Traditional Retail Model
An organization or set of organizations (go-between) involved in
the process of making a product or service available for use or
consumption by a consumer or business user.
Retail consists of the sale of
physical goods or merchandise from
a fixed location, such as a
department store, boutique or kiosk,
or by mail, in small or individual lots
for direct consumption by the
Brick-and-mortar store: a store that
is located in a physical building.
Major, Game Retailer
Minor, Game Retailer
Pink Godzilla (Gorilla), Hyper Game, Hastings
Major, Tech Retailer
Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics
Major, Mass Retail
Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, CostCo, Amazon
Established Publishers “Own” Retail
Boxed publishers worked out how to get past
the gatekeepers at retailer level, but this took
years of effort.
It would be very difficult for a small publisher
or indie developer to break into the retail
Point of Sales Displays
A specialized form of sales
promotion that is found
near, on, or next to a
Usually, in smaller retail
outlets, POS displays are
supplied by the
manufacturer of the
products, but this is less
common with larger
A SKU is a stock-keeping unit, a number
code that represents a unique identifier for
each distinct product and service that can be
Consumer: Guarantees prompt delivery
Manufacturer: Allows them to gauge demand
Retailers: Assured of minimum sales
Marketing: Used to generate buzz
A pre-order is an order placed for an item
which has not yet been released.
Decreases unit sales for publishers (and
Significant profit for retailer
Downloadable Content (DLC)
Additional digital content released through
“Revenue is NOT split with retailers
An exhibition organized so that companies in
a specific industry can:
showcase and demonstrate their latest
products and services
meet with industry partners and customers
study activities of rivals
examine recent market trends and
E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo
June 13-15, 2017
Los Angeles Convention
Electronic Entertainment Expo
G4 Icons Episode #27: History of E3
Is E3 A Dinosaur?
Activision, Electronic Arts, and Disney did not
have booths are E3 in 2016.
Publishers have now begun to talk directly to
their customers to get their message across,
holding their own webcasts and fan events—
and exhibiting at public-facing game
conventions like Penny Arcade Expo.
Website that offers goods and/or services for
sale, and which the customers or 'window
shoppers' can visit at any time and from
Also called cyber storefront, electronic
storefront, e-storefront, online storefront,
virtual storefront, etc.
Digital Store Examples
Clash of Clans on Apple iTunes
Angry Bird Rio on Google Play
No Man's Sky on Steam
Overcooked on Green Man Gaming
Written information to be published in a
magazine, website, product, etc.
Short, succinct compelling lines on your store
page maximize impact and quick reads.
Some marketing copy can create likeability
with humor and personality.
Be aware of how much copy will display in
certain settings. Only the first line may show
by default in some stores.
When picking out review quotes, find snippets
that are informative rather than “it’s great.”
Make the most of space
available on the store page
by including captions in your
You can call out different
key features on each
screenshot or highlight
review quotes on others.
Store Pages Do’s And Don’ts
Short, unique game title
Succinct, well-written, compelling copy
Captions on game screenshots
Short but informative game review quotes
Long, off-putting blocks of text
Typos, awkward wording, or grammatical errors
Although digital distribution is easier for indie
developers than traditional retail, it doesn’t
have to be an either-or approach.
You often can take both boxed and digital
What Turns A Store Visitor Into A
Text: Great copy, intriguing
description, correct keywords,
attractive name, and
localization to the visitor’s
Visuals: A great icon, fancy
images and awesome
Stars: Store factors like
number of downloads, great
ratings and positive reviews.
Where To Launch
Store Type Example Notes
Easier to get your game on than most
App Stores Apple
Reach more customers than Steam does
Game Portals Kongregate,
Offer instant access to your game and
give feedback from a PC anywhere in the
Specialty Distributors Slitherine Can help you find a niche
Console Stores XBoxOne
Harder to get in than digital distributors,
but easier than it’s been before since
each is looking for a unique selling point
for their platforms
Social Networks Facebook Must use their virtual currency
A digital distribution platform developed by
Valve Corporation offering digital rights
management (DRM), multiplayer gaming and
social networking services.
The platform was launched in September
2003. As of September 2015, there are 6,464
Windows games, 2,323 OS X games, and
1,500 Linux games available.
