The Free to Play Game Design Bible: (Soft) Launching a Free to Play Mobile Game

Soft launching a game simply means quietly launching your product on a real store, to a real audience but in a reduced set of territories.  Exactly which store or territories depends on the audience you are targeting. The objective of a soft launch is to get feedback on your game design. To ensure that the feedback is useful you need to ensure your game is wired up to some form of analytics as only through data will you make improvements stick.

(Soft) Launching a Free to Play Mobile Game 1

Good analytics don’t need to be complicated. As a starter, it’s better to focus on the important aspects first; Money, Tutorial, Core Loop, Progression. If you can see how and why people are spending money you can get a feel for the heartbeat of your game. Conversion is king in a soft launch, as making sure you’ve built a system that can encourage even a few people to spend money is hope for the future. If you’re not seeing any conversions, then it’s time to go back to basics and think about your monetization. For more on how to setup your analytics, read on:

How to Plan and Track Events in Mobile Games 1
Related Read
How to Plan and Track Events in Mobile Games
In Growth & Marketing
Tom Kinniburgh

It’s also important to note that a soft launch is a valid time to kill a game: if you don’t see any traction, then you could well be throwing a large amount of time an effort at a poorly designed product. Remember to be critical, follow the data and release frequently to get the best feedback possible.

Once all the numbers are pointing in the right direction, it’s time to consider a global launch. The trick now is start to think about how you can make a splash out there in the market – launching a mobile game is incredibly competitive because of the huge number of titles that appear every week. It’s a well worn phrase, but thinking outside the box to make your product stand out can be key.  

Soft Launches in 2016 3
Related Read
How to Soft Launch (GDC 2016)
In Growth & Marketing
Adam Telfer

Starting with the basics, your app’s name and icon are essentially your calling cards – spend as much time as you can optimising both. Once you have a name and icon you’re comfortable with, make sure you can describe your product and it’s USP in two sentences -the simpler the better.  After that, spend time creating a clear page for the App Store and a consummate press pack for the media, as well as investing money in a great launch trailer. Without these, no media or marketplace will take you seriously.

If you’ve got all of your creative assets lined up then now’s the time to set a launch date and stick to it. Make sure you communicate it with all the store managers, press and your game’s community and, to be frank, get ready for the ride. If you get everything right, it’s possible you could grab a million downloads within a week and your app could take the world by storm. Of course, if you get things wrong, your game could drift into the realms of app store obscurity, never to be found again.

Read more success stories and useful resources that can help you to plan your launch strategy:

Title Source Complexity
Presskit - A free PR resource for launching games Presskit
Launch Checklist Android Android
ASO Academy SensorTower
How to Plan and Track Events in Mobile Games Mobile Free to Play
GSMA Mobile Connectivity index GSMA
How to Soft Launch Mobile Free to Play
How much should a soft launch cost? Mobile Dev Memo