Can gameplay video increase your downloads?

4 07 2008

From all the portals I know only Big Fish Games adds gameplay videos to every game. Reflexive does it from time to time. There must be a reason most portals don’t bother with it.

But I am not a portal and I want to check my chances. I want to know if and how it will affect my downloads. I can’t create videos for every game, but I already have one for Runes of Avalon 2 (please don’t check out the game site just to see it so you don’t screw up the test). To be honest, I was initially very skeptical about it. I thought: once they saw the video they might have another reason to not download the game, since they already know what’s inside. Fortunately, it looks like it’s the other way.

I’ve set up Google Website Optimizer experiment a while ago and here are preliminary results.

Gameplay Video affecting downlaods experiment
(click to enlarge)

It’s to early to give final statements, but if in the end improvement will be in that range it will be really worth it. When your marketing budget is small and every download counts then it may be the one thing that will let your ads break even.

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Test, test and once again test!

2 11 2007

Marketers say that your headline and first paragraph of your offer are the most important elements of it. That means that any change in one of them may have a huge impact on your conversion.

I started an experiment last week to improve Path of Magic page. Because this site doesn’t have much traffic I decided to play only with headline (one with a headline Help Evelyne Save Avalon and one without it). Here are the two versions I’ve created:

Path without Headline  Path with Headline

Can you guess which one is better? My educated guess goes to the one with headline – it has some kind of call to action. But boy, how wrong was I. The one without a headline is over 84% better.

Path Headline Test Results

Imagine my disappointent after investing $1000 in advertising without checking the impact of change in headline? 4 words can drop return on investment by 84%.

I don’t want to say that no headline is always better. I want to say: TEST, TEST and once again TEST!

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Learn how you can sell more games without spending a penny

24 10 2007

Sell MoreI, just like many developers here, was suffering due to lack of sales. Creating games is fun, but when your game is done, you put in on your website and then wait… wait… and sometimes sales come, but mostly not.

I started to ask myself why is this happening. My games are great (don’t they? ;-)) so what’s wrong? Am I the only one that likes my game?

I started to read various blogs regarding making money online. No, not to make money selling ads, but to learn how to improve my website. When I finally got some results I decided to write few articles to help you find the right way.

So you want to know how to get more sales without spending a penny?

First of all, you need to know who is visiting your site and what one is doing. You need a good tracking tool. Because you don’t want to spend a penny, you can use Google Analytics (GA). That’s what I use and it works great. Installing Google Analytics is easy, so I won’t go deep into this topic today.

When you get GA working the next thing you need to do is to set goals. I recommend setting two goals, but you can have up to four. First one should be game download. Second one, game purchase.

I advise you to install same goal tracking code on all download pages. I assume that you have some kind of a page: “You are downloading…” and then this page is redirecting to binary file.

Google Analytics will track how many downloads you have and what is your site conversion to goal (CRd). What is even more important, GA can report this in depth, so you can find out CRs for each referral. This will let you choose sites that have quality traffic and you can invest some more money into advertising on those sites.

Shopping CartTracking purchases ain’t that easy. Most of us make use of a 3-rd party shopping cart. I use A lot of people uses Plimus, BMT Micro, etc. If you want to track your orders you need to contact your e-commerce provider. eSellerate did a great job for me implementing GA.

You can meet a problem here. Your e-commerce provider my not let you redirect your customer to your site (thank you page), so you lose referral information. You can workaround this by using a mix of PHP and JS script that sets GA cookies on e-commerce service domain. I wrote that script for eSellerate and if you want I can send it to you (I’ll write an article about this later).

When all is set and working you need to wait a little bit to get some data. After that take a look at following metrics:

  • visitors to download conversion (CRv2d)
  • visitors to purchase conversion (CRv2p)
  • download to purchase conversion (CRd2p)
  • bounce ratio

You can improve each of this metrics. If you succeed improving it, you will get more sales without spending a penny. How to do that? You need to use Google Website Optimizer. You can read about one of my experiments in the post Improving Runes of Avalon website. In the nearest future I will talk about how you can make such experiments using Google Website Optimizer on your own.

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Improving Runes of Avalon dedicated website

23 10 2007

A months before we released Runes of Avalon game, I decided to create a dedicated website for it with a simple domain name: The purpose of this move was to be on top of search engine rankings when our game is released. As you may know, it takes a lot of time for a new website to break into top10 in the Google search results. We did succeed with this one and are listed at #1 for Runes of Avalon keyword.

The site doesn’t get much traffic, though it is still important to make the best use of it. Once I installed Google Analytics I was able to track my site conversion to download (SR). I was quite shocked that SR can be so low, especially for some sources of traffic. Average SR for month of September was only 25,31%. I decided to improve it. I succeeded with 31% increase.

Since most of visitors enter main page first it was important to improve this one at the beginning. I created an experiment in Google Website Optimizer. It was one of my first experiments, so I know I could do better with selecting what to test.

I created 4 sections on main page:

  • screenshots
  • description
  • reviews
  • bullet list

At the beginning it was hard to think of how I can improve it, since it does look great, but finally I found 2-3 combinations for each section. I was wondering, who is better copywriter: Big Fish Games or I? Description and bullet list was a test of text that are available on Runes of Avalon BFG page. BFG uses very little text as a game description and only 3 points on bullet lists. I had about 10 of them, as I always thought that the more the better.

After first paragraph of text I had two the best screenshots from my game, but it did happen that both of them had been from core gameplay. So I tried to make a mix of one core and one mini game.

ROA gwo screen 1 ROA gwo screen 2 ROA gwo screen 3

Which combination of screenshots is the best? In my opinion the first one, but you never know unless you test it.

I started the experiment of September 19th and ended it on October 9th. Here are my results.

ROA kombinacje

As you can see most of combinations received less than 50 views. From statistical point of view this experiment was not representative, but I decided to stop it before I receive final results. Some combinations were just poor and I didn’t want to make SR lower than usual.

ROA Sekcje

It was a shock for me that BFG description text was worse than my own one (I can’t even speak English properly enough). The next shock was that short bullet list is better than long one. I was also surprised that cutting off one review improved SR.

Numbers on the left: 0/5 say how trustful the metric is. As you can see, I should not trust results and wait longer (but as I said I didn’t want to).

While each section on it’s own doesn’t make big difference, combined could improve site conversion by over 74%. Google showed that Combination 9 is the best one. It was surprising for me because #9 was a mix of sections that didn’t work well (BFG description, screenshot from puzzle minigame, original reviews, original bulletlist).

Control test proved my suspicions. Combination 9 was worse by over 32% than original one.

ROA kontrolny 1

I stopped the test after 5 days and made another control test with combination 14th. This one was better by over 91%. Google ended this test automatically and decided that combination 14 is the winning one.

ROA kontrolny 2

Do you want to know which set of screenshot was the best one? The one with a ring minigame.

ROA gwo screen 3

For reviews section it appeared that less is sometimes more. Maybe those 3 reviews that I quoted sounded just to laudatory. Or maybe it was easier for visitors to find Download Now button (though I have one on top and one right after reviews section).

The problem is:

  • the first control test original combination had site conversion ratio 40.8% +-7.2%
  • in the second one it had site only 20.9% +-8.1%

Main experiment shows similar conversion for original combination as the second control test. The first control test was probably affected by traffic spike. I will probably make another control test to check which one is better: 9 or 14 and then decide.

What matters is that in the end my site conversion to download increased by 31%. It’s still not as high as I would like it to be, but it always make my marketing efforts more effective.

If you want to find out how to do tests like this with a little effort and read results of my other experiments then come back later to this blog.

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