertainment. Any of these information venues will generate a hot game idea.

Recently, a photographer snapped a picture of a weasel riding on the back of a woodpecker. Regardless of whether the pic was real or not, it immediately generated a ton of social media buzz and new game releases.

When “Flappy Bird” took off, many developers followed suit with their own versions, including a “Miley Cyrus” wrecking ball version.

Watch YouTube Videos

You can create many ideas from watching videos on YouTube. Some of our favorite videos include anything about animals (the more amusing the idea).

Watch the top videos in each category and keep your eye on recent additions to YouTube.

Remember the Holidays

Every holiday is a game idea. If you don’t have any holiday games, a good place to start is with your own game inventory. Take one of those games and “remodel” it into a holiday game.

One of our popular holiday games – “Escape from Frozen Turkey Meadow” – is based off the original game “Escape from Turkey Meadow.”

Keep your eyes and ears open. The next thing you hear or see could easily be created into a popular game!

 

13. March 2015 · Comments Off on Three New Apps Released in Google Play! · Categories: Android, App Updates, Google Play · Tags:

Zombie Granny vs. The Aliens in Google PlayWe’ve moved into the world of Android and Google Play app development by releasing three new apps in Google Play.

One game – “Zombie Granny vs. The Aliens” – hasn’t been released yet in the iTunes Store, so Android users will get a jump on the iOS crowd in playing this arcade-style game.

Here, you’ll help Zombie Granny jump from platform to platform; collect space rocks; power shields and extra game lives, while avoiding green aliens and their globs.

You can download the free game here: http://bit.ly/z-granny

“Run Sparky Run” is also available on Google Play.

In this running-style game, Sparky’s returned and this time he can move quicker through the woods with legs of speed. As you help Sparky run, you can earn extra character lives and bonus points by jumping to collect coins in the sky or by landing on objects that burn such as matches, bonfires, gasoline, and oil drums.

Download the game here for free: http://bit.ly/18GIfxN

Our third new addition to Google Play is “Little Sparky’s Maze Challenge.” In this classic game, you’ll help Sparky work through a maze of endless and challenging levels. Along the way, you’ll encounter barbed wire, plants, leaves, logs and more.

Download the game here for free: http://bit.ly/18H12sJ

For iTunes, we’ve updated and released our popular game “Busy Baby Buggy Neighborhood Walk Obstacle Course” (version 2.0; Free) making it compatible with the iOS 8 operating system and new iPhone and iPad devices. Download: http://apple.co/1x16xyi

In addition, we’ve added a tiny update to “The Trout Family Swim and Fish Adventure” (version 3.1; Free) adjusting the screen size and position of “Pinky Trout” so that it’s easier for users to “kiss” a fish and earn 100 bonus points in the game. Download: http://bit.ly/troutgame

On Saturday (March 14), we’ll be releasing a new game. “Catfish The Cat Toy Mice Color Matching Game PRO” will be live. You’ll be able to download the game for $2.99 in the Mountain Woods Media, LLC section of the iTunes Store. The link will also be published on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MountainWoodsMedia.

10. March 2015 · Comments Off on Indirect ASO Techniques To Improve Downloads · Categories: ASO · Tags: , ,

While App Store Optimization (ASO) focuses on keywords and earning higher ranking positions in App Stores (Apple, Google Play), etc., there are other improvements you can apply using indirect ASO techniques to help increase your app downloads.

Picking the best keywords for your app title and other app meta tags should be your No. 1 priority, but once your app is ranked in the Top 10 (or maybe the Top 20) on a targeted keyword, these other techniques will help catch the users’ attention.

Best of all, these ideas are all free. They include:

Improve Your App Icon

Your icon is the first thing everyone sees in search results. Does it stand out against your competition? Will it attract a click? More downloads? If your app is ranking high on targeted keywords, try testing a new icon.

In our game “Bath Bubbles Tap & Pop Multilevel Challenge,” an icon change definitely helped downloads. We switched from an icon featuring a low-quality stretched little boy in a bathtub full of bubbles (with a blue background) to an icon with no characters and a standalone bathtub (with a green and black background).

Bath Bubbles Game

Icon Before

Bath Bubbles Game

Icon After

Don’t be afraid to test an app icon change for 30 days. You can always switch back to the original icon with your next update.

Improve Your Screen Captures

After your game icon, the next thing users are going to see are your screen captures.

We would highly recommend that you use all the screen captures allowed by the iTunes App Store, Google Play, etc. One or two screen captures may not accurately reflect the necessary features in your app the user needs in order to download.

The first screen capture is the most important one. Within search results, users will see your game icon and your initial screen capture. An initial “action” screen capture is better than your app’s splash screen.

Also consider taking your screen captures one step further by adding short text annotations to better describe the capture. In our game “The Trout Family Swim and Fish Adventure,” we have used speech bubbles so that the main character describes how to play the game (which bugs to eat; what to avoid, etc.).

