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Ron Oliver - Developing Games – Virtual Games Detailed Feedback vs. Physical Games Limited Feedback.

Developing games – virtual games detailed feedback vs. physical games limited feedback.

I would like to share with you my experience on the difference between developing mobile casual games vs. developing toys & games, with respect to the available data analysis.

I work as a game developer for a successful casual mobile games company during the day and invent physical toys & games at nights.

If someone will ask me what is the key factor for creating a successful casual mobile game – I will have a simple answer: iterations and analytics.

Obviously, the casual mobile game must meet the natural characteristics of having a great game play; having a cool theme and be fun to play with – but these are just as a starting point.

In the mobile game app industry – everything is measurable! Every click, every play is counted and measured.

In the mobile casual games industry, the games are usually free and the business model is Freemium – which means user installs them for free and the money comes from ads and from in-App purchases.

After launching a mobile game – you examine many KPI (Key Performance Indicator) such as:

  • 1 Day Retention - the % of players who came back to play the game after the installation day

  • 7 Day Retention - the % of players who came back to play the game a week after the installation day

  • Sessions number - Number of times the game was played by the player

  • Session length - The amount of time played by the player each time

  • Convection rate – how many players are willing to spend real money in your game

  • User Rating – 1-5 stars, some players write a detailed review on their experience.

These are just few points from a large amount of data which you collect to help you figure out what is working well in your game and what still needs improvement.

The KPIs allow you to understand immediately whether the users think the game is fun and attractive or not, which levels are too easy and which levels are too hard, do people from a specific country enjoy your game and come back to play, and so on.

But most important thing – you can iterate! If the basic KPIs are good (the minimum requirement), you can keep on improving your game. You can update the game on the App Store every 2 weeks, fixing your levels, allowing your customers new features, experiment with different game mechanics, updating different sounds and graphics.

After every new version you examine all the KPIs and improve your game again and again, iteration by iteration. This is the only way to have a long-lasting successful casual mobile game.

When I’m inventing a new physical game or a toy – I am facing a big data void.

I usually work with other inventors as a collective, we meet together share ideas, thinking together on a game/toy, building a prototype, exploring the internet to see that we are not reinventing a game which exist, finding some players in the appropriate ages for the game – and playtest it with them.

The problem is that there is not much information to analyze - the playtest is most likely be limited to 8-20 people, usually from the same geographic area.

We do get verbal feedback from the players, and we can see if the game worked well for them or not – by the way - the best feedback is if they want to play it again and again…and then we iterate on that.

Finally, when we feel we have a great game/toy in our hand we go to meet the toy companies.

From this point on – the information is very limited.

You pitch the game to the toys companies representatives in a meeting and get a limited feedback, usually a ‘send a model/video request’, short feedback and sometime a polite pass – ‘this is not for us’.

You send the model to the companies to review and most often get an answer with not much feedback. Even after the game get published – the biggest feedback is the sales report…

A more detailed feedback from the companies, will allow us, inventors, to iterate and come back with better games and toys.

I think that as an industry in order to compete with the digital games the traditional games industry will need to develop more ways to gain data on the actual ways the players are playing the game/toy.

I believe in the future as the IOT (Internet of things) will advance – the analytics of physical games and toys will improve – helping the industry to analyze the products and to iterate on each product edition.


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