Working with a publisher partner isn’t the only path you need to take when launching a game. Each studio and development team is unique. And depending on studio size, experience, and resources, there are other ways to get your game out into the world and on the charts.
We have split this topic into two articles. Let’s find out how to prepare for a soft launch.
Step 1: Accelerate the Idea Stage
It all starts with an idea. But coming up with new good ideas for your game is not as easy as it might seem.
Finding a concept can take you a long time. Typically, you need to create about a hundred prototypes to find a market idea. And it usually takes about two weeks to develop a prototype.
There are several ways to speed up this process.
- Study market trends: there are tools, websites that you can use. They will help you identify the direction.
- Mix trending elements, even between genres: Instead of copying the best games on the market, mix and match mechanics and genres from these games. This will give your game a boost and a competitive edge.
- Never lose focus on clarity, satisfaction, and fun: it sounds obvious, but it’s incredible how easy it is to miss it. You may get lost in the data and research that you forget to ask the simple question, “Why would I play this game?” This will help you discard bad ideas and develop good ones.
Step 2. Make sure you perfect the testing phase
First, you need to test your ideas. We recommend that you test:
- All concepts.
- Gameplay potential.
- Everything is inside a controlled environment.
- Repeat promising concepts until you see the results you want. (Keep in mind that you will need to react to market shifts and adapt to changing benchmarks. So keep an eye on current industry performance.)
Pick a couple of popular networks, set a budget, set duration, and stick to two types of campaigns. If you don’t like what you’re testing, your results will not be impressive, and you may spend more time playing games that aren’t really winning.
Step 3. Bring your advertisements into soft launch form
When a game passes the first set of marketability tests, there are several creative tricks to ensure it is successful during the soft and main launch.
At this stage, you will want to work harder. To prepare for a soft start, you need to:
- Watch for Trends: Be sure to keep a close eye on popular creatives – they’ve already passed the testing stages and can help you move in the right direction.
- Explore different network specifications: each has its own requirements. It is best to familiarize yourself with them to optimize your ads.
- Iterate your ads: try different colours, environments, user interfaces, banners, filters, and more.
- Be Interactive: Interactive ads are great helpers during the soft launch and main launch.
Step 4. Know your metrics
You need to know what tests you need to run for each key metric. Ideally, look at retention, playtime, IMPU, ARPU, and LTV. Make sure you know this is appropriate for your genre. They can change dramatically, even by subgenre.
Analyze the levels of the game and optimize the structure of the levels. Remove high churn rates and improve the onboarding experience. You will want your players to get hooked on the first levels. But be careful with the difficulty level. Too easy? Then boring. Too hard? Well, it’s just not fun.
You should now be ready for a soft launch and then, eventually, the game’s full launch. There is a lot to cover in these stages, which we’ll discuss in our next article.