Improve Your App Description

While game descriptions don’t help your app store rankings in the iTunes App Store, they are an important factor in Google Play.

If you’re in iOS world, you should still write strong game descriptions as they will help influence a user to download your app. Long descriptions aren’t necessary. However, your description should give the user enough information about the app and its features. Tell them why they should download your app (but don’t be too salesy and tell them your app is the best app in the world).

One developer wrote the following app description about his new game:

“If you like Minecraft, then you’ll like our game.”

That’s it. A one-sentence app description which basically tells the user this game is a copy of Minecraft.

We created an app description template for staff to use for all of our games, so they follow a specific format. This helps speed up writing our descriptions, but gives the user enough information to consider before they download our app.

07. March 2015 · Comments Off on Polar Bears: Some Irish Luck Needed in this Winter Weather Game · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, Winter Weather Games · Tags: ,

polar bear winter weather gameWe’ve had a rough winter this year with plenty of snow, followed by freezing temperatures, followed by more snow. Needless-to-say, we are thankful our snow blower works!

Perhaps, the winter weather has been inspiration for our recent iOS game release: “Keep the Polar Bear Clean Falling Paintball Challenge.”

Here, your goal is to help the polar bear keep his winter coat as white as snow as he dodges red paintballs and other red objects at the North Pole. The game offers clues as to where the paint balls will fall. Your goal is to simply help the polar bear get out of the way!

You can review and purchase the game here:

http://apple.co/18ZZpra

The $2.99 purchase price includes all game features and there are no ads to interrupt your game play. The game is iOS 8 compatible and has been tested for all new iPhone and iPad devices.

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner (March 17), we have updated and released “Happy St. Patrick’s Day: Pot of Gold Lucky Four-Leaf Clover Challenge.”

You’ll need to rely on your puzzle skills – and a little bit of Irish luck – in order to solve this game of clovers.

The object is to pop the four-leaf clovers in the least amount of screen taps as possible. Each time a clover “pops,” gold coins will travel up, down, left and right on your screen and pop nearby clovers. However, some clovers require more than one tap in order to pop.

For example, tap the green clovers to immediately pop them with one tap. Gold clovers require two taps. Pink clovers need three taps, and blue clovers need four taps.

As you progress, each level becomes more difficult and challenging.

You can download this game for free here:

http://apple.co/1GtjaF7

The game includes a Game Center leaderboard and in-game upgrades and purchasing options.

Have fun!

 

 

03. March 2015 · Comments Off on Using Keyword Research Tools for ASO · Categories: ASO · Tags: , , , ,

App Annie keyword research tool for ASOOur journey to find and utilize the best keywords for our app continues as we now start to utilize a few online keyword research tools for ASO.

Some tools are free, while others are free with feature limitations. Those are good places to start so you can get a feel for the tool before slapping down your credit card for a subscription. Introducing:

App Annie http://www.appannie.com/ – Store Stats are free; other services start at $59 per month. We highly recommend App Annie, especially for its daily e-mail reports and analytics. However, this tool is often overlooked for its app store optimization features.

The Market Data section breaks down the top app companies; top games (and more) by Store (iOS and Google Play); by country and by month. For example, in January 2015, the top iOS game downloaded worldwide was Trivia Crack.

On the ASO side of things, you can dig deep into any app to view its targeted keywords and rankings. The app’s Rank History; Reviews; Ratings and how many times it was Features in the iTunes Store are also available.

Once you have an app published, App Annie tracks all the aforementioned stats for your company. For example, on the keyword “trout” our game “The Trout Family Swim and Fish Adventure” ranked No. 4 in the iTunes Store with 117 total apps optimized for the “trout” keyword. Not bad!

Sensor Tower http://sensortower.com/ – 14-day free trial; then $79 per month and up. We use this online tool every day and it’s we’ll worth the monthly fee. With an “Indie Developers” package, you can track up to 80 keywords for approximately 4-5 apps, depending on the total number of keywords.

There are many awesome features, but we are especially fond of Sensor Tower’s Keyword Research and Keyword Suggestion tools. The Keyword Spy feature allows you to take a peek at the keywords other apps are targeting which help generate good keyword ideas.

Keyword analysis, ranking and tracking your own apps is a given here, but a quick glance gives you a daily snapshot of how well your app is ranking for each keyword in both iPhone and iPad search results.

AppCodes http://appcodes.com – $14.95 per month; free demo account for testing the service; easy to use. A simple search for a keyword will return a list of apps (in ranking order) optimized for the targeted keyword. The service’s Search Queries feature quickly reveals six columns of information, including a conservative “chance” you have of ranking well on that keyword.

SearchMan http://searchman.com – Sign up for free; $25 per app per month. We recommend signing up for free and doing a test drive, but this online service may prove to be a little pricey for some developers.

Now you are armed with some great online ASO keyword research resources.

Start digging!