6 tips to launch your app or game in Germany
How to grow your app and games business in Germany
After the UK, Germany has the second highest smartphone penetration (newzoo), making the country a strong potential opportunity for your app or game. Around 60% of Germans can read and write English, but apps tend to have a greater impact when localized (THE LOCALE de).
In 2017, Germany had 66 million smartphone users (statista). At least 34 million Germans are users of gaming platforms, including consoles, PCs, smartphones, and other devices with 15 million primarily mobile gamers (statista), a figure that is growing. Translating your app or game for the German market may also open up other German speaking markets such as Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg.
With that in mind, let’s explore 6 key factors that can help your title succeed in Germany.
1. Launch in popular game and app categories
Germany is home to the world’s fifth largest gaming population (newzoo). The popular game types are casual — often played during downtimes in the day — competitive, and strategy. German consumers prefer games based on skill rather than luck (App Annie), but a large market for gambling-style games also exists.
In terms of monthly active users (MAU), casual games were #1 in 2019 with engagement remaining consistent throughout the year. By contrast, MAU for puzzle games grew significantly during the year to take them to the #2 spot. Arcade games, despite starting the year in the top spot, saw a decline in MAU that dropped them out of the top 3. With the exit of Arcade games, Action games came into the top 3 during Q4 2019.
In terms of consumer spend, casual games also took the #1 spot. Strategy took the #2 position with steady but slow growth throughout the year. Some way behind, RPG completes the top 3 with slow linear growth.
Users in Germany spend several hours a day consuming digital content on their mobile devices. The top categories are social media and messaging, followed by dating, streaming, and entertainment. Music, sports, TV, and movies are also popular on mobile, as are news and transportation apps.
2. Localize your pricing
The Euro (€) is Germany’s official currency. While Euro coins and notes bear different designs in each EU member country, they are all interchangeable and share the same value.
There is no official guide on how prices should appear. For example, 10,00€, 0,99€, 99 cent, and €10,00 are all acceptable. The plurals are euro and cent. Cent can be abbreviated as c or ct.
When showing Euro coins digitally, it’s better to show the value side rather than the reverse, which features national designs.
Forms of payment
German consumers prefer using PayPal or direct carrier billing (charged to their mobile phone bill) for most digital and non-digital payments. The third most popular payment type is credit card.
3. Revise your language and tone
Depending on your app or game, you’ll need to choose carefully between using either formal or informal German.
Formal German is more polite, but can feel dated or distant and you might even confuse people by using it. Informal German is more personal and becoming increasingly common as cultural norms shift. However, it may still seem rude or invasive to some.
You can use informal German for app and game titles, however, business app titles may benefit from the more serious tone offered by formal German.
When writing German, be aware that words are not usually shortened, and phrases tend to be very specific. Without exception all nouns and names are capitalized. Some verbs and adjectives must also be capitalized following the rule of “Nominalisierte Verben & nominalisierte Adjektive”. This rule applies when a noun is made from a verb, for example the verb “to walk” becomes a noun when referred to as “the walk” (“das Wandern”). Or, when a noun is made from an adjective, such as “the rich and the beautiful” that translates to “die Reichen und die Schönen”.
Words from other languages are also often used, especially in games or more contemporary apps such as news, sport, or dating. Most of these loaned words stem from English, but French and Latin are also common.
If a word is too long, look for a common ancestor word with an English equivalent. For example, if you translated “defense” directly you would use “Verteidigung,” however, by using the Latin-derived “Defensive” you save 3 letters.
4. Consider font, layout, and user interface
Text string lengths
Depending on the context and circumstance, German can be a very defined and exact language, resulting in long sentences and even longer words. Avoid the temptation to shorten them though, as meanings can easily become distorted.
There is no typical German font, so choose one that feels right for your app, game, or target audience. Check that any font you choose supports German special characters: letters with an umlaut: Ä, ä, Ö, ö, Ü, and ü. These letters can be written as Ae, ae, Oe, oe, Ue, and ue, however, using these implies a lack of care or attention and should be avoided.
Your chosen font should also support ß, or sz — a sharp s. However, it is acceptable to use double s (ss) instead. For example, Faß (barrel) becomes Fass.
5. Adapt to cultural and local nuances
Germany is heavily influenced by pop culture from the US, Japan, and Russia, plus traditional influences from its European neighbors. As such, Germans are open to new genres, themes, and topics. They are also fairly accepting of language or sexual content but won’t tolerate violence or a display of weapons. While the former will result in your title having a somewhat higher age rating, violence and weapons tend to be rated 16 or 18 (de.com).
Gambling is strictly regulated in Germany and can only take place in venues such as state-owned casinos. However, luck-based games that look like gambling or emulate casinos are acceptable as long as no monetary wins are involved.
Generally, Germans are protective of their privacy and personal data. Your app or game must comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) but you may benefit from highlighting your compliance during onboarding. Also, ensure that your privacy statement is translated by someone with suitable experience.
6. Adapt your user acquisition strategy
When promoting a game in Germany, doing so at Gamescom in Cologne (IGN) may offer benefits. This annual event attracts more than 370,000 gamers making it one of the largest consumer events of its type in the world.
YouTube and social media consumption in Germany is among the highest in the world, and many app or game developers use these platforms to successfully reach and engage their target users.
Germans in general are accepting of outside cultural influences, and the market for apps and games is no different. However, translation into German is still essential to maximizing the opportunity to gain downloads and users.
The German language offers two contrasting approaches: formal and informal. Except for business orientated apps, you can generally use informal German. When translating into German avoid the temptation of shortening word forms for the sake of space, as doing so can significantly affect meaning. Make sure that your chosen font supports umlauts. Pricing should always be in Euros.
When contemplating your marketing strategy consider use of social media and YouTube as a priority.
What do you think?
Do you have thoughts on launching apps and games in Germany? Let us know in the comments below or tweet using #AskPlayDev and we’ll reply from @GooglePlayDev, where we regularly share news and tips on how to be successful on Google Play.