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Globally launching your hyper-casual game
In previous classes we talked about getting ready for launch with a soft launch. This class, you’ll understand what’s needed to successfully launch your game globally – including 3 strategies for launching hyper-casual games.
Hi everyone, I’m Adam Frimer.
So far in this course about making successful hyper-casual games, we’ve covered the concept phase, marketability testing, and soft launching. Now we’ve arrived to crunch time – globally launching your hyper-casual game.
For many hyper-casual game developers, partnering with a publisher like Supersonic is the best way to get this right and get the game to the top charts.
Other developers, perhaps slightly more experienced ones or those with a small team around them, try their luck at going the solo route, launching the game on their own.
Whichever route you go, this session will help you understand what’s needed to successfully launch your game globally.
3 launch strategies to get your hyper-casual game to the top of the charts
Getting your game to the top doesn’t just come down to a great concept or design – you’ve also gotta launch it effectively. However, a mistake from hyper-casual devs we see way too often is using the same launch strategy on in-app UA networks and social platforms. These should be treated differently.
In this video we’re focusing on UA on ad networks and the different strategies you can use when globally launching your hyper-casual game.
The strategies can be separated as: Conservative, Aggressive, or Standard
Deciding which is the right approach for you depends on your budget and how much risk you want to take. Let’s take a look at each of the strategies…
A conservative launch strategy is defined by a small cap (budget) and high bids, in which you adjust both over time based on LTV and how quickly you’re scaling. A conservative approach does minimize the risk of overspending or losing money, but you need to watch the campaign closely and optimize pretty often to avoid going over the cap. The manual work this needs means there’s more room for errors, and the low budget means it’ll usually take longer to scale.
If you can’t afford to start with a higher budget or want to stay in the soft launch stage longer, a conservative launch strategy could work to help you minimize spend – but it does come at a sacrifice to how quickly you can learn from campaigns to optimize and scale.
To launch your game with a more aggressive strategy, start with both a high cap and high bids and then adjust so you can become profitable after you reach the top of the charts. The benefit of an aggressive approach is that your game gets strong organic uplift from reaching a higher rank in the charts, which can help your marketing and brand awareness for future titles.
For studios or developers with plenty of resources that can afford to lose money initially, an aggressive approach could help you get your game to the top faster. The disadvantage, though, is that this strategy is risky – it’s likely not going to be profitable at first, and runs the risk of not being profitable at all.
A standard launch strategy is the one we suggest for most hyper-casual games – it’s not too risky or too cautious. Starting with high caps and target bids that you set based on your learnings from testing and soft launch, you can then adjust your campaigns if you’re not seeing enough traffic.
Make sure to bid more granularly as you start learning from the campaign’s performance 1 to 3 days after launch, and also talk to your ad network for recommendations based on quality and performance so you can find this target bid quickly and easily.
To maximize IPM with this strategy, first consider where to launch – your best bet is Tier 1 countries, like the US and other geos that yielded the highest IPM from soft launch. If you don’t have enough data or learnings from previous titles or your game’s soft launch, just start with the US. The timing of your launch matters, too, with Fridays and US rush hour times (UTC 18:00-22:00) usually performing best.
It often takes a week or less to gather enough data from the campaign to see if it’ll continue scaling or if you need to make adjustments. If you do need to tweak your game, check your creatives and your in-game metrics – KPIs like playtime and retention can indicate if you’re monetizing users effectively so you can afford a higher bid.
This type of launch strategy is best for most hyper-casual games…it’s the sweet spot where you can learn fast, improve performance efficiently, and as a result increase your profits.
Using playable ad creatives at global launch
For the second half of this session, I want us to focus on designing playables to help you get the most scale out of your UA campaigns at global launch.
Playable ads are usually used during global launch to drive downloads at scale and give important insights into your creative strategy, with in-ad metrics like engagement rate and conversion rate (more on that soon). In the next few minutes I’ll take you through some of the design best practices we’ve seen work wonders for playable ads at global launch.
Hook users with the tutorial
The tutorial is the first part of your playable that users interact with, and it needs to strike the balance between informing users how to play and showing them how to.
Hyper-casual games usually have a single mechanic – it’s very important that users understand the mechanic in your playable and what will happen once they start interacting.
At Supersonic, tutorials are tested to find this balance between telling and showing, and to determine what’s engaging users most so they keep playing.
For example, one of the most common tests is removing visual noise in the creative, like obstacles and background elements. This keeps the attention entirely on the gameplay and mechanic in the creative – the goal is for users to know how to play in under three seconds.
This was tested in a playable for the game Mad Dogs, by simplifying the background and changing the environment to be more bare. Then the text was edited so it related directly to the mechanic and made it more clear what happens when users tapped the screen.
The Supersonic team also changed the camera angle to a full side view, which improved visibility and clarified gameplay even further.
As a result, the new version improved performance across KPIs, achieving an engagement rate of 87%, conversion rate over 27%, IPM over 64, and click-through rate over 36%.
Tempt users with the gameplay in your playable
There’s another balance to strike when it comes to your playables, and it has to do with the gameplay: keeping users engaged vs. leaving them wanting more so they’re tempted to download and play.
We suggest keeping your playable’s gameplay at 15 seconds or less, which is usually enough time to give users a sense of the gameplay experience while leaving them wanting to play more. If your playable highlights actual gameplay from your game, try testing different elements to show.
For example, you could test different levels with different difficulties and see which performs best in a playable. The playable gameplay that’s likely to resonate with users varies for each genre – for example playables for decision-making games often highlight the visuals and storyline more than other genres.
For Stacky Dash, Supersonic tested two versions of a playable featuring similar gameplay, but with distinctly different visual experiences. One version featured a track with coins and a circular formation.
The other version had hearts instead of coins and the track was in a heart shape – the heart is a very familiar shape to users and they immediately understood and related more to the game. In the end, the version with the heart tiles achieved better results, bringing CTR up to nearly 63%, CVR over 7%, and IPM over 45.
Close the deal with the end card or CTA
The last piece of the puzzle is getting users to go to the app store and download your hyper-casual game. The balancing act here is avoiding irritating or startling users in how you send them to the store. The key is to get them there as quickly and with as little friction as possible, so test different ways you send users to the store from your playable. Some variations we test include using a simple end card that they can tap to go to the store or offering them an incentive, like getting an extra life when they install and start playing.
And that’s it for now, good luck to all of you launching a new game and stay tuned for new courses in the future.