Top Tips to Build a Community Around Your Game App
The app industry is part of the winner-takes-all market, wherein a few top-performing apps tend to make all the money. So it is almost a no-brainer that if you want your app to figure in the top 10 list (where all the money is), you need to sweat it out. Well, the story is no different for game apps.
On reflection, the Pareto principle (80/20) applies to every industry and not just apps. The top 20 percent makes all the money. Look at this chart by Sensor Tower to figure the top-grossing gaming apps in 2021. The Honor of Kings dominated both the App Store and Google Play with close to $277 million. In June, gamers spent around a whopping $7.3 billion across both stores. The top 10 generated around $1.4 billion, with each game individually contributing more than $100 million to that total.
So, how do you break into an industry that’s already flooded with tens of thousands of apps? Besides, what monetization strategy should you implement to get a slice of this $7.3 million pie?
Interestingly, when you scrutinize the factors in terms of what makes these top game apps popular, you’ll find a common thread that runs through all of them. Yes, that’s right! These apps offer the best environment for players to congregate and engage. Simply put, building a community around your gaming app is one of the key strategies to ensure the success of your game app.
Needless to say, there’s no magic formula to building a community around your gaming app, as it’s a highly technical process. Hopefully, the following tips will help you get started.
1. Go Where your Gamers Are
Building an in-app community around your gaming apps is a good idea. That said, a much better idea is: Go where your gamers are. Put another way, track down your active players and figure out their favorite social platforms. It might be possible that your favorite players are already live streaming on Twitch or uploading videos to YouTube.
The point is: Go to them instead of them coming to you. For instance, Idle Miner Tycoon could have turned into a terrible game app if it weren’t for the contributions of its active community members composed of talented gamers congregating on their Facebook fan page. Not surprisingly, the creators of this game spend a healthy chunk of their time on their Facebook Fan page engaging with their community members by sharing news, new content pieces, and introducing the key players of the game and all. Not just that, the game developers even make it a point to take a proactive rather than reactive approach while dealing with their fans.
2. Let Community Members Drive the Development Process
Does this sound a little scary? But then it’s necessary to rope in your community gamers during the development stages itself as it is a sure shot way to ensure that the features of your game app resonate with them, which in turn, would fuel its popularity.
Ryan Holiday’s 2017 bestselling book Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work, for example, clearly emphasizes the importance of community engagement at every stage of the product development process as he states, “Work made entirely in isolation will be valuable to just one person: yourself (everyone else will find it too convoluted and confusing). So no matter what, make sure you listen to your gamers and integrate their feedback into the app.
Returning to the Idle Miner Tycoon case study, the company built the game purely on player feedback. “We essentially just built what they asked for,” says Nate Barker, Director of Business Development at Fluffy Fairy Games. And the community people loved it so much that they insisted on having IAPs added to the game, in the form of in-game boosts and other items, so that the developers could make money selling them. (Imagine gamers looking for ways to aid developers in monetizing the app.) Over time, IAPs became 40% of their revenue. Long story short: roping in community players during the development stages will make your users feel, as Barket aptly puts it: “like the game is theirs and that we’re building it for them.”
3. Put all your Eggs in One Basket
In other words, focus on a handful of social media platforms instead of spreading yourself thin and making your presence felt anywhere and everywhere, be it Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, or Twitch, and their like. Before investing your valuable time and energy in any of these platforms, research a bit about these platforms. And whether you would gain anything worthwhile by being on any of these platforms.
If not, better focus on those few channels that are sure to give you better returns on your app, especially if you are just a startup. Bear in mind that launching a Facebook or Twitter account is not the problem. Updating them with regular, engaging, relevant, and fun content is. In short, do not bite more than you could chew. Not sure which social media platform would be ideal for building a community around your game app? Check this post.
4. Make Life Easier for Players
Building a thriving community around your gaming app, as it turns out, is easy peasy if you make the life of gamers easier as well. You may ask how? Help your players to share their achievements online or let them connect with the game developer at the click of a button. Remember: Obstacles could only lead to lost opportunities in terms of building a community.
To give you a concrete example, the creators of Fun Run, Megacool Foundation, found that their players were putting in extra effort when it came to sharing their winning screenshots on Twitter. In fact, the players had to follow a series of steps to post their winning screenshots after every race: take a screenshot, leave the game, open their Twitter account, and post the screenshot. Though the players may have been posting on Twitter mindlessly, it was unambiguously clear to the developers that there was a scope of improvement in terms of the app’s sharing patterns. So they decided to put some thought into it by installing a share button that would automatically pop up after every race, making it easier for the players to share their winning screenshots to Twitter in fractions of seconds.
The point I am hammering home is: Look through the community’s lens: what excites them, what they talk about, and where they share their experiences. By thinking on these lines, you would be able to chalk out strategies that would make the life of players easier and exciting at the same time.
App communities are powerhouse feedback machines, through which app developers can coax a constant stream of significant, immediate, and relevant feedback resulting in the development of features that highly resonate with the former, not to mention radically accelerate the development process too.