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MGF 2013: Neon Play CEO Oli Christie on how to market a game without money

MGF 2013: Neon Play CEO Oli Christie on how to market a game without money
Visibility is a precious commodity on the ever-more-crowded app stores, but how can studios stand out without an outstanding marketing budget?

That was exactly the problem that Neon Play CEO Oli Christie tackled in his session at the Mobile Games Forum, and his solution was coordination.

"A coordinated launch is vital," Christie stressed. "Be patient, make sure everything is in a row, then give a concerted push."

Christie proposed that developers pursue a variety of channels to boost visibility, and deploy them all simultaneously to coincide with your game's launch.

Special feature

One such low-cost way to boost visibility is through featured spots on the App Store and Google Play. While there's no way to guarantee you'll get these placements, there are steps that studios can take.

"Meet the teams from Apple and Google. Show them the builds of the game, show them what's cool and different and new and will make their devices look special."

"You've got to do all you can to get that coverage, because it's free and it's gold-dust," Christie explained. When the free-to-play Traffic Panic London was featured on Google Play, for instance, the result was 1.5 million downloads in a single week.

When it comes to coverage from the gaming press, though, Christie was less emphatic about its value.

"It's great to get nice reviews," he explained. "It's not going to help drive downloads, but it's great for your iTunes copy"

Criss-cross

Cross promotion is, of course, another way for developers to market new releases without breaking the bank. Christie expounded the value of Chartboost, too, although he stressed that are overheads involved in such an approach.

"You have to work carefully on your artwork," he explained. Any ad that's shown to a user has to be attractive and effective, so studios need to "A/B test and see what works."

A more unusual example of cross-promotion saw Neon Play developed a companion app for Traffic Panic London that had almost no monetisation.
Car Park Carnage was a "sacrificial lamb," Christie said, whose sole purpose was to drive traffic to the main game.

And the rest

Trailers are also important, according to Christie, who noted that the Traffic Panic London trailer was watched more than one million times.

And social media integration is worth investigating too, although developers have to be restrained when it comes to allowing players opportunities to share.

Pestering will get you nowhere, Christie said, but if a player beats their high-score, a 'Share this via Facebook or Twitter' button will be appreciated and effective.

Staff Writer

PocketGamer.biz's news editor 2012-2013

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Nicolas Godement-Berline
If you monetize through advertising, you want to be cautious with cross-promotion. IMO Cross-promotion is only interesting when you can drive enough downloads to enter the top charts and reap additional organic downloads. Otherwise, you're just cannibalizing your own advertising channel and effectively purchasing your own inventory.
The best would be to have 2 different channels for cross-promotion and advertising.
BruceKwalee
Cross promotion is key. It costs nothing and reaches people who are already happy with your games.
The problem is when you start off and don't have anyone to cross promote to. This gives established publishers an immense advantage in the market.

It is also important to build a distinct brand, to value and engage with communities, to value retention above monetisation, to talk to a wide range of press and to use a wide range of online mechanics.
Leo Mozzarello
Although I think this is great advice. There is one key issues.

"Meet the teams from Apple and Google." please let me know how and I will do that immediately.


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