Comment & Opinion

What to do after a hypercasual game release: check out game support check-list

Ducky producer Nick Shapovalov ticks them off

What to do after a hypercasual game release: check out game support check-list

Nick Shapovalov is a producer at Ducky, a fast-growing hypercasual publishing studio with 97 million installs since 2020.

Nick has 9 years of experience in game development. He started as a game designer, ran the Fast Forward studio, and for the last six months has been working in hypercasual industry as a producer.

In hypercasual, developers and publishers work closely and combine their expertise to achieve multimillion installs and increasing game's exposure.

Once prototypes are tested, metrics are great, and a game with 10 minutes of gameplay is launched, there are a lot of things to be aware of ahead of time.

Let me take you through this step-by-step guide and explain what happens to the game after release, what developers should be prepared for, and how to maintain the project and prevent stagnation.

Step 1: Concentrate on one platform first

Sometimes developers want to run Android and iOS versions at once, but this idea should be carefully evaluated, as it brings more workload on developers and refocuses the team. Only when we reach ROI goals of the economy on one platform and understand that releasing on second platform will bring profits, it’s time to start working on it.

It is very common for hypercasual to publish the game on Android first. This is due to the fact that the game has a lot of tests waiting for it right after release, and Android offers various roll-out options, which helps the testing efforts.

As my experience shows, if the game is successful on Android – it will show the same or even better results on iOS.

Don't be freaked out by the differences in traffic quality, and trust your publisher if you get a reasoned explanation of what the best course of action is right now.

After release, the publisher starts buying traffic to test a number of media sources that were not available earlier. The key metrics here are:

  • CPI (cost per install), that indicates a price for acquiring a new user.
  • LTV (lifetime value), that shows how much money the player brings.

There are targets for each metric for each media source and country, that depend on the publisher and the performance in the market. We as a publisher try to receive 30 cents CPI, over a 35% retention rate, and LTV exceeding the cost of attracting a player.

Be prepared that it is common practice to test first an ad on Facebook, as there is a high-quality audience. However, Facebook isn’t the main platform for scaling.

After Facebook tests, the publisher would start using Google, Snapchat, TikTok, Unity and other platforms to boost the project. At this stage it is necessary to analyze on what day the player brings more money than it cost to attract him.

Don't worry — a good publisher will run all the tests and keep the development team informed of the results. Publishers also making industry-based assumptions about how the audience will behave on day 30.

We consider 135% ROI on day 30 as a green light to start the scale.


Click here to view the list »
  • Step 2. Be mentally prepared when it's time to scale up

    Scaling means efforts to increase geography and the number of players. This includes launching on new platforms, advertising in other countries, and larger marketing budgets.

    Speed is more important than polishing. Do iterations regularly to test different theories (at least one per week). Add QA department and don’t release projects without their consent.

    If at the previous stages it was possible to say that hypercasual is an art, now it is already a business. And at this stage, it's time to work only with calculations and hypotheses.

    The main thing you have to be prepared for with increased traffic is inconsistent metrics. For example, retention or LTV might significantly decrease. The reason for this plummet is a broad traffic and worse optimization of the network. This is not a reason to panic, but a warning to act quickly.

    At this stage, two areas of work are involved — product and marketing. Developers and publishers are constantly monitoring metrics, search for ways to improve the product and make marketing decisions.

    This phase will go smoothly if the development team has set up processes, can make decisions and implement changes quickly. The publisher's job is to suggest the right direction for maximum focus and help the team with actionable data.

    Scaling up worldwide, we focus and buy traffic in Tier1 countries: Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and the USA. After that, it’s time to test the game in China market and others Tiers.


  • Step 3: Things to be ready before turning monetization on

    The main elements of monetization of hypercasual games are:

    • Interstitials – ad units covering full page,
    • Rewarded videos – users receive a reward in exchange for watching an ad,
    • Banners – ads at the bottom of the app.

    Besides, we need to test is in-apps – purchases in-game.

    Parallel to this, in the monetization phase comes many marketing tasks, such as optimization for high-quality traffic. It means working with various advertising networks and acquiring users with certain criteria. For example those, who definitely will spend certain amount of time in game, or buy in-app items.

    The process is the publisher's marketing team responsibility, but as a developer, you should know what they're doing. Working with ad networks, they are:

    • Buying users for CPI;
    • Buying users with AD optimization
    • Buying users who are more likely to make purchases in-app.

    When this task is completed, and publisher and developers see that the audience is solvent, it's time to check the metrics:

    • How much money do we spend to buy a user
    • How much money do we receive from a user
    • Check the fact ROI and the predict ROI on 30d+

    There is no sense buying only cheap traffic. Positive ROI is the main indicator. The goal is to attract those players, will be paid off as soon as possible and guarantee margin, no matter how much they will cost.


  • Step 4: Game support check-list

    With all the above (tests, scale and monetization) it is clear that the process of developing a hypercasual game is a constant work optimization process, that consists of product development and marketing tasks.

