Tag Archives: Games

App onboarding for kids: how Budge Studios creates a more engaging experience for families

Posted by Josh Solt (Partner Developer Manager, Kids Apps at Google Play) and Noemie Dupuy (Founder & Co-CEO at Budge Studios)

Developers spend a considerable amount of resources driving users to download their apps, but what happens next is often the most critical part of the user journey. User onboarding is especially nuanced in the kids space since developers must consider two audiences: parents and children. When done correctly, a compelling onboarding experience will meet the needs of both parents and kids while also accounting for unique considerations, such as a child's attention span.

Budge Studios has successfully grown their catalog of children's titles by making onboarding a focal point of their business. Their target demographic is three to eight-year olds, and their portfolio of games include top titles featuring Strawberry Shortcake, Hello Kitty, Crayola, Caillou and The Smurfs.

"First impressions matter, as do users' first experience with your app. In fact, 70%1 of users who delete an app will do so within a day of having downloaded it, leaving little time for second chances. As an expert in kids' content, Budge tapped into our knowledge of kids to improve and optimize the onboarding experience, leading to increased initial game-loop completion and retention." - Noemie, Founder & Co-CEO at Budge Studios

Three key ways Budge Studios designs better onboarding experiences:


1. Make sure your game is tailor-made for kids

When Budge released their app Crayola Colorful Creatures, they looked at data to identify opportunities to create a smoother onboarding flow for kids. At launch, only 25% of first-time users were completing the initial game loop. Budge analyzed data against gameplay and realized the last activity was causing a drastic drop-off. It required kids to use the device's microphone, and that proved too challenging for very young kids. Budge was able to adjust the initial game loop so that all the activities were accessible to the youngest players. These adjustments almost tripled the initial loop completion, resulting in 74% of first-time users progressing to see additional activities.

2. Earn parents trust by providing real value upfront

Budge has a large of portfolio of apps. Earning parents' trust by providing valuable and engaging experiences for kids is important for retaining users in their ecosystem and achieving long term success.

With every new app, Budge identifies what content is playable for free, and what content must be purchased. Early on, Budge greatly limited the amount of free content they offered, but over time has realized providing high quality free content enhances the first-time user experience. Parents are more willing to spend on an app if their child has shown a real interest in a title.

Working with top kids' brands means that Budge can tap into brand loyalty of popular kids characters to provide value. To launch Strawberry Shortcake Dreams, Budge decided to offer Strawberry Shortcake, the most popular character in the series, as a free character. Dress Up Dreams is among the highest converting apps in the Budge portfolio, indicating that giving away the most popular character for free helped conversions rather than hurting it.

3. Test with real users

Budge knows there is no substitute for direct feedback from its end-users, so Budge involves kids every step of the way. Budge Playgroup is a playtesting program that invites families to try out apps at the alpha, beta and first-playable development stages.

The benefits from early testing can be as basic as understanding how the size and coordination of kids' hands affect their ability to complete certain actions or even hold the device, and as specific as pinpointing a less-than-effective button.

In the testing stages of Strawberry Shortcake Holiday Hair, Budge caught an issue with the main menu of the app, which would not have been evident without observing kids using the app.

Prior to Playtesting:

After Playtesting:

In the original design, users were prompted to start gameplay by audio cues. During testing, it was clear that the voiceover was not sufficient in guiding kids to initiate play, and that additional visual clues would significantly improve the experience. A simple design change resulted in a greatly enhanced user experience.

The onboarding experience is just one component of an app, but just like first impressions, it has a disproportionate impact on your users' perception of your app. As Budge has experienced, involving users in testing your app, using data to flag issues and providing real value to your users upfront, creates a smoother, more accessible onboarding experience and leads to better results.

For more best practices on developing family apps and games, please check out The Family Playbook for developers. And visit the Android Developers website to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

1.http://www.cmswire.com/customer-experience/mobile-app-retention-5-key-strategies-to-keep-your-customers/

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5 tips for indie game success, from indie game developers

Posted by Sarah Thomson, BD Partnerships Lead, Indies, Google Play Games

Mobile gaming is a fun place to be right now. It's a landscape seeing tremendous success year after year with great potential for additional growth and innovation. It's also a space where developers can express themselves with creative game styles, mechanics, design and more. This is what the indie community does best.

Here are 5 tips for indies by indies, shared by our gaming partners at 505 Games, About Fun, Disruptor Beam, Klei Entertainment, and Schell Games.


1. Embrace being indie


Indies are inherently smaller operations and should embrace their agility and ability to take risks. Petr Vodak, CEO at About Fun, recommends getting your product out there so you can start taking feedback and apply your learnings to future projects. Don't be afraid to fail! Remaining flexible and building in modularity so you can evolve with the business needs is a strategy embraced by Pete Arden, CMO at Disruptor Beam. For instance, with their game Star Trek Timelines, the initial user experience was tailored to avid Star Trek fans. Over time, as user acquisition costs increased, they've changed the new player experience to appeal to their evolving user base of gamers looking for a fun entertainment experience and less the specific Star Trek IP.

2. Find a way to stand out


To help stand out in the ultra competitive mobile space, Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games, recommends doing something clever or very different. This strategy has led them to explore the growth areas of new platforms such as AR & VR. While new platforms present a field for opportunity and creativity, they're best to be approached with the long term in mind allowing you to sustain the business until critical mass is reached.

3. Build a community


There are many ways to build communities. If you have an existing fan base on other platforms, cross-promote to drive awareness of your mobile offerings. You can also look at porting titles over, but be aware of the differences in mobile gaming habits and ensure you adapt your game accordingly.

