Saying “gamers love their mobile apps” is a massive understatement. By 2020, the number of US phone gamers is expected to reach 213 million. While some have massive success and staying power (here’s lookin’ at you, Candy Crush), the sheer number of games available has all but oversaturated the market. Some games burst onto the market only to perish because of mobile app fatigue.
What happens to your favorites when they’ve lost their final life? Some older games are springing back, thanks in large part to AR, the lifeblood of new ventures that are also reviving older games. If you’re thinking of revisiting your own gaming app, take a look at how one firm is succeeding at the challenge.
1. Keep pace with technology
Consider Ingress, a sci-fi game developed by Niantic, which spun out of Google. In 2012, the company released Ingress using primitive AR and location-based elements. The game found followers and was downloaded 20 million times. Niantic learned a lot, improved the technology, and developed its colossal hit, Pokémon Go, which was downloaded 750 million times. Ingress faded into the background.
This year, Niantic will bring back Ingress as a new product, called Ingress Prime. It will share the same underlying platform as its Pokémon Go counterpart, but with slicker AR frameworks, like ARKit and ARCore, and will leverage smartphone cameras. What’s more, the game will boast a new story arc, artwork, user interface, and sound designs.
But technology is only one part of a successful comeback. Combating mobile app fatigue takes much more.
2. Go all out with marketing
News about Ingress Prime is already buzzing around webzines and blogs. Niantic is aware that Ingress Prime is fairly cryptic, so the company is using launch lessons learned from Pokémon Go to entice a new generation of fans.
For one, Niantic has created a compelling trailer for Ingress Prime, which reveals the new storyline: “Something is very wrong, Agent. The world is not as it seems. A secret war is taking place in the shadows, and you have the power to mold the fate of this universe.”
The first day of any game is the moment of truth. You must begin to devise a comprehensive marketing strategy the moment you tap in your first app command. Start by giving your app a home on the web; use social media to get customer attention, hype, and feedback; share video previews; and partner up with other global names in mobile.
3. Take advantage of your brand
Never underestimate the power of brand credibility. Niantic built a level of trust with Ingress and saw that trust soar with Pokémon Go. The company now has a base of loyal users who’ll be watching for the next great thing.
John Hanke, founder and chief executive officer of Niantic, put it this way in a statement: “Ingress is the foundation of our real-world gaming platform . . . With Ingress Prime, we’re ushering in a new chapter of the game for our passionate fans who have been with us since the beginning, as well as the next evolution of the experience for those new to Ingress.”
4. Partner up to keep the games rolling
Keeping a revolving door full of products requires a lot of resources. Hanke learned that lesson with Ingress when Pokémon Go bounced off the charts. Hanke recalls in an interview with The Verge: “We took people and some of our attention off of Ingress after the Pokémon Go launch, just because that game was going so strong that we had to beef up all aspects of it.”
Today, Hanke is partnering with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to bring out Harry Potter: Wizards Unite—a game that takes players into J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Players will learn spells and explore their real-world neighborhoods and cities to discover and fight legendary beasts. The technology leverages the full stack of the Niantic Platform and pioneers new technology and gameplay mechanics.
It’s hard, if not impossible, for one entity to develop new products at the pace demanded in today’s mobile world. Solid partnerships can help you stay at the forefront of the crush.
5. Know the marketplace
Keep up with what’s happening in the mobile apps industry. Getting into the game at the right time and knowing when to revive games suffering from mobile app fatigue can help you score big, but the gaming field is crowded. If you want to muscle your way in, you’ll need more than a killer app. You’ll need to devote resources to disparate elements like:
- Market and audience research
- Content originality and usefulness
- User experience
- Rigorous testing
- Serious promotion, launch, and sales effort
- Monetization (advertising, extra content, bonuses, subscriptions)
As you put your games into play, value the lessons shared by Niantic. They’ll help you step up to the challenges of new releases, mobile app fatigue, and the pitfalls created by a super-successful app.