    The main goal of product improvement is to work with LTV, while the marketing purpose is to care about CPI and reach payback. The publisher, based on tests and his expertise, recommends exactly what to do and performs some tasks.

    Here's a list of areas and recommendations that publishers and developers spend time and effort on after the game's release:

    • Optimization of buying channels: searching for better creatives, analyzing what kind of creatives competitors use and test theirs ideas in our cases;
    • Searching for marketing networks with good performance;
    • ASO optimization: selection of the correct metadata and assets (icon, screenshots) in order to be higher in the search on platforms;
    • Establishing regular updates - setting up the process of working with the unit economy of the project.
    • Entering new markets worldwide and translating the game to new languages.

  • If the game doesn’t perform, drop it

    We as a publisher are highly interested in finding successful projects. So that, if metrics show that game won’t be a hit – we honestly tell that to the developers and convince them to drop it.

    Both parties are saddened by the loss of time and money, but if the performance falls short, it’s much better to concentrate the efforts on a new project, that will more likely to be successful.


PocketGamer.biz regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.

Comments

2 comments
View options
  • Order by latest to oldest
  • Order by oldest to latest
  • Show all replies
xiao2 zhang xiao2
闫丽梦,到底是媒体人还是科学博士?怎么一点也看不到她对科学的严谨,不管口才有多好,为什么要丢掉自己的专业优势,去混不是自己本行的媒体圈!现在是坑了自己坑老公。
刚开始认识闫丽梦刚还是是通过《路德社》,当初就觉得有疑问的Dr Lawrence Sellin的置顶推特(关于闫丽梦丈夫的信息),然后看到路德转了个推,闫丽梦女士也照样转这个Sellin其他的推。那么其他人转推其实也没啥,可闫丽梦也转发这些推,就会有问题了,一般人会认为妻子说丈夫的事情应该是真的了,可谁能想到有可能她也被忽悠了,其实是不知情的呢?这样的后果就是:如果一经查实,这个Sellin发的推的内容纯属捏造,那么闫丽梦以前说的话也就没有可信度了,现在世界的关注点就在新冠病毒真相上,不过美国是讲法律的地方,法律是讲证据的,谁也诬陷不了谁!如果涉及到违法,谁也逃脱不了!这到底是怎样的魔力能把一个按理说研究科学的博士应该是非常严谨认真求实和有逻辑的人,洗脑成也像当年中国十年文革时那样,妻子不顾别人任意公开自己先生的信息,还继续和他们走在一起的。闫丽梦女士你到底是要怎样的爆发点才会让你醒?不可理解那个年代发生的疯狂事情,现在也让我真切地看到,一个妻子居然不相信跟自己已经结婚8年的丈夫,而相信通过网络联系的还在申请美国政批的人来到美国,看到自己丈夫的信息被“同战壕”的人公布,居然没有一丝反应,照样相互转发推特信息,就算丈夫有什么不对,正常情况的话,也应该对这种行为谴责,可她没有,是她真被洗脑这么深,还是其他的什么原因呢?一次次刷新我的感观!如果那位先生对自己妻子还有感情的话,他当然会无论怎么艰难也要到美国去找你,怎么能容忍自己妻子被别人忽悠去了美国呢?再说当初路德在路德社也说过她丈夫多次要害死她,那这是涉及到刑事级别了,他是最有权利去美国报警要真相的人啊,这位先生的行为也很合常理呀!可为什么这个Sellin要发这个置顶推特呢?如果是想表达闫丽梦的丈夫对闫丽梦有威胁的可能,那闫丽梦女士你也应该去报警啊,让FBI查查清楚,到底你丈夫到美国是干什么来了?所以明明双方都能通过报警查清楚的事情,反而通过发推来迷惑他人,目的是什么呢?听过闫丽梦自己公开说过和他丈夫相当恩爱的,怎么会变成现在这样了呢?粘郭真的是倒霉啊!
xiao2 zhang xiao2
班农和郭文贵这对假面兄弟真是福祸相依的,这不郭文贵前脚刚被指控强奸女秘书并因非法集资案牵涉知名空头 做空港元现巨亏5.39亿美元,后脚好兄弟班农也因拒绝配合司法调查面临指控,班农在法律面前,再无保命符,也再特赦的可能。
都知道班农的身份不一般,而且他有一张特赦令。他曾任美国极右派媒体布赖特巴特新闻网(Breitbart News)的执行主席,也曾出任美国总统特朗普2016年大选战略顾问。特朗普胜选后,班农进入白宫继续担任首席战略顾问。后来因不明原因辞去白宫职务,继续担任布赖特巴特新闻网的执行主席,与逃亡海外的中国富商郭文贵关系慎密。2020年班农和郭文贵两人为谋私利,驱使闫丽梦炮制“中国病毒说”,随后这一说法被啪啪啪地打脸,新冠起源阴谋论的真相是班农、郭文贵、闫丽梦三人编造出来博人眼球毫无根据的谎言。班农惨遭打脸后就很少出现在公众地视野里了,他以为他可以低调地躲过去,没有想到,因果报应来得这么快,这是躲得过初一躲不过十五啊。