Improve Your Game's Chances of Success with Google Play

Alexis Baghdadi, Apr 07 2016

Mohammad El-Saadi did a good job of promoting Google Play as the platform of choice for game developers at the MENA Games Conference - MEGA 2016 in Beirut. The operating system’s Google Developers backend is packed with features that help developers – even indie developers – rate their product both prior and after launch, to tweak it, localize it, and monetize it better.

El-Saadi is from Business Development, Android Apps & Games in MENA and Turkey – Google UAE, so attendees had the rare opportunity to get a crash course about the tools at their disposal from a live expert.

It’s an Android World

Globally, Android operating systems accounted for 81% of the global smartphone market in 2015 – versus 15% for iOS – based on research by Top Mobile Trends. Even in the US, Android systems prevail with 53% of the market, compared to 43% for iOS.

More to the point, 3 out 4 Android users play games, which makes it a huge market, according to El-Saadi. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge, with more and more games flooding Google Play, and making it hard for small developers to compete against top-ranking giants.

Until now…

Google Developers is aware of all this. The rationale behind Play Games Services was to make game development and launch easier, while also giving indie developers a fighting chance.

“We are introducing the concept of Game as a Service,” said El-Saadi.

To give us an idea of just how much Play Games Services can help developers, he mentioned Eric Froemling, the one-man team behind the successful game BombSquad. Using only feedback from the platform, Froemling was able to publish his game on Google Play and achieve high traction in a short time.

Here is a look at some of the high added-value benefits that Play Games Services offer developers.

Leveraging User Data for Successful Launching

Having a great game is a good start, but success is mainly data-driven, said El-Saadi. One way to gather data is through pre-launch testing. Play Games Services makes alpha / beta testing easier to set, with the option of choosing closed or open testing (the latter being the best choice, according to El-Saadi).

The success of game is measured in its conversion rates. Right from the start, Play Games Services starts tracking conversion rates to make it easier to test a number variables such as the game icon, screenshots, etc. to climb in the Android store listings.

Not only that, but developers and publishers can adjust the testing parameters to target users in specific markets like the MENA, which helps them localize it more efficiently.

“By running such tests, you have effectively already completed half of your user acquisition work,” said El-Saadi.

Built-in analytics allow developers and publishers to segment users and predict their behaviors (e.g. players likely to spend over $50 in the next month) to target them more efficiently. To get an idea of how this data can be leveraged, El-Saadi cited gamers who spend very little or nothing on in-app purchases, explaining that they are prime targets for ads, as opposed to bigger spenders.

By contrast, according to the testimonial of Avetis Zakharyan, CEO of UnderWater Apps, “Not showing ads to users that were probable to spend increased number of IAP transactions by 15%.”

Looking at the user end, there are different strategies that developers can implement to find and retain users. However, this does take up time and resources. The Play Games Services dashboard took care of that by making it easier to integrate successful Game Concepts like achievements, leaderboards, gifts, etc.

Play Games Services has also introduced new social features for users, including the possibility of choosing gamer IDs and avatars, and discovering, inviting, and interacting with other gamers to issue challenges or exchange tips.

Live Video Recording and Sharing for Everyone

It seems like Google has managed to migrate many of the social features that were previously native to web/desktop platforms Facebook (sharing, achievements, rewards, etc.) and integrated them to mobile platforms. And it has taken this to a new level, notably with video.

Google Play already proposes a video recording API that allows gamers to record their gameplay and share it on YouTube, even in live streaming.

As a next step, Google Developers is looking at launching this option for developers so they can integrate it automatically in their apps. The feature could also combine gameplay recording and gamer recording.

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