We live in an age where most of our tasks can be accomplished with the help of our mobile devices. This, of course, has been made possible due to the creation and evolution of mobile apps. Nowadays, mobile apps are responsible for more than 60% of the world’s web traffic. Gaming apps are one of the most popular app types available in app stores these days. Statistics show that there are more than 2.7 billion mobile game players around the globe. So, how to do pre-launch for a mobile game right?
Gaming apps also share around 66% of the app store revenue. Just like any other app, launching a new mobile game and bringing it to the market is not an easy task. In addition to the time, cost, and effort required to develop a mobile game, any new app is bound to face stiff competition in the app marketplace. Currently, there are more than 5 million apps available on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store combined. An emerging mobile game will have to compete with similar apps already available in app stores.
Hundreds of gaming apps are released in app stores every month but only a few can leave an impression of some sort. The failure of a mobile game can be attributed to multiple reasons. These could include failure to understand your target audience, poor marketing campaigns, faulty app design, bad monetization model, low rates of customer retention, etc. A great tactic to ensure the success of your mobile game is to ensure that you have an inbuilt audience for your app by the time of its release. This article will highlight certain strategies that you can adopt during the pre-launch phase of your mobile game.
Pre-launch vs. soft launch
Most apps go through two different phases before their eventual launch. These include Pre-launch and soft launch. These are defined as:
- Pre-launch: This includes launching the app to review technical performance and highlight technical issues like bugs, glitches, server loads, etc.
- Soft launch: This includes launching your app in selected countries to test certain aspects like performance, audience behavior, marketing strategies, the effectiveness of the monetization model, etc.
Best tactics for a successful pre-launch phase
The following tactics can be adopted for a successful pre-launch phase of your mobile game app:
The success or failure of your app can be highly influenced by your understanding of the mobile game market. Therefore, it is always recommended that you do your proper research before developing and launching your application. Studying the market scene will give you an idea about what gamers expect from your final product and how you can successfully target your intended player base. Doing market research can give you an idea about:
- What are the current trends in the mobile gaming market? How can you capitalize on this trend through your mobile game?
- What are the gaming genres that are most popular among mobile game users? Which genre should you target to achieve the best results?
- Are there any significant gaps in the mobile game marketplace? Can you successfully fill this gap through your gaming app?
Knowing your competitors
As said before, any new app on the marketplace will have to face stiff competition from those already competing in the same marketplace. With millions of apps available on storefronts, it becomes incredibly difficult for any new app to establish itself as a significant alternative. Most apps fail because they get lost in a sea of apps already flooding the app stores. In this regard, studying your competitors (if done right) can give you an edge over other new apps. You can research various aspects including:
- What kind of games are your competitors developing or supporting on app stores?
- What kind of features are implemented in their games?
- What makes their mobile games stand out from others?
- What kinds of marketing campaigns are they running?
- What kind of monetization model are they using to generate revenue?
- Looking at reviews and ratings on their app page, what are the shortcomings of their mobile game? What are the common complaints against their app?
Picking your target audience
While studying your competitors is essential, defining your target audience is just as important. Who are the people that are eventually going to play your game? What features can you add to your game to cater to that specific audience? How can you successfully target your defined audience? Not all mobile gamers are going to be on the same level in terms of skills. Similarly, not all mobile gamers play the same kind of games.
Casual gamers usually tend to pick games that require low skill levels. Their main purpose is to kill time until their next activity or to take a breather. On the other hand, skilled or competitive gamers play games with skill level requirements where they compete with other players worldwide. Such gamers usually play for hours on end. Similarly, mobile games made for kids and adults will have different target audiences. It is also important to target the right audience during your pre-launch phase. A game made for competitive gamers should target said gamers. If you playtest such a game with casual players, the data you receive will be inaccurate and useless.
Decide what to test
This one is pretty much self-explanatory. The main purpose of doing a pre-launch in the first place is to ensure that your app is running properly. Thus, it is imperative that you shortlist all the stuff that you want to test during the pre-launch phase. The obvious things to look out for are bugs and glitches. No one likes mobile games or apps that suffer from long loading times, lags, or any game-breaking bugs.
Poor performance leads to bad reviews and ratings which in turn negatively affects the standing of the mobile game in the app store. Another thing to test is the server infrastructure of the game. Any game that requires a constant online connection should have a solid infrastructure to support a large player count. Pre-launch tests should not just be limited to technical issues of the game. Other things like monetization models can also be tested through pre-launch phase testing.
Choose a monetization strategy
The goal of every business is to make money. If someone spends a lot of time, effort, and resources to develop a well-functioning quality app, they are expecting to make their money back and generate revenue from it. This is why choosing a monetization model for your app is a crucial aspect of every app’s development. It is something that has to be decided pretty early in the app’s development. The pre-launch phase is a good time to test this out. Multiple monetization models can be selected for your mobile game. You can go the obvious route by charging people for your game. This way you can make money through app purchases. The other method is the freemium approach.
Freemium apps can generate money in plenty of ways. The most common method is to offer in-app purchases that enhance the experience of the user. Some freemium apps use in-app advertising as a way of generating money. As freemium apps usually reach a big audience, getting advertisement deals isn’t that hard. Some freemium apps rely on subscription services to generate money in the long run. Subscriptions usually guarantee payments by users at end of the month and are therefore a decent monetization strategy. Most freemium mobile games offer in-game consumable or permanent items to enhance the experience of the player. The model you pick is going to depend upon multiple factors like your budget or profit goals.
Set your marketing strategy
The pre-launch phase can also be a good platform to test out your marketing strategies. This can be by relying on the good old A/B testing method. This includes two separate ads with differences in certain aspects like networks, designs, formats, etc. By running both campaigns, one can evaluate which one performs better. By analyzing the results, you can then remove things that are not working and add those that do. You can gauge the success of your campaigns by measuring metrics like CPI (click per install) and the number of app installs.
The pre-launch phase is important for the eventual success of your mobile game. Pre-launch allows you to analyze performance, find any shortcomings, test your monetization model, and determine the best approach for your mobile game going forward. If you’d like to read more about how we help game developers reach their audiences and scale to millions of users, simply get in touch with Admiral Media using the contact form.