How To Optimize Mobile Games for the App Stores?

Philippe Grazina– Mar 25, 2021

The question of how people find your content is a tale as old as the internet. Having the best story or the most innovative gameplay means very little if no one can find it, never mind play it.

That’s why ASO (App Store Optimization) is so important for any dev looking to publish their game on the app stores.

At TapNation, we help ensure new players will find hypercasual hits by utilizing the best ASO techniques and most effective marketing strategies. If you have great intuitive gameplay, we want to make sure everyone in the world is playing it.

Icons Make First Impressions

The vast majority of potential players will judge everything about a game on its icon. It’s impossible to understate how important it is to have something that not only catches people’s attention, but also keeps it long enough to lead to a download and then a positive game session.

The first impression for most games comes from their icons.

The app stores are flooded with similar looking icons that make it difficult for users to make a firm decision on what exactly they want to play. Imagine opening up the app store as a new user and being bombarded with a grid of squares all trying to capture your attention.

Why should potential players be drawn to your game?

Having an icon that sets a game apart in the context of the app stores is a large part of the difference between success and failure on the app stores. The icon really is the single most important asset when it comes to ASO. It needs to represent the game accurately in a tiny square next to other similar squares. The ideal situation is finding a way to stand out with an image that intuitively speaks about how the game is played and what makes it unique.

To better gauge how well an icon will be perceived, a common trick is to take a screenshot of the top apps and put your icon idea in the image. If it doesn’t immediately catch your eye (or your friend’s or family member’s eye), it’s time to go back to the drawing board!

A Complete Guide to Developing a Profitable Hypercasual Game


Names, Screenshots, and Trailers

After the icon, the three most important aspects of any game are its name, screenshots, and then trailers. These are all secondary to the icon, but they are still important and can help bridge the gap between catching an interested user’s attention and keeping it long enough to actually download and play the game.

Similar to the icon, all three need to stand out in the context of the app stores. Everything needs to revolve around capturing the core gameplay and what makes it exciting without seeming generic or uninspired. Capturing the essence of a game in just a few images to entice interested users is what it’s all about.

Find the best screenshots of the most exciting part of the game while avoiding text and UI.

Everything needs to accentuate the unique look and feel of the game, helping people instantly understand how it’s played and what makes it stand out from the competition.

App Store Optimization

Limited Text and Trailers

Text and video trailers should see relatively limited use from an ASO perspective. Most people decide whether to download a game based on its icon and screenshots first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean text and trailers are useless. Using text and trailers to highlight key features and make basic calls to action are okay, but it’s easy to get carried away and just lose players in a wall of text or a long-winded tutorial.

The best use of text and trailers comes from making clear statements about gameplay that people think are hard to find in other games.

One last side note for any text featured in the app stores is to remember that everything needs to be localized if your game is launched in multiple markets.

Standing Out In Context

Your game will instantly be judged based on its icon. A lot of ASO focuses on honing in on that perfect image that gets players clicking on your game.

Standing out in context and letting that eye-catching icon lead to people playing your game is the goal of ASO.

Generally speaking, ASO is all about making the unique aspect of a game self-evident for potential players. Icons, screenshots, names, and trailers need to mesh with its overall look and feel, giving players a taste of what’s waiting for them after they decide to download the game.