LAFS Marketing and Monetization Lecture 7: Sales and Distribution

Course Director, Game Production Program en Los Angeles Film School
18 de Aug de 2016

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LAFS Marketing and Monetization Lecture 7: Sales and Distribution

  1. Level 7 David Mullich Marketing and Monetization The Los Angeles Film School
  3. Traditional Retail Model Publisher Distributor Retailer
  4. Distributor An organization or set of organizations (go-between) involved in the process of making a product or service available for use or consumption by a consumer or business user.
  5. Retailer Retail consists of the sale of physical goods or merchandise from a fixed location, such as a department store, boutique or kiosk, or by mail, in small or individual lots for direct consumption by the purchaser. Brick-and-mortar store: a store that is located in a physical building.
  6. Retailers  Major, Game Retailer  GameStop/EB Games  Minor, Game Retailer  Pink Godzilla (Gorilla), Hyper Game, Hastings  Major, Tech Retailer  Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics  Major, Mass Retail  Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, CostCo, Amazon
  7. Established Publishers “Own” Retail Boxed publishers worked out how to get past the gatekeepers at retailer level, but this took years of effort. It would be very difficult for a small publisher or indie developer to break into the retail system.
  8. Point of Sales Displays A specialized form of sales promotion that is found near, on, or next to a checkout counter. Usually, in smaller retail outlets, POS displays are supplied by the manufacturer of the products, but this is less common with larger retailers.
  9. SKU A SKU is a stock-keeping unit, a number code that represents a unique identifier for each distinct product and service that can be purchased.
  10. Pre-Orders  Consumer: Guarantees prompt delivery  Manufacturer: Allows them to gauge demand  Retailers: Assured of minimum sales  Marketing: Used to generate buzz A pre-order is an order placed for an item which has not yet been released.
  11. Trade-Ins  Decreases unit sales for publishers (and developers)  Significant profit for retailer
  12. Downloadable Content (DLC)  Additional digital content released through the internet  “Revenue is NOT split with retailers
  13. Why Are Digital Sales So Popular?
  15. Tradeshow An exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can:  showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services  meet with industry partners and customers  study activities of rivals  examine recent market trends and opportunities
  16. E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo  June 13-15, 2017  Los Angeles Convention Center 
  17. Electronic Entertainment Expo G4 Icons Episode #27: History of E3 (20:59)
  18. E3 Album
  19. Is E3 A Dinosaur? Activision, Electronic Arts, and Disney did not have booths are E3 in 2016. Publishers have now begun to talk directly to their customers to get their message across, holding their own webcasts and fan events— and exhibiting at public-facing game conventions like Penny Arcade Expo.
  20. Why Is E3 Becoming Less Relevant?
  22. Digital Storefront Website that offers goods and/or services for sale, and which the customers or 'window shoppers' can visit at any time and from anywhere. Also called cyber storefront, electronic storefront, e-storefront, online storefront, virtual storefront, etc.
  23. Digital Store Examples  Clash of Clans on Apple iTunes  Angry Bird Rio on Google Play  No Man's Sky on Steam  Overcooked on Green Man Gaming
  24. Marketing Copy Written information to be published in a magazine, website, product, etc. Short, succinct compelling lines on your store page maximize impact and quick reads. Some marketing copy can create likeability with humor and personality.
  25. Marketing Copy Be aware of how much copy will display in certain settings. Only the first line may show by default in some stores.
  26. Review Quotes When picking out review quotes, find snippets that are informative rather than “it’s great.”
  27. Screenshots Make the most of space available on the store page by including captions in your screenshots. You can call out different key features on each screenshot or highlight review quotes on others.
  28. Store Pages Do’s And Don’ts DO  Short, unique game title  Succinct, well-written, compelling copy  Captions on game screenshots  Short but informative game review quotes DON’T  Long, off-putting blocks of text  Typos, awkward wording, or grammatical errors
  29. Hybrid Distribution Although digital distribution is easier for indie developers than traditional retail, it doesn’t have to be an either-or approach. You often can take both boxed and digital revenues.
