The mobile gaming market is a harsh one, where the saturation of games in nearly every genre is high. This is why metrics such as CPI (cost per install), retention, playtime and more are all heavily scrutinised not just by developers, but the all-important publishers too. Failure in these metrics can spell an end for prospects or even existing deals with a publisher.
However, where some see failure, others see opportunity. In a recent blog post, publisher Azur Games detailed three separate games they point to as examples of rescuing projects previously abandoned by publishers. Whilst naturally this is to boast of their success, there are also some key points to be gleaned from how they claim to have rescued these titles.
The Magic Recipe
All three games have one thing in common, low metrics. The first game they describe, Chain Cube supposedly suffered from “Annoying monetization that led to a rapid dropoff in users on Day 2 and beyond.” They corrected this by changing the interstitial ad system and developing the game further with features such as the ability to save progress. They were able to raise R1 (Day-one retention) from 39% to 60% and had at least 5% of players spending money for an ad-free version of the app.
Stretch Legs is another game they claim to have been turned down due to low metrics. Azur Games say they committed to further development, specifically to player onboarding and adding new mechanics. Although a success, they noted that R1 remained at 30% as it had been before, however, they noted this is actually a positive as usually greater traffic means a lower rate of retention.
The third, Sword Play had in fact seen high metrics in its prototype phase but had since drastically dropped due to changes mandated by publishers, supposedly rolling it back to its prototype stage brought those metrics back up to previous levels.
Certainly, all three cases saw development and further investment being returned upon. It could provide a valuable lesson that sometimes hard work does indeed pay off when it comes to mobile games. However, with the third game, Sword Play, publisher intervention doesn't always translate to success.
Another option is to divert from publishers entirely and instead tackle publishing your game as a developer yourself. We recently covered a talk from Helsinki by Thomas Bidaux dealing with how to self publish your game that can provide another perspective.