Monday, July 02, 2012

Rethinking Game Categories for App Stores

This is a post I wrote for the Playnome Blog. Playnome is an in-game rating, review and recommendation engine for developers across all popular environments -including iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, Mac and Flash. If your a mobile developer, you should check it out...

When we interviewed game developers and asked them how we could make reviews better for both the developer and the gamer, one of the common themes was the narrow view that app stores took when classifying games. Developers have access to maybe 20 categories, and usually get to pick a primary and secondary category.

This has two consequences. First, you may be competing for category dominance with tens of thousands of games that loosely fit a genre like action or puzzle. Secondly, these overly broad categories make it difficult for gamers to find niches that they may enjoy. For example, I'm a fan of retro games and I also like sports games. A game like Techmo Bowl Throwback might be perfect for me, but alas it competes with all the sports game in the App Store and isn't even in the top 100 for searches on football.

We knew there was a better way, so we've chosen to implement categories as a combination of a "Descriptor" and a "Genre" giving us over a thousand categories to narrow into what are the best games of any particular niche.

How does it work, you ask? Terms like Retro, Arcade and Action are no longer categories, but descriptive terms that get applied to a specific genre like Puzzle, Platform or Shooter. The graphic below just scratches the surface of how Playnome games will be categorized.

Click image for a larger view...

So get ready to see categories like "Horror Maze" and "Retro FPS" that deliver on games that match those specific qualities. Also our Descriptor/Genre database will be a work in progress--adding new keys all the time. Each new Descriptor or Genre will unlock many new "best of" lists and give your game the spotlight it deserves.

The full list of descriptors and genres are available when you sign up as a Playnome developer and register your app.