  30. What Turns A Store Visitor Into A Buyer?  Text: Great copy, intriguing description, correct keywords, attractive name, and localization to the visitor’s language.  Visuals: A great icon, fancy images and awesome screenshots.  Stars: Store factors like number of downloads, great ratings and positive reviews.
  31. Where To Launch Store Type Example Notes Traditional Digital Outlets Steam Easier to get your game on than most people think. App Stores Apple Google Reach more customers than Steam does Game Portals Kongregate, Newground Offer instant access to your game and give feedback from a PC anywhere in the world Specialty Distributors Slitherine Can help you find a niche Console Stores XBoxOne PS4 WiiU Harder to get in than digital distributors, but easier than it’s been before since each is looking for a unique selling point for their platforms Social Networks Facebook Must use their virtual currency
  32. STEAM
  33. Steam A digital distribution platform developed by Valve Corporation offering digital rights management (DRM), multiplayer gaming and social networking services. The platform was launched in September 2003. As of September 2015, there are 6,464 Windows games, 2,323 OS X games, and 1,500 Linux games available.
  34. Steam Greenlight A system that enlists the community's help in picking some of the new games to be released on Steam. For $100, developers post information, screenshots, and video for their games, as well as early builds or beta versions. Users can pledge support for these games, and Valve will help to make top-pledged games available on the Steam service Recommended for feature-rich, non-casual, nearly complete PC games only.
  35. Steam Greenlight Gets Redlight Greenlight was intended to prevent stream of low quality software flooding the store but failed to halt explosion in content last year. That forced Valve to reassess what the store was for, leading to the introduction of new discovery mechanisms:  Curators, such as YouTube personalities and games journalists  Algorithmic recommendation system which suggests games based on purchase history, game playtime, and friends’ activity  Use of renders, artwork and marketing materials as screenshots is prohibited
  36. Steam Direct The votes are gone, and in their place, developers will have to pay a TBA publishing fee (said to be as high as $5K) direct to Valve, as well as complete some “digital paperwork”. But, for history’s sake, we’ll talk about Greenlight as though it still exists.
  37. What You’ll Need  Valid Steam account (duh!)  Submission form with info about you and your game  $100 in one-time fee (once it's paid you can submit as many games to Greenlight as you like)  Branding image (512x512, no larger than 1MB)  Video  Four screenshots  One or two paragraph description
  38. Concepts Page Consider placing your game idea in the Concepts in Steam Greenlight section. It’s free and a great way to gain valuable feedback. The requirements for submitting a concept are less rigid than submitting a game, but you'll still have to provide things like a branding image and at least some media.
  39. Asset and Page Preparation  Gameplay video  High-quality trailer stills  Animated logo  Meaningful but brief description with bullet points and FAQ  Add Google Analytics code to your Greenlight page to view your traffic.
  40. Social Media  Frequently post on Twitter and Facebook about Greenlight  Use hashtags #indiedev and #gamedev  Attach screenshots or key art to posts  Discuss Greenlight on IndieDB and Reddit
  41. The Press  Press kit  Mailing list of journalists who cover Greenlights  Email with links to Press Kit, IndieDB, trailer, and Greenlight page
  42. Other Portals Releasing your game on sites like Desura and may actually increase your chances of getting Greenlit! The good thing about releasing on other portals first is that by the time you launch a Steam Greenlight campaign you'll have a dedicated fan base. Also, your game will likely have been reviewed by at least several gaming sites.
  43. Getting Approved To be Greenlit, your game will have to rank in the top X of those currently being voted upon. What’s X? Steam is unclear on this, but between 50 and 100 usually works. Note that a high ranking does NOT guarantee approval, but it will certainly help your chances. Not that about 16,000-17,000 votes are needed to crack the top 100, and 50,000 are needed to reach the top ten.
