The confetti has settled, the launch hype is winding down, and your mobile game is now live on app stores. But as any seasoned developer knows, launching your game is just the tip of the iceberg. The real challenge starts when you have to ensure its long-term viability.
You might be asking yourself, “What now? How do we keep our users engaged and attract new ones? How do we turn this game into a steady revenue generator?”
Well, you’re in the right place. This article delves into the elements that make up a robust post-launch strategy for mobile games. We’ll talk about the significance of user retention, the nuances of acquiring new players even after the initial buzz has faded, and how to maximize revenue without alienating your dedicated user base.
So let’s get started. The journey to keeping your mobile game thriving in a crowded market begins here.
Initial Assessment and Feedback Loop
Once your game is live, the clock starts ticking. You have a narrow window to make a strong impression and pave the way for sustainable growth.
And guess what?
Your most invaluable asset at this stage is data. From the moment players start downloading your game, data collection kicks in, offering you a goldmine of information that should drive your post-launch strategy for mobile games.
The Necessity of Gathering Data Right After Launch
A common misconception is that data analysis is something to be shelved for a “later date,” after you’ve amassed a sizable user base.
But that’s a mistake.
The sooner you begin gathering data, the quicker you can make informed decisions.
Early data not only helps you identify what’s working but also pinpoints the bottlenecks that could be holding you back from acquiring and retaining users. If you wait too long, you’re basically operating in the dark, and your post-launch strategy becomes more of a game of chance than a calculated move.
Types of Metrics to Focus On
Sure, data is great, but what exactly should you be looking at? Let’s break it down:
- User Engagement: Are players sticking around? Metrics like session length, frequency, and activity per session provide valuable insights into how engaging your game is.
- In-App Purchases: Are players willing to open their wallets for your game? Track the average revenue per user (ARPU) and the average transaction value to gauge your game’s monetization performance.
- Churn Rate: How many users are you losing over a specific time period? High churn rates signal that something’s off—perhaps your game isn’t as engaging or rewarding as it should be.
- User Acquisition Cost (UAC): How much does it cost to acquire a new player? If this number is too high, it might be time to reassess your marketing strategies.
The Importance of User Feedback and Reviews
Data gives you the ‘what’, but user feedback gives you the ‘why’.
Let’s face it, nothing is more telling than the words coming straight from your audience.
Reviews on app stores, comments on social media, and in-app surveys can offer invaluable qualitative insights.
Is a particular level too difficult? Are players experiencing bugs that you’re not aware of? Are there features your users are requesting?
This feedback not only helps you prioritize updates but also builds a community of engaged users who feel their voice matters.
Regular Updates: More Than Just Bug Fixes
So you’ve got your initial data, and you’re actively gathering user feedback. Now it’s time to keep the momentum going.
If you’re not familiar with the term ‘liveops’, get ready to make it part of your vocabulary. Liveops, or live operations, refer to the continuous updates, features, and events that keep your game vibrant and appealing to both new and returning players.
It’s the beating heart of a post-launch strategy for mobile games.
The Need for Content Updates
Let’s be clear: bug fixes are essential, but if that’s all you’re offering in your updates, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Players are always on the hunt for something new, something that reinvigorates their interest in your game.
A static game is a dying game.
Content updates aren’t just nice to have; they’re a must to maintain user engagement over time.
Types of Updates That Engage Users
Adding new layers of excitement is easier said than done, but a well-thought-out content strategy can work wonders. Here’s what can captivate your audience:
- New Levels or Maps: These additions create novel challenges and prolong the life of your game by giving players more to explore.
- Additional Characters: Introducing new characters can drastically alter gameplay mechanics and strategies, as well as breathe new life into your game.
- In-Game Events: Limited-time events with special rewards can boost activity and even bring back players who’ve been away.
- Cosmetic Items: Never underestimate the appeal of customization. Special skins, outfits, or accessories can add an extra layer of engagement.
- New Game Modes: Introducing different ways to play can attract different kinds of gamers or provide a refreshing change for your existing user base.
