How we got 51 million mobile game downloads without spending 1 $

In the first week of March this year, Games2win hit 51 million mobile game downloads across the app stores. What was gratifying about this achievement was that we had not spent even 1 US$ in marketing or user acquisitions!

How did we achieve this? Here are 5 interesting insights:

1. We NEVER wanted to be a ‘One Game Company’

While there have been massive success stories of Game Companies on the App stores that have generated 300 million-1 Billion downloads (Angry Birds, Talking Tom, etc.), we had decided from the very beginning that we did not want to be a ‘one-trick pony’. The one hit wonder approach was too risky and skewed hard to replicate its success formula. It was like making a one in a million Hollywood film (with all the costs and risks attached)!


Instead, we wanted to be like awesome TV serials, Cartoons and Comedy shows that people loved and kept watching and sampling, again and again, with a high repeat value.

While “Parking Frenzy”, an early game of ours did hit #1 in the USA on iTunes,today it contributes less than 50% of the total downloads.

To date, our 51 million-download comprise of these games:

Parking Frenzy = 20 million
Super Mom = 6 million
Power Cricket T20 = 4 million
Fab Tattoo Artist = 2 million
BFF High School Fashion = 2 million
40 other games = 17 million or about 400k per game!

2. We target Audiences – not Game Mechanics

Our approach is not to tackle a ‘game mechanic’ like Endless Runner or FPS (First Person Shooter) and then build a great game around the same.

Instead, we chase audiences whom we understand and build games for!

When I founded Games2win, my 2 girls were aged 7 & 11. I observed what they loved doing and hence my Company’s success with Dress Up games today.

Similarly, product managers in my Company who have played Cricket for years have built great Cricket Games and others who were obsessed by cars have gone on to building amazing car games.

Our genre-wise downloads have been primarily driven by sports, racing and role-playing where role-playing is led by females and sports is led by males.

3. We build for all Platforms & all Geo’s

In the early days of mobile games (2008), it was very fashionable to build for iTunes and stay dedicated to that platform. As iTunes began to establish its dominance, Android was considered infra-dig and Windows & Kindle almost never made it as a ‘Must be on this Platform list’.

We have had a contrarian view & have always believed that consumers have varying wallets and preferences and our games should always be available to them irrespective of their phones or platforms.

We also believed that Games are Universal and if the app stores allow Global distribution, then we must take advantage of it.

Our download distribution points in the same direction!

Region wise downloads:
US = 25%
IN = 20%
UK = 10%
Rest of the World = 45%

Platform wise breakdown
iTunes: 50%
Google Play: 40%
Windows: 7%
Kindle: 3%

4. Games promote Games

Since we pursued a multi-games rapid deployment model, we carefully instrumented our games to cross-promote each other, based on Geos, Affinity and of course, audience profiling.

We created a server-side controlled unique ad unit called the ‘YoYo’ that rolls into each of the end screens of our games to cross-promote similar games.

YoYos are served and measured hour-on-hour and changed basis performance of CTRs (Click thru rates) & install rates. The operation is run by a dedicated ad-ops team whose core responsibility is to optimize downloads, basis the performance for our games.

Given the Daily Active Users we have in key markets and audiences, our YoYos today have the power to rank a game on the app store directly without any external intervention!

5. Intense localization

When Parking Frenzy reached the #1 game position in the USA, it was still ranked #5 in India.

We created Parking Frenzy India for India :

and surely enough, the game ranked #1 in India.

This taught us that a great game with great localization is the formula to reach #1.

Also, the concept of ‘trend-gaming’ helps! For the Big Massive Election in India in 2014, we mashed Cricket and Politics and created a game that reflected the sentiments of the people & their voting preferences. “Kursi Cricket” was nominated as “Game of the Election” by Google and blown up all across Google Play.

Needless to say, it helped a ton in downloads and is an evergreen game in India.

To reiterate the 5 points that helped us achieve 51 million downloads without costs:

  1. Being a multi game Company
  2. Building for target audiences
  3. Building for all platforms and Geo’s
  4. Cross promoting affinity
  5. Hyper localisation!

We wish you success on your mobile download endeavors!

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