Whether it’s optimizing your monetization strategy, improving your game design, or boosting your ASO, A/B testing unlocks a game’s potential. Maayan Aharonovitch, Product Monetization Team Leader at Supersonic, shares five A/B testing secrets for optimizing hyper-casual games in this piece.
The benefits of testing include:
- Measuring the impact of any changes in game design;
- Predicting ARPU and increasing player retention rates;
- Preventing damage to the game’s KPIs;
- Studying how users interact with the game and monetization strategy.
Interstitials are a highly profitable ad unit in the hyper-casual advertising market. But developers fear that these ad units negatively impact user experience. A/B testing solves these problems by finding the LTV maximization point and considering the impact on both ad impressions and in-game metrics — retention, playtime and APPU.
Four types of tests for cross-page ads:
- Trigger point: Displaying ads before or after the end of a level. Most hyper-casual games work better with ads shown at the end of the level, but some puzzle games achieve higher ARPU and show ads before the end of the level;
- Time: the duration between ads is 20, 30 or 40 seconds;
- Levels: The level at which the ads start to show, such as levels 1, 2, 7 and so on;
- Middle level: the display of ads in the middle of a level. Better suited for games with a level longer than 45 seconds.
A clear UI is essential for both helping users understand the game and improving monetization strategies. UI encourages greater engagement with reward videos and effectively showcases the offer, leading to increased ARPU.
A/B UI testing is a strategy that is often overlooked. Instead, developers focus on refining game mechanics or core gameplay.
Side note: A/B testing of mobile apps
A/B testing of the UI, with changes to the formatting, size, and appearance of the buttons on the screen for the Human Vehicle game, resulted in a 20% increase in D7 retention and a 5% increase in D7 ARPU.
The audience for the hyper-casual genre is diverse. Older gamers play without sound, while younger users do the opposite. Sound effects are a way to attract those who play with sound, and the metrics prove it. The introduction of sound effects increased ARPU by an average of 7%-10% in Supersonic games.
In the game Color Match with Talking Tomato, testing the sound element helped the game profit and reached number one on iOS in the U.S.
The leaderboard at the end of each level shows users their ranking compared to other players. The table is often filled with fictitious names but creates a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Users get to see growth progress visually, which leads to increased retention. Play sessions increase, so the ARPU score also improves.
For Escalators, A/B testing of the leaderboard resulted in a 9% increase in ARPU.
The environment in hyper-casual games consists of the visual elements that make up the gamer’s background and play area. The visual aspect is essential because the gameplay of hyper-casual games is simple and consistent on all levels.
The art design is an effective way to make the game dynamic: creating a sense of progression by changing the environment and switching from a sea background to a sandy one in a Human Vehicle game helps users stay engaged and feel a sense of accomplishment, resulting in increased D1 retention and ARPU.
A/B testing of new environments is the first test Supersonic recommends for developers. It is advisable to test the types of backgrounds and which levels yield results according to KPIs, retention and ARPU.
A/B testing is necessary during soft-launch, and continued testing even after the global launch will help optimize and maintain performance. The company recently conducted A/B testing on 40 new videos for Going Balls. A year after launch, those changes boosted revenue and lifted the game to the charts — Going Balls hit the top 12 on Android in the U.S. and reached 2.6 million DAU.