Comment & Opinion

What it takes to make a winning app, according to one Big Indie Pitch judge

Amazon Appstore's Mario Viviani offers his tips

What it takes to make a winning app, according to one Big Indie Pitch judge

We hope to see you at the Big Indie Pitch Brighton on July 11th. In celebration of this we interview one of the judges, Mario Viviani, EU Evangelist at Amazon Appstore to get his insights on what it takes to make a winning game.

What are the first things I should consider when building a game?

Before building the game think about the channels that you will be building it on and the particular requirements for each.

Different devices: A mobile or tablet game should be treated differently than a PC game. When you consider these factors from the start then you can play to the strengths of each.

Be everywhere: Don't limit your game to just one app store, instead think about being on all the possible app store channels available. In selecting your channel, think about what each can offer you. Does your audience align? How easy is it to get started? What is their support like? What are the monetisation opportunities?

How do I create the best gaming experience?

From the game ideation stage and throughout the development, you should continuously be asking yourself who's going to play the game (i.e. who are you targeting?), what genre is the game? What is the typical use case for that game?

Be everywhere: Don't limit your game to just one app store, instead think about being on all the possible app store channels available.

Also, do not underestimate the importance of market research. I would recommend having an assessment of the competitor landscape – how crowded is the genre?

For example when building strategy games – you might consider including additional items to make your player's world more engaging.

Likewise, for match-three games you might think about the game progression, how to balance the difficulty level of your game so it's not too easy that your players lose interest or too difficult that they cannot progress to the next level.

What monetisation strategies should I employ?

In gaming there are typically two types of users: Power Users and Casual Users. Power Users spend their time on a small selection of games, but tend to spend more money and time on those few titles. Casual Users, in comparison, tend to play a variety of games but are not particularly committed to any one game.

It's important to understand your gamer's spend behaviour and try and adapt your strategy to suit these audience's behaviours. The more successful games developers try and achieve a balance of power users and casual users and they do so by finding a way to reward power users - e.g. treating them as VIP, providing exclusivity.

They approach casual users by understanding that these users are not as invested in their games, so the focus here is to train users to commit and try and constantly source ways to keep them coming back to the game.

What are your tips for working with app stores?

When working with app stores think about how you can reach out to them - is there a forum, is it easy to get in touch with a human, are there opportunities to get feedback, etc?

At Amazon Appstore we are really open to communication and have various opportunities for developers to engage with us such as through Evangelists like myself, the UK Developer Spotlight initiative, our developer portal support, and through our events such as our annual Amazon Appstore Developer Summit, and our monthly Meetups.

How to get visibility from app stores?

At Amazon we care about helping developers get visibility for their games. We want to give everyone the opportunity to get noticed, which is exactly why we created the UK Developer Spotlight which gives UK developers the opportunity to get their apps featured in Appstore in the UK, US and Germany.

Try and be an active part of your community. It's a great way of reaching out to your peers and learning about industry developments.

Developers have found value in getting their game reviewed by the Appstore team and winning an opportunity to get direct feedback on their games from business developers.

Also try and be an active part of your community. It's a great way of reaching out to your peers and learning about the developments in your industry. Amazon Appstore at our monthly Meetups, which is a great way to have a two-way conversation with our developer communities.

Other more well-known channels include advertising. For example, our developers have found that wakescreen ads have enabled games to get noticed by more customers.

Social media: Utilise social media channels like Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness of your game amongst gamers. Another specific gaming community you can leverage is Twitch. If you're interested to learn more about how to grow your gaming community and keep them engaged then be sure to check out the VP of Twitch's keynote at Develop.

How do I polish my game?

Before releasing your game to the general public, you can take advantage of different channels to test your apps functionality and user experience. Here are a few testing channels you can try.

Beta testing: Amazon Appstore has an apps testing tool which allows you to check compatibility of your game in under 60 seconds.

Get a sample size of your target audience to play your game and give direct feedback. You can even use the Amazon live app testing tool to check everything as your audience would experience it (this even includes In-App-Purchasing if your game supports it).

Industry feedback: Community events like the Big Indie Pitch provide invaluable face to face feedback from app stores, industry professionals and your peers.

What are the next steps?

Register for the Big Indie Pitch in Brighton on July 11th if you haven't already done so and meet myself Mario Viviani and the rest of the Appstore team. If you're unable to attend, or would like to connect with me or Amazon Appstore you can do so through the below channels:

Mario Viviani Twitter: @Mariuxtheone
Official Amazon Appstore Developers: @AmazonAppDev
Amazon Appstore Developer Portal
Amazon Developer Meetup group regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.