Verby Developer Diary #2: What’s In A Name?

We are 4 weeks into development. We have a great prototype, the core mechanics are solid and content is being created in earnest. There’s one main thing that we are lacking: the name. Project Shuffle (working title) just doesn’t cut it when we are getting the game out to the public and journalists for previews.

Researching a name

The plethora of generic word games on the App Store narrowed down our name choice to begin with. Searching for the name you are planning on using on the App Store is important, as you don’t want to theme your game around a name and at the last minute realize it’s taken. After searching the app stores and brainstorming name ideas we were left with a list of about 20 names. We narrowed the list down even further, but how to choose the final name? Our answer: test it.

We decide that the easiest way to test with our newly solidified demographic (25-40 female) was to go where everyone goes, Facebook. After seeing which ad had a better click-through rate with the least impressions, we would have a definite name for Project Shuffle.

The Ads

A Facebook ad campaign was set up for each of the three final names so that the stats for each name would be separate. Each campaign is directly targeted to the same demographic and the bidding amount was the same for each ad. We didn’t want to skew our own results. To keep our ads consistent, the image and tag line were exactly the same too. Making it only the name that we were testing that was different.

The Campaign

As an independent developer, we don’t have tens of thousands of dollars in advertising money. We chose Facebook not only because we could directly target our ads, but also because we believed it would be cheap. Unfortunately we learned that it is not as cheap as we thought. Each ad campaign had a small lifetime budget, and we started out with a max bid of 0.45c per click (0.41c was the suggested minimum bid.) This in itself was more than we were wanting to pay per click (as it wasn’t an ad for the game — just the name),  but it was as low as we could go and still make it worth our time.

This was only the beginning though. As the first day went by, constant checking of the ads made us aware that we weren’t getting a lot of clicks for any of the campaigns. When we looked at the minimum bid cost it had gone UP. From a suggested range of $0.41 – $0.70  to $1.79 – $7.30 in less than 24 hours. There was no way that we could afford to go over $1.79 for just one click on an ad. It eventually went down again during the day and we settled on a max bid of $0.90 (Still expensive but we were on a mission to make this work for us by now).

The Results

The amount of clicks for each ad was very low (almost statistically insignificant) and the ads have been up for almost a week. Many factors could have contributed to this: the image used, the tag line for the ad, or the names themselves. Maybe it was because the ads weren’t being seen as much because we didn’t have the money to bid higher, or maybe Facebook wasn’t the right place for us to try the ads. However the knowledge we have gained from this failed experiment has still been invaluable, as Facebook ads are something we will use in the future for the game (at release).

Changing Tack

After the failure of the Facebook campaign we went back to the drawing board (again). We decided at this point that maybe seeking some professional marketing advice would help us get better value for our money and get us closer to an identity for the game.

After talking with a very helpful marketing team we came back to the naming issue with a new frame of mind. The name didn’t have to say everything we needed straight away; we can make it say what we want through market positioning. So we began brainstorming again and looked for names that were short, catchy and gave the impression of words. After a much shorter discussion this time, we finally walked away with a great name for our Crossword meets Taboo word game.

We are glad to finally announce the title of our next game: Verby!


So whats next for Verby?

Developing and testing the Icon!

Screwtape Studios are Megan Summers, producer and designer and Anthony Wood, lead designer and programmer. Verby! TM is being published by Right Pedal Studios.

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