6 Steps to Launching Your Mobile Game
Katarzyna Marques David is Product Marketing Manager at Huuuge Games. Her main focus is growing new games from zero to “hero” and building collaboration between the UA and product teams. Prior to Katarzyna’s current role, she managed a portfolio of various clients at Facebook, advising on their advertising solutions. With 6 years of digital marketing experience, Katarzyna currently manages the overall budget, strategy, and direction of acquiring paid Traffic Puzzle users.
Learn more about Mobile Hero Katarzyna.
How do you successfully launch a new mobile game? It can be complex and demanding. To help my fellow marketers, I have put together the following steps to a great launch.
1. Canvass the Competition
One of the first steps to launching a new game is scoping out the competition. Begin by researching your competition using available industry tools such as App Annie. I typically compare the highest revenue growth, media sources, creatives used, and overall marketing strategy. Industry analysis helps you understand what top contenders are doing—and you can leverage the information you acquire to develop your game and your marketing strategy. Additionally, always play rival games. Analyze game features, design and monetization to understand your target audience better.
2. Collaborate Regularly with Product
This step happens to be my favorite. The product and UA teams need to speak the same language to make a mobile game successful. Each team has different KPIs—this requires educating everyone about the other team and regular syncs on any new UA strategy changes. Plan weekly meetings with the product team to analyze data at each stage of development and to decide where to go next. Remember that collaboration is essential during game development, but it’s equally important when there are late-stage changes in marketing strategies or new game releases.
3. Set Goals with a Timeline
Setting goals in advance provides transparency within the company. It also gives you a glimpse into where the company is headed. Define your benchmarks and set a clear time frame for achieving them. Begin by talking to your media sources’ business partners or industry friends (Mobile Heroes Lunch Club is a great place to do it!) Make sure you know the benchmarks for a game category in a specific location. Each launch should have its own goal depending on the monetization strategy and the product. For instance during a tech launch, focus on Application Not Respondings (ANRs), crushes, and in-game metrics. Do not look at monetization KPIs—they will be more important during the soft launch stage.
4. Build Your “Base” Creatives
After analyzing competitors and understanding the audience, start to build a base for creatives. Lay your creative groundwork with 5-6 video concepts from competitor analysis and with simple concepts that depict how the game works as well as the game’s most noteworthy features. At your soft launch, conduct A/B tests in a controlled environment and use a media source with a short learning phase—e.g. Facebook and Unity. This will help you draw inferences quickly. If you’d like, A/B testing can be carried out on two media sources to ensure that the video selected is the undisputed winner. And when you are ready for a worldwide launch, you will already have several winning creatives to iterate and to adjust for different media sources.
5. Timing The Soft Launch
What is a soft launch? A soft launch releases your game in select countries or stores. The primary goal of a soft launch is to test a mobile game before a worldwide release to make sure design, monetization methods, creatives and marketing strategy all perform optimally. During your soft launch, analyze the data you collect and compare them with your benchmarks. The end goal should be achieving a higher lifetime value than the cost per install—that’s how you know if your game is profitable.
The key to a successful soft launch is to go with countries with a very similar culture or language to your target market. For instance, the countries of choice for publishers targeting the US market are Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. People in these markets speak the same language and have similar cultural habits—this generally means a lower CPI.
6. Assemble A Variety of Media Mixes
Finally, it’s risky to base your marketing strategy on only one or two media partners. That is why the key to a good UA strategy is a variety of media mixes. Once learning completes and performance stabilizes, add more media sources—rewarded networks, DSPs, influencer marketing, incentives and direct.
Test your new solutions to scale your mobile game successfully, and optimize for retention or ROAS depending on your monetization strategy. You can typically expect good results in games where most revenue comes through in-app purchases from target ROAS campaigns. For games based on ad revenue monetization, try campaigns that optimize for high retention rates or high-funnel events that drive user actions over an extended period of time.
These are my six steps to launching a mobile game. Focus on examining the competition to build a marketing and creative strategy, establish goals to facilitate transparent communication with the product team, and make the most of your soft launch. That said, remember that even if you are prepared for a soft launch, the results you achieve may not be satisfactory. If that’s the case, make sure you know when to invest more money and time—and when to pull the plug and start over.