Want to sell an app or game on the Google Play store? You’d better make sure you’ve labelled it right. According to app-tracking company Distimo the category you place a game in can make a huge difference to the number of sales.

A bit of background. Back in March, Google updated the way it classifies mobile games on the Play Store. The company split its six mixed genres into 18 rather more specific ones.

According to Distimo, before the change the Arcade & Action genre was the biggest earner, bringing in 41% of all revenues generated by games on the Play Store. Afterwards, though, with Arcade & Action having been split into Role Playing, Arcade, Strategy, Action and Simulation, it was the Role Playing genre that emerged as the overall top-earner, largely thanks to free-to-play Japanese and Korean role-playing games that offer in-app purchases.

Change is good

Shadow Fight 2 is a Russian-made fighting game that has existed since October 2013, and between then and March 18 it had been listed under the Arcade & Action category on the Play Store. After the reshuffle, its developer took the opportunity to list it under the Role Playing category instead, a move that Distimo’s report says boosted both the amount of money it brought in and the number of phones and tablets it was installed on by a factor of 70.

Distimo’s report says that the reason games thrive under the new classifications is because they’re no longer competing with super-successful games from other genres. Shadow Fight 2, as an RPG doesn’t have to fight the likes of Temple Run 2 and Subway Surfers for attention, for example, games that it previously shared the Arcade & Action category with.

Not so Thoopid

We asked Amanda Presley-Knox from local game studio Thoopid whether the changes affected downloads of Thoopid’s Snailboy, a side-scrolling platformer starring a shell-less snail. She told us “We only released Snailboy [on the Play Store] at the end of April so we are not able to compare and contrast pre-genre and post-genre change accurately, but we can say that we do think it has been a major boost for Snailboy”.

With the new genres Snailboy is featured in the top New Free Action Adventure games in over 20 countries. Snailboy reached number one Free Action Adventure in the UK  and is making its mark in France at number two in this category, contributing over 50,000 Snailboy downloads.”

In some cases, not switching to a new genre also had benefits. When casual game Hay Day moved to the new Family genre, it allowed King.com’s Farm Heroes Saga and Pet Rescue Saga games to move up two places each in the top five casual games list, so moving isn’t absolutely necessary.

Reclassification drives sales

The positive effect of being properly classified isn’t limited to just a handful of games, either – Distimo’s report showed that overall Google Play sales increased by 15% for the month of April when compared to that of March. That’s the sort of increase generally only seen around Christmas, Distimo says.

Distimo’s report ended off with these wise words: “The examples shown in this analysis show that a significant increase in ranks is possible, when new game genres are chosen wisely.”

If you’d like to drill down further into all the lovely facts and figures of the report, go here. The company is also hosting a free webinar if you’d like to learn more about the opportunities offered by Google’s genre reshuffle, which is happening on June 4th 2014. You’ll need to register first, though, which you can do here.

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.