How do you take an old card game, reboot it for mobile, hit top 10 and stay? I talked with MobilityWare about Solitaire, and the cards up their sleeve.
Since its release in 2010, it’s enjoyed over 150 million installs, maintains about 4.5 star reviews and has become the #1 Solitaire game in the world. In fact, it’s pretty much #1 in Card and Casino categories everywhere, and definitely within the top 100 beyond that.
Yeah, crazy. So, how’d they do it?
I talked with Erick Chang, Director of Marketing at MobilityWare, about marketing Solitaire, selling games and the future.
This is what he had to say…
Hey, Erick. Thanks for taking the time for this. Let’s dive right in. How is Solitaire unlike anything you’ve done before, what’s most exciting about this for you?
Prior to working on Solitaire, I’ve been focused on launching and bringing new mobile games to market. Since Solitaire has been around since 2010, my focus is instead on growing a mature game with an already huge user base. The challenges that come out of this situation are very challenging and unique. Even though Solitaire itself is a simple game, the marketing dynamics behind it is quite complex.
What are some of the big successes you’ve had with Solitaire since its release?
Recently, we’ve expanded Solitaire to the Apple Watch, Android Wear and most recently to Apple TV. We’ve been dominating that space as well. We are featured on Apple’s website on the Apple Watch section, #1 for the search result “games” on the Apple Watch app store, a top trending app on Apple TV and one of the top downloaded android wear games. As a result, for the past year, we’ve been on the iPhone Top Overall Charts for 309 of those days.
Wow. So, what are some specific marketing strategies or tactics that you’ve been successful with?
Our core strategies and tactics revolve around ASO and paid UA. We are always A/B testing screenshots, copy, keywords, etc. to optimize our App Store visibility. It’s no surprise that we are big fans of Google Play’s new store listing A/B testing tool. We’re also strong believers in testing new channels and tactics. Our largest experiment so far has been running national TV commercials. That was a large, complex project that really stretched our creative and analytical skills.
Did you do anything notably different in marketing Solitaire than other games in the past?
Solitaire presented us with the unique opportunity of TV advertising due to the evergreen nature of the game, its player demographic, and its dominance of solitaire-related search on every app store. The challenge was educating users to download MobilityWare’s Solitaire, and not someone else’s.
In your career experience what’s been most difficult about selling mobile games?
The common answer to this question is app store “visibility.” But I actually think achieving “visibility” itself is not terribly difficult. Any marketing team can achieve high visibility with a large enough budget. What is difficult is balancing the cost of achieving that visibility with the ROI of those efforts and then sustaining that visibility for the mid to long term.
What does the future of mobile gaming look like?
Looking back, 2015 was an interesting year for mobile games. We are seeing a maturing US mobile games market with new user downloads decreasing but revenue continuing to climb. Emerging international markets are growing fast but revenues are still low. As a result, I think the US market will be exponentially tougher in 2016 as the now larger and richer mobile game developers battle for less new users. The mobile developers who find a way to expand their market beyond the US successfully will be rewarded handsomely.
And finally, what are you most excited about for the future of MobilityWare?
MobilityWare isn’t just about Solitaire. We’ve grown our team by almost 300% over the past year and are working on new games in new categories with new business models. 2016 is going to be an exciting year for us as we expand our portfolio, our teams and our skills!
Thanks for taking the time, Erick!
Erick Chang is the Director of Marketing at MobilityWare. MobilityWare is a team of outrageously talented and wildly different personalities who come together to build mad fun games that anyone and everyone can enjoy.