A Helping Hand

As promised here’s the update on our latest marketing drive. If you recall we were offering to ‘optimise the language’ of apps that were translated badly from a foreign language into English. Our first client was Kidga.com . With over 14 games on the Android market he wasn’t doing too badly for himself. However doing my research he stood out like a sore thumb because of how badly his app descriptions were worded.:

 ”Original Description:
Try new gameplay in match3 style game. Beat highscores.
Train your logical thinking in a new fascinating game. Its something between match3 game and puzzle game. Slide gem on another gem of the same type to create new supertype. Two or more neighbouring gems of the same supertype (depending on level) would be removed.
Challenge other gamers in pursuit of highscore.
In case of any issues, please, mail to support@kidga.com”

As you can see first impressions would show that he seriously needed to get some professional help. So help we did:
”Try this new and fascinating ‘Match3’ style game. Compete at your best and you might just beat the highscores. Maybe!
If you’re a logical thinker you can only get better with this app, if you’re not then what better way to get that brain training? In a unique fusion of a ‘Match 3’ and puzzle game this will draw you in as you frantically smash those gems together to get the elusive supertypes. As the levels progress the supertypes smash together and get erased gaining you a higher score and a shot at the leaderboards.
 
In case you have any issues please mail: support@kidga.com”

Over the next few weeks I’ll be mailing him and others back to see if the language fixes helped them at all. From my side of things the campaign had got off to a roaring start with gametrender.webs.com now an official partner of Kidga games and linked in his apps.

A Kidga game.

This is one of Kidga games many games that I’ve helped to optimise.

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Language Fixes

Gametrender is branching out. It’s sad to see that there are so many good ideas for apps out there that are let down by the language barrier. So because here at Gametrender we’re good all around nice guys(and we love the publicity!) we’ve been contacting developers who to put it bluntly, need help with their English and have been offered to improve their app translations and scripts. Here’s the email that we’ve been sending out.

Dear Developer
I am the owner of the “Gametrender” blog and website. As part of our marketing strategy we are offering app dialogue script optimisation to any interested developers.
As a consumer and trender of apps I am very conscious how poor translation can have a negative affect on the enjoyment of games and apps. Particularly in relation to story based games. We are not offering to translate your app , as of course this has already been done. However, what we will do is enhance the translation of your app. Your app will be more professional, more accessible and more enjoyable to the end user. If you feel that your app dialogue has been poorly translated or that it could be enhanced, then we would like you to take advantage of this offer.
This is completely free and of no obligation. The reason behind this is that it is part of our marketing strategy. Gametrender is a brand new start up website that recommends apps to customers. By offering you this translation optimisation service we aim to get our name known and perhaps even expand into script writing and optimisation through our website. If you do use this service all we ask is that you recommend us to other developers and help to get our name known throughout the community.
 We have also had a lot of interest recently in fixing the front end descriptions on the Android market, which of course we are quite happy to do too.
The script optimisation will be performed by a native English speaker who holds a degree in English and a postgraduate degree in Education. Additionally he has over three years experience as an English teacher.
If you wish to use our free service then please email us at this address. Alternatively feel free to browse our Gametrender WordPress blog and our provisional website: gametrender.webs.com .
Thank you for your time and all the best with your current and forthcoming developments.
Yours faithfully
Gametrender

Over the next couple of posts we’ll let you know how that goes down with the development community. gametrender.webs.com

Happy Annibirthday

The first time I saw it happen was on  Everquest, real world holidays started to be celebrated, Christmas being one of them, with snow, a virtual Santa and present giving occurring, all of course with a fantasy theme. Gaming has of course moved on since then, especially into the mobile realm. Many games now try to gather interest by having different editions for different occasions. Angry Birds does this particularly well with their Seasons edition. Halloween, Christmas and even Saint Patricks Day celebrations are themes in the game. It serves to make the game more immediately relevant and thus more interesting. Games for different occasions are definitely something that needs to be explored more, for example why can’t games give out special bonuses or prizes on the phone owners birthday. Should relevant newsworthy events be reflected in game updates, particularly story driven games? Also how much of a thought is given to the user interface of games, surely a game designed to be played on a morning commute should have controls designed around it. What about queues? Gamers often while away their time in long queues by playing games, do the developers tailor their user interfaces to reflect this? Apart from seasonal, holiday and event orientated gaming developers must become aware and savvy to the different types of situations their games are likely to be played in and design them with that in mind. Remember developers mobile games aren’t just for indoors on the couch: they are ubiquitous, ever present multi contextual commodities that can be played anywhere from thirty seconds to hours and for a gamer to get the most from their game these insights should help inform design. gametrender@googlemail.com

