How do you create a popular game? Well, the aptly named Popular Girls, can show us how. After it hit the number-two spot on the App Store in just a week, our publishing manager, Ozan Daldal, shares his thoughts on how other studios can reach the top-charts themselves.
Here’s what he said.
1. Gather your ideas
At Coda, we regularly run brainstorms and come up with ideas based on what’s currently trending in the market. We then upload those ideas to our Interactive Game Brief, a way of storing inspiration and collaborating on a project.
Once they’re on IGB, we can budge them along to our Concept Store to let studios pick an idea to work on. This lets developers choose an idea they’re passionate about to work on.
2. Test whether the idea is marketable
From those concepts, we can test whether the idea will actually work. Our Marketability Test checks whether an idea has legs and how likely it is that players will install the game.
With Popular Girls, we knew that it was an appealing concept. It was something that was really resonating with our players. This meant that 24 Play was able to focus their attention on what they’re best at: developing the game, knowing that it was likely to be a success.
“Hyper-compact games are more fast-paced and each level is a tiny success moment, which I think a lot of people want these days,” said Ozan. “This offers a constant pump of satisfaction. Playing a different mechanic each level keeps the game fresh and stops it from repeating itself. Our players also get to enjoy the diversity supported with high quality animations.”
3. Create a gameplan
We’re keen to work with our studios throughout the process. So using our Market Intelligence tools, we came up with a gameplan. This is essentially a design document that explains the game: a summary of the concept, what the artwork should look like and what levels we should include.
“We’ve found that studios really appreciate this clear brief,” Ozan said. “They know exactly what we expect from them and what’s in our heads. Obviously, this is a collaborative process, and if they disagree or want to change anything, that’s completely fine. But having this first draft just makes sure that there’s no confusion and that everybody’s meeting expectations.”
This gameplan guides the studio so that they can focus on putting the elements together as quickly as possible. Creating one for yourself is a good way to make sure that everybody in the team is on the same page.
4. Optimize through testing
Lastly, we can run A/B tests and analyse each specific level to see how the players are reacting to the game. We make sure to share all these results with the developer so that we can optimize every aspect of the game. Do people drop off? Do they struggle with any particular level? Is it working?
“Transparency is key,” Ozan said. “Most publishers don’t share their testing data, or only specific parts of it. But at Coda, we want the studios to know exactly what’s going on: so they can see the same data we can. This makes it much easier to make decisions together and work collaboratively.”
Time it right
Ozan’s plan clearly worked. Popular Girls got twice as many downloads on its second day as it did its first, and reached number two on the App Store in just a week.
But he explained that a large part was around launching on the weekend.
“It took us three weeks in total to create and launch Popular Girls,” Ozan said. “And we launched on the weekend. We did this deliberately, to utilise our first cohorts perfectly. It also feels good to offer the world new entertainment for the weekend.”