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My soft launch experience.

02-25-2017, 03:51 PM
My soft launch experience.


I've been working on my little shooter game (Turbo Zap Zap) for a few months on and off now, and I'm pretty happy with it. I've had some useful TestFlight feedback, (admittedly, some of which I've still got on my To-do list), but most the of features I want are in at a 'functional' level, and I think all the obvious bugs have been found.

I could keep tweaking, and trying to make it better - but it can be hard to do without real life feedback. I don't really know what players might find fun, or what they're not enjoying. So, time to find out!

Last night, I released the game on iOS (there is a GooglePlay build in the works btw) in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. These are all well known soft launch countries - due to the mostly westernised, mostly English speaking population. They've wained in popularity a little over the last few years, as where everyone uses these or similar countries - the cost of advertising an app has slowly risen, and there are cheaper alternatives out there. However - I have no budget, and am hoping that organic installs will be -just enough- to indicate how players are enjoying the game.

I've released quite a few games over the years, so I've experience enough to not be expecting epic numbers (tbh. I was half expecting 0 installs initially) so single figures are not going to be a surprise. It's tough out there finding players!

Ok, that's the backstory done - let's take a look at day 1.
As well as Unity Analytics, I've also integrated Game Analytics, and it'll be mostly this I use to see what's going on over the next few days.

You can see I've managed to acquire 6 whole users! For a game very few people have heard of, only available in 3 countries, with no advertising and no press. That's realistically about what I would expect, maybe actually better. Initially, it's probably trending higher in search results due to being a new launch - so I expect that number to drop rather than grow.

Something not shown on this particular screenshot, is the returning users graph. Currently, 1 of the 6 players have returned. Again, that's pretty much as expected (possibly better considering the type and style of the game).

I'll update this post over the next few days as I get more data. We'll look at App Store conversion, retention, and the true funnel amongst other things.

If you've got any questions or requests, do please feel free to ask.
02-26-2017, 01:12 PM
Day 2.
Today is a little quieter, but not unexpected. I had 1 new player run the game.

But what was more interesting was that 2 of the players who had previously played returned for another go. Now, my data analyst friends will tell me that 7 players is not a useful sample size (and they're right, but I've got what I've got).

Even so, 28% of my audience have returned, which while not quite at the 40-20-10 retention numbers you often see thrown around (which have always seemed very optimistic for most games to me, especially short session, fast fail style games) - still hopefully means that there's 'something' about the game that a couple of people at least enjoyed.

Today's image shows the initial App Store analytics. We can see that 2,344 people have seen the game in a search result or similar, of those 35 people have clicked the icon, and of those, 6 have gone on to download the app (the data is 24hours behind, so we don't see todays new player yet).

That's about 1% making that initial click, not great, but broadly similar to my other older games.
A much healthier 17% of people, after seeing the store page go on to download the game. This could be better (I've one game where this is around 60%) but I'm not totally surprised as the visuals for the game may not be everyones cup of tea,

You can see why people talk about ASO (App Store Optimisation) being so important, as if I could double those numbers somehow to 2% and 34%, then: 68 people would have seen the apps page, and 23 people would have installed the game. Quite an improvement over 6!

Now - how to do that, that's the real trick, and if I knew....

02-27-2017, 04:03 PM
Day 3.
Since yesterdays post, I've gained 1 more user! This may not sound great, but remember it's only available in 3 countries, and no marketing efforts at all. Compared with some of my older games, this is good - they're barely getting an install every 3 or 4 days - the App Store is a very competitive place.
On the positive side, I've also had an existing player return. Which is nice.

Anyway. Todays main subject. Here's our first chance to take a look at the ftue funnel (again, the numbers aren't really enough to give accurate information, but we'll go with what we have).

I seem to have captured a few earlier players, so our sample size is a -bit- better than yesterdays 6. You can see how I've broken down the game into as bite sized sections as I can.