  44. … And Then There’s Gameroom Facebook’ Gameroom —a new PC gaming platform that looks like Steam for casual games — will soon accept uploads from Unity developers. The app lets game makers using the upcoming Unity 5.6 game engine export their creations directly to the platform, playable alongside big- name Facebook and mobile games like Clash of Kings on Windows PCs outside of Facebook itself.
  46. App Store Optimization (ASO) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing website the visitors by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. ASO is the process of improving the visibility of a mobile app in an app store.  67% of users found their last app using a search engine  Over 50% of downloads are driven from the Top 3 search results
  47. Keywords The right keywords — the singular and multi-word phrases searched for by users to find exactly the app they’re looking for — are critical for app discovery. Think about keywords when choosing the game’s concept, storyboard and art for better search engine positioning.
  48. An Initial Keyword List  Brainstorm a list based on the keywords your players might use to find game like yours  Searching for a seed keyword on, Google Play, or the Apple App store and using autofill results  Working with free tools like Google Keyword Planner tool, Google Trends Tool, Search Man’s keyword search or App Annie’s Keyword Rank tool  Exploring keyword research and analytics that identify potential keywords based on analysis of your game, competitor’s keywords, and more
  49. Keyword Rank “Number of apps” is the total amount of apps using that particular keyword “Rank” is the keyword’s ranking from a ranking tool. When the cell is blank, there’s no estimated rank.
  50. Keyword Relevance Choose keywords that are relevant to your game. Otherwise people will search for your specific keyword, and get annoyed when finding something else.
  51. Keyword Traffic Traffic is the estimated number of people looking for that keyword. Too much traffic will make a higher ranking harder to achieve. But if it’s too low, then the number of people searching are too few.
  52. Keyword Difficulty The more popular a keyword is, the more apps are competing for it and the more difficult it is to rank in the top search results. Start with less competitive keywords.
  53. Picking Keywords Now it is time to narrow down! Keep the keywords with the highest Relevancy and Ranking. Sort the rest by Difficulty (popularity). Keep the keywords with a low Difficulty, but not too high or low Traffic.
  54. Keyword Localization Keywords in the language of your target country is an underutilized silver bullet. One developer found that updating their final list of keywords to the local language in key countries led to a 700+ percent increase in downloads!
  55. Keywords Tips  Find keywords with less than 3 competitors  Use recommended terms from store’s search  Use golden keywords in your game’s title  Use keywords in short and long description  Break up complex key words  Build links to and from other app’s store pages and other websites
  56. Apple Keywords Apple has a specific keywords field. Your total limitation is 100 characters. They should be divided by a comma, no spaces! AVOID:  Plural - not needed if you already have the singular form  Words like app, the, an, free, etc.  Genre - you will choose the category in iTunes anyway  Irrelevant or offensive terms  Trademarks, names, or brands  Use numbers 1,2,3 instead of writing one, two, three  Don’t repeat the keywords - use the 100 character space wisely
  57. Google Keywords Google doesn’t have a keywords field. When working with keywords for a Google Play app, you need great copy and keywords. In the short description you have an 80 character limit, and you need to put your keywords in there. The long description is 4,000 characters. Make this description keywords dense, and repeat every keyword 5 times.
  58. Ranking According to Flurry Analytics, 82 percent of users never browse past the top 25 search results. In addition, the number-one app usually takes 30 percent of organic installs, with 17 percent in position 2, and 12 percent in position 3.
  59. Factors Affecting Ranking  On-Page factors: information the app store associates with your app, including app name, developer name, title, description, icon, screenshots, etc.  Off-Page factors: how your users interact with the app, including click-through rate, downloads, usage, social media ranking, speed/reliability of servers, etc.
