Hashcube Shares How ASO Improved Their Mobile Downloads

2020.8.20 Interviews by COCOS

It’s been amazing to see the many countries all over the world using Cocos to bring some of the best games to gamers on their phone. We are always excited to talk to some of our developers and share some of their work, especially if they can share some great data for others.

Today, we are pleased to talk to the team at Hashcube, an Indian game company known for their puzzle games, built over ten years ago, starting from a simple Sudoku website. The team today has now developed some fun mobile and Facebook casual games, including Sudoku Quest and Mahjong Quest, that have hit millions of downloads on the Google Play store and millions of users on Facebook.

Two games built by Hashcube on Android

Hashcube is a Cocos game developer who is using Cocos-JS for their games and found our infrastructure worked fantastic for their requirements after Android requested 64-bit support and was similar to their previous game engine.

We were able to talk with them about an issue of app store optimization (ASO) and what are some of the things they did to get an increase of players, just by fixing a few things inside the app store. Cocos sat down with Ashish Kumar, the product analyst at Hashcube.

The team at Hashcube

Cocos: Great to talk to you Ashish. Can you tell us why you started working with ASO?

Ashish: We decided on ASO when we saw some new games all of a sudden popped up around us on the Play store and were ranking better than us. We needed to do something cheap and easily implementable to improve our rankings

C: Can you walk us through the process you took to improve your ASO?

A: We started experimenting with our assets. We began to run experiments by making small design changes and started tracking how the changes are behaving. We did A/B tests and applied the learning with new assets and also tried to show different features of the game and see what users like and work accordingly. Here is a small article on google we did about the success we had with Sudoku Quest: https://developer.android.com/stories/games/hashcube

For the metadata part, we did keyword research and tried to form better descriptions and short descriptions around that keywords and ran A/B tests to see if it works or not and take actions accordingly.  This process has to be repeated.

C: Are there any more recent ways you’ve been successful using ASO in your games?

A: We have seen a good impact on our iOS games. Unblock is the best example of that. Unblock is a puzzle game where you move blocks in a way to get the red block out of the board.

We made some changes related to keywords in the title, subtitles, and keywords field with multiple iterations to know what’s working and what’s not working. We used the 30 character limits to its full potential by placing relevant keywords that have higher traffic & lesser difficulty in such a manner that it makes sense and doesn’t seem to feel like we are keyword stuffing. 

 Higher the difficulty value,  Lower will be the probability for getting ranked in top for that keyword.

C:\Users\luke.stapley\Desktop\Cocos Interview\ASO data\Screenshot from 2020-08-07 11-24-11.png

We then changed the look of our icon. The simple icon with an increased number of blocks increased organic downloads by 20%. Encouraged by the results, we carried out a series of icon experiments with more simpler icons. 

In our next experiment, we made changes to the block position and the Border. The wooden border has worked better for us and showed  30-40% positive impact on download numbers compared to the metal border.

C: What did you learn from doing all of this ASO that other developers could learn from as well?

A: As shown in the above screenshots, we got to know that even a small change in your creatives can show significant results in terms of visibility of your game, but you have to be consistent. Try and find out what is best.

 Making games is just one aspect, and making it visible to the people out there is the other. With development, you should also think about how to make it visible to users. ASO helps you to do this without spending a lot of money.

ASO is hard, but not impossible to do. It frustrates you sometimes & sometimes amazes you. But you have to go for it. 

C: What are some of the things you can share that others can do to improve their ASO?

A: Google gives you the feature to A/B test almost everything of your store listing except the title, and we definitely used that feature to see what is driving more traffic towards the game, so we don’t need to do a major change. Even a small change can show a huge impact on visibility.  We did a lot of experiments to find what worked best for us, as shown in the example above. We also used the complete 80 characters limit of the short description. We did keyword research to find relevant keywords for our game, used them in our short description, ran certain experiments to see what really made an impact, and repeated the process.

We also localized our screenshots and game so that users can relate more to the game and not constrained by the language of the game, Apart from this we also localized our game title, short and long description and used a process of “trial, eliminate, and apply” again and again. 

For the App Store, we focused more on experimenting with icons & screenshots. This will drive the conversion rate. The best way to do this is to run an apple search ads experiment (not for icons) for screenshots.

There are various tools out there that will give you keywords, use those to form a relevant title, subtitle & measure the impact, and repeat the cycle of change.

Also, in the Apple App store, you can leverage the full potential of keywords using combinations of regions or countries. Apple uses keyword lists across different localizations. In addition to using the country’s primary language, Apple will also look at one or more additional localizations. For example, the keywords you will use in the USA will also rank for those keywords in Spanish language and vice-versa.

For the U.S. the keywords you fill in English (U.S.) & Spanish (Mexico) will rank for both of them similarly to Canada, and you will get ranked for English (Canada) & French (Canada).

There are lots of articles out there you can just search for them.

Thanks to the team at Hashcube for providing us this great information and a few examples you can do to improve your game. We hope this helps you how people find your game and leads to more downloads in the future.