Soft launch to mobile games is the closed/open beta for other games: it helps you find any problems with the game itself, and it will give you a taste of how your audience will react to your game. Soft launch has become a standard in the industry, so much that people might give you weird looks if you ever say, “I just launched my game without a soft launch or a test phase.” Since you likely understand the importance of a soft launch, and how it’ll most probably improve your game in ways you didn’t consider before, we will discuss here how you can soft launch your game successfully.
First, know your audience. You probably heard this sentence a million times over, since you first thought about creating a game and just had a few sketches and ideas here and there, up until the final touches for your game. I mean, you can’t just create a game for the entirety of humankind, right? Maybe Snake II would disagree, but we’ll just ignore it and move on. So, when you know who your audience will be, you can soft launch your game to a selected sample.
If you are targeting the MENA market for example, then it’s best to choose your sample from Saudi Arabia or UAE, and that’s what we did when we published our Arabic mobile game VIP Baloot in the region.
After choosing the country you’ll be soft launching your game in, you need to choose a segment of users as well as a couple of other factors. Choosing how many users, what type of users, and how long they’re going to play test your game are very important. Make sure that your decisions are influenced by the fact that you need data, or, more precisely, meaningful data in order to have a truly successful soft launch.
Now that you have made your decisions, you need to start thinking about hard data and analytics. Think about the metrics that you want to use to measure different factors in your game. There isn’t one single metric that can indicate your success or failure. It’s a combination of different metrics that will indicate the general direction of your game. The more metrics you have, the more informed you will be, but there might be something called “too many metrics”, so don’t get too wild.
The most important metrics to have are user acquisition, retention rate, monetization, viral loop, and lifetime value (LTV). There are many companies and organizations that offer data analytics services, or you can do it yourself. Whatever method you choose, however, make sure it’s accurate and reliable. Ballpark numbers and guesstimates are not sufficient enough if you want to be successful.
Finally, remember that you’re soft launching your game because you want to optimize your game based on the data analytics, and ensure everything is shipshape and ready to go, too. So make sure your users can easily reach you to report bugs or give ideas. This is usually achieved by in-game mechanics and buttons, forums, and social media pages and posts. And if something isn’t doing as well as you expected, that’s okay, change it as you see fit and test that. This is the reason you’re doing a soft launch after all.