Soft launching is extensively used in mobile game marketing to get the user pulse about the app and it helps gaming companies create an app that can be released globally with the intended ROI. It is a process in which the app is launched only in select countries and few app stores so that varied aspects such as the gameplay, stability, and marketing strategies are tried and tested for performance.
Whether it is small Indie gaming companies or the bigger players in the game business, soft-launching a game is a crucial pre-launch process that can make or break an app. Any free to play app needs this in order to check its viability in the long run. There are instances in which gaming studios have decided to let go of a particular project owing to weak reports/feedback. Therefore, it needs to be given its due importance.
In the following lines, let us take a look at a few factors that can be considered for the soft launch of a game:
- Market Research – Any gaming app is made for a specific market. As a developer, it makes sense to know about what the audience wants and what you can do to meet its demands. Based on their feedback, you can make the necessary changes to the game and create a more relevant app.
In order to accomplish this, game development companies need to identify a specific region in which the soft launch is planned. Right from identifying the best ASO (App Store Optimization) strategies to in-game features, there are many factors that market research can establish and help the mobile game in becoming better and more inclusive.
- Define the target audience – Even before a mobile game is conceptualized, the target audience is defined and based on this, the app is developed. There are many genres that can be exploited and these include casual, arcade, simulation, combat, multiplayer online and puzzle, amongst others. Depending on the age, the time that a player spends on the said app and the LTV (Lifetime Value), the target audience is shortlisted.
During the soft launch, gaming companies can validate their target audience based on their behavior in the app and take the necessary steps to make the UX (user experience) better.
- Tracking the KPIs – Depending on the key performance indicators of a game, the overall performance can be gauged. In-game marketing, tracking these matrices by using analytics and data is key for the success of any app. For some gaming companies, the number of downloads is a KPI whilst for others, the retention rate makes all the difference. Based on your specific KPIs, you can collect the relevant data/information in the soft launch phase.
- Create a marketing strategy – Enough can’t be said about marketing strategies for any app in general, and a mobile game in particular. These factors affect the app visibility, the number of installations and LTV (the amount spent by players from the time they download the game to the time they stop playing). You will need a quality landing page that converts into sales. Using the most viable ASO tools is also a major contributor for an effective marketing strategy.
- Send it to several app stores – Instead of relying on a couple of app stores, it is practical to send the game to several app stores. This will increase the customer base and you will be able to check your app’s performance better. Another advantage is that as a part of mobile app advertising, you will learn how to optimize your app across several app stores efficiently.
The main objective of the soft launch stage is to get the maximum inputs from varied players about said game’s performance. Therefore, introducing it on multiple app stores increases the chances of getting the relevant feedback, which in turn can be useful for the global release.
- Social media marketing – Social media platforms have become a major source for companies to showcase their products and services. People of all ages are using such websites in order to stay connected with the world and hence, social media marketing forms a major part of an app’s soft launch.
As important game programming and game making are in terms of creating a successful mobile app, it is equally significant that all the necessary steps are taken before the global release of the said app. For this, soft launching is a phase that cannot be ignored. Developers need to consider it for all their games as it helps them create an immersive and unique game.