A system that enlists the community's help in picking some of
the new games to be released on Steam.
For $100, developers post information, screenshots, and video
for their games, as well as early builds or beta versions.
Users can pledge support for these games, and Valve will help
to make top-pledged games available on the Steam service
Recommended for feature-rich, non-casual, nearly complete PC
Steam Greenlight Gets Redlight
Greenlight was intended to prevent stream of low quality
software flooding the store but failed to halt explosion in content
That forced Valve to reassess what the store was for, leading to
the introduction of new discovery mechanisms:
Curators, such as YouTube personalities and games
Algorithmic recommendation system which suggests games
based on purchase history, game playtime, and friends’
Use of renders, artwork and marketing materials as
screenshots is prohibited
The votes are gone, and in their place,
developers will have to pay a TBA publishing
fee (said to be as high as $5K) direct to
Valve, as well as complete some “digital
But, for history’s sake, we’ll talk about
Greenlight as though it still exists.
What You’ll Need
Valid Steam account (duh!)
Submission form with info about you and your
$100 in one-time fee (once it's paid you can
submit as many games to Greenlight as you like)
Branding image (512x512, no larger than 1MB)
One or two paragraph description
Consider placing your game idea in the Concepts
in Steam Greenlight section.
It’s free and a great way to gain valuable
The requirements for submitting a concept are
less rigid than submitting a game, but you'll still
have to provide things like a branding image and
at least some media.
Asset and Page Preparation
High-quality trailer stills
Meaningful but brief
description with bullet points
Add Google Analytics code to
your Greenlight page to view
Frequently post on Twitter and Facebook
Use hashtags #indiedev and #gamedev
Attach screenshots or key art to posts
Discuss Greenlight on IndieDB and Reddit
Mailing list of journalists who cover
Email with links to Press Kit, IndieDB,
trailer, and Greenlight page
Releasing your game on sites like Desura and
GOG.com may actually increase your chances of
The good thing about releasing on other portals
first is that by the time you launch a Steam
Greenlight campaign you'll have a dedicated fan
base. Also, your game will likely have been
reviewed by at least several gaming sites.
To be Greenlit, your game will have to rank in the top X of
those currently being voted upon.
What’s X? Steam is unclear on this, but between 50 and
100 usually works.
Note that a high ranking does NOT guarantee approval,
but it will certainly help your chances.
Not that about 16,000-17,000 votes are needed to crack
the top 100, and 50,000 are needed to reach the top ten.
… And Then There’s Gameroom
Facebook’ Gameroom —a new PC gaming
platform that looks like Steam for casual games
— will soon accept uploads from Unity
The app lets game makers using the upcoming
Unity 5.6 game engine export their creations
directly to the platform, playable alongside big-
name Facebook and mobile games like Clash of
Kings on Windows PCs outside of Facebook
App Store Optimization (ASO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of
maximizing website the visitors by ensuring that the site
appears high on the list of results returned by a search
ASO is the process of improving the visibility of a mobile
app in an app store.
67% of users found their last app using a search
Over 50% of downloads are driven from the Top 3
The right keywords — the singular
and multi-word phrases searched
for by users to find exactly the app
they’re looking for — are critical for
Think about keywords when
choosing the game’s concept,
storyboard and art for better search
An Initial Keyword List
Brainstorm a list based on the keywords your
players might use to find game like yours
Searching for a seed keyword on Google.com,
Google Play, or the Apple App store and using
Working with free tools like Google Keyword
Planner tool, Google Trends Tool, Search Man’s
keyword search or App Annie’s Keyword Rank tool
Exploring keyword research and analytics that
identify potential keywords based on analysis of
your game, competitor’s keywords, and more
“Number of apps” is the total amount of apps using
that particular keyword
“Rank” is the keyword’s ranking from a ranking tool.
When the cell is blank, there’s no estimated rank.
Choose keywords that are relevant to your game.
Otherwise people will search for your specific
keyword, and get annoyed when finding
Traffic is the estimated number of people looking for
that keyword. Too much traffic will make a higher
ranking harder to achieve. But if it’s too low, then the
number of people searching are too few.
The more popular a keyword is, the more apps
are competing for it and the more difficult it is to
rank in the top search results. Start with less
Now it is time to narrow down! Keep the keywords
with the highest Relevancy and Ranking. Sort the
rest by Difficulty (popularity). Keep the keywords with
a low Difficulty, but not too high or low Traffic.