Optimal Frequency of Updates
Incorporating liveops into your game doesn’t just maintain interest; it reignites it. Regular, engaging updates can turn a one-time download into a daily destination, and that’s exactly what you should aim for in a successful post-launch strategy.
The right cadence for updates varies from game to game, but consistency is key.
Too frequent, and you risk overwhelming your players or diluting the impact of each update. Too sparse, and you’ll see engagement wane.
A good rule of thumb is to align your update schedule with your analytics and player feedback. Monitor how engagement spikes or drops after each update. For many games, a significant content update every 2-3 months, supplemented by smaller updates and events, hits the sweet spot.
User Retention: The Lifeblood of Your Game
Once you’ve drawn players into your game, the next challenge is keeping them there.
It’s no secret that retaining an existing user is far less costly than acquiring a new one. If you think of user acquisition as filling a bucket with water, then user retention is about plugging the holes to prevent that water from leaking away.
Let’s explore some of the most effective user retention techniques.
Strategies for User Retention
- Daily Login Bonuses: One of the most straightforward ways to encourage daily interaction is to reward players for simply showing up. Daily login bonuses give users an incentive to return, even if it’s just to collect their reward.
- Loyalty Programs: Consider implementing a rewards program where players earn points or virtual currency for completing certain tasks. This can make a huge difference in terms of long-term engagement, as players have a concrete goal to strive for.
- In-Game Events: We touched on this under liveops, but it bears repeating. In-game events with unique challenges and attractive rewards can add excitement to your game and make players eager to participate.
Importance of Customization and Personalization
Nothing makes a player feel more invested than the ability to influence their in-game experience. Customization features like character skins, avatar modifications, and personalized quests create a unique connection between the player and the game.
This deepens engagement and makes the game feel like ‘theirs’, which is a powerful factor in retention.
Methods for Re-Engaging Lapsed Users
Players drift away for a myriad of reasons: loss of interest, other time commitments, or perhaps a new, shiny game caught their attention. Yet, that doesn’t mean they can’t be won back.
Strategies for re-engagement include:
- Push Notifications: A well-timed, non-intrusive push notification can remind lapsed players about what they’re missing. Highlight new features or tease upcoming events to spark interest.
- “We Miss You” Campaigns: Consider running retargeting campaigns tailored to bring lapsed players back.
- Community Outreach: Utilize your social media channels to announce major updates and events. The news may reach lapsed players who are still following you online but haven’t logged into the game recently.
Acquiring New Users: Beyond the Launch Hype
The rush of a successful game launch can be very intoxicating, but it’s not a sustainable growth strategy. As the buzz fades, you’ll need a well-thought-out plan to continue the influx of new players.
Here, the emphasis is on paid user acquisition campaigns and mastering the art of app store optimization.
Focused Strategy: Paid User Acquisition Campaigns
Paid user acquisition should be the centerpiece of your post-launch strategy for mobile games. It offers the precision and scalability that can propel your game to new heights.
Here’s a breakdown of what this involves:
- Mobile Ad Networks: Choosing the right ad networks for your campaigns is essential. They allow you to target your ads based on player behavior, location, and even the type of device used, optimizing your ad spend. According to AppsFlyer, the top ad networks for acquiring players are Google Ads, Unity, and ironSource.
- Retargeting Campaigns: Lost a potential player after they clicked on an ad but didn’t download? Retargeting campaigns focus on re-engaging these “almost-converts”, reminding them why your game is worth their time.
- Playable Ads: These are interactive ads that allow users to experience a slice of your game before downloading it. They have proven to be highly effective in driving quality installs, i.e., acquiring players who keep playing.
- Cost Models: Whether it’s CPI (Cost Per Install) or CPA (Cost Per Action), understanding which cost model aligns with your objectives is crucial. For example, CPI is often a wise choice for new games focusing on user growth.
- Ad Creatives: The design and messaging of your ad are critical. A/B testing can help identify what resonates best with your target audience.
