You may say gone the days of arcade machines but not arcade games. The introduction of home video consoles reduced the popularity of the 1980s arcade games you played in malls and restaurants but didn’t do so much to wipe out arcade games. It only brought about a new way that arcade games can be played.
Even though action games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man aren’t the names of games on people’s lips these days, arcade games are still very much in existence. As the world continually goes global, arcade games have taken a new form in mobile phones. Now, you don’t need bulky arcade machines to be able to play your favorite arcade game. With your mobile device, you can now play arcade games on the go.
Mobile arcade games are a way for many older game lovers to return to their childhood and enjoy the simple yet challenging experience that arcade games best provide. They are also a game for the younger generation. Everyone can play it and get drawn into it if it is well designed. This is a good reason for venturing into creating an arcade game app, but you’ll need marketing to reap the benefits of publishing a good arcade game.
So, this article will explain the business model involved in developing an arcade game and show you how to effectively market your game to get the best return on your investment.
The Business Model of Arcade Games
If you’re yet to produce your arcade game, you have to understand why you need to develop an arcade game instead of a game in another game category or another app entirely. If you’ve already created your mobile arcade game, you need to know the gold mine you just landed on. We’ll explain this with the help of current arcade game statistics.
The retention rate is one thing to look out for in any game or app category you’re entering on. This shows the frequency at which your users return to the app. It is usually measured in days. Day one retention is significant for any game or app because a game or app that users don’t return to after the first day isn’t one you should venture into.
According to Udonis, the day one average retention rate for arcade games in the top 2 percent was an average of 46 percent as of 2020. This is higher than the normal day one average retention rate for apps that stands at 35 percent. The arcade games that form the top 25 percent tier of games in the arcade genre had a day one retention of between 31.29 percent to 33.39 percent. For the arcade games in the median 50 percent tier, their day one retention rate was 23.74 percent to 25.43 percent. The arcade game on the bottom half, on the other hand, had an average first-day retention rate of 16%.
A low day-one retention rate implies that your game will not fly, so you have to go back and strategize. Some game publishers wouldn’t venture into a game with less than 35 percent day one retention rate. So, it’s essential to check these statistics for any app you want to venture into.
The day seven retention rate is another important retention rate to watch out for in mobile games and apps. For arcade games, the games that fall in the top 2 percent tier had an average 7-day retention rate of between 19.82 percent to 19.62 percent. In the top 25 percent of arcade games, the arcade game had an average 7-day retention rate of between 7.71 percent to 8.67 percent. The arcade games in the 50 percent tier had a 7-day retention rate of between 4.68 percent and 5.41 percent, while that of the lower 25 percent of arcade games hovered around 1.98 percent and 2.38 percent.
After 28 days, the retention rate of most apps and games drops some more because, at this point, it’s only loyal users that’ll stay. So, for arcade games in 2020, the arcade games in the top 2 percent tier of arcade games had a 28-day retention rate of between 8.98 percent and 10.29 percent. These figures are higher than the normal game 28-day retention rate of 4 percent. For the arcade games in the top 25 arcade games tier, the 28-day retention rates stood between 2.29 percent and 2.63 percent. The standing for the arcade games in the median 50 percent tier of arcade games was between 1.09 percent and 1.35 percent, while the 28-day retention rate for the lower 25 percent tier of arcade games was between 0.01 percent and 0.11 percent.
Another statistic that shows the profitability of mobile arcade games is the average revenue per paying user (ARPPU). This statistic explains how much gamers are willing to spend on purchases in the app. For arcade games in the top 2 percent tier of arcade games, the ARPPU stood between $79.98 and $97.26. Those in the 25-percentage tier of arcade games had ARPPU of between $7.24 and $8.29, those in the 50 percent median tier had $3.85 as the best figure of ARPPU throughout the year, and the bottom 25 percent tier of arcade games had ARPPU that ranged from $2.90 to $2.99. These statistics show that to enjoy the benefits of developing an arcade game; your game has to be among the top 2 to 25 percent tier of games in the arcade game genre.
As of 2020, the top five arcade games in the app stores based on downloads were Join Clash 3D by Supersonic Studios, Subway Surfers by SYBO Games, Stack Ball by Casual Azur Games; Spiral Roll by Voodoo; and Subway Princess Runner by Ivy. Some years back, Temple Run by Imangi Studies would have been topping the list but they came sixth this time. This shows you how competitive the arcade game market is and how much you must do to remain at the top 2 percent tier of arcade games.
