6 min read

Up To The Top - Marketing Successes And Failures pt. 2

This part of the blog covers: review sites, competitions and touches on Google Adwords.

Here's part 2 of my blog on what we did with our marketing for our iOS game Up To The Top for iOS,  and how it went. You can find part 1 here 

In this section I will cover our experiences with review sites, sponsoring competetions and our short experiment with Google Adwords.

Let start with the first one :)

Review Sites:

The effort to get our game reviewed on as many sites as possible started before the release of the game. We had heard that it was important to get an early start in order to build some connections to the sites, so that they would have time to react to the request for a review.

We did not get as many reviews as we would have liked, but we got a few, and we were happy about that, non the less :)

The thing with the reviews, as is the problem with many of the approaches we used for marketing, is that it is almost impossible to track their effectiveness unless someone has commented directly on the review to let you know they bought the game.

We did not get any review up on the big sites, the biggest we got was and it is hard to say whether or not it actually did anything for us. We did however also sponsor a contest on this site and I will get back to that later in this blog.

All in all I dont think the reviews we got did much for our sales, I cant say for sure, but I have a feeling that most of the reviews were wasted promo codes. That being said, it was our first game, and just getting it reviewed was great in it self, it probably just didn't translate in to sales.


Regarding the competetions we sponsored, it alot easier to say if they affected sales, I will explain why:

The primary sales of our game was in week 1 and to some degree in week 2. All the competions where held in late week 2 or after. So the sales graph was easier to interpret.

We sponsored 3 contests, a contest for nordic games on a nordic review site. An international contest on and a bigger contest cross promoted on and a few more.

They are ordered in size, and I will start with the smallest.

The Nordic Contest. In short, there where 10 sponsors that each gave 3 games, and there there would be three winners that would each get 10 games. Not bad :)

The competion was held by the review site it self and for the week that it ran there was not a single comment on the competition thread. I dont actually know if anyone participated, but as you may have guessed, this translated in to 0 sales at the cost of 3 promocodes and more importantly, time spent setting it up and sending promo material.

The second one was a 3 game contest on, where the prize was Sonic racing, our game and a third game.

In order to win, people had to comment at say which games they would like to win and in what order. Everyone listed Sonic as number 1 and almost everyone listed our game as number 2.

To us, that was a confidence booster, a lot of people preferred our game over another, not bad :) The competition ran for about a week, and this was a little harder to decode. We did get a lot of publicity out of it, but the sales did not spike significantly, meaning maybe the competition did have an effect on our sales, but if it did, it was not much more than 3-5 sales.

Again the cost was promo codes and alot of time maintaining it and commenting on it. That being said it did give us a lot of publicity and we count that as a good thing. 

The third competition we tried was called IOSAPPALOOZA, some of you may have seen it on twitter. It has started running every week now, and we were in the first one.

There where multiple games in this competition and we were one of them, it was massive and we sponsored 9 promo codes.

This competition was held about a month after the release where sales were (and still are) 0-3 sales pr. day. Sadly, this competition was not even able to boost sales to 4 on any day.

So in conclusion on contest, they do not seem to translate directly in to sales.
I think there are a couple of reasons to this:

Reason 1, if you have a chance to win something, you are not going to buy it
So for the whole running of the contest, there is really no reason for the people who check it out, to buy the game, because if they win it, they would have wasted money. And when the competition is over, you forget all about it. 

Reason 2, Maybe the sites we sponsored contests on where simply to small and didn't see enough traction on their competition in order to translate it in to sales for us.

There are probably more reasons, or maybe you think I got it all wrong? Please feel free to share in the comments to get a debate going.

Google Adwords:

I promised to touch briefly on Google Adwords, the reason it will be briefly is because we have only experimented with it a little.

We recieved an email from google with an 80$ certificate to buy ads for if we made an account, so we decided to try it out now that we could do it for free.

We made an ad in text format that linked to our game on the appstore.

The ad has so far been displayed 500.000 times and clicked 2543 times. This has cost us 49$ (of the free money). These 2543 clicks has translated in to about 7 sales (estimated).

Needless to say, this is not a good business. The ads are way to expensive considering the ratio at which a click translates in to a sale.

There are several things we could try, maybe an image ad instead of text, but usually the prices for these are higher, and that is definately not what we are looking for.
Different optimization in the keywords is also a possibility, but there is a long way from 7 sales up to those 2500 sales. 

Do you have any experience with paid advertisements? Good or bad? please share in the comments and lets get an indie marketing debate going.


About the Author: Peter is the co-founder of the indie studio Pixeleap. He is working there in all his freetime, and goes to school studying programming in the daytime. So far Pixeleap has released Up To The Top for iOS and is now working on the next project.
He also blogs about this project over at 

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