When it comes to launching a mobile game, there are a lot of factors to consider. But if you want to give your game the best chance for success, then a soft launch is the way to go.
A soft launch is when you release your game in a limited market before releasing it worldwide. This allows you to test your game with a smaller group of users to see how it performs.
Why is a Soft Launch Important?
A soft launch is an important tool for mobile game developers to test the waters with their game before releasing it to the public. It allows developers to get feedback from real players and make changes to the game before it is released to the masses. This can help to ensure that the game is well-received and avoid any negative feedback that could come from a public release.
A soft launch also allows developers to see how their game performs in the real world, with real reviews from real gamers. This can be helpful in identifying any issues, big or small, that need to be addressed before the game is released to the public. It can also give developers an idea of how popular their game may be and help them to plan for a successful public launch.
In addition to helping developers, soft launches are also great to help drive a narrative for marketers. They can highlight what elements of the mobile game are most invigorating and engaging, allowing marketers to address them in promotional material for public launches.
For any mobile game company, a soft launch would be a very credible source of information on how successful the game itself can be and can thus provide valuable insights to prospective investors outside the company as well. A successful soft launch can attract venture capitalists or backers to invest in a mobile game.
Things to Consider Before a Soft Launch
A soft launch is a great way to get feedback on your mobile game before you release it to the public. But, what should one consider before engaging in a soft launch?
There are a few things to consider when deciding when to launch your game.
Completing Your Game
You need to have a complete game. All the levels should be playable and all the features should be implemented. A soft launch is still a launch and should represent the ideal version of the mobile game. Launching an unready game is a recipe for disaster. You should have metrics and KPIs set up to ensure you are targeting progress toward your intended goals.
Realizing Your Audience
You need to realize your target market and ensure that you have enough players to test the game. If you don’t have enough people playing the game, you won’t be able to get enough feedback, which is the whole point of soft launching.
Choosing Your Platform
You need to have chosen the right platform. You want to choose a platform that has a significant portion of your decided target audience and ensure that your version of the game is compatible with the platform’s rules and regulations.
Setting Your Prices
You need to set the right price for your game or your in-app purchases depending on your pricing strategy. While low prices might attract users, you won’t make enough money to cover your costs. High prices are notorious for turning away potential customers.
Implementing Monetization Tools
It would be best if you considered whether you wish to implement monetization tools in your app or not. If you intend to show ads in your app, a soft launch will help you understand if you have implemented your advertisements seamlessly or if they are game-breaking.
Setting up a Kill Factor
At its core, a soft launch helps you determine whether your game can function as a business or not. In this scenario, it is prudent to have in place a set of metrics that determine whether your mobile game can succeed or not; if the minimum markers are not reached, the game should be shelved.
Setting a Feedback Assessment Plan
You need to have a plan for what you’re going to do with the feedback you receive. You need to be able to take the feedback and use it to improve the game. Soft launches help app developers determine what elements work and what do not, so having a feedback assessment plan in place will allow you to categorize your feedback in an easily accessible and actionable way.
If you can answer all of these questions, then you’re ready to launch your game. But, if you’re not sure, it’s better to wait. It’s better to launch a game that’s ready and has been thoroughly tested than to launch a game that’s not ready and has to be fixed after it’s been released.
What to A/B Test in a Soft Launch?
There are a few key things you should focus on when testing your game during a soft launch. Here are the top things to keep in mind:
Make sure the gameplay is fun and engaging. See how long users play the game and if they keep coming back for more. Retention rate is important to keep an eye on as well as other engagement metrics like sign-up rate and tutorial completion rate etc.
Test the game on various devices to make sure it runs smoothly. Check for any bugs or crashes. There may be minor details that need ironing out regardless of your app’s development process.
3. User experience:
See how easy it is for users to navigate the game. Make sure the game is intuitive and easy to understand. It’s important to follow up on feedback about user experience as fresh reviews on your apps’ navigability is otherwise very hard to come by and infinitely important for optimization.
Test out any in-app purchases or other monetization features. Make sure they work properly and that users are willing to pay for them. It is important to ensure that the ad experience does not interfere with or interrupt the users’ gaming experience.
5. Social Engagement:
See how engaged users are with the game. Check for metrics like social sharing rate and, if made available, user referrals. Seeing a spike in daily active users (DAU) and a swift downfall afterward is a telltale sign of a low engagement rate and should be looked at immediately.
6. Store Aesthetics
Ensure that your app’s store listing represents its experience adequately. All the creatives should show the up-to-date version of the game and should look appealing to users. It’s worth running A/B testing to decide on which themes, imagery and content you want to go with; factors that bring in the highest clickthrough rate (CTR) are usually the best choice, as conversion rate can be affected by a well-set ASO strategy already.
By testing for these things during a soft launch, you can ensure that your game is ready for a successful launch.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Soft Launching
- Setup and test integration of your desired tools
- Define the soft launch owner
- Set your goals and KPIs
- Define the kill factor for your game
- Test creatives and marketing channels
- Skip testing and optimizing marketing
- Start your soft launch without a plan
- Have the expectation that the player base will grow organically
- Have the expectation that a soft launch will save your game
- Depending on emotion or assumption driven decision making
If you want to launch your mobile game with a bang, then a soft launch is not for you. However, if you’re looking to test the waters and get some valuable feedback from users before you go all-in on your launch, then a soft launch can be a great strategy. Just be sure to set your expectations accordingly and plan your marketing and PR accordingly.
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