App Launches are Growing Bigger to Fight for Sales

While the app market is relatively new, the competition for sales and growing interest have made launching an app a lot harder – and more expensive – than it used to be.

Instead of a small online marketing push, companies like ZeptoLab UK are putting their new game “Cut the Rope: Time Travel” into 125 countries and dozens of app stores all at once. Their launch plan also includes merchandising like T-shirts, plush toys and a 10-part animated Web series.

This is the new model for app game sales – and its costing development companies more than ever. ZeptoLab said that it will spend around $1 million launching the new update of their popular puzzle game. In addition to the hard costs of promotion, it will also promote the new game inside of its other titles.

When the first version of “Cut the Rope” was released in 2011, the costs were far lower because there was a lot less competition in the app market. It takes a lot more to launch a new game in this environment – and if a launch doesn’t go well, an app (and sometimes the company) doesn’t survive.

Game-app makers used to rely on word of mouth, but now they have to follow the launch model and invest heavily at the front end. Top games-app makers are expected to spend $5 million on mobile marketing for new games, but only spent $500,000 in 2009.

App launches are becoming more critical – which means that smaller game developers who don’t have the money to properly launch their games may be left out in the cold. But spending a lot of money doesn’t always equal success. Popular game maker Zynga has had less than stellar launches and have closed several games in the last year due to lack of interest.

At the end of the day, spending money on a launch will help a game get exposure. But its creativity and level of game play will be what keeps audiences involved and buying apps.

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