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Why a soft launch is a must for your new game

10-08-2015, 03:17 PM
#1
Joined: Dec 2011
Location: Europe
Posts: 140
Why a soft launch is a must for your new game

Why is a soft launch reducing risk and helping you to better understand your product and customers. Includes my own strategy how to run it with limited resources.



I’ve been discussing the soft launch data of a new mid-core game called “Tiny Miners” with my friends at About Fun and we just ran a second round of acquisition focusing on retention and optimizing difficulty. “Compared to Tiny Miners, how was your initial D1 and D7 retention in Mega Dead Pixel [the App Store’s Best 2013 game]?” I asked Peter Vodak, the CEO. He then laughed and replied “Well, at that time, we really didn’t know what was a ‘soft launch’.” This greatly illustrates how much the situation has changed. I’m not exaggerating when I say that skipping a soft launch in 2015 is suicide. It’s all about risk reduction and I fully understand why both Apple and Google ask developers for soft launch data for featured consideration.

A typical indie…
A typical indie developer is aiming for a featured spot and believes in long tail organic sales. Except for the initial PR, community on forums and some cross-promotional activities, there isn’t much that really drives marketing. Jyri Kilpeläinen (Kiemura) showed the very same curve for Tiltagon as Martin Macmillan from Pollen VC at PocketGamer Helsinki in mid-September - it’s the classic up & down trend.



Because indies don’t care much about measuring and increasing a lifetime value as well as using paid acquisition, then there is only virality to worry about really. Soft launching the game helps to optimize onboarding, increase retention, improve monetization and also helps with understanding who your players really are. How can you expect to succeed without this information?

6 things to measure
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Petr from Flow Studio
10-09-2015, 10:50 PM
#2
Very nice & useful post.
My only concern is that a "typical indie" may not get any significant number of downloads in the soft launch. For example, if a full launch with all marketing effort can get only a few thousand downloads, a soft launch may only get a few hundreds. That will not be enough to come up with any useful conclusion.
11-03-2015, 01:47 PM
#3
Joined: Oct 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiritBomb Studios View Post
Very nice & useful post.
My only concern is that a "typical indie" may not get any significant number of downloads in the soft launch. For example, if a full launch with all marketing effort can get only a few thousand downloads, a soft launch may only get a few hundreds. That will not be enough to come up with any useful conclusion.
Yea, I agree with what you say about the difficulties facing an Indie company for a soft launch. I was wondering, however, if we could think of soft launch as more just Beta testing or even launching in smaller markets and getting the data from it? For instance, if you just release it to people that are signed up on the newsletter or fans on Facebook page, this could be a good way to secure retention for 2 reasons. 1.If the game works, they will be anticipating the final version of it. 2. They could create either word of mouth, or, and more importantly, this could provide you with a group of players you might be able to mention when pitching it to a reviewer or something of that nature.

@pjgames25
11-04-2015, 02:49 AM
#4
I have been doing an alpha testing for my upcoming game "NOVA Strikers" on Google Play for 3 days already.
I've been posting on all free channels I can find, asking all of my friends to help me share the news on social networks.
The result so far: less than 100 downloads / 3 days.

I don't know if it is enough to have any useful data.
11-06-2015, 04:33 AM
#5
Joined: Oct 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 10
@SpiritBomb What is the time frame you are looking to release the game? 100 downloads for alpha doesn't seem too terrible. By alpha do you mean you are still in production, or does that mean you are essentially finished and are going to be releasing it relatively soon?

@pjgames25
11-09-2015, 11:08 PM
#6
By alpha, I mean it is still under development.
We're ready to spend a few months more to put more features and content into the game.