· 6 min read

How To Optimize Mobile Games for the App Stores

You’ve finished your game. Now to publish. But how can you make sure your game stands out on the App Stores? Here’s what TapNation recommends.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published by TapNation. Make sure to check out their version here.

The question of how people find your content is a tale as old as the internet. Having the best story or the most innovative gameplay means very little if no one can find it, never mind play it.

Which is why ASO (App Store Optimization) is so important. It plays a crucial role when publishing your game. And it isn’t as time-consuming or complicated as you may think.

At TapNation, we help make sure new players find your hyper-casual games by using the best ASO techniques and most effective marketing strategies. If you have great intuitive gameplay, we want to make sure everyone in the world is playing it.

But if you’re just looking for some simple advice to get you started, well here a few tips that we recommend:

1. Icons Make First Impressions

The vast majority of potential players will judge everything about a game on its icon. It’s impossible to understate how important it is to have something that not only catches people’s attention but also intrigues them enough to download your game.

The first impression for most games comes from their icons

Never judge a book by its cover. As nice as that is, unfortunately, this isn’t the case for the app stores. There are hundreds of thousands of games on the app stores, and your little icon will be one of the first things a potential player sees. So you’re going to want to make it stand out.

Quick tip: Run A/B tests

When working on your icon, research what similar games in your space are using. Focus on your best competitors. And then experiment with your own. You don’t want an exact copy, but you should be able to pick out some good trends. Make sure to A/B test to find out which ones work best with your own audience.

Why should potential players be drawn to your game?

Having an icon that stands out within the crowd of games is a large part of the difference between success and failure.

But making it eye-catching is only half of the job. It shouldn’t lose what the essence of the game is about. It needs to represent the game accurately in a tiny square next to other similar squares. The ideal situation is finding a way to stand out with an image that intuitively speaks about how the game is played and what makes it unique.

Quick tip: See how your icon sits against your competitors

You can put together a test group if you want, but it may not be needed for this. To get a better idea of how well your icon is perceived, a common trick is to take a screenshot of the top apps and slot your icon within the mix. If it doesn’t immediately catch your eye (or your friend’s or family member’s), it’s time to go back to the drawing board.


Tapnation icon collection

2. Perfect Your Names, Screenshots, and Trailers

You’ve tackled the icon. What next? Your name, screenshots, and trailers.

These are all secondary to the icon. But they are equally just important, and crucial to turning someone’s interest into an actual download, and eventually loyal player.

All three need to stand out in the context of the app stores. Everything needs to revolve around capturing the core gameplay and what makes it exciting (without seeming generic or uninspired). Capturing the essence of a game in just a few images and words to entice interested users is what it’s all about.

Quick tip: find the best screenshots of the most exciting part of the game while avoiding text and UI

Everything needs to accentuate the unique look and feel of the game.  You want to help people instantly understand how your game is played, and what makes it stand out from the competition.

You want to educate, excite, and convince – all on one page. Which is one of the most challenging parts of publishing your game. So make sure you’re showing and talking about the best parts of your game at this stage.

Quick tip: Research keywords when figuring out your name

You might already have an idea of what your game will be called. But whatever stage you’re in, we’d recommend performing some keyword research for your title. Usually, you’ll want something short, descriptive, and unique.

3. Limited Text and Trailers

You don’t need to go overboard when it comes to your text and video trailers. Most people decide whether to download a hyper-casual game based on its icon and screenshots first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean text and trailers are useless.

Using text and trailers to highlight key features and make basic calls to action are okay, but it’s easy to get carried away and just lose players in a wall of text or a long-winded tutorial.

The best use of text and trailers comes from making clear statements about the gameplay that people think are hard to find in other games. Especially with hyper-casual games (which should be simple and intuitive anyway).

Quick tip: don’t forget to localize your text and images

One last side note for any text featured in the app stores is to remember that everything needs to be localized if your game is launched in multiple markets.

Standing Out In Context

Remember: your game will instantly be judged based on its icon. So before you do anything, perfect that. All of your hard work will be for nothing if they don’t click on your icon.

Standing out in context and letting that eye-catching icon lead to people playing your game is the goal of ASO.

So that’s the gist of it. But there is a lot more you can do when it comes to perfecting your game on the app stores. If you have any questions, or just fancy learning some more tips and tricks, then feel free to get in touch. We’d love to have a chat.

Tapnation computer creativity icon