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Creating a highly rated and successful mobile game is no easy task. That’s why GamesBeat brought in mobile game influencers to lend advice on how to make the next best seller. Michael Ehrenberg, a former iOS App Store Marketing Manager, also recently gave an insider look on what Apple expects from its featured content. The advice below is what the industry leaders at GamesBeat believe makes a great mobile game:

Tell a Story to Be Relevant

Apple has a hand-curated system that specializes in discovering the most innovative, relevant mobile apps. During GamesBeat University 2014, Michael Ehrenberg told the crowd that pitching your mobile game to Apple is “all about storytelling.” It’s not enough to simply make a good mobile app. You have to sell that app to anyone who will listen. Get people to feel like downloading your app is the only logical conclusion.

Think about it: There are thousands of new mobile games in stores every month. What makes yours different than all the rest? Storytelling is how you convey what your app means to its users. A good story shows the world why your app is more than just a game. Focus less about what your app is, and more about what it offers people as a holistic experience. That’s what the pros are doing.

Create an Earnest Game

Some mobile games are designed for niche audiences or short-term gains. Know that employees at Apple will play your game long before they decide to feature it. Michael Ehrenberg emphasizes that “Apple is extremely sensitive to how its products look in the marketplace.” Apple never abides a game that is generally deceptive, offers in-game content for high reviews, or peddles exploitative microtransactions to children. Mature games also get more scrutiny.

A misleading game might make you a quick dollar, but it’s nowhere near the revenue you could achieve with an actual product meant for longevity. Offering things for high reviews gives Apple the impression that your game needs a bribe to stand on its own, regardless of your intent. If your game is meant for children, ensure that it is COPPA compliant and that your microtransactions require information that a child can’t easily obtain. Even requiring a CVV from the default credit card can help keep your game ethically sound.

Increase your Customers’ Lifetime Value (LTV)

A customer’s lifetime value is the average amount of revenue you will receive from the users enjoying your game. It helps determine the amount you can spend overall while still being profitable. Don’t be fooled by anomalies like Flappy Bird. You need a long term strategy to make investors notice, because you make more money the longer a user stays in your game.

Spending all of your resources on the initial product and none of it on customer retention is a mistake that game companies make constantly. Apple will be able to spot this. Focus on engaging your users to keep them in the game. Give rewards for playing daily, build a strong player community, and provide fast mobile support if something goes wrong. Develop your game like you want it to exist three years from now.

Listen to your Customers’ Complaints

Customer reviews in the app store will affect how everyone else feels about your game, period. 86% of users say that online reviews influence their buying decisions. Apple is very likely to overlook your app if it has a slew of negative reviews. Keep an eye on what dissatisfied users are saying, because those gripes are probably a pain point in your app that you can make better. Player complaints are your primary feedback tool.

The best case scenario is to prevent negative ratings and reviews from even hitting the app store in the first place. Bugs are inevitable, but bad press doesn’t have to be. Our free Ebook has winning advice on how to give your players a 5-star experience. In-app communication keeps players’ criticism native and away from forums and app stores. Lead them to an app store review only when their issue is successfully solved.

Leverage New Technologies

iOS8 has tons of new developer tools available, and Apple also expects you to bring the latest tech into your app. Your game needs to be optimized for their new Metal processor. Do you use Interactive Notifications to assist customers? New technology is always an opportunity to innovate the app marketplace. Use these things to your advantage quickly, or it will become a disadvantage when your competitors pick them up instead.

Practically every app on the market also uses B2B tools to eliminate pain points. Mobile analytics like Flurry help you discover your audience. Crashlytics allows your users to report a crash, giving insight on what patches game needs. Helpshift provides scalable in-app customer care for your game, and even offers a free plan for upstart games below 10,000 monthly active users. Top mobile game companies increase their retention with in-app FAQs and chat. It’s a lot tougher to scale without having tools that scale with you.

Published October 8, 2014
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