- Data-Driven Optimization: Continually analyze metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI to refine your campaigns. This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it operation; it’s an evolving process.
The Role of App Store Optimization
App store optimization is your silent salesperson and should never be an afterthought. It goes hand in hand with paid user acquisition campaigns.
Here’s how you can optimize your presence:
- Keywords: Do keyword research to find terms that are both relevant to your game and have high search volumes. Use these in your game’s title and description.
- Visuals: Your icon, screenshots, and preview video should be eye-catching and communicate the core essence of your game. These visuals are often the first interaction a potential player has with your offering.
- Ratings and Reviews: Encourage satisfied players to leave positive reviews. A higher rating often correlates with better visibility in search results.
- Localization: Tailoring your app store listing to different languages and regions can drastically broaden your reach.
- Frequent Updates: Keep your app store listing fresh with updates on new features and improvements. This not only aids in retention but can also signal to potential new users that your game is actively managed and updated.
Optimizing Monetization Strategies
Revenue generation is often regarded as the ‘final boss’ in the game development journey. It’s the lifeblood that allows you to keep delivering high-quality content.
Optimizing the Game Economy
A well-designed game economy is crucial for both player engagement and revenue optimization. Here’s how to get it right:
- Virtual Goods and Currencies: Make sure the virtual items and in-game currencies are balanced in a way that’s engaging but not overly frustrating. Players should feel that their time and money investments are worthwhile.
- Pricing Strategy: Perform A/B tests to find the optimal price points for your in-game items. What’s too high for one player may be just right for another. It’s also a good idea to segment users based on their spending habits.
- Reward Distribution: Be mindful of how and when rewards are distributed. A poorly timed reward can either devalue the in-game economy or discourage further gameplay.
Combining In-App Purchases and In-App Ads
- Segmenting Players: Not all players are created equal. Some will never make an in-app purchase but will happily engage with ads. Others may be high spenders who find ads disruptive. Segment your players based on behavior and tailor the experience accordingly.
- In-App Purchases (IAP): Focus these on players who have demonstrated a willingness to pay. Offer value packs, time-limited deals, and premium content that enhances gameplay without being necessary for progression.
- In-App Ads: These can be directed toward players who aren’t spending but are still engaged. Types of ads can range from banners and interstitials to rewarded videos, which can actually improve player experience if implemented thoughtfully.
Metrics to Track for Revenue Optimization
- Average Revenue Per User (ARPU): This metric gives you a quick read on how well your monetization is performing. A rising ARPU usually signals effective monetization strategies.
- Lifetime Value (LTV): This metric forecasts the total value a player brings over during the course of their interaction with the game. LTV helps you decide how much you can afford to spend on acquiring a new user.
- Conversion Rates: How many of your players are converting from free users to paying customers? If this number is low, you may need to reassess the value proposition of your in-app purchases.
Community Building: More Than Just a Game
Your game is not an island; it’s part of an ecosystem that extends far beyond the confines of the app stores.
One of the strongest assets you can develop post-launch is an engaged community. A strong community not only improves user retention but can also become a valuable resource for feedback, user acquisition, and yes, even monetization.
Role of Social Features
- Chat: A simple chat feature can add layers of engagement that pure gameplay might not provide. It facilitates collaboration, competition, and socialization, making the game more than just a solo experience.
- Leaderboards: Never underestimate the drive players have to climb the leaderboard. Whether it’s global, among friends, or even segmented by region, leaderboards fuel a sense of accomplishment and competition.
- Multiplayer Options: Real-time or asynchronous multiplayer features add depth to the experience. They not only make your game more dynamic but also encourage repeated plays and can keep your community talking and engaged.
Post-launch Strategy for Mobile Games: A Never-Ending Game
By implementing a comprehensive post-launch strategy that focuses on retaining users, acquiring new players through targeted paid campaigns, optimizing monetization, you’re not just launching a game—you’re cultivating a lasting brand.
We’d love to hear what you think. Have you implemented any of these strategies? What worked for you and what didn’t? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.