A Guide For Mobile Game Developers To Survive The Holiday Season Rush

Editor’s note: As a publisher relations manager at Chartboost, Nate Barker ensures the revenue of his Indie developer partners is always “up and to the right.” Jamie Evans, the company’s advertising account manager, assists Chartboost’s partners in their user acquisition efforts.

It’s holiday season again, which means that the gamers, and non-gamers, of the world will soon be unwrapping a slew of mobile devices and heading to their respective app stores thirsty for content. But don’t panic, mobile game developers. We’re here to fill you in on a few things to help you stay calm, cool and collected during the holidays, so you can maximize the effectiveness of your mobile marketing budgets.

  1. Plan ahead. No, plan even further. Choose which network and direct-deal partners to use for monetization and user acquisition, and be sure the technology is integrated by the end of November. Set up your campaigns in advance and don’t forget to test, test, test! Test not only your new releases and in-app content, but also partner integration.
  2. Target appropriately. Plan your spend allocations with partners that you know can deliver not only high conversion rates but also that can align your promotions with games targeting a similar demographic and overall play style to your game. You’ll have a better chance of attracting new users and making money if they see something that’s similar to what they’re already playing and enjoying. The best way to know what they like is to test pre-holiday and then ramp up your spend.
  3. All that glitters is gold. That said, add some holiday glitter to your game. Work up some themed in-app purchases, game icons, background skins, and promotional creatives, and don’t leave out featuring assets for the App Store or Google Play store (Yes, Christmas miracles do happen). Take Supercell’s Hay Day, for instance. It’s a top 10 grossing game and it’s already been updated with an awesome Christmas theme for the holidays.
  4. Churn, baby, churn! Get ready to be dumped. A lot. Holiday users are the ficklest of the fickle. They’re looking for quick fixes by the truckload on their shiny new devices, so try not to take it personally.
  5. Prepare for the worst. No, not a zombie holiday apocalypse, but you should be prepared to go sans servers. That means delivering a quality user experience for those who don’t have their new devices set up on Wi-Fi yet or aren’t connected to a server due to a possible outage.
  6. When temperatures drop, the app store will freeze. Each year in the interest of stabilization, Apple freezes the App Store charts. This means that whoever’s at the top stays at the top while all those shiny gadgets are being opened. Unfortunately there’s no way to tell when or for how long (unless Santa brought you a crystal ball last year).
  7. Prepare for scale. Publishers, don’t be surprised if you see some crazy spikes in traffic depending on which countries your apps are most popular in. Make sure you’re ready to handle up to 10x your normal number of daily game sessions. And advertisers, crazy spikes in traffic for publishers means crazy spikes in traffic to your UA campaigns, but be sure to keep in mind No. 4 when establishing bids and budgets.

Happy Holidays!