It looks like some players are pretty much turning off as soon as they open the game. Shame, and I'm sure there are reasons, the initial screens could be more polished to be fair.

Of the ones that actually get into the game, most have actually collected something and shot a bad guy. By this point they've possible crashed and abandoned the game, or figured the style of game isn't for them (it's quite fast and hard, on purpose). However, a third of the people that launched the game have completed a game session. Well done those people!

I've no way here to see if the players have tried to play again (the funnel is a linear thing, and I opted to see if the daily mission route was picked up rather than a second loop of the main game, I should have some other analytics to help indicate that, but they don't seem to be working as expected - something for the next update!). I can see that only 1 of the players has tried out the daily mission however, and that they never got to the end. Not ideal, but I'm aware that some of them maybe a touch of the too hard side, but a sample size of 1 is terrible!

If and when I get a decent number of people through the funnel, I'll post again to see if this early examination holds up.

Again, if anyone's got any questions or thoughts - feel free to let me know.

Last edited by MadeOfDinosaurs; 02-27-2017 at 04:04 PM. Reason: typo ftue <--> true
03-14-2017, 06:02 PM
Thanks for sharing this. Any new insights now that a little more time has passed?

I also found this recent article interesting (couple years old, but maybe still relevant?):

03-18-2017, 01:17 AM
Thanks for sharing, but IMO, with too few players like that, the statistics doesn't mean anything. You should try qualitative approach instead, i.e. interview the users who have tried the game.
Quantitative approach only works if you have at least hundreds or thousands of users.
03-20-2017, 11:56 PM
Single digit start is sad really. But what can u do being indie.
03-27-2017, 03:31 PM
Hi everyone! - Thanks for the various bits of feedback, sorry I've been slow responding, most of my free time has been spent fitting our new kitchen recently!

Downloads and sessions have pretty much dropped to zero, which is expected as it's still only available in a couple of counties, with no press activity. This is normal. One thing I -should- have done (and will do asap) is release an update, this -should- give it a small bump, but we'll see...

Interesting link, thanks

Oh, I totally agree - the numbers are statistically irrelevant However, I still thought this was a useful exercise in showing what a game launched like this -actually- looks like, so many people seem to have unrealistic expectations, and also showing what I would be looking at if I had more useful numbers! I don't have the budget to pay for installs at the moment unfortunately, but that would have to be what I'd do if I had the means.

I've had some really useful feedback from my TestFlight testers, mostly regarding the art style of the game - so I'm in the process of prepping a reskin (I'll post a and b screenshots when it's closer, see if I can get a feel for what people might prefer). I plan on eventually releasing both versions.

And finally, yes - single digits are bit sad but I'm totally expecting to bust though into double digits when it's launched worldwide! (at least for the first week anyway).
04-01-2017, 02:13 PM
Joined: Oct 2016
Location: Land of Stone
Posts: 213
Stats for my game Dawn of Crafting first few months of soft launch. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dawn-of-crafting/id1067104191

It was free back then. And was only black and white text based, like a dark room.
Also no country limiting, no need to lower the small market size anymore.

Hope this would be helpful for someone.
04-03-2017, 04:57 PM
Soft launch only works when:
- you have $50k+ budget for the UA during soft launch
- you have a solid UA experience and know how to buy traffic and optimize it
- you have a quality game with enough content to keep users busy, so the F2P model would bring you enough to cover expenses

If you made a small game little content and if you never effectively spent anything beyond several hundred thousands on UA, then you do not need a soft launch.
04-04-2017, 11:06 PM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 3,644
Originally Posted by Happybyte View Post
Soft launch only works when:
- you have $50k+ budget for the UA during soft launch
- you have a solid UA experience and know how to buy traffic and optimize it
- you have a quality game with enough content to keep users busy, so the F2P model would bring you enough to cover expenses

If you made a small game little content and if you never effectively spent anything beyond several hundred thousands on UA, then you do not need a soft launch.
That's very helpful! We're about to run a soft launch for a new game too. Thanks Happybyte!

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