Episode - 017 - Defining Success

017: As a Game developer, how do you define success for your Mobile Game.

Game Dev Podcast - 017 - How do you Define Success in Mobile Gaming

This week’s agenda came from podcast listener Volkens Daman, and is a really interesting subject, so firstly thank you Volkens for sending that through, and indeed for tuning in with us here at the Extended Tea Break. We decided to do our best to answer this question and break down just what the meaning of success really is.

My question is “How do you define success for a mobile game?”

Defining success for any mobile game can come in many forms. You may be just starting out in the business, and, by the very fact that you have built a game and released it on the App Store, can be in of itself defined as a great success. It’s a huge step and certainly a goal well achieved to have got that far.

The first thing to ask here is your “why?”
Why am I making a game = What is my desired outcome?


Maybe making games is a hobby, so for you the success could be the completion of one of your project, a sense of personal accomplishment. So in this instance your why could be finishing your game, and your goal, could be simply seeing it appear in the App Store.

Business Model

On the other hand, you may see building games as a future career or even starting your own Indie Game Studio, a business. Your why is that you want to make money and generate sufficient revenue from your games, and your goal is to sustain your business with recurring income from your games. A very different proposition from the hobbyist game developer.
Here you need to think a lot more about how you’re going to monetise your games.

What type of game you’re going to make?
Which ad networks to put in your project?
Are you on the hunt for a possible publishing deal?

Most importantly however, is how are you going to generate attention and thus drive traffic and ultimately downloads? All of these questions need to be answered. In short, your game needs to be good, better than good, and if you’re just starting out it may well take you several attempts, a lot of honing of your skills and plenty of practice to reach this kind of production level.

“Is it the number of downloads / IAP?”


The more downloads your game receives obviously reflects on the market popularity and success of your game in the App Store charts. That said, downloads are somewhat of a vanity metric for free to play mobile games. It’s much more about your average revenue per daily active user ( ARPDAU ) and retention rates than download numbers alone.

IAP ( In App Purchases )

In app purchases are a tough cookie if you’re making casual or hyper casual games, players who like this type of genre are typically looking for that ‘quick fix’ and generally don’t spend money on a ton of in app purchases. It’s certainly worth putting in a remove ads IAP, to give players the option of opting out of being shown ads. Apple will certainly favour an IAP of some description and is something that we always include in our projects.

By all means explore all the options here, but for these types of games, we recommend focusing on other aspects of the game for a better use of time.

“Would you say it’s how the market reacts to it?”

Market reactions, IE: players reviews and reactions to your game can be two fold. “Love this game” will obviously give you an immense boost as a developer and you will be overcome with the urge to just go make another game ASAP.

These are the comments we’re all eager to see, but sadly, all too often, in amongst the good, will be the single bad egg of “this game is utter rubbish”. This will be the only one you’re ever likely to remember reading, a real day spoiler.

You can’t, and won’t, ever be able to please everyone, but just be sure to make a conscious effort to sift these out and take on board the positive reactions. Disregard the trolls who are simply out to be negative, feel sorry for them.

“This will be my first game, by the way.”

Without crushing any dreams, and seriously, we like nothing better than when we see Academy members win through, just be conscious that this is your first game, there’s a lot of process to get through in launching your game to the App Store.

We recommend you enjoy immersing yourself in building and finishing your project. This is the fun part where you get to show all your creative skills. Take yourself through the process of getting your game onto the market. Rinse and repeat!

So defining success for your mobile games can mean different things to different people. Knowing your “Why” will empower you to think about what is important to you.

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome.

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Kevin & Jilly RisingHigh Academy