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Indie devs: 5 tips for getting some love for your game during the holidays

by Dom Davies on Nov 17, 2016

Every holiday season, many big mobile game publishers tweak their games with holiday-themed add-ons. They go this extra mile for good reasons: a game with holiday flair is far more likely to capture the attention of the editorial team at Google and Apple who pull together the holiday collections in the stores, and a fresh look can hook consumers with new devices exploring apps. But don’t think that these tricks of the trade are just for the big studios — they’re available to all and can help yield great results.

Here are my suggestions for how to get your game some extra love this season:

Tip #1: Give your icon a holiday look.

You can signal to players that your game has gotten into the holiday spirit simply by making some minor alterations to your icons. For example, you can change the colors to green and red or add holly leaves or a Santa hat to a character. You don’t want to change it too much, and of course you want to keep your changes recognizable within your brand, but a small change in the icon that is holiday-themed can definitely boost your downloads.

Tip #2: Switch up the splash or loading screen.

This one might take a little more time than updating your icon, but it’s well worth doing. For example, if your game has a lobby, menu, or splash screen of some sort, that’s a great place to introduce some holiday bling (snowflakes! tinsel!). After all, it’s no secret that players love new content and original games, and what better way to offer this than by showing some holiday spirit.  

Tip #3: Offer holiday currency deals.

Sweeten your offers with discounts on currency. Encourage your paying and non-paying users to convert by making it clear what the amount of the discount is and how it’s only available for a limited time.  Then, once they engage with the offer, show a pop-up or sound that enhances the experience.

Tip #4: Introduce special holiday content.

You’re more likely to re-engage users if you produce some fresh holiday content into your game. If your game has characters, the holidays offer a great way to engage your players with the surprise of new characters like elves or Santas. If you have a racing game, consider adding some holiday decoration to the tracks. If you have a word game, consider adding in holiday-related words. When it comes to dressing up your games, a little bit goes a long way. A few peppermints or gingerbread men in a slots game can really spice things up! When it comes to content, your players might appreciate a friendly notification that a holiday-themed update is available. For example, “The holidays are just around the corner and we’re celebrating early! Update now to enjoy the holiday spirit!”   

Tip #5: Update your SDK. Don’t forget that advertisers are aware of the holiday surge and bid very competitively. Our most recent SDKs cache the most effectively, so if you’re running an older version, it’s definitely in your interest to update now!

The holidays are the busiest times for the app store, and as an indie you definitely want to reap the benefits. While none of these tips are a sure thing, together they can make a significant difference. Making your game look festive and marking the holidays with currency deals can go a long way toward engaging your players.

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Dom Davies is a business development analyst at AppLovin.

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