Market testing is a crucial step in mobile game development. Contrary to what some developers may think, it shouldn’t first occur when your game is complete. In fact, market testing should happen early on to give you the best shot at developing a successful game that has the potential to become a hit.
Market testing allows you to gain feedback from real users on your game to determine whether your game has potential and also identify weak points that need improvement. We’re not just referring to CPI or IPM though, as market testing can go far beyond this to help improve aspects from game design to monetization. In this article, we’ll explore rapid market testing and identify three ways in which it can help you to achieve success faster.
Rapid Market Testing Helps Set Direction
Choosing the right hyper-casual concept is easier said than done, with many developers often investing time in an unmarketable game concept. Coda data reveals that only 3% of prototypes actually pass the first marketability test, which is why rapid market testing is so important.
What sets successful hyper-casual developers apart is that they test early, they test fast, and they test often. They will create their first gameplay video in less than five days and use it to gain an initial snapshot of the market’s reaction. From there, they can decide whether to move or iterate further depending on the metrics (we talk more about this decision in our recent article).
For every successful game published, a hyper-casual developer will have tested at least 15 prototypes prior. This number doesn’t seem as daunting when we clarify that you don’t actually need to have a fully completed game to conduct an accurate market test. Developers can test the marketability of their game with a simple gameplay video. They can either create their own campaign or look to publishers to create an initial market test using a gameplay video.
The video above is an example of a recent video from Coda's latest hit game "Brick Builder" which had particularly successful results when used for testing. It's an effective gameplay video that includes the following key features, which we recommend using when creating your own gameplay video for testing.
- Include a fail scene in the first 5-10 seconds
- Include a mission/call out banner
- Feature an eye-catching background or level
- Crop out distracting UI elements or parts of the game
Once you create your gameplay video, then it's time for testing! Coda actually gives developers the power to create their own market tests for free through our self-serve testing tool. You simply upload your gameplay video, and a test campaign is created automatically. Ads for your game are served to potential players, and you can view the results directly on the platform.
A/B Testing Boosts Retention
Another way to conduct market testing is through the use of A/B testing, whereby you test one variable of your game against another. In market testing, it can be used in two different ways: 1. to test marketability and 2. to optimize your game design and KPIs.
A/B testing for preliminary market testing will give you a broader view of the potential success of a game concept or theme. You can A/B test gameplay videos with different levels or background environments. This can save you time later in the process because it will give you a better idea of what to build upon. It's also a good way to let the data do the talking if you're unsure about certain features or design elements in your game.
In the latter, A/B testing can be used to help shape the overall design of your game and improve retention. Whether it’s testing different colour schemes, the timing of push notifications, different level roadmaps or skins, you can use A/B testing in market tests to pinpoint exactly how users will react to different aspects of your game’s design. You can zero in on how these affect engagement and retention metrics.
Late Stage Testing Optimises Profits
The third way in which market testing can help you to achieve success is by helping to optimise your monetization strategy.
Publishers before launch will look to ensure that your game can achieve maximum profits without negatively impacting the game experience. Getting the right balance of advertisements vs game time can be tricky, which is why market testing is so valuable.
For these tests, developers integrate real ad networks into their game (or via Coda's SDK) to conduct a market test showing ads to a small group of users. This type of market test allows you to tweak the ad set rules that determine the frequency, density and placements of your ads. From the results, developers can then create a tailored monetization strategy designed to reach a high ARPDAU upon launching.
Traditionally, market tests conducted for monetization will occur later in the publishing process, typically right before launch. It is also not uncommon for publishers to continue these types of tests after the launch to ensure your game is generating optimal revenues.
Whether it’s to assess the potential marketability of your game, improve the overall design or optimise your monetization strategy, it’s imperative for developers to market test their game as soon as possible. By creating a gameplay video of your concept and testing it in market early on will help capture a snapshot of your game’s performance and further improvement opportunities.
Keep an eye out next week as we launch our Masterclass series, diving into best practices and insights into how to create an effective gameplay video for your market testing!