How to Design a Gaming App

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How to Design a Gaming App

Mobile apps have become absolutely integral to our lives, providing us ways to keep connected with friends, to spend some time playing games like online roulette, and even to do shopping, banking, and ordering takeaways.

The first mobile app was the built-in game Snake that was first featured on the Nokia 6110 back in 1997. While the earliest versions of what we recognize as smartphones were the PDAs and Blackberries used by business professionals, which had applications like emails and other office-based resources, it wasn’t until the launch of the iPhone that the potential of apps started to be explored.

The first iPhone was launched in 2007, and the App Store was launched just a year later, with 500 different types of applications that could be downloaded. These earlier apps included silly things like a glass of beer that would empty as you tipped it up, but the most popular applications were more about gaming – and that is something that remains true today.

If you are thinking about creating a gaming app, then you are in good company – there are more than 8.93 million mobile apps available, with the majority available from the Android-based app store at Google Play.

The average smartphone user has 40 apps on their device – and with the right ideas and design, your gaming app could be one of them. Getting involved in the development of a popular mobile phone game app means being part of an industry that is expected to generate more than $613 billion globally by 2025 – so what do you need to get started?

Market Research

A gaming app needs to be fun and relevant, and to see what the most popular ideas are in the mobile gaming market you need to do some research.

The top grossing mobile games might vary slightly between regions – the popular games in China are different from in the US, but the top ten lists in every country are populated by some of the same names, including:

  • Candy Crush Saga
  • Royal Match
  • Clash of Clans
  • Coin Master
  • Roblox
  • Honor of Kings
  • Pokémon Go

Now, these games are not all in the same genre, and some of them are free-to-play while others need to be paid for before downloading.

Your market research should be able to identify a need for the type of game, and an understanding for the audience that is most likely to download it – are they older or younger? Male or female? Are they going to play casually or are they going to be completing levels in hardcore mode?


There is no point in launching a game without a solid idea.

You will need to produce good characterization, a clear storyline that people will buy into, achievements and levels, and a good idea about how the game will work.

This idea will feed on everything from monetization through to design work and the way the game will be marketed, so you need to have some solid ideas in place.


This is an important point to consider, as the development might look a bit different when you consider the different platform requirements.

iOS games are usually more expensive to develop and get on the platform, with annual costs of $99.

Android games are generally cheaper to get online, with a $25 one-off cost.

Whichever platform you choose, you can expect to pay either iOS or Android 30% of the revenue that the game makes.

It is also worth mentioning that the App Store tends to be more limited on what types of app are allowed to be offered for iOS customers.


There are three types of monetisation methods for games.

Firstly, you can sell the game for an initial cost, or offer a free trial and then charge for premium content.

Secondly, you can add in-app purchases. These might include upgrades, weapons, or other additions that can help a player to win more easily.

Thirdly, you can offer a free game, and have ads placed throughout it to make money.


Each platform has their own development language, and programmers or coders who are fluent in them will be able to work within Java or Swift.

There are platforms that allow you to make apps without coding, and these can be straightforward – but if you want to make the next big thing in gaming it is probably a good idea to involve the professionals.


Once all the nitty-gritty is done, you will want to have some testing done – and you can involve some beta testers here for the best results. Getting gamers to play through what you have created will show you whether it is going to work properly.

When you are launching, you will want to get some advertising in. One of the best ways is to place your ads in similar games to get people interested, use influencers to advertise, or head to social media for some paid ad placements.

Once the ball starts rolling, you could have the next big gaming app on your hands!