Welcome to the sixth installment of our ASO App Category Spotlight series.
Today we’re taking a look at Role-Playing Games (RPG, sometimes also called RPG Games, although it basically means Role-Playing Games Games, but never mind that) to discover how the top apps in this category optimize their iOS Store pages to generate more downloads. Need tips to get more users to your mobile RPG? We’re here to spill that tea.
This article will guide you on:
- ASO strategies used by the most successful Role-Playing games
- How to run better App Store page experiments
Disclaimer: All of the information used to create this analysis is publicly available. The conclusions drawn for each of the Role-Playing Games below are based on Storemaven’s extensive knowledge and experience, as well as industry benchmarks.
So What’s an RPG?
Let’s ask Wikipedia! A Role-Playing Game, RPG for short, is a game:
“In which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making regarding character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules.”
There are many different types of RPG games, from tabletop versions like Dungeons and Dragons to Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (known as MMORPGs), like World of Warcraft. But the thing that all RPGs have in common is a well-crafted narrative.
Many of the apps in this category are household names. A few of them have even launched legitimate franchises and become mainstays at the top of the charts. How were they able to achieve such outstanding success? That’s what we’ll find out through this analysis.
For this article, we’ll focus exclusively on mobile RPG’s for iOS devices. Before we dive in, keep these things in mind:
- We’re analyzing the top-grossing 25 RPG games as of March 30th, 2021
- All 25 RPGs that we’ll analyze are in the “Role Playing” category
- We’re looking exclusively at the US Apple App Store for this article
- Because the apps we’re analyzing are highly successful or owned by some of the biggest brands in the world, you’ll learn top-level ASO strategies.
OK with the rules? Great, let’s get into character.
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RPG Games: Icons
Your app’s icon is crucial to your ASO efforts. After all, it’s the only creative element that’s always visible. Your audience will see it in your Facebook Ads, search results in the iOS and Google Play stores, the first impression screen, etc.
Because of this, an optimized icon can boost conversions by as much as 30%. Want a piece of that action? Let’s take a look at what the top RPG games do when it comes to icons…
Take a look at the 25 icons above. What do you notice? At first glance, there aren’t a lot of similarities between them; the color schemes and art styles are all over the place. But if we dig deeper, we can identify a few trends that are worth mentioning.
First, 80% of the apps analyzed use character icons, i.e. icons in which a character from the game is clearly visible. The Walking Dead and Rise of Kingdoms RPGs are good examples.
RPG games rely on strong narratives—narratives in which players become attached to the specific characters they use. So it makes sense to promote these characters from the very beginning. Plus, many apps in this category have recognizable IP.
By including well-known characters, like Spiderman for Marvel Strike Force and The Mandalorian for Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes in their icons, these RPG games give potential users an immediate reason to download their app.
Let’s keep digging…
While there doesn’t seem to be a specific color that top-grossing RPG games use for their icons, each app does use colors that reflect the experience their game provides.
Again, State of Survival: Zombie War (The Walking Dead game) is a good example. Notice how the icon for this game uses a lot of blacks and grays? These colors reflect the grittiness this RPG has and puts potential players in the same frame of mind.
Subtitles for RPG Games
We can’t wrap up this section on icons without mentioning subtitles.
52% of the apps we analyzed use their subtitles to clarify what their game’s about. For instance, the subtitle for Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is “Celebrity and Story Fashion Game.”
By telling potential players exactly what to expect when they download your game, you’ll generate more of the right kind of users for your app, AKA users that actually want what you have to offer and will play, review, and share your game with others.
Three of the apps in this category—Fate/Grand Order, Rise of Empires: Fire and War, and Genshin Impact—don’t include subtitles at all. What a missed opportunity! If for no other reason than to target specific keywords and drive more traffic.
Also of note, many RPG games use the words “Hero”, “War” or “Battle” or some related term in their titles and subtitles. This is probably because the category is highly lucrative and many “copycat” games have sprung up hoping to cash in.
By AVOIDING using these terms, you may be able to distinguish your game from the competition. Just make sure you create titles that are equally engaging to your target audience.
RPG Games: Videos
Now let’s take a look at videos…
Roughly half of the RPG games we analyzed (48%) use videos to help promote their apps to potential users. Note: only two of these 12 videos are in portrait mode.
The video orientation of these two apps likely has more to do with the orientation these games are played rather than a specific marketing tactic, but it was worth mentioning since a majority of RPG games (and their videos) use landscape mode.
Each of the videos we analyzed show actual gameplay footage; many of them also use text to better explain to viewers what they’re seeing.
This is an important point.
RPG gamers want to see how your game is played. Give them a taste of your game’s storyline. Show them the characters they’ll be controlling and the enemies they’ll get to fight against. And definitely highlight the action sequences they’ll get to engage in.
The RPGs we looked at do a great job with their videos in this regard. The footage we viewed was highly entertaining and definitely makes you want to slam the download button.
