How to publish a game without a publisher? How to avoid mistakes during release? How do I optimize my game? In the first part, we discussed how to think through the ideas of prototypes, check their competitiveness, create ads, and track the necessary indicators and metrics.
In the second article, we will learn how to actually implement your ideas, make money from them, and how to launch, monetize and optimize your game.
Step 5. Soft launch of the game
A soft launch is when developers release their game to a small audience with low marketing costs.
Before running your ad, you’ll want to refine your creatives, see how different networks perform, and optimize everything. You should not rush with this stage; you need to take everything very responsibly.
You need to prepare for three areas:
- Social Media: Have you got all your channels set up? Facebook? TikTok? Snapchat? Prepare them and familiarize yourself with the principles of advertising in the indicated social networks. This will give you the chance to get a lot of installs by creating content and paying for ads.
- Advertising networks. Basically, an ad network is an intermediary company between publishers (you) and advertisers responsible for communications and transactions, thereby simplifying the process for their customers. For example, Unity, IronSource, AppLovin, and Mintegral. This is the easiest way to get your advertisements out there.
- Organic traffic. You will naturally get installs through the Apple and Google stores, but make sure your descriptions are polished to keep users interested. The better the images, text, and videos, the more likely the game will be installed. It will also increase the chances that you will be shown in search results.
When you start soft launching, you will immediately want to make a big splash in your chosen regions for the first batch of installs. It will also force ad networks to push your creatives hard. So place your bets high to secure your place in the market. BUT! Don’t waste your entire budget.
You bet high, and your budget is low. This means that you will get profitable ad placement for yourself, but do not try to cover the whole world at once.
Gradually increase your budget by lowering your ad bids and finding the best place for each network. For example, you should expect a ROAS D0 to be around 85%.
Step 6. It’s time to monetize your game
There are two ways to make money: in-app purchases and advertising.
In-app purchases are very profitable, but most players never purchase in-game items. Instead, you need to focus on advertising. Find a balance between showing enough ads to make a profit. It is better not to cross this line, as a huge amount of advertising can scare away players.
Later, you will want to introduce in-game purchases that will encourage your regular players to stay in the game and spend money. This could be the purchase of the ability to disable ads, in-game currency, or skins. But before that, pay attention to the key metrics:
- Game time. How much time do people spend playing your game per session? The longer, the better. But how much time depends well on the subgenre of your game.
- User retention. How many players are still active after a certain amount of time? Tracking retention on the first and seventh days (D1, D7) is critical. The more people come back to your game, the more likely they will spend money, or the more ads you can show them.
- IMPDAU. The number of impressions per active user per day. This is the number of ads that you show your players on average per day.
- Effective CPM. This is how much you earn per thousand displayed ads.
- ARPDAU. The average daily income per active user. This tells you how much you earn from your users every day.
- LTV. The player’s life-time value. This is the average amount you earn from your players from the moment they start playing until they stop.
Among other things, you can show three types of ads:
- Banner advertising. They are usually small, at the top (or bottom), and relatively unobtrusive for the player. On average, advertisers spend about 70% of their budget on them. But they will only represent about 5% of your revenue at an effective CPM of about $1.
- Interstitial advertising. This is a full-screen advertisement and interrupts the gameplay. They will account for about 25% of the advertiser’s budget, and they will account for about 70% of your income. In addition, your effective CPM is typically around $30.
- Award video. In these advertisements, you give players a prize for watching the video. Advertisers only invest about 5% of their budget in them. Even so, you will still receive 25% of your revenue from them, as the effective CPM can be around $40, plus players love in-game bonuses.
Step 7. Attract more players
At this stage, it is a bit like driving a car: you can accelerate, brake, or steer.
As you speed up, you aim to scale your game and get as many installs as possible. It will cost more but will generate the most revenue. Strive to rank as high as possible in the charts, as this will boost your organic installs.
Once your bottom line is stable and good, it’s time to put on the brakes and balance your ROI. This is similar to how you approached soft start. It is worth remembering that things will slow down over time. Hyper-casual games are changing very quickly, and players are looking for something new all the time. So keep that in mind.
Finally, you want to “steer”. Optimize your game to get the most out of your players. You need to focus on the following points:
- Try to increase player retention first.
- Update your ads and creatives, so players don’t get bored with them.
- Manage your budget on every network.
- Localize your game for each target country.
- Analyze your competitors to see what they are doing.
- Brainstorm new marketing ideas.
Also, you can use the Golden Cohort program from the Coda Platform. It includes tools to automatically find the best deals, test your ideas, and research the market.
In principle, that’s all. Stay on course, listen to advice, and you will certainly achieve success, and your game will remain in the hearts of users for a long time.