Mobile Development

How to Approach Developing and Marketing Your First Gaming App

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Executive Summary

  • How to approach your first big app development and marketing project?
  • Here is a comprehensive guide to the gaming industry, upcoming trends, app-development essentials, rules of marketing, and some tips and tricks to build a successful future in this business.

How to approach your first big app development and marketing project? This type of question requires an answer supported by a lot of researching, analysis, goal-planning, creativity, skills, and most off all, patience. So, if you have a steady will and a desire to make it, welcome to the world of gaming applications.

Here is a comprehensive guide to the gaming industry, upcoming trends, app-development essentials, rules of marketing, and some tips and tricks to build a successful future in this business.

Games Market Overview


This was supposed to be a truly good year for the global games market as, according to the Newzoo report, 2.2 billion gamers were expected to generate $108.9 billion in revenue. For this massive increase, $7.8 billion to be precise, from the year before, we owe it all to the rise in mobile gaming.

But these numbers don’t look so surprising. Thanks to the increase in smartphone and tablet usage (and quality), more than $35 billion will come from smartphone gaming alone. After all, at the end of 2016, there were 2.8 billion monthly active mobile game users worldwide.

Around that time, it was also found that U.S. gamers played 3.6 mobile games per month on average and 1.3 games daily. What’s more interesting, the infiltration of mobile gaming in the United States is expected to surpass 60% until it reaches 63.7% by 2020.

These are promising times for enthusiastic app developers because the path to revenue leads back to them. Since this part of the industry’s field draws special attention from investors, developers can expect to see an expenditure in app development job demands. And while app downloads are spiraling out of control, software developers keep popping up behind every corner.

Android & IOS App Download and Usage


Have you heard the news? The Android app industry is likely to surpass the iOS App Store in revenue this year. In other words, Android app users are massively growing which gives leverage to independent app developers and their projects.

“The analytics firm predicts that worldwide app downloads will surpass 352 billion in 2021, while consumer spending across all platforms will crack $139 billion. The App Store is expected to account for a large percentage of that spending, bringing in over $60 billion during 2021 according to App Annie’s estimates.”  

These projections are not far from the truth, because only last year, the total number of iOS app downloads accounted for 25+ billion, contrary to 90 billion of Android app downloads. But let’s crunch the numbers some more and see what the app statistics for this year have to say.

It 2017, the total number of app downloads reached 197 billion. Out of all available apps, 2.2 million iOS apps are currently featured on the App store whereas Google Play holds 3 million Android apps. What are the most popular ones you ask? On both app stores, gaming apps take the lead.

But why is this important? Not only do you need to know that you have the upper hand, but also that you get to choose the market you want to breach. In order to make a strong impact and succeed with your app, app developers have to be aware of the state and scope of the market as well as where they can find their target audience.

Empowering yourself with gaming industry data early on guarantees smooth sailing into app development, launching, and marketing later. And, if you learn what the audience and investors want to see, it will be easier to create something of substance and undeniable quality both will appreciate.

2018 UI Design Trends


User interface design and user experience (UI/UX) is really important for mobile app development. The UI design should be intrusive, yet pleasant to the eye. If your app looks and feels interesting and interactive, users will love to engage in a game.

It’s simple; happy consumers’ equals more downloads, 5 stars ratings, and a broader app awareness, especially via recommendations. However, to be able to get to that point, you need to follow-up on current and future UI design trends.

This year, there was a shift in focus as corporations realized that the better the customer experience, the bigger the chances that their reputation and bond with consumers will improve. For that reason, upcoming trends will bring more interesting and useful innovations at the same time.

Although the flat and minimalistic approach to design ruled for a while, now it’s time for vibrant colors and bold topography to take over. But that’s only the beginning of what’s yet to come, including:

  • User responsive design for customized interaction and a personalized user experience

  • In-app chat for online assistance or user-to-user interaction

  • Age-appropriate adjustments such as the change in color and font for the elderly

  • More user voice interfaces

  • Push notifications for user encouragement

  • Verification codes or better login memory features for a simplified login process

  • Long-form and flexible content

  • Easy-readable and balanced topography

  • Engaging and bright colors

Rejoice app game designers, as you finally have the freedom to let your imagination run wild. And don’t forget, the end goal is a design that anticipates and reduces user efforts while increasing their retention levels with gradient and vivid colors that beautifully agree with the topography.

Find Your Own: Different Kind of Apps


What type of gaming app are you in for? Don’t tell me, just find your own or take a look below if you’re not quite sure what to think of it.

