Game apps – how to crush it in the app stores

Globally, across both Android and iOS, game apps account for 67% of all revenue generated by mobile apps. In 2021, game apps generated 89.6 billion USD.

The flip side to this popularity is that there is immense competition for games on both Android and iOS. This means that it’s important to ensure that your game app has features that make it stand out from the crowd and that you market it correctly.

What makes Candy Crush so popular?

Candy Crush is the top grossing game on the iOS app store and the second highest on the Google Play Store, earning over 3 million USD per day. There are several factors that contribute to Candy Crush’s astronomical success:

Level design – Candy Crush’s levels are handcrafted but the placement of candies is random. The randomness encourages players to retry levels that they have failed, in case they get a more beneficial start.
Goals – Rather than trying to achieve a certain number of abstract points, the goal of each level is to match a quantity of certain candies or to bring a certain number of pieces to the bottom of the screen. The number remaining is always visible to the player, so if they fail a level they can see how close they were, which encourages them to try again.
Pick up and play – Candy Crush being developed for portrait mode makes it easy to play one-handed, on the go.

What goes into developing game apps?

Roles in game development – Graphic design, sound design, programming, music composition, writing and more.
Engine and language – There are a variety of game engines and programming languages that can be used.
Monetisation policy – There are four methods game apps use to generate revenue:
In-app purchases
Premium purchase
One-time purchase
A design document – The design document contains all of the ideas that are to go into the game – mechanics, art direction, plot points, character bios, level designs, and anything else the development team needs to know.
Prototype – A prototype allows the developer to test gameplay elements and iterate on them, tweaking and refining at a rapid pace.
Development costs – Depending on the complexity of the game mechanics, an app like this can cost between R500 000 and R1 million. It can also take up to 6 months to complete the initial development.
Marketing – Both app stores are flooded with games, so marketing a new game is critical to its success.
Publishing and post-release support – Once your game app has been accepted by your chosen app store, it’s time to publish. After launch there are bound to be bugs and issues that are picked up by users, and these need to be fixed as soon as possible. It’s important to continue supporting the game through patches and new content.

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