Working with a publishing partner isn’t the only route you need to take when launching your game. Each studio and development team are unique. And depending on your studio size, your experience, and your resources, there are other ways you can get your game out into the world and into the charts.
We actually created a training programme, called Golden Cohort. It’s where we teach and train studios exactly how to self-publish their game, giving them the tools they need to become independent, while offering them support and guidance from a team of publishing specialists. You can learn more about this here. But everything we’re going to chat about today is cherry-picked from this programme.
We’ll talk more about Golden Cohort later. And, as there’s a lot to cover here, we’ve split this topic into two posts. This one is all about getting yourself ready for your soft launch and launch.
Let’s get to it.
Step 1: Speed up your ideation stage
It all starts with an idea. Which you probably already knew. But coming up with new ideas for your game isn’t as simple as it may seem.
Finding a viable concept can take up a huge chunk of your time. Typically, you need to tackle around a hundred prototypes to find a marketable idea. So 100 fresh ideas. And it usually takes around two weeks to create a prototype for each one. I’ll let you do the math. But that’s a lot of time and money spent just to find one idea with potential.
So there’s a few ways you can speed this process up.
- Research market trends: There are tools out there you can use (like our Market Intelligence). They’ll help you spot trends and give you a place to start with your ideas.
- Mix trending elements within or even across genres: Rather than copying the best games on the market, mix and match mechanics and genres from those titles. It’ll give your game a fresh spin and a competitive edge.
- Never lose focus on clarity, satisfaction, and fun: Sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how easy this is to overlook. You may be so lost in the data and research, that you forget to ask the simple question of: “why would I play this game?”. It’ll help you bin the bad ideas and build on the good ones.
We’ve built a concept store for this
We appreciate how tedious the ideation process can be, and how much time this stage can take. So we built a concept store – a place with hundreds of proven concepts for studios to start with. It’s for our Golden Cohort and publishing partners at the moment. But you can learn more about it here.
Step 2: Make sure you perfect your testing stage
You’ll need to test your ideas first, and be quick about it. We recommend you test:
- All of your concepts.
- The potential of its gameplay.
- All inside a controlled environment.
- And iterate on promising concepts, until you see the results you need. (Keep in mind, you’ll need to react to market shifts and adapt to changing benchmarks. So keep an eye on current benchmarks in the industry.)
It’s important to keep your test design consistent. So pick a couple of popular networks, set a budget and duration, and stick to two campaign types. If you’re inconsistent with what you’re testing, then your results will be unreliable, and you may invest more time on a game that isn’t actually a winning idea.
Step 3: Get your creatives in shape for soft launch
When a game passes through the first set of marketability tests, there are several creative practices to make sure it’s successful during your soft launch and launch period.
You’ll want to work twice as hard on this stage. To get yourself ready for your soft launch, you’ll need to:
- Follow trends and get inspired: There are tools you can use to help you here (like our Creative Insights). But make sure to keep your eye close on trending creatives – these have already been through rounds of testing, and could help you go in the right direction.
- Research different specs for networks: Each one has their own requirements. It’s best to get familiar with these to optimize your creatives.
- Iterate your creatives: Try out different colours, environments, user interfaces, banners, filters and more.
- Get interactive: This one is a must. Interactive ads are the perfect companions during your soft launch and launch period.
Step 4: Know your metrics
You’ll need to know what benchmarks you need to hit for each key metric. Ideally look at retention, playtime, IMPU, ARPU and LTV. Make sure you know what these are for your genre. They can change drastically, even per sub-genre.
Analyse your levels, understand your churn rate, and optimise your level structure. Throw away levels with high-churn rates, and perfect your onboarding experience. You’ll want to get your players hooked within the first few levels. But be careful with level difficulty. Too easy? Then it’s boring. Too hard? Well, that’s just not fun.
Now, you should be ready to soft launch, and then eventually fully launch your game. There’s quite a bit to cover in these steps, which we’ll talk about in our next article.
Golden Cohort is the stepping stone to self publishing
Like we said, we’ve cherry-picked out top advice from Golden Cohort. It’s our training programme to get you ready for self-publishing. This programme will:
- Give you the tools you need to find, validate, test and fine tune your games.
- Teach you how to brainstorm ideas and use market insights to test your concepts (and let you run as many tests as you like).
- Help you hire and onboard your own team.
- Have our experts on hand to help you every step of the way, from publishing managers, UA and Monetisation experts, even through to marketing artists.
You’re not on your own in this programme. Our aim is to give you the tools and knowledge you need to become independent. If you’re interested in learning more, get the info and get in touch here.