With the Game Developers Conference (GDC) just a week away, Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, looks at how App Store Optimization can help developers ensure long-term success in the mobile gaming market.
From 21-25 March, GDC will be back in-person and better than ever – packed with buzzing gaming industry professionals from around the world seeking networking opportunities, technical conferences, speaking events, and expos. After a 3 year-long hiatus, there are plenty of new developments and opportunities for everyone in the industry to catch up on.
17,000 game developers and over 200 exhibitors will be looking to level up at the 2022 GDC in San Francisco, California. Among the list of attendees are game development companies like NVIDIA, Ubisoft, IncrediBuild, Meta, Nintendo, Samsung, Tencent, and Microsoft.
A lot has changed since the last GDC conference, and none is more evident than the rise of mobile gaming. So, how can game developers ensure their long-term success in the mobile gaming market? First, let’s look at how the global gaming industry has changed, and how game developers and mobile marketers can adjust to these changes through App Store Optimization (ASO).
The Gaming industry
The Gaming industry has long been known for its ability to transcend its users to different and other-worldly dimensions with a one-of-a-kind user experience. From a variety of game genres like JRPGs, Classics, Gacha, and educational games – users of all ages and interests are sure to find a game that speaks to them.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the entire gaming industry has seen a drastic shift in its competitive environment. Enterprise game development companies now directly compete with indie developers for the same user pool. Today, indie game developers and independent creators have the capacity to reach users on app stores and platforms like STEAM with significantly lower marketing budgets and a vast understanding of their target audience.
However, genre variety and effective targeting alone aren’t enough to address the changes taking place in the gaming industry today. Over the past three years, the gaming industry has seen some significant changes in user behavior and consumption habits that may require them to readjust or reconfigure their mobile strategy altogether. This stands true for indie and enterprise game developers.
Through ASO, game developers no longer have to rely on notoriety and traditional marketing strategies alone. In fact, mobile marketing is vastly different from web and other promotional avenues game developers may be used to. To succeed in mobile marketing, all developers need a mobile data-driven strategy to adequately compete in the mobile gaming industry.
The Gaming industry goes mobile
Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store have over 2 million mobile games listed on their platform – ranging from a variety of genres, gameplay modes, and themes. While the mobile gaming market competition remains stiff, notable game developers from across the globe are jumping into the mobile gaming industry in addition to their PC and game console offerings – but why? Mobile gaming simply put, just keeps on growing.
Data collected from 2019-2020 indicates that the mobile gaming industry has grown a whopping 12 per cent globally. During that time frame, users spent nearly 300 billion hours playing mobile games – a 35 per cent increase from years prior. During the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many new users sought forms of entertainment that differed from their typical entertainment consumption habits. Many of these people turned to their smartphones for mobile games.
This trend of increased mobile gaming shows no signs of slowing – even after the initial effects of the pandemic. The mobile gaming market from 2021-2026 is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 13 per cent. In 2020 alone, mobile games made up about 48 per cent of the entire video game revenue stream around the world.
In Southeast Asia alone, one in three smartphone users self-identify as daily mobile game users. This makes adapting to a global audience even more important for game developers. Developers and mobile marketers must look to harness and captivate their growing popularity not just domestically – but for a vast and diverse audience around the world.
With such astronomical growth rates, a growing number of game developers have significantly shifted their product strategy to account for the global surge in mobile gaming popularity. Now big-name games like Minecraft, Fortnite, GTA 5, Sims, and even FINAL FANTASY have made their way into the app store platforms.
In years prior, smartphones didn’t have the bandwidth to support a high-quality gaming experience for their users. Now, users can play the games they’ve come to know and love from their PC or gaming console experiences on the go.
What can game developers do about these changes?
App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process in which an app developer can help their app rank for relevant keywords, increasing their potential for downloads from a more relevant audience by optimizing both app metadata and creative assets.
With such massive growth in the mobile gaming industry, game developers need to come up with a mobile marketing game plan that enables them to get discovered by new and familiar audiences around the world. Notoriety and paid marketing campaigns alone do not guarantee app store success. Moreover, mobile game developers need the resources and the ASO technology that empowers them to distinguish themselves from the competition all while acting on the data-driven insights that drive app discoverability.
Optimize for long-term success
ASO is the foundation of a successful and effective mobile marketing strategy that relies on building and maintaining relevancy in user experience, mobile algorithms, and competition. According to Apple, 70 per cent of all organic downloads come from Search.
For mobile game developers, this provides a lucrative opportunity to get discovered by the audiences and users they want to target. Through ASO, mobile game developers can meet their users at the search bar effectively to increase their discoverability among fresh eyes and familiar users from all around the world.
In the context of mobile gaming, metadata assets serve a fundamental purpose in keyword indexation. Choosing the most effective keywords for a mobile game is fundamental to reaching the right audience and cutting through the massive amounts of competition on the app stores.
For example, a simple search of, “JRPG” will populate hundreds of results for JRPG mobile games. And much like the second page of a Google Search, users don’t spend a lot of time and effort scrolling through the search page to find what they’re looking for. Thus, developers need to take a strategic approach to their metadata asset optimization strategy that not only captures their unique value offering but must also do it in a way that unites their value with their most receptive, core target audience.
By optimizing app keyword and creative assets, mobile game developers can effectively climb up the search results page over time for long-term mobile marketing success. This involves optimizing all app assets with continuous refinement, adaptation to global audiences through localization, and harnessing a more effective user interface through creative optimization.
Through ASO, game developers can effectively increase their visibility and their conversion rates on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
GDC only comes around once a year. Despite the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the gaming industry has shown us that it has no intention of stagnating. Mobile gaming has seen seismic expansion around the world over the past few years and it reveals industry growth opportunities that are hard to ignore. More and more developers are looking for ways to compete for segments of the mobile gaming user base and maintain their relevance in the app store. ASO is the foundation of mobile game marketing success; it enables developers to build a strong backbone for paid marketing campaigns and creates sustainable solutions for long-term success.
Stop by our booth #S669 at GDC, and chat with the experts from the #1 App Store Optimization company in the world, Gummicube.
About the Author
Dave Bell is Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube. Gummicube is a global leader in App Store Optimization with more than 11 years of experience optimizing and marketing apps. We offer the leading enterprise ASO technology and agency services, providing support to clients around the world. Our company is trusted by thousands of enterprise brands and leading startups including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Bethesda, SWEAT, GrubHub, McAfee and many others.