Having a Hook – Initial Marketing Case Study for Skybox

This was originally a pretty long post, but I’ve decided that editing for Twitter helps me feel more comfortable with getting to the point quickly.

I lucked into doing something very right with my pitch email for my iPhone game, Skybox, and I think I should share if it helps others get good products noticed that would otherwise be ignored. This is it:

* Inspired by Japanese game shows and Aaaaa!: A Reckless Disregard for Gravity – http://getluky.net/2010/01/22/the-design-inspiration-for-skybox/

Yup, a tiny reference to part of the inspiration for Skybox being a hilarious, strange, and popular Japanese game show clip on Youtube. It happened to catch the eye of 148apps’s chief editor Chris Hall, who had this to say in his review of Skybox:

Here at 148apps, we get a ton of apps submitted to us for review. Unfortunately, we don’t have fifty plus reviewers, so many apps slip between the cracks. While Skybox itself doesn’t have a bright 3D world to show off or an incredible promo video to lure me in, it does have a bit of inspiration that made me pay attention.. Japan’s very own Human Tetris.

(You can read the rest here: http://www.148apps.com/reviews/skybox/)

If you’re an iPhone app developer with less-than-incredible graphics but good, quirky, or interesting gameplay, you absolutely should consider linking your design to something memetic on the web. In other words, since YOUR game is most likely not well known, you can opt to link it to something else that is well known! Also, if you need time to explain your interesting hook, you should do it in a blog post, and summarize it in a prominent bullet point in your email. Keep things short and sweet when you’re trying to get attention.

In my case, the Human Tetris video has been seen and enjoyed by a wide variety of tuned-in Internet folks. Conjuring up that memory in order to express what makes Skybox fun to play was a great way to catch the interest of a reviewer without wasting their time.

Of course, it goes without saying that you really have to have a good product to begin with, so please use this tip for good and not evil. Although the review dinged me for graphics, it was my favorite review of all the press mentions, because it so helpfully laid out for me exactly what was lacking. In my 1.1 update (available now!), i’ve taken a nice pretty stick to the graphics and have something more presentable. I’m going to be releasing new gameplay modes and more in future versions, but having a really detailed review was a huge help to me when trying to prioritize my limited time.

Thanks to Andy Baio for helping me understand what makes for an interesting hook, and to Chris Hall for a really helpful review!