Most of the arcade games in the app stores offer free gameplay that comes with in-app purchases. This is not so different from the traditional arcade games that required you to put coins into the machine to play. So, having seen how much users are willing to spend on in-app purchases in the arcade game and seeing that almost all arcade games in the app stores require users to pay, it is good that you maintain this monetization approach for your arcade game.
How to Promote Arcade Games?
Now that you’re determined to boost and keep your arcade game among the top 2 percent tier of arcade games, let’s show you what you should do:
Design Simple Interface
One of the most essential ingredients to creating a successful arcade game is the look and feel. Your arcade game should have wonderful art, a simple layout, beautiful colors, and fonts easy to see and read. To create an arcade game with great visual appeal, you’ll have to look at the UI design of other arcade games for reference. You also have to select your color scheme wisely. The colors should connect well with the UI and the feel of the game.
As much as possible, avoid picking designs that are too abstract or font styles that are too stylish. Stylish font usually takes more space, and most of the time, they are not very clear to read. You have to be at your best to create a visually appealing arcade game, so you can hire professionals if you can’t get something working. Also, don’t be stiff about adding sounds effects and music to your arcade game. Swing Copters is one arcade game with great design. The producers of Swing Copters 2 did an amazing job when it comes to creating a visually compelling game. From the retro aesthetics to the beautiful big-eyed sprites and bright color scheme, the look and feel of the game are wonderful.
Something else that falls in this category is the simplicity of the game. You have to understand that life in itself can be difficult. So, arcade game lovers settle down to arcade games to enjoy their simplicity and ease of play. This does not in any way mean that arcade games aren’t challenging or that yours shouldn’t be. What it entails is that you should maintain a level of complexity in your arcade game that isn’t frustrating.
Normally, arcade games, no matter the one you pick to play, have pretty straightforward rules. The learning curve for these games isn’t as absorbing as games in other categories. Even a beginner should be able to score off points few minutes into the game. Arcade games can have their difficulty, but this sets in progressively, and you begin to feel it after a long time of playing the game. The fun of arcade games is that anyone, can play them without serious orientation, irrespective of age.
In the spirit of a clean, simple, and beautiful user interface coupled with simplicity, please avoid obstructing the gamer’s gameplay experience with ads. If you remember well, the monetization strategy for arcade games is mostly free plus in-game purchases. Also, ensure to spice up your arcade game with special bonuses. This is even where you can include ads if you must display ads. You can use reward video ads to enable the gamer to acquire points or coins to be used in the game. One last thing – leaderboard! The best arcade games have a leaderboard to keep them competitive. Leaderboard simplifies the marketing campaign of your arcade game aimed at user retention tremendously.
Offer Classic Arcade Games
One thing that makes arcade games stand out is their timelessness. This is a strength when it comes to marketing mobile arcade games. Because even adults can play arcade games, it’s good to remake retro games that will bring a new set of modern-day challenges and nostalgia to the adults playing them. You don’t have to stick with the old landscapes and story of these classic games. Be free to add your personal touch to the game.
The characters of the game, however, are what you shouldn’t change. It can be amazing for the old gamers to happen in a game where they meet the same old characters of their childhood pushing around for missions with the same goals as the ones they had during the times of the arcade machines. The gamer will want to soak up in it and get lost in the world they’re familiar with.
One great retro game that you can remake if you need retro games is Donkey Kong. The significance of this game lies in the fact that it was the game where Mario of Super Mario first appeared. Your character, Jumpman, goes on a quest to save the princess at the top of the tower with several obstacles, including the tower being guarded by the evil Donley Kong.
The game was engaging as the obstacles tested for the player’s hand-to-eye coordination and endurance. Also, the characters in the game were unique and they created the casts that featured in other arcade games. Old-timers playing this on a mobile device in this age of technological advancement will be thrilled to see the new challenges their favorite characters will face. Meanwhile, don’t get distracted in recreating the entire concept of classic games that you alter so many things. It’s best to keep the same atmosphere and sound effects to bring that feeling of nostalgia and fondness that comes with classic retro games.
Addiction is what makes games, in general, thrive. Any arcade game marketing campaign that isn’t aimed at getting the players addicted to the game is set on recording low retention rates. It’s easy to lose out on the addictive elements of mobile arcade games because they are meant to be simple and classic. But remember that in this era, people are easily distracted. If your mobile arcade game has the right game ideas and other ingredients of the good old arcade game but fails to keep the player coming back for more, it has failed, and be sure to have that player lost to another game that’ll hook them better.