  60. Apple App Store On- And Off-Page Factors
  61. Google Play On- And Off-Page Factors
  62. Keywords In Game Title
  63. Game Title  There is a 30 character limit for Google Play apps. Apple recommends 23 characters or less.  Use a unique app name. URLs with multiple results like will return a search page.  Don’t use strange characters, punctuation or symbols. The URL in iTunes is usually based on your app name.
  64. Description Do’s  Put the most important information at the top of the description  Keep it simple.  Use subjects and verbs early in sentence to encourage action.  Use keywords.
  65. Description Don’ts  Overstuff with keywords.  Use hyperbole.  Omit important details.  Target the wrong player type.
  66. Icons and Screenshots  The icon impacts both ongoing use of your app as well as the initial (click-through rate) CTR and CVR. Use A/B testing tools to determine which icons stand out and perform best.  Well done, A/B-tested visual promotional assets convince visitors that your app is worth downloading.
  67. File Size The size of your game determines how quickly your game downloads (download velocity). The larger your game, the smaller your conversion rate (CVR).
  68. Ratings User reviews are taken into account by the search engine. Factors like total numbers of downloads, ratings and reviews are difficult for you to control, but will affect the ASO. Higher ratings, higher ranking.
  69. Ratings Do’s  Make a fun game.  Have an email address where your users can reach you if they have a problem.  Have a website for support.  Update your app frequently.  Fix bugs.  Fix bugs.  Listen, reply fast and fix bugs.  Ask users for a second review after helping them.
  70. Ratings Don’ts  Spam players with requests for reviews.  Ask players for reviews when they are doing something critical in the game.  Tell players that their rating or review was wrong
  71. Localization Many developers assume that English is enough, but some of the most lucrative markets for mobile apps and games are not native English speaking. App localization is a great way to get high rankings in as many countries as possible. There is a clear and demonstrable link between localization and higher numbers of downloads and revenue generated in the targeted markets.
  72. Organic Installs Occurs when a user encounters an app that they decide is worthy of purchasing or downloading for free, due to their high level of interest in the app. Organic Installs = Total Installs – Paid Installs
  73. Paid (or Inorganic) Installs One that incentivizes users in order to encourage a download and installation of the app.  Virtual goods or extra game content  Bot farm services  Services that skew yet increase their app’s true rating by having individuals leave fake reviews and award high ratings in app stores Research shows that nearly all users who download through the use of incentivized traffic run the app once and never return to use it.
  74. Tip #1 For Improving Store Conversion Look for inspiration outside your product category
  75. Tip #2 For Improving Store Conversion Be bold and crazy.
  76. Tip #3 For Improving Store Conversion Monkey see, monkey do.
  77. Tip #4 For Improving Store Conversion Descriptions (almost) don’t matter.
  78. Tip #5 For Improving Store Conversion Leave video for last.  Users who watch video are 3x more likely to install  Good videos have 40-55% completion rates with a 10% drop every 5 seconds  Show value within the first 10 seconds and never go beyond 30 seconds duration  Experiment with the cover image because video takes the spot of the first screenshot
  79. Measure By Metrics, Not By Gut Update a spreadsheet on a daily basis, and follow the trend your conversion rate is having.  Track and to determine every change you make.  Note whether a bad review has impacted on downloads over the following days.
  81. How much should I charge? The first step in determining your game’s price is to do some competitive analysis. What’s the going rate for similar games, and what are prices of games in similar categories. Undercutting competitors on price is an easy way to gain traction and attention, but if your game is significantly more complex or advanced, you should still be able to charge more for your superior offering.
  82. Quality vs Grade Grade as “the category assigned to products or services having the same functional use but different technical characteristics.” A casual game is a different grade than a AAA game, and is priced accordingly. Quality is conformance to the requirement, and fitness for use. A game with lots of bugs or isn’t fun to play has low quality, and customers will complain about not getting their money’s worth.
