How to Create the Best Mobile Game App Preview videos

A LOT of games have a video on their iOS App Store listing, and it’s interesting to take a closer look at game App Previews specifically. One of the reasons is that it seems that’s where Apple gives the most flexibility to developers and publishers, who therefore experiment more.

Table of Content

AppTweak has been kind enough to share with us some data from their ASO tool, which allowed us to get some key numbers to analyze throughout this post. And as usual, you get several cool examples for inspiration.

STATE OF GAME APP PREVIEWS ON THE APP STORE

An impressive 73.5% of the top 200 free games has a video on the App Store. For the top 200 paid games, 62.4% of apps have a video (we are missing data for 6 paid games). This is almost counterintuitive, as you’d expect games for which you have to pay to provide a video to potential users so they have an even better sense of what they could be buying.

There are some major differences per game category, and for 9 out of 16 categories more than 50% of the games have at least a video.

If you are in these categories you should consider testing video on the iOS App Store. This is especially true if you have great gameplay animations that are hard to portray with just a screenshot.

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CREATING GAME APP PREVIEWS?

Ok so most games have App Preview videos.

Storemaven considers that users who engage with video are up to 3X as likely to install your app. That’s one very good reason to make your video as good as possible!

So if you want to create a video for your game, what things should you consider?

What are the best practices when it comes to orientation, number of videos, length, content, etc.?

Below our thoughts and analysis.

These are general recommendations, and each app may differ. If you want our opinion and recommendations for your game, contact us to get a free proposal for your App Preview video.

App Preview guidelines from Apple

Let’s start with the not-so-fun stuff: the restrictions Apple puts on these videos when it comes to their content.

We have several resources on Apple guidelines and App Preview specifications, so we won’t detail everything here.

In short: your App Previews have to be between 15 and 30 seconds, are device-specific (different resolutions for the iPhones, iPhones X and iPad). They are also supposed to be mostly based on captured footage.

The keyword here is “supposed” (that’s from us, not Apple) because it seems that the rule of “footage only” has been more and more flexible, especially when it comes to App Preview videos for games.

As it turns out, a lot of game trailers on the App Store are leveraging game assets (think: characters, etc.) to create parts of their videos. This allows you to give more spirit to the video than “just” showing gameplay.

Combined with the use of copy (see further in this post), this can make for really powerful and dynamic App Previews that sometimes don’t have anything to envy to game trailers outside of the iOS App Store platform.

In case Apple decides to enforce their guidelines pretty strictly in the future, see it this way: the video you created can probably be used in other places.

Video orientation: landscape or portrait?

Top free games have way more vertical App Previews than top paid games, at least in the top 200 US. However something to consider is that paid games seem to be mostly played horizontally. So it makes sense that there are more App Store listings with horizontal videos and screenshots.

A “trend” (or at least experiments) that we’ve been seeing on the App Store is also to have a different orientation for the video(s) than for the screenshots:

  • Landscape video(s) with portrait screenshots

These create what has been called “Hybrid” listings.

We can see in the charts above and below that hybrid listings remain a minority of App Store listings: about 6% of listings with video for top 200 free games and about 5.5% of listings with video for top 200 paid games.

There might however be a hidden advantage for you in doing something that most aren’t, and this may explain why hybrid listings are used more in very competitive categories like Game Casino (18% of hybrid listings with video) and Game Adventure (17% of hybrid listings with video). Across all game categories, a vertical video with horizontal screenshots is very rare.

A landscape video for a portrait game means that you can have a very eye-grabbing asset in the search results, which is particularly interesting if you get a lot of organic traffic. And if you get your poster frame right, this could increase your click through rate to the product page.

Once on the product page, you then either rely just on your portrait screenshots (the landscape video is pushed in a section below the description called “A closer look”) or you can also have a portrait video displayed next to your screenshots.

Splitmetrics shared with us that for best performance, the video orientation should be the same as your screenshots orientation. They say that landscape video + portrait screenshots is a risky combination and may affect conversion badly.

“we’ve noticed that videos from “A Closer Look” are almost never watched” – Anton Tatarinovich, Marketing Manager @Splitmetrics

It might still be an interesting experiment to consider, because as seen above videos and screenshots do not Display the same way in the search results and on the product page. But as much as possible, test it before going live!

There are also several “landscape games” that went with portrait assets. Here is an example below (the developer also chose to have branding very present in the video):

This seems to be true especially in the Casino category (e.g. Double Win Casino, Scatter Slots, Heart of Vegas, Infinity Slots, etc.).

How many App Preview videos for your game?

Unfortunately there is no one answer to this question. But let’s start by looking at how many games in the top 100 have more than one App Preview video:

Although we can assume most top games have tested video vs. no video, it is unlikely that they’ve all tested results with one, two or three videos.

Here too Splitmetrics shared their impressions: 1 video is ideal. The 2nd video is generally watched less, and the 3rd video is almost never watched.

If you do choose to have several videos, make sure they offer different content. Super Mario Run is a rather good example:

Consistency between video and screenshots

This is probably less crucial for games than it is for apps but keep in mind that your App Store listing should feel like one thing. It should not be all over the place design-wise.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to consider using the same kind of copy style or assets in your video and your screenshots like in the Tropicats video below that we produced:

App Preview video structure and content

The right App Preview Poster Frame

The poster frame is the name that Apple gave to the video thumbnail that is displayed before the video autoplays.

It is also displayed for people that turned off autoplay in their settings, or when a video above or below is playing in the search results.

Why are we putting this inside the structure and content section? Because this poster frame has to be a part of the video itself (one of the video frames), so you need to plan for it when creating the video.

It should therefore not be overlooked, especially since once you add your video, it replaces (if only for a fraction of a second) what would have been a screenshot.

For your portrait poster frame (for a portrait video), you want to make sure it goes well with your first two screenshots since they are displayed together.

For landscape videos, you want your poster frame to convey as much as possible.

An interesting trend is to separate the poster frame in 3 sections, just like if it was 3 screenshots (see example below).

Video duration

So how long should your App Preview video be?

Let’s start by looking at video duration amongst the top 200 free games and top 200 paid games that have at least one video.

It’s interesting to note the difference of duration between free and paid games. Hard to know what this is due to for sure, but we can imagine that developers of paid games want to show as much as possible of the app in their video.

So why doesn’t everybody take advantage of the full 30 seconds that Apple allows to have for an App Preview?

This is because App Store visitors usually do not watch the full video.

We unfortunately do not have official data from the App Store (there are no video metrics available) but the A/B testing tools do.

Of course this counts people that only barely watch the video at all, so you should not neglect anything in your video.

But because of these stats, we recommend to keep your game’s App Preview video as close as possible to 15-20 seconds.

However we know this is REALLY hard to do.

If you can’t get yourself to have a video that short for your App Store presence, then keep in mind that everything after 10 seconds will probably not be seen by many.

You should at least make sure that your video starts strong and everything essential is said during the first 3 seconds.