How To Promote An AR Game With Organic Traffic

On September 19th, 2017 Apple has released iOS 11 supporting Augmented Reality technology. Any developer could create AR-app with ARkit framework.
On September 23rd Avatarico have released Alice in Wonderland AR quest.
In the early October, it was the 10th free ARkit-based game in the world by downloads in App Store.
In the next few months, it was featured in App Store Best of 2017 list.
In March 2018 the game became 4th AR-game in the world.
Now it has the highest rating among the AR games with the biggest downloads.
Now take a look at how they made it happen.

Prologue

The decision Avatarico made to create an AR game was fast but not accidental.
Before that, Avatarico have been developing VR games. Since 2014 they released 5 titles and have been selling commercial licenses to location-based entertainment. Now they have more than 70 partners across the globe.
During this time they learned how to use new technologies so it won’t be formal (Avatarico don’t make a game in a vacuum, they don’t use VR for appearances’ sake, they use its potential). They learned how to sell such products to the mass audience (spoiler alert! it’s emotions selling, not technology) and how to make them so that their grandmothers and mothers would like them.
So when Apple announced iOS 11 in June 2017, they understood that they must seize the moment and create a game in 4 months.

Idea

By that time there were some experiments with beta-version of ARkit on the web spreading virally. From time to time, Avatarico caught some awesome wow-effects in Twitter.
One of them was the portal.
That is the interesting one, Avatarico thought. It was easy to do something similar, so they adopted it.
They choose Alice in Wonderland as a setting. The universe is popular and free if you base your product on Lewis Carroll’s books (they are in the public domain unlike the Disney IP).

Development

Of course, a popular setting isn’t enough. You should search for ‘alice in wonderland’ at App Store. There is a bunch of no-name games based on the tale.
But Avatarico have the winning argument, Augmented Reality. And they understood how to make a wow-experience with it.
If you’ll browse the AR games section at App Store, you’ll see a lot of games using AR as a pure formality. Sometimes it even bothers.
They wanted to create an experience you can’t get anywhere else.

The hole in the floor appears in front of the player. And the white rabbit comes out of it. The player catches him and then the rabbit opens a portal to Wonderland.
The player has to walk through the portal in the real world while holding a phone. It’s so fantastic for so many people so they had to give the players really simple instructions. There was no place for mystery. The player might miss the whole thing!
Inside the portal, the player can walk freely, meet the Cheshire cat and other characters, interact with objects and host the Mad tea-party.

Release, Getting Featured And Downloads

Thanks to ARkit, they got featured on the first screen of the Games tab at App Store.
In the first weeks, they got a few hundred thousand downloads — and very positive reviews which were even more pleasant. The players were thrilled to visit the Wonderland in real-life.

All this time, Avatarico hadn’t sat on their hands. They developed new chapters for the game. In the first one, the players got to know the Wonderland. And in the next chapters, they came back to help inhabitants being pressured by the Red Queen. Every chapter is a portal, a new location.
Thanks to that, Avatarico got featured regularly. And the user base has been keeping growing.
Surprisingly the game became a hit in Asia: China, Japan, and South Korea. It’s the best AR game in Russia (Avatarico locates in Saint Petersburg).
So Avatarico translated the game into these languages and implemented localization strategy.

Review Analysis

If you’ll look at AR section at the Russian App Store, Alice in Wonderland AR quest has an unprecedented amount of reviews. Some games are being featured for months and they have a few dozens of reviews.
In other words, users tend to choose their game among the others for some reason. Alice in Wonderland game is the most popular AR game in Russia (rating 4,8 based on 5,4k reviews).
It has the highest rating in China, 4,9 is higher than YuME has. And YuME is Chinese leader by reviews (rating 4,8 based on 14,3k reviews).
Alice has rating 4,7 in the US, it’s the same as Zombie Gunship Revenant AR has. The last one has the biggest amount of reviews in the US, 12,4k.
According to reviews, people love entering the portal in particular: “Awesome tracking, nice graphics, and transition from the fantasy world to the real one work great”, “it feels like I’m really in the wonderland”).
The ones who understand what AR mention that the game is the best use of AR technology they saw (“AR must”, “The ideal of Augmented Reality”, “Awesome! Best AR experience I’ve tried!!”).

Result

  • Alice is the 4th AR game in the world by downloads,
  • Alice is the 3rd AR game in the world by reviews in the country it has biggest
    downloads,
  • Alice shares the 1st place with YuME for the highest rating in the country the game
    has the biggest downloads (Alice has 4,8 in Russia, YuME has 4,8 in China).

 

Conclusion

To wrap up, this result comes from a few factors:

  • Wow experience (if the players don’t like the game, it’s unlikely it gains this success
    organically),
  • Using the full potential of Augmented Reality (just running the game with the real-life
    on the background is not the point; the essence of the AR effect is that you see how
  • one world interacts with another),
  • Good choice of the setting (the Wonderland is the tale everyone wants to get into).

Circumstances

  • AR is the trend, and Apple actively pushes it,
  • There is low competition, unfortunately, there are few decent projects at App Store using AR fully (It means this is a huge opportunity for developers).


About Author
Anton Zaitsev is CEO at Avatarico, VR/AR development company. Avatarico was the first company in the world to adapt real-life escape games model to VR. It provides VR b2b solutions for location-based entertainment since 2014. Now it has 5 games being operated in more than 60 VR gaming centers across the globe. As for AR its Alice in Wonderland AR quest game is the 4th ARKit-based game in the world by downloads in App Store.