So, you have a finished game, but what should you do with it next? We’ve put together a checklist to walk you through this process. Making games is an exciting, creative, and wonderful process. But the game comes to life when it is released for the players. Being played is a game’s reason to be — and it’s vital to step towards earning income, which in the future will allow your studio to grow or start working on the next project.
The HGC team has put together a checklist of everything you need to consider before releasing your games. Keep in mind that many of these elements take time and planning, so start thinking about your release strategy before development is complete.
1. Check everything
Of course, testing should be aimed at making sure the game meets a specific quality bar — and you are already thinking about how to test the actual performance of your game and the user experience. But testing doesn’t end with fixing bugs. Note that you can check how players react to the art style and if it is an addition to the genre. It is helpful to check how much the theme of your game attracts players or how different topics relate to and attract your target audience.
It is handy to “test” your game with other success stories in the same genre by analyzing the titles and seeing how they compare. Therefore, analyze their design, theme, monetization. Or why not do feedback testing? Feedback will allow you to understand the suggestions for fixes from the players themselves. Ultimately, testing is a mindset that can be applied to almost any element of your game. Therefore, check everything, test, test, and test again!
2. Keep track of your metrics and the metrics of your competitors
Before releasing a game, analyze the CPI for various games in the same genre, theme, or even monetization model. Consider your options and budget for promoting, maintaining the game as part of this process.
For example, your studio and EA could create a sports game, but if they have the scale and resources you don’t have, comparing revenue and marketing strategy doesn’t make sense. The metrics will be more relevant if you find similar games from studios of comparable size to yours. If these studios seem like competitors to you, find out how they released and promoted their games.
3. Choose a suitable monetization model
The golden rule of a successful pairing is to incorporate your chosen monetization model into your game design right from the start. Perhaps on the earliest prototypes or documentation. The depth of integration of your monetization model can be the key to success.
If, for example, you chose the ad-based free-to-play model and later realized that you want to integrate ads into the game world rather than launch video ads, put in place and test it before release day.
4. Organize the proper marketing
You need the press or influencers to cover the release date of your games (because both of these groups tend to prefer to talk about new releases), which means you need to prepare your marketing materials ahead of time. Screenshots, game videos, developer blogs, GIFs, videos and banner ads, information about store pages — it all works.
You can also schedule social media campaigns ahead of time. Simply put, different audiences attract extra content, so try to cover a wide range — video content, written content, social media, and so on.
5. Questions related to the server-side
If you have multiplayer, leaderboards, or other online elements, you need a solid backend. You will also want everything to be ready to file complaints and bug reports, and be sure that your backend is ready to go when the time comes for updates and extra content.
- If you are releasing a game in multiple countries, make sure you understand the legal requirements for each country.
- Make a plan to test the game live regularly. Track how the price of in-game purchases affects sales and how successful content updates are.
- Test the game training with players who are not familiar with your game. Make sure it not only makes sense, but also allows players to stay in your game after the end. Smooth player adaptation can be a critical factor in your success. Make your game as accessible as possible for a large number of players. Supporting people with visual or hearing impairments can attract new audiences. Games should be for everyone!
- Have a clear plan for the months and years after graduation. When will you release updates, add content, or even release a sequel?
- Ensure that all written “copy” of your game has been carefully edited and checked for errors. Do it twice if you can.
- Check your calendar. You might not want to release a game a day with some high-profile release — even far from your genre or platform — lest you overshadow in terms of what grabs attention. The same can be said for the release amid the news storm at E3 or GDC.
The checklist covers the basics, and you can find a lot more specific information on our blog. If your release is still far away, keep this list, so you can refer to it when needed.