Keywords in the language of your target
country is an underutilized silver bullet.
One developer found that updating their final
list of keywords to the local language in key
countries led to a 700+ percent increase in
Find keywords with less than 3 competitors
Use recommended terms from store’s
Use golden keywords in your game’s title
Use keywords in short and long description
Break up complex key words
Build links to and from other app’s store
pages and other websites
Apple has a specific keywords field. Your total limitation is 100
characters. They should be divided by a comma, no spaces!
Plural - not needed if you already have the singular form
Words like app, the, an, free, etc.
Genre - you will choose the category in iTunes anyway
Irrelevant or offensive terms
Trademarks, names, or brands
Use numbers 1,2,3 instead of writing one, two, three
Don’t repeat the keywords - use the 100 character space
Google doesn’t have a keywords field. When
working with keywords for a Google Play app,
you need great copy and keywords.
In the short description you have an 80 character
limit, and you need to put your keywords in there.
The long description is 4,000 characters. Make
this description keywords dense, and repeat
every keyword 5 times.
According to Flurry Analytics, 82 percent of
users never browse past the top 25 search
In addition, the number-one app usually takes
30 percent of organic installs, with 17 percent
in position 2, and 12 percent in position 3.
Factors Affecting Ranking
On-Page factors: information the app store
associates with your app, including app
name, developer name, title, description,
icon, screenshots, etc.
Off-Page factors: how your users interact
with the app, including click-through rate,
downloads, usage, social media ranking,
speed/reliability of servers, etc.
There is a 30 character limit for Google
Play apps. Apple recommends 23
characters or less.
Use a unique app name. URLs with
multiple results like
appstore.com/airhockey will return a
Don’t use strange characters, punctuation
or symbols. The URL in iTunes is usually
based on your app name.
Put the most important information at the
top of the description
Keep it simple.
Use subjects and verbs early in sentence
to encourage action.
Overstuff with keywords.
Omit important details.
Target the wrong player type.
Icons and Screenshots
The icon impacts both ongoing use of your
app as well as the initial (click-through rate)
CTR and CVR. Use A/B testing tools to
determine which icons stand out and
Well done, A/B-tested visual promotional
assets convince visitors that your app is
The size of your game determines how
quickly your game downloads (download
The larger your game, the smaller your
conversion rate (CVR).
User reviews are taken into
account by the search engine.
Factors like total numbers of
downloads, ratings and reviews
are difficult for you to control, but
will affect the ASO.
Higher ratings, higher ranking.
Make a fun game.
Have an email address where your users can
reach you if they have a problem.
Have a website for support.
Update your app frequently.
Listen, reply fast and fix bugs.
Ask users for a second review after helping them.
Spam players with requests for reviews.
Ask players for reviews when they are
doing something critical in the game.
Tell players that their rating or review was
Many developers assume that English is enough,
but some of the most lucrative markets for mobile
apps and games are not native English speaking.
App localization is a great way to get high
rankings in as many countries as possible.
There is a clear and demonstrable link between
localization and higher numbers of downloads
and revenue generated in the targeted markets.
Occurs when a user encounters an app that
they decide is worthy of purchasing or
downloading for free, due to their high level of
interest in the app.
Organic Installs = Total Installs – Paid Installs
Paid (or Inorganic) Installs
One that incentivizes users in order to encourage a
download and installation of the app.
Virtual goods or extra game content
Bot farm services
Services that skew yet increase their app’s true rating
by having individuals leave fake reviews and award
high ratings in app stores
Research shows that nearly all users who download
through the use of incentivized traffic run the app once
and never return to use it.
Tip #1 For Improving Store
Look for inspiration outside your product
Tip #2 For Improving Store
Be bold and crazy.
Tip #3 For Improving Store
Monkey see, monkey do.
Tip #4 For Improving Store
Descriptions (almost) don’t matter.
Tip #5 For Improving Store
Leave video for last.
