Cowtopia was tailored especially for the iPhone device. We made sure the game was easy to play and control in most situations. We did the same with Motocross Challenge but the game is a port of the GBA title we had created. This means that the game was adapted and some ďannoyancesĒ can be found; emulating a 4 button + d-Pad control scheme on a small touch screen is pretty tough. What makes Motocross Challenge stand out from Cowtopia is the ease a player has to understand the game without ever playing. Cowtopia is an action-puzzler where you hypnotize cows in order to abduct and save them from a maniacal farmer by tracing paths around a field. Motocross Challenge is a motocross racing game. It doesnít take a genius to know what you to expect when looking at Motocross Challenge. The same can be said for other major titles, such as Flight Control, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja or Doodle Jump. Cut the rope, for instance, has an icon with the little monster standing next to a candy tied to a rope. The game title is ďcut the ropeĒ. In a fraction of a second, the player knows that the game will be to cut a rope in order to give a candy piece to a monster. That cannot be said about Cowtopia.
Making a game that a market enjoys requires some research on who plays/buys game on that particular market. Cowtopia would have been a better Flash/browser game. Players try out weirder, more ďout of the blueĒ games because it doesnít cost anything. On the iPhone, you need to download it and may have to pay. 1 cent for a crappy game is 1 cent you want back. 1 minute on a browser game is a minute you wonít care about. Thatís part of a good marketing plan. Iím no expert but this is a field Iím getting much more interested in that field. Marketing isnít just about publicity and PR. These two fields do work along side but they are part a whole.
What you want to do is to first is get the word out about your game and get in the attention of people with influence. Website, blogs, etc. Reviewers have strong influence on sales. One thing that really helped MC was the fact that we got some reviews on major iPhone websites, such as Touch arcade. Contacting influential people and giving them free copies is a good marketing move, in my opinion. We paid a service that sends a couple of hundreds of messages to a list of selected websites and blogs. I donít remember the name of the service but I can check with David. It was worth the price (a couple of hundred bucks). Then, you need to get publicity going. Website banners and such can be a good move. However, thatís something we havenít tried so far and itís an option that involves investments. You can do other types of publicity, such as self-advertising on websites, blogs, forums and such. Facebook, twitter and all that stuff also helps, but only helps if you have some good networking going on. A facebook page is only efficient when you have many ďfriendsĒ. One thing about advertising we shouldíve done would have been to advertise Cowtopia in Motocross Challenge. We did the other way around though (MC ad in Cowtopia). If you have other games or other ďproductsĒ, use them to help your sales. Or at least get the word out.
Marketing is also knowing your target audience. Who are you marketing the game to? Young boys? Soccer moms? Families? You have to know your primary target audience and focus on them. Sure, your game can reach out to many people, look at Mario games, but the core audience is focused (Mario is a family game foremost). Thisíll need to show in your icons, websites, appstore page and game name. Like previously said, thatís something we didnít do with Cowtopia. It didnít have a core audience and players were puzzled when trying to figure out who should play the game. Some classified it as an action game, others a puzzle game, and some gave it the edutainment label. They thought it was a kids game
Promo codes and free copies are great but donít expect to get a lot of replies quickly. However, itís okay to keep the reviewers updated with the game. For instance, sending an update notice to a reviewer that didnít reply to your original promo might get attention the second time around. For example, when we started doing some pr and ear-to-mouth, Cut the rope was everywhere. It even outshined our ďNew and noteworthyĒ spot. Itís not all on the competitions shoulders but it really didnít help. When you have a game that is hard to describe placed a game that can be explained in a split second, youíre not having the best odds.
If you want to work on the iPhone market today, itís best not to put all your eggs in the same basket. Plan a couple of games ahead and donít spend too much time (and budget) on a single title. Keep it simple, keep it straight forward and donít aim for a large scale game. Focus on a time-waster. Thatís what the iPhone market is all about anyway; Just quick games to pass the time. Sure big titles can work and big companies don,t make ports of their AAA titles for nothing, but the real hits on the iPhone market are the small time-wasters you can play 5 minutes while waiting for the bus. Of course, there are many factors that make a hit but one specific traits that seems to emerge from the strong top sellers is that they are small and short but highly replayable. Still, Iím not expert and I have only started my personal research on this market a few weeks ago
Well, hope this helps a bit
If not, I can be more precise on certain topics: )