There are three forms of apps:

  1. Native Apps

Native apps are apps exclusively done for a particular mobile operative system and they count as “native” for that sole platform or device. For instance, Google Play and SwiftKey or the Apple App Store and Objective-C. Do you get it? They are unusable on other platforms except their own.

Also, they work offline and have a lot of movement along with a notification system.

2. Hybrid Apps

As the name suggests, hybrids are a mix of both worlds. These types of apps are built by utilizing web technologies such as Javascript, HTML5, and CSS. Nevertheless, they are placed among apps in a store just like native ones. They are simple and easy to develop, but the HTML code just won’t cut it for performance, speed, and general quality.

3. Mobile Web Apps

Mobile web-based apps are actually websites that use the same web systems as hybrids for development and tend to imitate native apps. They are available for in all stores, but with a restriction to app store benefits, except the advertisement and subscription related monetary perks.

Out of the three, hybrids are the silver lining in app development. While native apps have complete access to specific features of a device (camera, GPS, notifications, etc.) and better optimization, they are expensive to build. On the other hand, mobile web apps are easy and cheap to make, but they are not as interesting as native or hybrid ones and their performance is tightly linked to a browser and a network connection.

Moreover, the recent survey report shows that the hybrid approach do mobile app development is gaining more supporters rather than native. “In the next two years, 32.7 percent of developers surveyed expect to completely abandon native development in favor of hybrid.”

This is understandable, considering that hybrids come at low development costs and have pretty decent performance. Having said that, to build a hybrid app, developers need to possess a higher level of skill for operating hybrid tools.

There is one more thing worth mentioning and that is “app categorizes”. There are 24 categories in the App Store and 33 in Google Play. By far, the users’ favorite category among them all are gaming apps. Statista reports the list of the most popular mobile gaming apps for this season, including:

  • Google Play Games (18.28 million of mobile users)

  • Pokemon GO (14.9)

  • Words With Friends (12.06)

  • Candy Crush Saga (9.34)

Mobile Application Development


Now that you have armed yourself with crucial gaming app insights, you are ready to proceed to app development with more caution and care. So, what does mobile application development stand for?

This is a procedure based on several processes involved in writing software for digital devices like smartphones and tablets. It involves using a similar approach such as the Web app building and it’s closely related to traditional software applications.

By keeping in mind the different types of apps, it’s time to test that idea of yours by selecting one of the programing languages that will work with your concept. Hence, here’s the first serious choice you have to make:

  • HTML5 – This programing language is perfect for building web-based apps for smartphone use. It’s affordable, efficient, and practically a standard.

  • Swift – Perhaps one of the best languages to kick off your app, Swift offers better security, enhanced app performance, and works well with Objective-C.

  • Objective-C – Do you speak iOS language? Then you can build a scalable app, but be watchful of the graphics and display functions because this programming language offers a bit limited quality. Plus, everyone (including iOS) is turning to Swift to lead the way to high-quality apps.

  • Java – Although it’s a flexible and preferable choice for Android apps, aren’t Java days over? Nevertheless, Java can work with or without a browser and as a cross-platform app, but doesn’t do anything for you if you plan on iOS app development.

  • C++ - What’s not to love about C++? A programing language that allows developers to build apps for any purpose on Android and Windows platforms. Though it’s mostly applied for low-level programming, it still has an abundance of perks.

  • C# - If your goal is to design an app that will work for Windows Phone, then you hit the target with C#. And that’s about it, when it comes to this programing language because it’s limited to Windows applications.

  • Ruby – An ideal language for beginners. Given that this is your first-time project, consider this flexible and comfortable approach to app development.

  • Python – Currently, Python is one of the popular languages for apps. It keeps things simple while it reaches far by supporting both Android and iOS software.

  • Many Others Take a look at the trending programing languages that can help your app building process and enhance your skills.

The Key Thing to Consider – Costs


It’s fundamental to determine your budget in advance because every step of the development process depends on it. You need to know your limits and allocate assets for every stage of building an app. If you thought developing an app is cheap, I’m sorry to inform you that the lowest price for making an app is around $10,000. And this is only for extremely simple systems that are not worthy of marketing.

If you don’t have advanced or even basic design skills, you will also have to take into consideration hiring both a designer and a programmer to help you bring the project to life. Which means that you can’t escape from additional and much higher costs.

Of course, you can always turn to social media platforms for funds. In fact, this might be a good idea to test your vision for the app early on. This way, you can see if the people will like the app and what potential users might, which is also a great marketing strategy.

