Interview

How Twitter and Facebook is powering Fluid Football to 40,000+ downloads a day

How Twitter and Facebook is powering Fluid Football to 40,000+ downloads a day

With every day that passes, the App Store becomes a more competitive market to operate in.

Nonetheless, Apple's marketplace remains one of the few where it's perfectly possible to score a top 25 placing without having devote a large chunk of the game's budget to advertising.

Admittedly, the number of games becoming runaway successes on the power of social media and word of mouth alone would appear to be shrinking, but – combined with good timing and the right monetisation strategy, for instance – it can still happen.

Indeed, AppyNation's free release Fluid Football - developed by Chromativity - has amassed almost 235,000 downloads in its first week on iOS despite the firm claiming it's spent "essentially zero" cash on marketing the game's launch.

We caught up with comms manager Andrew Smith for the inside line on what's behind Fluid Football's success so far.

Pocket Gamer: A week after launch, how is Fluid Football performing on the App Store?

Andrew Smith: It's going brilliantly.

Considering everything, we rode really high into the charts – I think we hit the number 2 spot in the UK free games chart, and number 2 for UK free overall - and you can't really ask for much more than that.

We're definitely taking a long-term view of the game's performance too. It's slipped down a touch, so we're trying to keep it from slipping in general, but the content plan we've got for updates and tweaks will last months and months.

We want to build a real community around Fluid Football, and we're off to a great start.

How important would you say coinciding the launch with the opening flourishes of the football season was?

It'd be daft of me to suggest it didn't have a positive effect.

We were originally going to launch the week before, but the stars aligned with the bugs - we spotted a couple of cheeky ones we really wanted to fix just before submitting the build – and things worked out probably as well as they could've.

Something like football is so universal, and has such a huge following, that anything related performs in a totally different way. This isn't just a videogame, it's a football game, and there's a lot of fun to be had taking advantage of that.

How have you marketed the game? What's been your overall spend?

We've actually spent very little indeed – zero on marketing since launch, and a small fee for the video we did with [football presenters and pundits] Richard Keys and Andy Gray.

I'm not even sure how much difference a video makes, beyond reassuring people that it is a real product – in terms of pointing people to the App Store it's hardly a proven method.

We're really proud of that fact that with essentially zero marketing outside of Twitter, the AppyNation blog and Facebook, we smashed the top of the charts. It proves that if you make the right game to the right level of quality, you can see a lot of success with very little effort.

Football - and any popular sport - is like having free access to a well-known IP. People sit up and take notice in their millions, just because they're familiar with the subject matter.

This isn't just in the UK either. Portugal, Italy, Paraguay, Colombia, Argentina – in particular the success we've seen in Latin America has been really great to see.

We've made a point of localising to support as many territories as we can, and it's paid off.

On your blog you mention the game, naturally, is enjoying less success in the US. What plans do you have to communicate Fluid Football's appeal to this supposedly 'alien' audience?

Well, we're making effort to localise for every territory, beyond just translations.

So we're looking at keeping the Fluid Soccer branding throughout the game in the USA - down to logo and menus, text references, the lot - and hoping that's a solid foundation.

Soccer does have a limited audience in the USA, which poses a problem, but having any pre-built audience has to be taken as an opportunity rather than a hurdle.

Just like with the UK we'll be playing a long term game – which can be frustrating when you want to pivot quickly – but ultimately gets the best results.

This game isn't a flash in the pan, and we don't look at any of the games in our portfolio as such.

What rate do you see daily downloads settling at eventually?

Millions! Well, okay, no, but we'd be really happy if we settled down to thousands, which is based on us simply making an educated guess based on what other similar games achieve, and seasoning it with what we'd like to see for Fluid Football because we really think it's got legs.

You need legs in a football game, see.

The real key is making sure we are making a decent amount of money from people willing to pay to play a quality product.

That's the biggest effort moving forward, and we're very confident; we'd started developing features that the fans have been clamouring for before we'd even submitted the original version.

It's things like that which really reassure and motivate a team.

From a marketing perspective, what have you learned from Fluid Football's launch? Is there anything you'd do differently?

The biggest thing we've taken away from this is the power of timing.

Not everyone can release a football game at the start of the new season, but the fact remains that there are always ways with which to give your game the best chance.

It's never a guarantee, but you can stack the odds.

If we could do one thing differently then maybe it'd be get an early build to some hugely popular footballer and see if they can't tweet about it too – but then again you shouldn't rely too heavily on things outside of your control.

Work with what you know you can achieve, with people you trust, and try to create opportunities. A bit like football, then.

Thanks to Andrew for his time.

You can track Fluid Football's App Store progress via the AppyNation blog.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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