There’s always room for improvement. Five of the videos we watched started with a company logo rather than gameplay footage. This is a no-no because:
- The average App Store user only watches videos for 6-8 seconds
- 65-70% of users decide to download an app or not in the first 3-6 seconds
- So the first few seconds of an app video are the most important.
Here you have it again, in style:
What do these stats tell us? You don’t have a lot of time to hook gamers with your videos and encourage them to download your app. Wasting precious seconds on a company logo is one of the fastest ways to kill conversions for your RPG.
Now, most of the apps committing this “cardinal sin” are created by well-known brands. Marvel Strike Force, for example, starts with the Marvel logo. But Marvel is so beloved, this probably doesn’t affect their downloads like it would for other games.
In fact, the Marvel logo may actually encourage users to install the app because the company is so highly regarded. The same goes for the Star Trek and Kim Kardashian apps.
Unless you’re in charge of ASO for an incredibly popular RPG game, make sure your videos start fast and stay fast. Jump right into the action – serve the dessert first – leave brand logos for the end of your video.
Keep In Mind
Our research shows that an optimized video can boost conversions for your app by up to 20%. But be careful, a poorly made video can harm conversions by 20%.
If you use videos—and we really recommend you do because users are 3x more likely to watch a video than read a description—you need to implement the best practices above. Then you need to test your videos to make sure they’re performing as well as they can be.
RPG Games: Screenshots
Did you know that optimized screenshots can boost conversions by up to 28%? Not bad, right? But like everything else related to ASO, exercise caution. Untested screenshots can result in a 15-25% drop in conversions. Ouch…
Fortunately, we’ve analyzed the screenshots used by the top-grossing RPG games, too. Use the following information to make sure your screenshots help your game, not harm it.
The first thing we noticed during our analysis is that there doesn’t seem to be a “perfect” number of screenshots to include. Some of the games have as few as four screenshots while others have as many as 10. This isn’t surprising – our research indicates that only a fraction of users in the iOS store view more than five images on an app page anyway.
Here you an example of some portrait screenshots from this category:
If the number of screenshots is irrelevant, what does matter? The actual content.
Every single app we analyzed uses its screenshots to depict gameplay. More than that, 25 out of the 25 apps we looked at used captions or some form of in-game text to clarify the kind of gameplay the viewer is looking at.
For example, Top War: Battle Game has captions that read “Merge & Upgrade, Power Up Your Units” and “Build a Base, Customize Your Island”.
Character screenshots are popular as well—especially for games that have recognizable characters. Pokemon Go, for instance, would be crazy not to include a picture of Pikachu. If your app has a popular character, put a screenshot of them in your gallery.
And here are some selected landscape styled screenshots:
The order you put your screenshots in is just as important as the actual images you choose. This is because 60-80% of downloads in the Apple App Store come from search where only 1-3 screenshots are visible, depending on image orientation.
If you save your best screenshots for last, a huge portion of your audience won’t see them.
So do what the top-grossing RPG games do and front load your app gallery with the most visually-stimulating screenshots you have. This could be an image of your titular character, an amazing gameplay shot, or an artistic image that blends multiple pictures together.
The average user on the iOS Store is 10x more likely to look at your screenshots than read your game’s description. Make sure you get these images right.
Increase conversion rate up to 28% with the ultimate screenshots guide
19 of the 25 apps we analyzed use landscape-oriented screenshots. Like we mentioned earlier, this probably has more to do with the way these games are played. But it’s interesting nonetheless. To help distinguish your app, consider adjusting the orientation of its images.
We also noticed that none of the 25 RPG games we analyzed used panoramic screenshots, which are quite popular in other categories on the iOS store.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a panoramic screenshot is a design that spans across more than one screenshot in an app gallery. It’s a design trick that creates a holistic first impression frame and encourages users to continue scrolling.
The evidence indicates that panoramic screenshots aren’t effective for this category. If they were, the top RPG games would use them, right? Still, it’s worth experimenting.
Build an ASO Strategy For Role-Playing Games
RPG is an interesting category in the Apple App Store (we wouldn’t be talking about it otherwise). The top-grossing RPGs are household names with huge fan bases and giant revenue numbers. If you create games in this genre and hope to achieve breakout success, the information in this article will help.
Here are the most important takeaways:
- Promote Your Characters: Your game’s characters are vital. Use your App Store page to show users who they’ll be playing as, why these people (creatures?) are so cool, and the baddy opponents they’ll need to overcome.
- Show Actual Gameplay: A killer character won’t mean much if gameplay isn’t shown as well. Include videos and screenshots that put potential players right in the action. Show them what it’s like to play your game and make it as exciting as possible.
- Highlight Your Game’s Story: Lastly, the best RPG games have rich storylines. Make sure yours comes across in your App Store page. Tease different goals, obstacles, and plotlines then choose icon colors, video footage, and screenshots that correlate.
There you have it. Now you know the ASO strategies used by top RPG games, you can start testing them on your own apps. If you need some expert help, Storemaven simplifies the testing process with industry-leading features. Request a free demo to experience the Storemaven advantage for yourself.