But if you are a serious app developer or you wish to become one, it’s best to have a programing partner by your side who will continue to work on app updates. Additionally, if you plan on featuring the app in Apple store, you need to know that they charge $99 per year for holding the developer’s account whereas you can take more advantage of Google’s store annual fee, set at only $25.

Pre-Steps to App Building

  • Do thorough research (checked)

  • Come up with the idea (see what the competitors are doing, what people want, and keep in mind the 2018 innovations)

  • Make a plan by defining app objectives (don’t try to build an all-in app, keep it simple, yet alluring)

  • Think about the core of the app (user accounts, account/password retrieval, profiles, comments, social media sharing, etc.)

  • Design (draw) your first app version

  • Plan the app’s UI/UX design

  • Remember, this is only the first draft

Step-By-Step Guide to Building an App


Step 1: Once you have your idea sorted out, identify the market demand for your app. You can use tools such as Google Key Planner to note the number of people interested in something similar to what you have to offer. If you decide to skip seeking online funding, it might be a good idea to open up a web page that highlights your app idea to measure the potential success and the level of interest.

Step 2: Choose memorable artwork and a software solution to make an original and unique design. If the plan is to implement 2D or 3D functionalities, then the Unity system can be of great assistance in this process.

Step 3: Remove the clutter and non-core features. Take a good look at the design and start removing everything that seems extra or unnecessary. Offer only value and core app features because you might have a hard time updating the app with too much stuff going on with the game.

Step 4: Be sure to incorporate analytics as they could help you track downloads and user satisfaction. These points are essential for discovering potential app enhancements you can integrate later on to take your app to another level. There are free and pay-to-use tools such as Flurry and Localytics you can easily include in your app design process.

Step 5: Build a demo you can test with your family and friends. Every feedback is helpful, even negative feedback. Think about their experience and what you can add or improve for a better user experience overall.

Step 6: Sign up for the stores you want to use for launching the app. You have to be registered for a developers account in order to sell your apps via reputable platforms. Also, you can register as an independent company.  

Step 7: App Marketing   

Marketing Rules


The first question you need to know the answer to is who is the target audience? Consumer Statistics of Mobile Apps in the Global Market indicate that women spend more time on mobile apps than men.

But there is one thing they have in common and that is the highest, 43%, rate when it comes to spending time on mobile games. Then again, if you have listened and applied all of the steps mentioned above, you have probably narrowed your target audience.

However, if you don’t plan and execute the marketing campaign as soon as you release the app on the market, you are in risk of a marketing pitfall. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to influencers that have once been in your shoes. Become more socially involved in a community and use all available means to kick off your promotion, including:

  • Website – You are not only building an app, you are also building consumer trust. Having a website makes the app and the developer look more professional.

  • Social Media Platforms – The best way to connect with users and gain a broader awareness is via social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others. Be sure to have a business account on all high-trafficking platforms.

  • Blogs – Try to feature an app in official blogs, whether on your website or other friendly sites. Be sure to invite viewers to check out and download the app.

  • Emails – Email marketing is still the most influential marketing approach. If you use emails to feature the app, you can expect from the 91% of people who check their email daily that someone will be interested in your app.

  • App Store Optimization – ASO will help you run further optimize for your mobile app in search results. With it, you can efficiently determine your originality and ratings. Likewise, SearchMan and MobileDevHQ

    are powerful analytic tools for verifying where you stand, which keywords to use for marketing, and what needs to be changed for a better marketing approach.

  • Ads – You can also benefit from paid ads. Once you know your keywords, bid for them for your app to appear first in the search.

How Much to Charge for the App & When Can You Expect to See the Results?


App developers definitely have to keep their consumers in mind when setting up the app’s price. It’s always recommended to start small, $1.5 for example, and then lower the prices around the holidays. But it’s entirely up to you to decide how much your product should cost. However, since it’s the first project of many to come, try to be respectful of the audience.

The results or getting paid will have to wait if you go with Apple. While both stores have their benefits and downfalls, Apple will pay you only if you have earned at least $150 whereas you have a lot of options and flexibility to generate revenue via Google Play Store.


At the end, it all comes down to passion and knowledge. As game app developers are in high demand since the public can’t stop themselves from downloading new interesting games, you have the opportunity to truly make an impact and earn money along the way.

However, chances are 50/50 and if you wish to leverage them to your advantage, think of user experience and satisfaction throughout the whole app developing process. And remember, if at first you don’t succeed, you will definitely have sufficient knowledge to make an impact the second time around.