Google's Luana Andre Assumpção [pictured] and Leandro Baer Barbosa, head of AppDev sales Brazil at Google took to the stage to discuss what game makers can do to scale effectively.
Barbosa noted that while it’s easier than ever before to create and publish a new game, it has become more difficult to effectively stand out from the crowd and reach new audiences. As such, developers need to maximise discovery. In the Play store, optimising the description, title, and icon can help to make a title more appealing to consumers. The core goal is to create a feedback loop. For example, creating an engaging and entertaining game can lead to positive word of mouth, and encouraging users to leave a review can help bring the game to wider audiences.
Meanwhile, revenue generated by the game can be pumped back into the company through purchasing ads or generating new content, either helping to reach new audiences directly or by enriching the gameplay experience.
Assumpção noted the importance of defining the business model to more effectively scale, and highlighted the importance of one key approach.
“The secret is to really think like a player.” By identifying the player’s first steps after download, the developer can effectively predict which approach would be best. For example, in a Match 3 game, a tutorial of ten levels will result in players becoming active users, making churn less likely.
She calls these markers - events in the app which act as success indicators.
Assumpção also noted the importance of understanding that markers can change, and what indicates a game’s success is different depending on its phase. While a game’s early days will be defined largely by UA strategies, a successful game well into its life cycle will instead measure success in terms of revenue related KPI’s such as return on ad spend and average revenue per daily user.
However, the most important thing was identified as the creative itself. “If you have good creatives, the performance will be better. 5-35% of the result will depend on what you advertise or divulge in your creatives. 50-80% of the results are based on apps.”
So what can we learn from the panel? In short, it isn’t enough to merely focus on a single KPI - what defines success will change over time, and shrewd game makers will adjust their business strategies accordingly.
Assumpção’s advice for developers to put themselves into the shoes of the players highlights one important factor - gaming is, above all else, a form of entertainment, and ultimately attracting and maintaining an audience is the only way to succeed long-term.
A true evergreen game is one that blooms into a thriving title which maintains an audience over years. While some titles can leverage established IPs to make a big splash soon after release, this isn’t an indicator of long-term success - and original titles can still thrive, even from small studios - and the quality of the app itself is the single most important factor in a game’s success. After all, some of the biggest mobile games of all time reached evergreen status not through collaborations but with detailed environments and addictive gameplay. While the use of an existing IP is no doubt helpful in achieving long-term success, it’s far from the only factor, or even the most important.