In a session at VentureBeat’s GamesBeat, former App Store marketing manager, Michael Ehrenberg gave mobile game developers advice on, “pitching your mobile games to Apple.” While at Apple, his job was to identify fun apps that align with Apple’s brand; then feature them. Before that, he worked at Gameloft, where his job was to pitch games to Apple.
Running short of time in his session, Ehrenberg covered as many tips as he could. Some of them were more obvious than others. Here are the top ten. Take them for what they are and hopefully they will guide you on your journey to getting featured on the App Store.
10 tips for getting featured on the App Store:
Tell a great story. For starters, you need to be passionate about your game and that passion needs to resonate through your pitch. Think of your pitch like a book. If the first chapter bores you, you’re not going to finish it. App Store reviewers have thousands of apps to review, don’t waste their time or yours.
Nail the conclusion. A strong lead is a must if you want to be considered for featured placement on the App Store. Assuming you want to be selected, you also need to have a strong conclusion that compels the reviewer to forward your pitch to their boss.
Be consistent. Powerpoints are boring, your game isn’t (hopefully). PLEASE make sure your pitch feels more like your app than a boring powerpoint. Don’t go overboard, but carry over the look and feel of your app’s brand to your pitch.
Network at events. The fastest route to getting featured on the App Store is to make friends with the App Store team. This can be done by networking at industry events, or online; just remember they’re being pitched by developers all day. Go light on the used-car spiel and try to build genuine relationships. If you don’t have a contact at Apple, you can also start by emailing the review team at firstname.lastname@example.org. According to Ehrenberg, “the Apple staff reads those emails and passes on the good ones to the team that decides what receives featured treatment.”
Make sure your game is fun. This sounds obvious but some games simply aren’t fun. Before you pitch your game to Apple, test it on your friends. If your friends like it, test it in a market that’s similar to your target market. If they like it, your retention will be strong and you will have validated your hypothesis.
Give them a reason to feature your game. Take advantage of all of the newest hardware and software features from Apple. There are a ton, so which ones should you focus on? If something was demonstrated in the latest WWDC keynote, you need it. If it’s prominent on their website, you need it.
Relationships go two ways. There are 1.2 MILLION apps on the App Store. If you want Apple to feature you, get serious. They don’t have to choose your app and if you want them to, show them you’re serious – launch exclusively on the App Store or at a minimum, launch your app for iOS first.
Seasonal content. App Store reviewers have to find ways to keep the App Store fresh throughout the year. Seasonal content can really help your chances of getting featured during the hottest weeks of the year. If you’re going this route, be ready to show off the content to the App Store team at least a month before the holiday, season, or event.
What would Apple do. If your app is shady or if it uses spammy ad formats, you’re not ever going to get featured. It’s just too risky for Apple’s brand. No matter how well you know the reviewer, they won’t be able to get your app past legal. Stick with trusted ad networks like these. Sometimes this is less obvious than you might think. For instance, Ehrenberg states, “if you’re targeting a game for kids, you better not include a $100 virtual goods purchase in the game.”
Remember, Apple is a business. If the App Store team doesn’t consider your game marketable, why would they feature it? Think of what they’re being evaluated on. For App Store reviewers, it’s a complete waste of valuable retail space to give you prominent placement if they’re not going to make money from your app.
Getting featured on the App Store is not a science and it never will be. The App Store is crowded with over 1.2 Million apps, and the challenge of getting featured is only going to get harder as time goes by. Until Apple creates a more sophisticated selection model, Mobile game developers hoping to get featured need to do everything they can to increase their odds.
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