Episode - 019 - App Store Research

019: 3 Reasons Why Researching the App Store is Critical for Mobile Indie Developers.

Game Dev Podcast - 019 - Why App Store Research is Essential

Browsing around on the App Store has been part of our daily routine pretty much ever since we first started building our games. The App Store is the playground we play in, and thus it’s super important to keep a keen eye on the market. With the Store refreshing each Thursday, it’s always a bit of a buzz to have a good look around at just who the movers and shakers are, and what’s working right now.

“For us, our App Store research and being slightly obsessive has been a critical part to our success.”

This is also super important if you’re looking to sign a publishing deal or you’re looking to bag a spot in the “New Games We Love’ feature section of the App Store. You need to be up to date with what is doing well and what’s popular, along with any hot new releases.

Here’s our Top 3 reasons why you should build an App Store Research Habit.

1. Keeping up with the Market Trends

App Store trends move at a fast pace and we, as mobile game developers, need to be able to recognise any new trending art styles, mechanics, types or genres at a glance. Game Publishers often releases titles that match hot and current trends, and more times than not, are responsible for actually setting the trends themselves.

For example, Dunk Hit by Voodoo paved the way for a surge in Basketball themed games that dominated the top charts for a fair amount of time. Being present in the market, and spotting these trends early, puts you way ahead of the pack and ensures you can potentially capitalise on these too.

When generating ideas for our games, we often use something we like to call “Game Fusion”. This is where we take 2 or more popular games at the time ( Game Mechanics / Art Styles ) and try to fuse them into a single game to create a new one. We can see by keeping a fresh eye on the App Store what is working and this sets us off on the right foot. Of course, it doesn’t always pan out quite like we think, but it’s a solid place to start.

2. Success Leaves Breadcrumbs

Just by the act of browsing around the store on a regular basis, you’ll start to see patterns. Over time, you’ll begin to notice that in amongst the what is the volatile top 200 Free Game Chart, there’ll be certain publishers that dominate and certain titles that stick around. Take note of these and try to reverse engineer their success. For the most part, they are not there by accident.

Is the publisher spending money on User Acquisition?

Does the game have a ton of reviews?

Usually a quick google search can get you somewhere close to answering these questions.  Researching a little deeper can often give great insights to what the market likes and wants.   

3. The Apple Feature Team Selections aka “New Games We Love”

With the App Store refreshing every Thursday, we take the time to deep dive into all the featured games that week. We note in particular which publishers have released that week and play some most, if not all, of the games to study any fresh interesting mechanics.

Keeping an eye on the preview videos, the screenshots and the game icon is also super important to notice the trends, and again, any patterns that we can adopt to keep fresh and current. Playing a ton of new games each week is a great way to spark inspiration, and hey, it’s all in the name of “Work Research”  🙂

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Kevin & Jilly RisingHigh Academy