Mobile App Success Story: Heads Up! -

Mobile App Success Story: Heads Up!

Today we have one word for you: fun. This is how everybody describes Heads Up!, Ellen DeGeneres’ mobile game which asks users to guess various words in a hilarious way. We love the idea of using the phone as a tool for offline socialization. Because Ellen plays it in her TV show it is hard to tell if the show has more viewers because of the game or the game acquired a huge number of players due to the fact that stars are playing it. We believe that both statements are true. But let’s discover the amazing story behind this huge success.

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Brilliant Idea

Everybody knows Ellen DeGeneres and there isn’t a single person on this planet who doesn’t appreciate her humor. Maybe this popularity made her associate with Warner Bros. Entertainment for launching Heads Up! in 2013 on Apple App Store. The game costs $0.99 with in – app purchases and it is based on card decks. The rules are very simple. You and your friends choose a category and one user places the phone on his / her forehead. The other ones have to give clues about the word that appears on the screen. The game mechanics are elementary, tilt up to pass and down for correct. The challenge is to guess as many words as possible in 60 seconds. Now the game is also available for Android devices for free. We talked before about the differences between the two platforms, this being the reason why some app owners decide to set a fixed price for their creation on Apple App Store and to allow users to download it without any costs on Google Play Store. Additionally, to this strategy, we plan to observe the elements that engage users the most.

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How Heads Up! Did It

It is clear that the simplicity of the game made it so interactive. Now, let’s see how Heads Up! takes care of its users while they have fun with their friends.


Heads Up! is without doubt a celebrity – branded mobile app and this is the main reason why so many people downloaded it in the first place. When you see so many TV stars playing the game it is almost impossible not to follow their example and to enjoy the same atmosphere when you meet your friends. It is worth mentioning that the way it was built convinces users to go back to the game over and over again, even though they installed Heads Up! because they knew that their favorite movie stars appreciate it. On the other hand, its creators had a more subtle purpose when they released the game. They wanted to enter this mobile environment and to attract app users. It is a smart strategy to bring the big screens and the small screens together for reaching a wider area of customers.

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Splash Screen

Remember all the key ideas we shared with you when we described how to create a great splash screen for your app? Yes, Heads Up! has it all and it can be a great example for a better understanding of this concept. Even though the game isn’t that complicated, a splash screen was mandatory especially for the moment when it loads the decks for the first time. A progress bar informs the user that in a few seconds he can access the game. The design is simple and it respects the highest quality standards. If you decide that you need a splash screen for your app, this is a good path to follow.


Onboarding is another small element that will make you win your users or to lose them forever. And Ellen’s app is definitely from the first category. A hilarious video with the talk show host presenting the way users should play the game improves customers experience and introduces them in the fun atmosphere of Heads Up!. This small tutorial is also available from the main page under a small image with Ellen saying “How to Play!”. It represents an easy way for users to present the rules to their friends when a new player joins the game.


This game doesn’t have its own website. The team behind Heads Up! had a different approach when they chose the Facebook page of the game as the main place for promoting the app. A special card inside the game invites players to join them on Facebook “for videos & and tips”. And that’s not all. After users play the game they can share on Facebook the video with their friends giving hints. Moreover, certain sponsored posts placed on the popular social network announced every now and then various promotions for special cards.

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Bonus Tip: Reward Your Users

It is known the fact that Ellen DeGeneres fights for a lot of charity causes. Like that time when she played Heads Up! with Harrison Ford to raise money for breast cancer research. Additionally to all the rewards given to her TV audience, Ellen also highlights different events related to the game. For example, a few weeks ago, Ellen celebrated the fact that Heads Up! was played 1 billion times. Frequent surprises keep her fans engaged and increase their interest for the products presented. Speaking of which, a new deck was recently released and it allows users to offer pleasant moments for their friends. It is free and it gives users the chance to complete the cards with funny announcements for their loved ones. All these ideas come to make the game even more interesting and to create a strong relationship between brand and customers.

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Final Thoughts

Because winter holidays are just around the corner you should take advantage of Heads Up! whenever you invite your friends over and you want to spend your time in a fun way. Meanwhile, use the game as a great example to build a smart strategy for promoting your app. You should keep in mind that Heads Up! is the proof that a simple and entertaining app is all you need for engaging millions of users.


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