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Apr 28 2022
We've mentioned in previous articles that choosing the right category for your mobile game can make a big difference. The right selection of app store categories can help your new game avoid some competitive pressures, and a good start can better help new games gain early rankings in the app store.
But in addition to competition, there is another factor, category popularity, that will ultimately affect the number of users your game is likely to acquisition. For example, you might get more downloads for being 8th in a casual game category than in 3rd in an RPG. Also, updating your optimization strategy at the right time as your game grows can ensure that your growth is maximized.
Here, we'll talk about how to find the right app store category to pave the way for your user acquisition.
Choosing an App Store category for your game may seem like an easy task. After all, your game is a product, and that product is a genre. RPG, Casual, Puzzle, Adventure or more.
One of the key issues with trying to understand which category your game belong to is that the App Store categories aren't granular enough to really capture the essence of your game genre.
Even within a category of casual games, from simulation games, anime games, bubble shooters, puzzle games or cartoon games, etc., each of these genres appeals to a different game player.
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Back to the original question, what effect does the category you choose have:
All in all, your goal is to increase revenue for the game you're marketing through organic browsing traffic that discovers your game. Think of categories as pockets of different audiences that you can tap into, each with a different "cost" to tap into, and that's the power of UA for that category, described below.
Browsing is heavily influenced by UA, and the power of UA varies by category.
Generally, browsing traffic accounts for about 10%-20% of the first download in the game market. In contrast, search traffic is significantly larger, generally accounting for about 68%, while paid UA-driven referral traffic accounts for the rest. While browsing traffic may not seem like a major growth driver, optimizing for browsing traffic can dramatically increase your download growth rate.
One consideration when choosing a class or considering switching classes is the power of UA (POUA) for each class.
One of the most important factors that Apple uses to determine the leaderboard ranking for each category is first-time download speed.
Some categories are based on a growth model that requires a lot of paid UA, attracting users at a very low cost per install, and then monetizing traffic by placing ads in the game before those users, usually a few days after the install.
Other categories, such as RPGs that contain a lot of mid-core, hard-core games, appeal to hard-core players more than casual games. The growth model for these games revolves around attracting top-tier consumers who invest longer in each game and delivering richer and evolving gaming experiences.
This means that the TOP 1 game in the RPG category requires a much lower first download than the TOP 1 game in the Casual category. This also means that UA is more powerful in the RPG category than in the casual category. In other words, if you want to get to the top of the category chart, you need to spend more in the casual category and get more first downloads than the RPG category.
That being said, the #8 casual game in some countries gets more views and downloads than the #3 RPG. That's the level of depth you need to consider when considering whether to switch categories.
To add another layer of complexity, downloads from one category may cost more in your game.
First, group the categories from a game perspective
As shown above, the Y-axis is the likelihood that the category audience (users who visit the App Store and visit the charts/page for that category) will have a high affinity for your game.
The x-axis is how big the audience is in that category.
The following three strategies can help you make the choice easily:
1. Relevant-Niche Category – A category that doesn’t have a huge audience but is relevant to the true genre of your game, making it easier to dominate.
2. Popular and Relevant Category - A category that does have a large audience and is relevant to your real game genre. These categories will be the hardest to compete with.
3. Differentiated and popular categories – categories with large audiences that don’t quite fit your real game genre, but with the right positioning and packaging, you may be able to tap into new audiences and new sources of growth.
Why do you even switch categories? The truth is – at some point in your game’s life cycle, your audience for browsing category traffic may be saturated. What are the signs that this is happening? You're getting fewer and fewer featured placements in the categories you choose, and you may see a decrease in the total number of browsing first downloads, suggesting that you're "mining" a significant portion of your browsing category audience.
Therefore, a methodical approach is to monitor the above indicators over time and detect any deterioration.
Even after you've settled on a good category goal, decided on a new category you want to enter, and toggled your current selection, simply making a change without the proper measurement infrastructure won't cut it. You simply won't be able to answer the question: "Has changing categories had a positive impact on downloads and revenue growth?"
Before making the switch, make sure you're ready to measure, prepend, and release the following changes:
1. What are the rankings of the category charts you are encountering now compared to the old categories? As you now compete with different genres of games, the strength of your UA efforts will have different effects on category rankings.
2. How many pageviews did you generate in the new category compared to the old category? Even if you rank lower in a new category, it may have a larger audience, leading to an increase in overall view downloads.
3. Did the category change lead to more featured events? less?
4. How will browsing and download revenue be affected by this change? New categories may attract new audiences with different gamer profiles and maybe different monetization profiles. Chances are you'll get fewer downloads but more revenue from browsing downloads.
As I mentioned above, the right infrastructure to measure and answer all of these questions is not straightforward. In the old world of mobile marketing, that meant logging into multiple systems, exporting many CSVs, combining all of this in Excel or Google Sheets, and running analytics.
Not only that, but to ensure your analysis is unbiased, you need to take into account any external influences that might affect browsing performance, such as featured events, and drastic changes in UA that increase/decrease the speed of first download downloads and changes in competitors.
Always choose and switch your App Store categories from an audience perspective, you'll find the different things. It's all about tapping into new audiences, controlling existing audiences, or fiercely competing for new audiences.
There are many reasons to invest carefully in developing your category strategy. According to several estimates, the value of the dominant category as measured by revenue generated from browsing downloads can reach high double digits in the millions of dollars per year.
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