Free to play

What you would be prepared to pay for in free to pay title? In one of my previous postings I spoke about the different models that games use to make money.Increasingly common are micro transactions in games which make gamers pay for amongst other things, virtual goods.So the question is what gamers are prepared to pay for. Amusingly there is a spoof game which exists on facebook called Cow Clicker. Why I mention Cow Clicker is the fact that you can part real money to buy something quite meaningless. You can pay to get a patterned cow which is fair enough, but as part of his social comment the developer had made it so you can pay to get cows with miniscule differences to each other. For example one model faces left, the other which you will pay for, faces right. And yet still people pay! At one stage before it was banned sellers did a roaring trade on ebay selling virtual currency for online games. It is write common in MMORPG games for there to be a pay for virtual currency which can be used to purchase virtual goods. Swords, armour, clothing, the sale of virtual goods is booming. But where do you draw the line. Reading the forums it seems that it is not unusual for consumers to sometimes spend hundreds of pounds on virtual goods. Would you pay for a right facing cow?
gametrender@googlemail.com

Money

The video game market while arguably an art form and culturally relevant of course is still primarily financially driven. With far over a billion downloads on both the App store and Android market the producers of games and apps are increasingly turning to new and creative ways to make money. The market for phone apps while burgeoning is still not as established as the traditional video game market for a number of reasons. Firstly apps have much more of a throw away value due to their lack of longevity. Secondly consumers are less likely to buy an app if there is a similar one of roughly the same quality for free. And of course the traditional bogeyman of the gaming industry, piracy, must also be taken into account. That is why when it comes to making money publishers will not automatically charge for an app and might explore less traditional routes of generating capital.Google makes billions from advertising and many publishers are exploring ad supported games as a way of making money. The downside of this for them is of course that they will need to sell a vast number of copies to break even, and if course for the consumer the downside is the irritation of pop up ads. Other apps will be semi pay for with the user paying further on for more features and levels. Good for what you get but of course it can be painful if you are deep into a game and then need to pay to get further. Under the umbrella of Freemium games comes many different types. Many will work off micro transactions paying pittance for things such as new clothes for a gaming avatar, others will have content packs that need to be downloaded. For the publisher they will need a hard core audience engrossed enough in a game to want to pay for inane things. For a user unless you are paying for premium content you might feel cheated that
You’re not getting all a game can offer. Of course despite there being many ways that you can splurge your cash on apps and games it must be pointed out that there is much free quality out there. And of course if you really have to pay, just make sure that you turn to a service like Gametrender to help make your decisions!

Cross platform development

Gathering interest by releasing initially on a higher spec phone seems to be a new marketing strategy for some publishers. That the Android market is fragmented is a phrase often bandied about by the industry. What they mean by this is that due to the plethora of phones of differing types running Android, all the different specs of these phones and indeed the different versions of Android it makes it very hard for everything to be singing off of the same song sheet as it were. Some developers have used this fact to their advantage though: thinking particularly of the tegra chipped phones and the Xperia Play, these are generally high specced gaming phones. But more importantly they are also highly marketed. So if a new game comes out on these or similar phones the internet is normally all over it and it becomes biggish news for at least a little while. So whilst anybody who has more than a passing interest in gaming will see this so called gaming news on the net as an Xperia Play or similar exclusive their need for the game will naturally grow, according to the age old principle of ” You want what you can’t have!” Thus when the game has benefited from it’s so called exclusivity based marketing and is released to other phone owners it is more likely to be purchased. Clever marketeers proving that Androids fragmentation can indeed be a strength and not a weaknesses.

