To what extent to those of you who release mobile games try to design "marketing" features into the games themselves? As an example, I recall the flash game "Fantastic Contraption" allowed players to share replays via a URL. This apparently encouraged fans to share the game on message boards and what not just so they could show off their solutions. If you've tried this type of thing did it pay off? If not, why not?
This is very paramount in making a mobile game successful. When you design a game for mobile you really need to plan the updates in advance - sort of get a plan into place. In my experience successful updates can stabilise the game and stop it from free falling off the charts after it's initial release. This experience comes from when Jet Car Stunts was launched on iOS in Nov 2009.
So in order here is a history of the updates that were done.
1. The original release had a crash bug on the original iPhone2g - this fix was updated almost straight away.
2. After launch we listened to peoples feedback from the iTunes reviews and the Touch Arcade forums - we added a tutorial and tidied the menus up.
3. Added in a replay (connected to the leaderboards) and challenge system. We got extra promotion from Openfeint because we got Openfeint gold.
4. Made a lite version of the game but added new tracks in. We added new tracks in for two reasons... One was that people were crying out for new tracks.... And the other was we wanted people who had bought the game to download the lite version as well so it would go up the charts. I'm proud to say we were the first developers to do this on iOS.
5. Added retina support in. Got a feature from Apple because of this.
6. Add new tracks in using DLC with an IAP. Also, we included the lite tracks in for free.
In between all that we did the windows mobile and Android versions.
All that is pretty much 9 months of hard work after the initial launch... But by doing that the game still earns money in the charts until recently where it's started to decline.
True Axis used to be a two man operation, which included me. But when you consider that we were developing, marketing, and doing updates I got severe burn out by Jan 2011. I asked my business partner to buy me out at that time.
There was one thing that irked me, though, and that was that an iPad version never happened... So just recently I decided to help out at True Axis and did the iPad update.
7. iPad and iPhone4s update in July 2012... Stopped the game from declining.
So to conclude it's paramount that you show your users that you update after release because they will spread the word about the game to their friends - in other words look after your customers. Jet Car Stunts has been in the iOS charts for nearly 3 years generating cash.
I was at GDC this year and saw a talk that Halfbrick did on Fruit Ninja and how they go about planning updates. But in this modern age it's not just about getting a game out of the door it's what happens after releasee.
Hopefully this insight will help some developers.