Want to get your game noticed during the holidays? Forget it and wait until January, says Pocket Gems

Want to get your game noticed during the holidays? Forget it and wait until January, says Pocket Gems

Bah humbug. Pocket Gems' Michael Dawson took the stage at GDC Next in Los Angeles with some unwelcome news.

If you're looking to get your game noticed during the holiday season, forget it. Wait until January.

This advice came, paradoxically, from a panel titled "getting your app noticed for the holidays" - something that, as Dawson pointed out, is an especially difficult prospect.

"It [user acquisition] tends to get a lot more expensive around the holidays," he explained.

"You're no longer just competing with apps and games for ad space, you're competing with every movie and product launch."

And that's just half of the struggle.

"The challenge that you face between now and New Year's Eve is that there's a lot of things launching, and there are tons of products and distractions vying for your player's attention."

Go orthodox

"First, ask yourself, does it have to launch now at such a crowded time?" mused Daweson, and most in the room agreed his point beared considering.

Unless you're launching a holiday-themed app, there's nothing saying you absolutely must launch it between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"There will be a ton of new devices that people will get on 25 December and they'll be using well into January and beyond."

That's a potent point. Fortune may favour the bold but, for the bold without fortune on their side, there's a lot of merit in waiting for the competition to die down until after the holiday consumer crush.

However, if getting your game onto devices in time for Christmas is a must, Dawson did dish out some tips.

Test, test, and test again

Start by taking a good look at your app's name, icon, and screenshots - and don't stop when you or your art team is satisfied, stop when you have some hard data to look at.

"It's not about picking a good name, it's about rigorously testing it. Is this name and/or are these screenshots driving the type of players to my game that I want?" Dawson cautioned.

Next, work on your rating. If your score is below 4 stars, work at getting it above that benchmark with bug fixes, updates, and player outreach.

Finally, there are free tools like cross-promotion platforms that you can use to drive customers to your game. While some of these are free, "they're not effort free," Dawson notes.

If you have a budget, you can certainly channel money into new ads and user acquisition campaigns to help get your game in the holiday mood - but again, costs for these approaches rise across both Google Play and the App Store during the holiday season.

There's a silver lining to all of this, however, as Dawson concluded, "users will still want your game after the seasonal, competing ads are over."

US Correspondent

Representing the former colonies, Matt keeps the Pocket Gamer news feed updated when sleepy Europeans are sleeping. As a frustrated journalist, diehard gamer and recovering MMO addict, this is pretty much his dream job.


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Rob Weber
Indies should skip out on holiday launches if they lack meaningful ad budgets as they will get lost in the noise as Michael points out, but larger industry players with ad budgets should aggressively market during the holidays. We've seen the ROI is very strong in terms of cost per new user for app advertisers who push hard and burst around the holidays. I wrote a post about one of the first campaigns we ran back on December 21st, 2010- We've continued to see similar results over many campaigns over the past holiday seasons.

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