Apple’s recent Today Tab feature “Play Games, Learn Facts” highlights popular games that include an educational theme. Valiant Hearts: The Great War by Ubisoft is one such game, an interactive graphic novel based on real letters from World War 1. Valiant Hearts follows four soldiers on an emotional journey through the ravages of The Great War, as they experience love, loss, and the fight for survival. The first chapter is available for free, and three more chapters can be obtained through in-app purchases. Ubisoft is currently offering a discount for the full four chapters in light of being featured by Apple.
Currently, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is not ranked in the top 200 of either of its established categories in the App Store (Games: Adventure and Games: Puzzle). While it’s not discoverable in its category list, it does rank for over 500 keywords in search results, with slightly under half of those ranking in positions above #50. Below we take a look at the metadata and creative components used and see what’s working well and where there is room for improvement to grow these rankings even further, to maintain and increase discoverability even after the Today Tab feature ends.
Title & Subtitle
Valiant Hearts: The Great War has a title that makes use of 29 of 30 available characters. This title communicates the game’s setting well, with the title tag “The Great War” indicating that the game takes place during World War 1. While this is helpful for users to understand the theme, the keywords included do not index the app for relevant gameplay categories, such as “Strategy,” “Adventure,” or “Puzzle.”
A readily available solution for including terms that can improve ranking would be adding a subtitle. Currently Valiant Hearts does not have a subtitle, which is detrimental to overall ranking and indexation. Ubisoft is forfeiting a full 30 characters worth of keyword space by passing up a subtitle.
While the historical context may not be there, other war games competitors which do rank in the Adventure Games category include descriptive terms in their subtitles, such as Warface using “FPS:Shooter Game” or Left to Survive’s inclusion of “Action Game.”
Valiant Hearts’ description uses 1,555 of the 4,000 available characters. The description does a better job of including gameplay centered keywords, such as the line “interactive graphic novel that combines action, puzzles and adventure.” Apple’s algorithm can pick up on this for discovery campaigns to potentially serve the app for Search Ads involving “graphic novel,” “action,” “puzzle,” or “adventure” if such a campaign were to be run, though it would not directly contribute to organic ranking like including these terms in the subtitle or keyword fields would.
While outfitting the description with high-volume, relevant keywords won’t directly impact organic ranking, it will help Apple bring the app in front of more users with intent via Search Ads. War games that have significant ranking in the Adventure and Strategy categories typically have descriptions that include 2,500 characters and up. While increased character count alone won’t improve ranking, Ubisoft could improve the effectiveness of Apple Search Ads campaigns by fleshing out their description with additional relevant keywords that describe the gameplay at a length more in-line with other top apps.
Valiant Hearts has five screenshots in landscape orientation, each showing gameplay and UI through in-app imagery. While the screenshots do include text callouts that highlight unique features and keywords such as “action,” “puzzle,” and “history,” these callouts are quite small and may be difficult to read on devices with smaller displays. Valiant Hearts may benefit from revising their screenshot text to place keywords, features, and value propositions in a large font that visibly stands out, particularly on the first screenshot which users see in search results.
Top ranking apps in the Adventure Game category, such as Roblox and Genshin Impact, include prominent text callouts with large, clear fonts. These callouts include high-volume, relevant keywords in conspicuous locations. Roblox includes the text “Chat with Friends” which is a high-volume keyword phrase as well as an in-game feature. Genshin Impact states that users can “Embark on an Epic Journey” which is an attractive feature that could convert users who are searching for adventure games. Users may only be glancing at screenshots in search results for a brief moment- connecting with them quickly is key to getting them interested enough to download.
While Ubisoft’s interactive graphic novel game, Valiant Hearts: The Great War, is currently featured on Apple’s Today Tab in “Play Games, Learn Facts,” the featuring won’t last forever. Even established games that have been out since 2014 and are fortunate enough to be featured on the Today Tab can benefit long-term from implementing ASO best practices and testing changes to creative composition to improve conversion.
Currently, the lack of a subtitle is impeding the overall keyword reach potential Valiant Hearts can have. Most of its organic search visibility comes from terms containing “ww1” or other Ubisoft IP like “rayman”, but becomes more difficult to discover for anything containing “puzzle” or “adventure” - terms that describe the gameplay and could be beneficial to keyword indexation if used in a Subtitle.
The creative set also lacks critical communicative elements competitor apps incorporate, which may be impeding conversion to download rates, which may be playing a part in its absence in the top 200 ranking of its categories. Along with testing incorporating a subtitle, screenshot updates can be made based on current market trends, deployed and measured to determine their impact on conversion.
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