Xperiences with customer support

Back in the day you’d go into a shop and physically choose your item. Hold it in your hand, weigh it consider the pros and cons and then buy it.The retail model applied to physical video games too and shops were if not happy about it, still obliged to accept your returns. Now that we’ve moved away from physically handling apps and games for our phones surely a more robust system should be in place for returns, especially if the games are defective. In subsequent posts we’ll look into the various methods currently employed, but this post will mainly concentrate on experiences with Gameloft customer services. Now regular readers will have noticed Gameloft coming up fairly frequently in posts. They do churn out a lot of entertaining games on a frequent basis. However it seems that sometimes quality control is lacking and buggy versions get released. Of particular note on my Xperia play is Modern Combat 2 , delving into the forums it appears that nobody can get the game to work on their Xperia Play! So despite having a version optimised for the so called premier gaming phone, it doesn’t even work. Of course from my tone you can tell that I was one of the ones caught out. Firstly it must be pointed our that I’ve discovered two ways to pay for their games. Paypal transactions, which I’ve used and phone billing, I personally prefer the Paypal transactions as they give you a receipt number as proof of purchases if something goes wrong. It seems that to seek help it’s necessary to email Gameloft who, eventually, get back to you with a solution Which invariably seems to be a link to an alternative game.Although I suppose a refund would have been forthcoming if I had asked. All in all the process is straightforward but I have to point out some caveats: firstly the average resolution time takes about a week.Also disappointingly their website doesn’t seem to keep track of purchases very well, with none of my numerous purchases showing up resulting in Gameloft having to track down the purchases. Also even though all problems have been eventually resolved I would prefer if the problems didn’t exist in the first place and bugs were eliminated in the first place.

By any means possible

There are lots of ways to get your app noticed and more importantly purchased. As the Android revolution continues the greatest strength also appears to be its greatest weakness. Whilst the Apple I Store is tightly regulated and controlled, Android gamers have a more open and free way to get their app gaming fix. Because of this many industry players both small and large are rearing their heads and becoming involved. Of course the main access to apps is via the Android market. The next biggest player is Amazon who have a dedicated app store which unfortunately at the moment is USA only. Dig some more and one of the next names that come up is Getjar, famous for having many web exclusives such as Burn the Rope. Any videogame industry needs their monoliths and EA games after making billions off of traditional games now also has a website to download Android games. Special mention also goes to Gameloft making substantial waves both on the market and their own website. Dig deeper of course and many more app sources can be found. That is what makes Android gaming that little bit more difficult to access but also infinitely more rewarding.

Some effort

Despite throwing in our lot with Android gaming we can still borrow ideas from other places. And it must be said that the I store has a lot of ideas that can be begged, borrowed or stolen
thankfully the
gods who live at the Googleplex have been listening and are starting to upgrade their service.Editors choice was introduced a while ago and now we have access to more in depth reviews sorted out by star ratings.The android market still has a long way to go in terms of user friendliness but these are all positive signs. Lets hope for more innovation in future and not more
copycatting.After
all;doesn’t
the largest market deserve the best?

Future proof

Recent comments by the SCEA president are quite thought provoking. In a speech app gaming was likened to home made camcorder created home movies and not seen as a real threat to blockbuster games of the moment. He goes on to say that smartphone gaming could even help the blockbusters by getting non gamers involved in games. While on one level I agree with him-in an ideal world if we were all single and loved in bachelor/bachelorette pads with massive screen hd tvs and trust funds to ensure us a life of leisure then possibly app gaming might be slightly less relevant. However, this is not the case, we live in the real world of families; mortgages and jobs. As the average age of gamers increases so do our responsibilities, and that is why the quick fix of app based gaming is slowly taking over from traditional gaming. Shared Tv -not a problem-I’ll play on my phone, late at night not wanting to disturb the rest of the house-on my phone, no time to set up Tv and console-phone.Travelling the world on prolonged business trips, phone. As for the fact that apps aren’t blockbusters-that’s true-but for sheer volume there are going to be some mega successes -possibly pound for pound more than traditional gaming. So do you prefer app gaming, is it the future? Debate.