How can you score a contact at Apple? Make sure you court the press

How can you score a contact at Apple? Make sure you court the press

When you send off a press release to a games magazine or website, what are you hoping to achieve?

If you think any coverage of your game will directly lead to masses of downloads you're likely to be disappointed, argued gumi Europe's Nicholas Godement Berline during his talk at Game Connection Europe in Paris.

However, getting the press to get behind your game is still incredibly important. It may even lead to you receiving a much sought after email from Apple.

"Press matters, but it's not what you think," opened Berline.

"We had about 40 emails we wrote too personally, and the another 100 BCC contacts. Whenever one of the BCC contacts replied, they went straight into the individual contact lists, and that's how we built up relationships."

'An email from Apple'

Berline claims it's "very difficult" to convert games media coverage into direct downloads, but there's still huge value in pushing those press releases out.

"If 10,000 people read an article and 1 percent of those readers go onto download your app – which is a really good conversion rate, I should said – that's still only 100 downloads. That's not going to push the needle," he argued.

"But you should still do it. That's how we got in touch with Apple.

"I had no contact at Apple at all, but our press release go published on websites and then one morning I woke up with an email in my inbox from a guy at Apple. That was the beginning of our relationship."

Berline also claimed there are other advantages to getting your game featured in the press. For starters, "journalists are better copy writers."

"If a journalist writes about your game, reuse their copy. We used phrases in our promotion taken directly from descriptions about the game written in an article – they were better than what we had come up with," he added.

"You can also feed press back to your fans, and naturally use the press endorsements in your app description."

Fuelling the funnel

Honing that app description – and, indeed, your icon - is a key part of advancing down what Berline calls "the App Store funnel", i.e. from the player seeing your game, finding its app store page, right through to actually clicking the download button.

"First, people have to know about your game – they must see it," added Berline.

"Then they've got to tap through to your page – there's a conversion rate that's almost impossible to calculate. I like to use the phrase gone in 0.60 seconds, because if you pull out your smartphone right now and browse through it, you'll notice you just swipe through it.

"You don't focus on anything that doesn't catch your attention – you spend less than a second on it."

The key, then, is to build up your profile on your marketplace of choice, and building a collective of fans before your game has even launched can help it get off to a strong start.

"Promotion starts before you even have the game," stated Berline.

"It's important to build a community around your game before it even ships. Those people won't generate masses of downloads, but they will be writing reviews on day one and aiding your visibility."

One of Berline's games also rewarded users for reviewing the game on the App Store with in-game currency. Simply using an image of five stars on the click-through button may, he suggested, have had an impact on just how well the game was reviewed.

"We had no way of monitoring what scores players gave us, of course," Berline added, describing the move as "a little cheeky", but "it could well have helped".

Berline also argues that getting featured by Apple isn't the lottery people make it out to be. The company he founded – Majaki - before joining Japanese dev gumi to head up its European outpost in Paris managed to get featured by Apple in various territories more than once.

"I'd go so far as to say that quality games - really good games - seldom do not get featured by Apple," contested Berline.

"If you can show off the capabilities of the iPad and the iPhone, that'll also incentivise Apple to feature your app."

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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Broken Crown
I couldn't agree more with Nicholas.

Getting covered by the press doesn't move the needle as much as you would probably hope a developer, but it does get the ball rolling as far as early downloads. And though I'm still searching for that all-elusive Apple contact, I have used the 'copy editor' trick of using the elegant wording from press to make my app descriptions & promo trailers look and sound better.

Got to love those great people with the press, their our heroes :-)