Why do so many App Store game descriptions just plain suck? They fail to tell me jack about the game. It’s just a bunch of marketing gobbledigook. I’ve even changed my mind about installing a game after reading it’s description.
In today’s market, creating a great game is only half the battle. Helping people find it, getting them to install it and keep it is the other half. In January of 2014 there's over 184,000 active games in the App Store alone. And each day, 78 new games are submitted.
The costs of acquiring users has gotten out of control and often exceeds the lifetime value of players. Before embarking on player acquisition, think about your messaging to app shoppers.
Put your yourself in their place. If you knew nothing about your game, what would you think of your description? Is it informative? Is it presented in such a way to convert lookers into users?
Here's 10 reasons why some game descriptions just plain suck:
1. Fail to tell me what the game is about. They don’t contain information necessary to make a buying decision. I'm past the discovery stage if I’m reading the description. Your app icon passed the visual test. But I’m just as close to “Install” as I am to escaping with the “Back” button. Once someone formulates a negative opinion about a game it’s nearly impossible to change their mind.
Minecraft is one of the better descriptions in the App Store. It's factual, informative and focuses only on key points.
2. Failure to list features and benefits. This is why people are reading your description. They ask themselves, “What’s so fun about this game? Will I like it? What makes it unique from other similar games?
List features and explain their benefits. Candy Crush Saga states they have "more than 400 levels”. What’s special about 400+ levels?
"more than 400 different levels" or,
"more than 400 levels of unique challenges"
Taking it to the next level might be:
"more than 400 different levels. Each a unique challenge”.
Of course the number of words are at a premium, so choose them carefully.
3. Lacks App Store Optimization (ASO). Kissmetrics and a Forrester report state 63% of apps are discovered through app store searches. A little keyword optimization can go a long way. Good reviews and more downloads don’t only look good, but they produce higher search rankings too.
4. Difficult to read. People tend to skim and not read. Long sentences and paragraphs are harder to consume. Try using short sentences to make your point with fewer words. Sub-headers and bullet points allow information to be visually captured. Be complete and concise.
5. Over reliance on testimonials and reviews. Praise by authoritative individuals and publications is both flattering and powerful. But people also like to read and weigh the good against the bad. If you can't resist using quotes, select those that highlight features and benefits. They’re informative and sound less patronizing.
6. Reads like an ad. When looking for facts, few things are more annoying than feeling like you’re being sold to. Pay attention to the tone of your message. Be persuasive, but not a used car salesman.
7. Uneffective screenshots. Shots of the title screen are useless. Unless your characters have the cache' of Angry Birds and are coming to a theatre near you soon, don’t bother. Focus on shots that help explain how to play, show features, variety and action.
See Candy Crush Saga in the App Store. Text is added within the screenshots to communicate a message.
8. Inaccurate information and false claims. For instance, describing your game as a “baseball game" when it's a “home run derby" will be disappointing to players. Avoid over the top superlatives like "the best" or "award winning" unless you can defend it.
9. Writing over the heads of readers. Readers must be able to comprehend the intended messaging. Use everyday language and avoid industry terms and techie terminology. And since you want to appeal to the masses, consider writing to a 6th grade reading level. Read Jacob Nielsen’s post on “Writing for a Broad Consumer Audience”.
10. Not customized for the device and store. Be aware of where the “...more" link will appear in your description. Craft your first sentence so that all of it fits without being cut off. Or at least wordsmith it so that the gist of it is front-loaded in the sentence. Remember that it will layout differently on an iPhone, iPad or Android device.
You've put a lot of hard work into creating your game. Merchandising it so your game gets the attention it deserves isn't easy. Avoid being the game that readers say “What a bunch of BS” and move on.
I also write a gaming blog about my adventures and times during the golden age of video games at jerrymomoda.com. Please visit! If you have other reasons why App Store game descriptions suck, please share them.