New Pokémon apps typically take off fast in the App Store and Google Play Store, starting with Pokémon GO and continuing on to its latest app: Pokémon Masters. This new mobile game is starting off strong, having used pre-ordering to build momentum and keyword indexation before it even launched. Now that it’s live on the stores, does it have the App Store Optimization necessary to be the very best? For this week’s App Store Spotlight, we take a look at Pokémon Masters and see if it can master the app stores.
On the Apple App Store, Pokémon Masters ranks #1 in searches for “3D Pokémon,” “Battling” and “Free Pokémon Games,” among several other “Pokémon” terms. However, it still ranks #2 for “Pokémon,” as the top spot in that search still goes to Pokémon GO, as well as for "Pokémon games." For non-Pokémon terms, it ranks #2 for “fantasy RPG,” “JRPG” and “mobile adventures.” It’s also in the top five for “tap game,” “battle” and “real time strategy.”
Its keywords begin to get lower for terms like “role playing game” (#28), “online action games” (#37) and “Free quest games.” Those terms are more generic game terms, but still high-volume keywords that are relevant to the app.
There are also still terms it does not rank for. The only “Nintendo” term the app ranks for is “Nintendo Games Pokémon.” It also doesn’t rank for any “gacha” terms, in spite of it using gacha game summoning mechanics. These are terms the app could target in future updates.
Creatives: Pokémon Masters begins its creative set with a video. This video shows multiple aspects of the game, including the introduction, battles, adding teammates and using special moves. It’s accompanied by a cheerful soundtrack that’s similar to those of classic Pokémon games, helping the app appeal to longtime fans.
Following that, it uses eight screenshots. These are nicely varied, starting with the loading screen to showcase the artwork then going through different aspects. One image shows team creation, another shows the variety of trainers from past Pokémon games, while another shows the battles.
However, the last image is a repeat of the sixth screenshot, only without the callout text. This may be an error, if the developers uploaded a previous version of the intended screenshot by mistake.
The screenshots each use callout text on the bottom of the image, describing features such as “Battle in real time” and “Create a team all your own.” While these do highlight the game and its features, they are placed on a small bar on the bottom of the image. They could be emphasized a little more with bolder font and more space, especially to highlight keywords.
Title & Subtitle: The mobile game’s title is 15 characters long, so it uses half of the allotted character space. This is a case where the developers prefer to use the title space for branding more than keywords, so it does not include any extra information. If they wanted to target more keywords, though, there is space remaining for additional terms.
The subtitle, “Strategy & Battling Game” uses 24 of the 30 characters allowed. This leaves six characters empty, although the terms that it uses are valuable keywords. The subtitle has helped the app rank #1 for “battling” and “Strategy RPG,” as well as #4 for “turn based strategy” and #5 for “real time strategy.”
Description: Overall, the description seems sparse. It consists of four short lines before getting into technical notes. While using short lines is good for readability on the App Store, the description should still provide information about the app.
This can be done by adding feature sets. The description could highlight information about the game, such as how players can team up with trainers from various regions in the Pokémon games, how the battles work, creating teams and so forth. Using multiple feature sets can call out specific aspects, then delve into the features in a way that’s easy for readers to take in at a glance.
As it is, the description just states that players form a team and can battle in 3-on-3 Pokémon battles. There’s much more that it could say, which could help entice users and convince them to convert. Users interested in the gameplay may try the app if the mechanics are called out, while longtime Pokémon fans may convert when they see their favorite characters are included.
On the Google Play Store, Pokémon Masters is the #2 app for “Pokémon,” once more falling just short of Pokémon GO. It is the #1 app for “Masters,” “Pokémon Monsters” and "Pokémon RPG," but those are the only terms it takes the top spot for.
The game also ranks #5 for “Pokémon Free Game” and “Pokémon Town,” and is in the top ten for terms like “Pokémon Online,” “Pokémon Arena” and “Pokémon Battles.” With the exception of “Masters” and “Master” (#8), all of the terms it ranks in the top 20 for are related to Pokémon.
As such, there are many valuable terms Pokémon Masters does not rank for. It does not rank for any “gacha,” “role playing” or “strategy” terms, and the only “Nintendo” or “battle” terms come with “Pokémon” attached. Overall, the app only ranks for 75 keywords and phrases, most of which are low ranks for only moderately relevant terms like “monster trainer” (#64) and “pocket center” (#98).
Creatives: Pokémon Masters on Google Play opens up with a video very different from its iOS version. This one is longer, at just over one minute, so it takes more time to delve into each of the features. This shows more of the characters and battles, such as the Unity Attack feature. It also begins with an animated clip not featured in the game, which is something the Apple App Store does not allow.
The following screenshots are displayed in landscape more, rather than the portrait mode photos on iOS. These place two to three screenshot images in a single picture, with a single large and bold callout text on the bottom that thematically links each picture.
Using this form for screenshots allows the app to show more imagery in a single picture. That provides more information at a glance to users scrolling through the screenshots.
If the developers were to do the same on iOS, however, only the first screenshot would show up in the search results. It uses portrait mode photos and videos on the Apple App Store in order to show the video and first two screenshots when it shows up in search.
Description & Metadata: While the creative sets are very different on both stores, the description is identical. This is less than ideal for Pokémon Masters on Google Play, since the description is not written with its keyword optimization in mind.
Google Play’s algorithm crawls descriptions to index an app for keywords. If the app does not include the keywords there, it will be harder to index for them. The description uses lines like “There’s a tournament of 3-on-3 battles” and “Form a team with three Trainers,” which are not helpful for keyword optimization.
This could be improved by adding a feature set. Each set could call out keyword-focused features, such as battling and RPG terms, which could serve two purposes. First, it would help index the app for those terms in the Play Store. Secondly, it would provide potential users with more information about the app and explain how it’s relevant to their search terms.
Descriptions should not be simply copied and pasted between the two stores. Each one is displayed differently to users, while Google Play descriptions should be written to index the app for keywords. By using the same description twice, Pokémon Masters is limiting itself.
Pokémon Masters is a good example of why apps should use different optimization strategies for different stores. It makes good use of its creatives on each store, using different videos and formatting to make the most of the different guidelines and displays. On the Apple App Store, it targets high-volume keywords and manages to rank well for many of them.
Where it falls short is with the description. The description it uses on both stores provides minimal information, when it could delve into the different features and strengths of the game. The description does not help the game index for many keywords on Google Play, since it doesn't utilize any near the front of its sentences. Adding a feature set could benefit the app in terms of both keyword indexation and conversion.
Overall, Pokémon Masters still utilizes good App Store Optimization on iOS. This has helped it index and rank for a wide range of relevant terms, although there are still several relevant terms it does not rank for yet. It still has room to improve on both stores (particularly Google Play), but like any Pokémon, it can grow stronger and evolve.
Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.