  83. Setting User Expectations  Boxed games at $20 or below are considered value-priced or impulse purchases  Boxed games at $60 are considered AAA games  Casual mobile games are either free or 99 cents  Mobile games in the $4.99+ range need to have a large feature set and lots of polish
  84. The Power Of 9’s Pricing something with a 9 at the end instead of a zero results in more sales.
  85. Pricing Pricing typically starts with premium pricing at launch time – for the most engaged customers who are least price sensitive, willing to pay more for the hottest and newest when it becomes available. After launch prices go down, with the game getting more and more discounted as it heads to the bargain bin.
  86. Discounts People buy discounts, even if the discounted price is slightly higher than a standard price. Be prepared to discount your game occasionally. But deep discounts are driving prices down rapidly for all.
  87. Avoid the “Race to Zero”! Develop the full life-cycle pricing strategy for your game well in advance:  Full price at game launch  Planned promotions  Mid-life and late-life price adjustments
  88. Promotions A short-term tactic to boost sales of a product by raising visibility and driving interest. These can take the form of price promotions (discount offers) or other kinds of promotions.
  89. Sales Promotions Sales promotions targeted at retailers and distribution channel partners are called trade sales promotions. Sometimes large channels will have promotions such as holiday sales that you can participate in.
  90. Trade Sales Promotions Sales promotions targeted at retailers and distribution channel partners are called trade sales promotions. Sometimes large channels will have promotions such as holiday sales that you can participate in.
  91. Consumer Sales Promotions Sales promotions targeted at the consumer. These are promotions that you can run on your own to boost sales after you launch your product.
  92. Types of Promotions  Introductory Specials  Time-limited Promotion  Add-on Content  Special Addition  Holiday tie-in  Milestones  Bundle Let’s take a closer look at each!
  93. Introductory Specials Sometimes introductory specials are done at launch-time – particularly for lesser known games – to give prospective customers the final motivation they might need to make a purchase.
  94. Time-Limited Price Promotion Price is reduced for a single day, multiple days or a week.
  95. Add-On Content Launch a separately purchasable expansion pack or some other add-on content for your game that you can build a secondary promotional campaign around.
  96. Special Edition You can expand your game’s scope through a new version of the game with more levels, characters, themes, etc.
  97. Holiday Tie-In Celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Spring Break, the end of the school year, a presidential election, Friday the 13th, etc.
  98. Milestones Commemorate a game’s initial release anniversary, “birthday of a lead character in the game, unit sales peaks (50,000 units sold!) and more.
  99. Bundles When different items get combined together in an attractive, high-value package. One form of bundle is selling multiple products together. Large-established channels as well as dedicated bundle consolidators have performed quite well with strong value propositions. Humble Bundle is one example of an organization that has generated sizable sales volumes for indie games.
  100. Bundles Another type of bundle is selling a product with a companion accessory.  Game with a “Making of” book  Game with a soundtrack disk
  101. Scheduling Promotions Plan further ahead for promotional pricing, as it makes discounting much easier. Nobody likes to discount their products, but the marketplace is crowded. Arranging for promotions several months after the game’s initial release helps to maximize revenues early in a game’ s life cycle. Also plan promotions at predetermined times later in the year.
  102. Typical Product Life Cycle  Initial Release  Add-On Release  Price Reduction  Bundle with Original and Add-On  Special Edition with More Content  Value or “Classics” Release
  103. Pricing On Older Titles If you have previous titles, called your Library or Back Catalog -- consider reducing their prices as you release new ones to generate incremental revenues. Lowering prices for earlier games helps to stimulate trial and build the base – which can translate into higher sales level for the new game when it releases.
  104. Group Quest Create a life-cycle pricing strategy for the game you’ve been marketing in your class.  Initial Release  First Promotion  Price Reduction  Second Promotion  Third Promotion  Value or “Classic” Release
  105. Away Mission Use the tool SensorTower to help you select Apple iPhone app keywords for the game you have been developing marketing plans for in class.