Featured categories: a new approach to keyword optimization

Hey guys:

As some may know, we are working a on a pretty ambitious indie game for a couple of months: http://forums.makingmoneywithandroid.com/income-reports/17070-football-game-development.html (feedback is welcome) and among many task i do i have been wondering and researching about how to get to 1 MM downloads, the mark we have set to consider the game a success. I have concluded there are 4 ways of getting downloads with a game (i cant say about apps), none of them easy to achieve and they need to be mixed to improve the chances of success:

  1. Initial Boom: Strong initial (paid) promotion following by a boost in the rankings bringing a lot of downloads during the first 3 months and then declining to a low level. The success of this approach depends on how high was the boost. As seen in this forum, results vary from 10-50k downloads range to +1MM.

  2. Keyword ranking: For me this is the most overrated of the 4. The android market is so tough for every word that it is very hard to rank high, and after you made it to top5 or top1, how many downloads is that bringing you? 100/day , 350/day? I don’t believe it brings more than that… Real data is welcome :-).

  3. Similar apps: Another way of getting downloads is by appearing as similar apps for other important apps. For what i have seen/read, this seems to be a stream of downloads, although one of our apps is matched with Color Zen, which has more than 1MM downloads, and never brought more than 200 downloads/day. Since one of the most important factors to match app is the download counter, this approach does not seem to work alone but needed to be combined with 1) and 2).

  4. Being featured: I believe this one to be the most underrated way of the 4. Yes, everybody wants and has dreamed about being featured, but what have we done to be featured besides trying to make “the best” app we can , some Google searches and crossing the fingers? I believe most of us, including me, have only launched the game, went the 1), 2) and/or 3) route and hoped for the best, believing at some point the app will trigger Google´s feature team alarm.
    Well, that worked for me once (and is currently working) , when Tap the Box got featured in second position for Fun with Physics category in USA and Canada. Results? 150k downloads in a month. Now is featured in position 8, bringing 400 downloads/day. Why did it get featured and my other apps not? Is it the best of our apps? Well, yes…, but i dont believe that to be the only reason, so many excellent apps never get featured… I think an excellent app just give you a chance of getting featured, but you will never have an opportunity if your app dont come to Google´s eyes. So how did it Tap the Box make it? Did an excellent retention rate, ratings, or download numbers ring their bells? Not the case of Tap the Box… So then i rechecked Tap the Box´s listing and found something interesting. Check this out:

Category it was featured: Fun with Physics

Tap the Box´s short description: “Tap the Box is a simple and fun physics puzzler.”

Tap the Box´s first sentences of the description: “Tap the Box is a simple and fun physics puzzler. The objective is easy: Get the jewel on top of the Golden Box. Experiment with real physics as you play with different types of boxes and ropes to figure out the solutions to over 80 progressively difficult levels.”

I believe that not to be a coincidence, i think Google came up with the category and then, when looking for candidates (after trying to fit any King´s games into the category) , typed some keywords, as one of the mechanism to find candidates. And they stumble upon Tap the Box, they checked it out, they considered to be worthy of getting featured and Boom!

Lets pretend i am right about this, i know many of you will argue i am not, but what if i am? I mean, for example, how many games in the “Running game” category have the word “run” on the title? At least half of them. For the ones believing this could be truth, i ask you, what would be the first step to in order to optimize the store listing trying to get featured in 1 or more categories? Knowing what to optimize for, in other words, knowing the categories. That´s the purpose of this thread, to make a list of all the features categories. Since categories change across countries, everybody will have something to contribute, i never knew of the existence of the Fun wit physics category even after getting featured…

For example, here in Chile this are the current categories for games:

  • New Games and best updates
  • **Most downloaded games, best of the week
  • 2014 Best Games
  • Star Wars games
  • Multi-players games, play with friends
  • No wifi, no problem
  • Arcade games, RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
  • Casual games, fun games for all.
  • Puzzle games, RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
  • Games to play today
  • Sports games, RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
  • **Endless runners
  • Achievement games, beat challenges to unlock challenges
  • Casual games, RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
  • Quick reaction Games, ramp up your reflexes
  • Casino games, RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
  • Adventure games, RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
  • **Racer games
  • Puzzle games, think before acting
  • Action games, RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

**not sure if this is the exact translation Spanish-English translation

What do you think? Regards.

