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We developed our first game app as a marketing strategy. Numbers, users and revenue of this project!

Developing a game is hard, rewarding, expensive, and super fun!

Giulio Michelon
Dec 16, 2016 · 4 min read

Hi, here's Giulio, co-founder of Belka, a design and development team for digital products.

The development of game app, Tricky Traps, started almost as a joke. When we saw that big yellow bulky vintage game we taught that it would be cool to make an app of it. It turned out to be a great marketing strategy.

We had clear goals:

  • Build a quality product
  • Learn Unity during the development of the game
  • Reach as many people as possible with a fixed budget
  • Learn more about the app marketing

We tried to reach more people via Facebook ads and via PR.

Results

We had more than 30k downloads of the app. The app has been featured in major tech blogs in Italy. We also reached:

  • Italian's App Store TOP150 ranking
  • the Italian's App Store TOP40 in game category
  • Android's Trending games

Wanna know more? Here's how we did it.

It started as a joke. It's been downloaded 30k times.

What is Tricky Traps?

The photo below is the original Tricky Traps. The goal of the game is guiding the marbles through the different traps. The traps are moving thanks to a mechanical machinery. The mechanism is very loud and clunky. It's adorable.

The game is hard: you have to push the white button with a perfect timing if you want to advance to the next trap. The game was also sold as "AAAAGHH!" in some countries and you can probably imagine the reason.

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The original Tricky Traps

We took some notes during the development of the game. You can find them in this publication:

I stated that it started almost a joke because we know that the app scene is very crowded now. We expected that the allocated marketing budget would have been enough to reach a couple of thousand people, but not to reach big crowds. We didn't expect to repay the development budget as well, but we wanted to grow our expertise in Unity, which is a common game engine.

Nostalgia effect strikes again

What happens when you build a replica of a very famous vintage game? Go ask Niantic, the company behind Pokémon GO. If people will feel nostalgic the product downloads will skyrocket!

Hit the nostalgia button, and you will trigger the downloads

That's exactly what happened. Thanks to our emails to Italian's major blogs, especially The Games Machine which is one of the biggest, we had the opportunity to reach their community which reacted enthusiastically.

This post alone had 650+ reactions. Immediately after the post a lot of other blogs published the news, as we were looking at the game stats growing.

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The user's growth — via Facebook Analytics

The growth part has been wonderful. We hit the right spot. The very same spot that made us start the development of this game: nostalgia.

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Tricky Traps in the first places of the Italian App Store's game section

Let's roll the budget

Once we saw the growth we fostered it via Facebook ads. Those ads are very powerful since the call to action brings the users straight into the App Store and Play Store.

We spent an incredibly low budget per install: from 0.10€ to 0.35€. People are genuinely enthusiast for the game, that's the reason of the low cost per installation.

Thanks to the ads we managed to get 1800 downloads.

Business Model

We implemented a basic business model for the app, in order to repay our expenses.

We went two ways:

adMob

adMob, Google's ad network, has been the the biggest economic contribution for Tricky Traps. We gathered 630€ with 300k+ impressions.

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In-app purchase

The in-app purchase has been bought by 300+ people, bringing another 300€ of revenues.

Total

We gathered ~900€ from Tricky Traps. It's not big money, but much more than expected.

We didn't repay the development and advertising cost, but it's been a nice gift from our users. Thank you!

So, is it worth it?

It depends.

If you are a company who want to build a business upon game apps, the terrain is slippery. It's an highly competitive field. I wouldn't suggest it unless you have fresh ideas.

Are you looking for a creative marketing campaign? It's time to develop a game.

Instead, if you are looking for a creative marketing campaign a game app is a powerful tool. Our users opened the app 138k times, which is a huge result, and we reached more than 30k people. From a marketing perspective this has been an overwhelming impact.


Life in Belka

We design and build digital products.

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