Developer Insight

WRKSHP

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WRKSHP’s first game, Battle Camp, continues to engage players years after its 2013 debut on the App Store. The indie developer shares how it built an audience in the lead-up to the game’s worldwide launch, and how it scaled from zero to hundreds of thousands of players by winning over its most passionate users.

Marketing Battle Camp at Launch

Avid gamers and cousins, Gordon Su and Charles Ju, formed WRKSHP to make the kind of games they loved to play. When researching ideas for their first game, they played countless games on the App Store to get a feel for the market and identify games that they wished existed. And that’s how they came up with the concept for Battle Camp, a massively multiplayer monster-catching game where players connect and interact in real time.

A main focus for WRKSHP in the lead-up to Battle Camp’s launch was building an active, passionate community. Su and his team cast a wide net to find players who would love the features that Battle Camp offered, tapping into existing communities on social media and forums. Building relationships with these users and getting their feedback on the game in beta helped WRKSHP generate critical momentum pre-launch.

With limited marketing resources, WRKSHP wanted to increase the opportunity for word-of-mouth marketing by building a wide range of sharing features into the app.

“Every time that users encountered a social experience, we wanted to make sure they had the opportunity to share that out with their friends,” says Chris Chow, Head of Growth at WRKSHP.

“It was everything from things that are obvious, like battling people or creating a troop with people or sending a message, to something less obvious like ‘I just changed my avatar outfit,’” Su adds. “And to do it, it's one tap. They don't have to leave the game.”

The app icon is one of the first elements of an app that users see on the App Store, and so WRKSHP tested dozens of iterations to find the one that would make the strongest first impression.

“We would go through and look at the core things about the app that our users cared about, whether it was about monsters or dragons or the puzzle game, and incorporate that into the icon,” says Chow. “It was important for us to be able to iterate quickly on all of our marketing ideas as well as to give feedback to the marketing artists themselves on what's performing and what's not performing.”

Once Su and his team were confident that Battle Camp delivered a great experience, WRKSHP ran some small paid user acquisition campaigns at launch to get users into the game.

“That's how you can get initially, very quickly, your target audience to try the game. And it doesn't take a lot. You need 20 to 40 users per release to kind of get some data on how people perceive it,” says Su.

“At some point, everything works together,” says Su. “I don't think there's a single magic bullet. I think the product needs to work with the viral features which need to work with some paid user acquisition, which needs to work with the community management and support.”

“It does take time. And it does take work. But it's reassuring to hold onto that true north of, hey, I know there are people that want this. And I just have to find them and get them what they want.”

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It's reassuring to hold onto that true north of, hey, I know there are people that want this. And I just have to find them and get them what they want.

Gordon Su, CEO at WRKSHP