Some of the hooks that make games addictive include:
- Topping the leaderboard: Games that have a statistic of players with the highest achievement turn out to be more addictive than those without. There’s a certain thrill in breaking players’ records. This is as practical in games as it is in real life. To be competitive, you have to break records that others have set. The thought of becoming the player with the highest score in an arcade game is a market strategy that works positively.
- Competing with opponents: These days, the most engaging games are the ones that allow gamers to compete with opponents online, be it their friends or total strangers. In some cases, the gamer can join a clan to accomplish a mission as a unit, while in some other cases, the clan of gamers competes against each other until one man is left. The desire to top the leaderboard or maintain bragging rights in the gaming community is what motivates the gamer to spend long hours in the game and return for more.
- Defeating the game: When the hook in a game isn’t to challenge fellow gamers, it usually achieves every accomplishment there is to achieve the game. That drive to unlock all stages and complete the game could be the addiction element your arcade game needs.
- Playing roles: Most games these days allow the gamer to build the characters that represent them in the game. These characters go on adventures and utilize their unique powers to accomplish missions. This game marketing strategy creates emotional bonding between the gamer and the character that grows as the game’s story deepens. The gamer then looks forward to returning to the game to reunite with the character he/she has built.
- Making discoveries: Another game marketing game you can introduce to your game to get your gamers addicted is the ability to explore more worlds and scenes as the game unfolds. The player will look forward to making their next discovery and the discovery after that. The online game, World of Warcraft, is an example of a game that employs this tactic.
- Building relationships. Many role-playing online games use the mobile game marketing strategy of building an online community to get their gamers addicted. It works well because the online gaming community offers some of the players the feeling of belonging to a family where they are well accepted and appreciated. This may be exactly what they hope for in their real family.
The best part about creating an addiction for your arcade game is that it eases your mobile game marketing process. You’ll find excited players blowing the pipe for your game and drawing their friends to join the party and get addicted as well. A look at the gaming forums on Reddit and Quora will give you more insight into this. Those games that make the list have ardent fans who proceed to send a review of your game on review sites.
Imagine that you’ve designed a mobile arcade game with a simple interface created from a retro arcade game and you with the right hooks, your users are addicted to the game. What will be your next line of action? Some may say to get into another new challenge but most app publishers at this point will think of relaxing and soaking up the success of the game. If this is you, you’re on a journey to not just stagnancy for your arcade game app but also a drop in the retention rate of your game.
Always have it at the back of your mind that the success of your game has birthed a new idea in your competitors and they’ll be out to oust your game. Every time is the time to improve on your mobile arcade game. Take a look at the game again and figure out what can be done to make it more engaging. You can choose to broaden the story and create new levels to engage your players. This is on the game development aspect.
On the mobile game marketing aspect, you have to retain your gamers. Explore different strategies of promoting your game to keep it bussing and attracting new gamers. You can choose to showcase the game experience of our mobile arcade game through video ads. Current users may think they’ve achieved enough in your game until they encounter the video ad showing them what interesting challenges are yet to be conquered and the achievements yet to be unlocked. Finding where to display your arcade game ad is not difficult. You can easily take advantage of the Google Universal App Campaign and the Facebook App ads.
If you study your analytics well, you’ll always find an objective for your mobile arcade game marketing campaign. Your marketing objective for this month could be to increase the number of downloads and install and next month, you can choose to boost your arcade game in-app purchases. Whichever is the object you’re picking for the period, advertise your game on several ad networks. This will help you scale up fast. The arcade game is one of the most popular game categories on the app stores and the demography for it is wide. It’s a game suitable for both males and females within the age range of 13 to 65. So, when you’re optimizing your game ad, it may be wise not to overly narrow your target audience.
Other ways to promote your mobile arcade game include reviews and social media sharing. If your arcade game doesn’t have a bubbling online community of gamers who can write good reviews for your game for free, you can contact some of the paid review websites like Android Central to help review your arcade game. If you don’t have a good social media management team, it’s time to get one. There’s work to be done on social media. The world of social media needs to know about your game because that’s where a larger proportion of mobile app users spend their time.
Promoting your arcade game is the difference between an arcade game that stays in the top 2 percent or 25 percent of arcade games on app stores and an arcade game that can’t climb above the bottom 25 percent of arcade games on the app stores. The retention rates and money spent on in-app purchases are more for top arcade games than those struggling at the bottom 25 percent of arcade games. So, it doesn’t stop at developing and launching your mobile arcade game; neither does it stop at marketing it. Set the game to changing trends and users’ preferences and continually advertise your game to retain and acquire more users at every point in your arcade game life cycle.