As Nintendo’s mascot, Mario is everywhere the company sells games, including the App Store and Google Play Store. Mario made his app debut with Super Mario Run, a mobile game where players simply tap to make him jump as the iconic plumber runs through levels. But is its App Store Optimization powered up too, or is ASO success in another castle? For this week’s App Store Spotlight, we take a look at Super Mario Run.
On the Apple App Store, Super Mario Run is ranked #34 in the Action category. It’s the top-ranked app under searches for “Super Mario,” “Luigi,” “Nintendo app” and many more search terms involving the name “Mario.” Additionally, it ranks in the top 5 for “super nintendo” and vague terms like “awesome games.” Its search rankings only begin to fall for competitor terms, like “gold run,” where it’s ranked #21, or “temple run 2,” where it’s #26. Additionally, it doesn’t rank at all for terms like “running game,” and is ranked #76 for “tap game.” Creatives: Super Mario Run uses five screenshots and three videos, for a total of eight creatives. The first two videos are designed to show off new worlds and levels, while the third is a general look at the game itself, but each one shows off in-game footage and the variety of levels the game offers. The screenshots all show in-game footage, featuring the different levels and characters available. Some of the screenshots are split in half, so they show multiple shots on the same image. This enables them to show more relevant images under the same callout text, such as including pictures of Luigi, Yoshi and Peach under “Play as some of the most popular characters.” There is room for five more screenshots, so the app has space to show off more features. What it does have is very effective, but there is room to display more features, worlds or powers. Title & Subtitle: The title, “Super Mario Run,” is 15 characters long, leaving 15 more characters that could be used to include additional keywords after the title. The subtitle, on the other hand, uses exactly all 30 characters to say, “Control Mario with just a tap!” The inclusion of “tap” lets it index for searches for “tap games,” although it ranks as #77 for that term. Additionally, using “Mario” in both the title and subtitle is redundant – just once is enough for it to count as a keyword. Description: The iOS description utilizes short lines for the introduction, with just one to two sentences per line. When it gets to the feature list, it uses a bullet for the feature, but then uses longer paragraphs to delve into them. This makes each feature take up more space on the iPhone’s screen, so users are more likely to glance over it without getting a full understanding of everything it has to offer. Should the app use bullet lists to describe the features, rather than paragraphs, it would be easier to read. It does that in the end, when it talks about “What You Can Do After Purchasing All Worlds,” but even those smaller bullets have longer lines following them.
On the Google Play Store, Super Mario Run is ranked #21 in the Action category. Like its iOS counterpart, it’s the top search result for nearly all “Mario” terms, in addition to “free nintendo games” and vaguer, non-branded terms like “most popular free games,” while in the top 5 for terms like “editors choice games” and “video games.” Its rankings begin to fall for terms like “running games,” where it comes in at #13, or “games to play offline,” where it’s #23, but its rankings for key and relevant terms are respectable. Creatives: While the iOS version of the app features three short videos, the Google Play version has one longer video that combines the three into one. This is possible due to Google Play having fewer restrictions on the video, including a longer runtime. The screenshots are very different on Google Play and utilize landscape pictures instead of portrait ones to fit multiple portrait-mode screenshots into a single image. Each one still includes callout text at the bottom, so each of the images are relevant to the connected text. For instance, when the callout text says, “tackle courses with unique challenges,” the associated images are three shots of the different stages, illustrating what the various courses are. However, the callout text could also be improved by using more keyword-driven phrases as well as being shortened for conciseness. Metadata & Description: The description on Google Play is identical to that on the Apple App Store. In this case, the longer lines are less detrimental, since it doesn’t form large, unreadable blocks, but the overall formatting makes it harder to index for relevant keywords. As Google’s algorithm crawls the description from top to bottom, left to right, bulleted lists would help the app appear relevant for more important keywords by starting off each line in the list with them. With the description as it’s currently written, Google’s algorithm will not pick it up for terms it could target; the app doesn’t rank at all for relevant terms like “tap game” or “save the princess” (something Mario is known to do frequently). As such, most of the keywords it ranks high for are related just to its name.
Super Mario Run does a lot right – it has engaging videos and creatives that show off the gameplay and all its features, while utilizing its name value to rank high for an array of relevant and high-volume terms. With that said, it’s not perfect, particularly in how it uses the same description on both stores. Apps need different descriptions for the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, so that they can be formatted properly for the way each platform indexes apps for search terms. Lines need to start with relevant keywords on Google Play, while longer paragraphs and blocks of text look bad on iOS devices. While Super Mario Run does rank highly within its category and for many keywords relevant to its franchise and company, there is always room to improve. There are other game terms it could target, such as “tap game” or “running game” to improve its rankings within those. With proper App Store Optimization, Super Mario Run could run to the top.