Amazon Underground represents a new opportunity for developers of premium games that are looking to expand their audience and still monetize well. Ideally when you lower the price of a game or make it free it increases the number of downloads and exposure but usually at the expense of earning money. This is one of the major factors that has made Free 2 Play (F2P) so appealing to developers since you can get a larger audience and focus on converting players into paid customers via in-app purchase (IAP). Unfortunately not every game lends itself to this model.
With Amazon Underground’s monetization approach, Amazon pays you for every minute a customer uses your Amazon Underground app, and customers pay nothing.
In this post we’ll talk about four things you’ll need to do in order to take an existing premium game and submit it into the Amazon Underground program. It’s also a great opportunity to turn non-paying customers into paying ones through deeper engagement and longer play sessions.
The good news is that if you have an existing premium game without IAP or Ads it’s straightforward to create an Amazon Underground version for the Amazon Appstore. In fact, you can keep your existing premium app in the Amazon Appstore exactly how you have it and just re-upload a new Amazon Underground APK through the Amazon Appstore submission process. This means that you don’t have to change your game’s code to turn 100% of your Android users into revenue-generating customers, so from the minute your customers start playing, you start getting paid for each minute they use your Amazon Underground app
Before you get started you can read more about Amazon Underground Eligibility and Submission Criteria. Once you’ve gone through the docs, these are the steps you need to preform in order to get your game ready for submission:
Step 1: Repackage Your App
In order for your game to work with Amazon Underground you will need to create a new APK for your app. This APK will need a unique package name that includes appending the string ".underground" to the original package name for the app. For example, "com.company.example.underground" would be the package name for the Amazon Underground version of "com.company.example."
Your app will also get an #ActuallyFree badge on its Appstore icon. Once submitted, you can see a preview of the badge on your icon. You can also add the badge to icons contained in your .apk file. You can read more about migrating your app on the developer portal.
Step 2: Make it Easy for Existing Customers To Migrate
While not required, it would be a better user experience if you offer up some kind of solution that allows players of your premium app to also use any saved data in the new Amazon Underground version as well. There are many ways to do this and we outline a few data migration solutions and best practices. In addition to in game progress, you will also want to associate your new app with GameCircle if you leverage our leader boards and achievement APIs. You can learn more about this here.
Step 3: Create New Marketing Material for the Amazon Underground Version of Your Game
You will need to upload new screenshots and a new app description to the developer portal. It’s important to explain the value you’re giving customers and call out any additional features of your app as part of the Amazon Underground program. We will automatically add Amazon Underground branding to any assets uploaded through the dev portal so you don’t have to do this manually.
Step 4: Upload Your New Game APK
Now you are ready to follow the new submission process for Amazon Appstore through the dev portal. Simply upload your new APK, description and screenshots and submit for approval. Once the app passes testing, your app will be live to all Amazon Underground customers.
More Engagement = More Revenue
The process is fairly simple and now you will have all the advantages of Amazon Underground. A lower barrier of entry for new players who may not normally purchase the premium version of your game while still allowing you to monetize their play sessions. With Amazon Underground, you can focus on making engaging experiences. The longer users play your game the higher your potential reward. All of this without having to implement cool down systems, complicated in game currency models or implement ads. Build the game you want to make and that players want to play and let Amazon Underground help you monetize it automatically.
Getting Started is Easy
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- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)