It’s pretty simple since you are completely right with your analysis. Just try to optimize all of them. Search for other popular football games and try to match your description with them. You can’t optimize for a feature so this one is completely based on luck and/or quality of your app. From what I’ve seen of your app you probably won’t get a feature, so better forget about this one. It doesn’t look bad, but I don’t think it looks good enough for a feature. We were featured multiple times on google play categories and never got more than 50.000 additional downloads out of it. Our latest game gets almost all of the downloads from the recommendation categories. In the last 5 games we got 100.000 downloads and about 70.000 of them from the Arcade recommendations box alone. I’d also suggest to ask a very good artist to create an icon for you if you really want to reach 1 million downloads. This is going to help extremely if your app is visible.

Which category was it? For how long did it get featured, which position and in what countries? thanks!

It was in the retro/vintage category at the 2nd and 7th spot. Featured for 2 weeks in Europe only. No idea why, but both apps were featured in Europe only, I should’ve mentioned that earlier.

I totally agree with you. One of our games was featured on the “Save your progress” category, and we did have a prominent part of our description talking about our “GPGS Cloud Save” feature. The thing is with these categories, I think you would have to be lucky like you were with Tap the Box, and have a prominent mention/use of something before they created the category. Most of the apps in these categories don’t change after they have created them. So you would have to guess what categories they may create in the future. I think something that may help you guess what they will create is current world events. Like if the World Cup was being held right after your release of your football game, this might work.

By the way, our feature was in 2 countries and at the bottom of the list of about 15 games, in a list that wasn’t very popular, and didn’t get us any extra downloads that we could tell at all.

Good luck with your game @BaksaiApps .

Just to share about point 2, a game ranked 2nd for a fairly popular keyword gets me about 2.5-4k downloads daily. Been above 3k daily since Christmas.

How much revenue can u generate from that?

I’ve not decided to release monetization details of that game yet… but do check out the case study I did on another football game’s first month live progress :


Are those your games?

Yes, those games and the blog too :slight_smile:

more than 10 millions with 1 game, WOW

Yeah… that one was pretty awesome… released feb 2014, and broke 10m in november 2014…its also a football game, so you have a benchmark there :stuck_out_tongue:

Amazing, congratulations!

How much money did it bring you? The game is not so good (no offense meant) so i suppose something inbetween $0.01-0.02 per download? How many downloads are you getting nowadays with that game?

Thanks. Yeah, the game could be better surely. Its basically just a unity3d kit published in its most basic form.

Wow… amazing… any paid marketing? or it is purely by keyword?

Thank you.

No paid marketing… keywords + cross promo + luck …

ps - this thread is getting hijacked… so lets get back to what the TS was discussing about :smiley:

I think the most important factor is the keyword, smart use of app title!

TS did asking for real data on keyword ranking, and coincidentally, he was making a football game. @BaksaiApps This is a very good case study for keywords. You shall do some research on it.

Yes, i already knew the game, it was under our radar, but never thought it was from somebody of the forum ;-). Already working on the keywords and description

You are one of the few indie game developers here in this forum that make game with certain quality and originality. I wish you a big success for your game.

Also for the factors you listed, I think timing is one of the factors. Different time, results in different themes and keywords. Isn’t it there is a flow clone you shared that is featured by Google? I would say Google need to find a suitable game with that theme on that time. Publish in the right time can increases the chance of being featured, but still at end you need some luck.

As someone else who has had multiple games ‘featured’, allow me to chime in.

  1. The ‘recommended for you’ is a personal recommendation according to a Google employee I met at a conference. Or at least, they intend it to eventually be 100% individualized.
  2. The category your game is in is VERY VERY VERY important. eg: Word Games is a fsking wasteland. Almost no users scroll down there. WordSearch Hero was in the top 5 and getting a few hundred downloads/day and the #2 in “What’s new”…

If anyone wants to chat privately, feel free to pm me.