Users who watch video are 3x more likely to
Good videos have 40-55% completion rates
with a 10% drop every 5 seconds
Show value within the first 10 seconds and
never go beyond 30 seconds duration
Experiment with the cover image because
video takes the spot of the first screenshot
Measure By Metrics, Not By Gut
Update a spreadsheet on a daily basis, and
follow the trend your conversion rate is
Track and to determine every change you
Note whether a bad review has impacted
on downloads over the following days.
How much should I charge?
The first step in determining your game’s price is to
do some competitive analysis.
What’s the going rate for similar games, and what are
prices of games in similar categories.
Undercutting competitors on price is an easy way to
gain traction and attention, but if your game is
significantly more complex or advanced, you should
still be able to charge more for your superior offering.
Quality vs Grade
Grade as “the category assigned to products or services having
the same functional use but different technical characteristics.”
A casual game is a different grade than a AAA game, and is
Quality is conformance to the requirement, and fitness for use.
A game with lots of bugs or isn’t fun to play has low quality, and
customers will complain about not getting their money’s worth.
Setting User Expectations
Boxed games at $20 or below are considered
value-priced or impulse purchases
Boxed games at $60 are considered AAA
Casual mobile games are either free or 99
Mobile games in the $4.99+ range need to
have a large feature set and lots of polish
The Power Of 9’s
Pricing something with a 9 at
the end instead of a zero
results in more sales.
Pricing typically starts with premium pricing at
launch time – for the most engaged
customers who are least price sensitive,
willing to pay more for the hottest and newest
when it becomes available.
After launch prices go down, with the game
getting more and more discounted as it heads
to the bargain bin.
People buy discounts, even if the
discounted price is slightly higher
than a standard price.
Be prepared to discount your game
But deep discounts are driving
prices down rapidly for all.
Avoid the “Race to Zero”!
Develop the full life-cycle pricing strategy for
your game well in advance:
Full price at game launch
Mid-life and late-life price adjustments
A short-term tactic to boost sales of a product
by raising visibility and driving interest.
These can take the form of price promotions
(discount offers) or other kinds of promotions.
Sales promotions targeted at retailers and
distribution channel partners are called trade
Sometimes large channels will have
promotions such as holiday sales that you
can participate in.
Trade Sales Promotions
Sales promotions targeted at retailers and distribution
channel partners are called trade sales promotions.
Sometimes large channels will have promotions such
as holiday sales that you can participate in.
Consumer Sales Promotions
Sales promotions targeted at the consumer.
These are promotions that you can run on
your own to boost sales after you launch your
Types of Promotions
Let’s take a closer look at each!
Sometimes introductory specials are done at
launch-time – particularly for lesser known
games – to give prospective customers the
final motivation they might need to make a
Time-Limited Price Promotion
Price is reduced for a single day, multiple
days or a week.
Launch a separately purchasable expansion
pack or some other add-on content for your
game that you can build a secondary
promotional campaign around.
You can expand your game’s scope through
a new version of the game with more levels,
characters, themes, etc.
Celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Spring
Break, the end of the school year, a
presidential election, Friday the 13th, etc.
Commemorate a game’s initial release
anniversary, “birthday of a lead character in
the game, unit sales peaks (50,000 units
sold!) and more.
When different items get combined together in an
attractive, high-value package.
One form of bundle is selling multiple products together.
Large-established channels as well as dedicated bundle
consolidators have performed quite well with strong value
Humble Bundle is one example of an organization that has
generated sizable sales volumes for indie games.
Another type of bundle is selling a product
with a companion accessory.
Game with a “Making of” book
Game with a soundtrack disk
Plan further ahead for promotional pricing, as it
makes discounting much easier. Nobody likes to
discount their products, but the marketplace is
Arranging for promotions several months after
the game’s initial release helps to maximize
revenues early in a game’ s life cycle. Also plan
promotions at predetermined times later in the
Typical Product Life Cycle
Bundle with Original and Add-On
Special Edition with More Content
Value or “Classics” Release
Pricing On Older Titles
If you have previous titles, called your Library
or Back Catalog -- consider reducing their
prices as you release new ones to generate
Lowering prices for earlier games helps to
stimulate trial and build the base – which can
translate into higher sales level for the new
game when it releases.
Create a life-cycle pricing strategy for the
game you’ve been marketing in your class.
Value or “Classic” Release
Use the tool SensorTower to help you select
Apple iPhone app keywords for the game you
have been developing marketing plans for in