4. Engage after install


Both 505 Games and Klei Entertainment recommend running your premium titles as a service. Through monitoring user reviews you can gain invaluable feedback and trends helping you better understand user pain points and desires. In addition, by releasing regular content updates and in-game events you create reason for users to get back in the game. This not only drives reengagement, but 505 Games also sees strong spikes in new installs aligned with major game updates.

5. Monetize in different ways


Similar strategy to above, dropping regular content refreshes and game updates while offering a variety of monetization options gives users more ways to engage with your game. Keeping your games fresh gives users reason to come back and builds loyalty so you can cross-promote to your users with future game launches.

If you're looking for a fun new game to play, check out the great selection on Indie Corner on Google Play. And if you're working on a new indie game of your own, nominate your title for inclusion.

Watch more sessions from Google Developer Day at GDC17 on the Android Developers YouTube channel to learn tips for success. Visit the Android Developers website to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.


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Game developers rejoice—new tools for developing on Actions on Google

By Sunil Vemuri, Product Manager for Actions on Google

Since we launchedthe Actions on Google platform last year, we've seen a lot of creative actions for use cases ranging from meditation to insurance. But one of the areas where we're especially excited is gaming. Games like Akinator to SongPop demonstrate that developers can create new and engaging experiences for users. To bring more great games online, we're adding new tools to Actions on Google to make it easier than ever for you to build games for the Google Assistant.

First, we're releasing a brand new sound effect library. These effects can make your games more engaging, help you create a more fun persona for your action, and hopefully put smiles on your users' faces. From airplanes, slide whistles, and bowlingto cats purring and thunder, you're going to find hundreds of options that will add some pizzazz to your Action.

Second, for those of you who feel nostalgic about interactive text adventures, we just published a handy guide on how to bring these games to life with the Google Assistant. With many old favorites being open source or in the public domain, you are now able to re-introduce these classics to Google Assistant users on Google Home.

Finally, for those of you who are looking to build new types of games, we've recently expanded the list of tool and consulting companies that have integrated their development solutions with Actions on Google. New collaborators like Pullstring, Converse.AI, Solstice and XAPP Media are now also able to help turn your vision into reality.

We can't wait to see how you use our sound library and for the new and classic games you'll bring to Google Assistant users on Google Home! Make sure you join our Google+ community to discuss Actions on Google with other developers.

5 tips for building communities on mobile

Posted by Dave Geffon, Partnerships Manager, Google Play Games

The most successful games usually have the strongest communities. They are a powerful force in driving additional engagement and increasing awareness for your titles. At GDC 2017, we spoke with a few game developers about best practices for successfully building their own communities. Watch the panel session below to hear advice from Seriously, Social Point, and Super Evil MegaCorp.


1. Be authentic

Community is a mindset; be honest, transparent & patient with your communications. Loyal users are extremely valuable, thus the folks at Super Evil Megacorp say that you should act like you have to earn every player.

2. Start small

Build a plan and start today. Launch your social media channels, look into influencers, and create a strategy. Whether it's sharing one piece of fan art a week across your network, or running a closed beta to gather feedback from your most valued users, take action and learn what works best for you and your users.

3. Play match-maker

When finding influencers to support your game, ensure they're a genuine match. Make sure the influencer's audience is a good fit with your game and existing community.

4. Seek feedback 

Communities are passionate. Use feedback to understand what kind of game and features your users want. Be flexible and iterative so you can react and evolve your game with the needs and desires of your community. However, don't be afraid to stay true to what you stand for as sometimes you'll need to agree to disagree with some players.

5. Build for the long-term

The lifespan of games is continuing to grow. Plan your business strategy, update cycles and community efforts to roll out over time and expand with your growing experiences and user-base.
Watch more sessions from Google Developer Day at GDC17 on the Android Developers YT channel to learn tips for success. Also, visit the Android Developers website to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

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5 Tips for launching successful apps and games on Google Play

Posted by Adam Gutterman, Go-To-Market Strategic Lead, Google Play Games

Last month at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), we held a developer panel focused on sharing best practices for building successful app and game businesses. Check out 5 tips for developers, both large and small, as shared by our gaming partners at Electronic Arts (EA), Hutch Games, Nix Hydra, Space Ape Games and Omnidrone.



1. Test, test, test

The best time to test, is before you launch; so test boldly and test a lot! Nix Hydra recommends testing creative, including art style and messaging, as well as gameplay mechanics, onboarding flows and anything else you're not sure about. Gathering feedback from real users in advance of launching can highlight what's working and what can be improved to ensure your game's in the best shape possible at launch.

2. Store listing experiments

Run experiments on all of your store listing page assets. Taking bold risks instead of making assumptions allows you to see the impact of different variables with your actual user base on Google Play. Test in different regions to ensure your store listing page is optimized for each major market, as they often perform differently.

3. Early Access program

Space Ape Games recently used Early Access to test different onboarding experiences and gameplay control methods in their game. Finding the right combination led them to double-digit growth in D1 retention. Gathering these results in advance of launch helped the team fine tune and polish the game, minimizing risk before releasing to the masses.

"Early Access is cool because you can ask the big questions and get real answers from real players," Joe Raeburn, Founding Product Guy at Space Ape Games.

Watch the Android Developer Story below to hear how Omnidrone benefits from Early Access using strong user feedback to improve retention, engagement and monetization in their game.


Mobile game developer Omnidrone benefits from Early Access.

4. Pre-registration

Electronic Arts has run more than 5 pre-registration campaigns on Google Play. Pre-registration allows them to start marketing and build awareness for titles with a clear call-to-action before launch. This gives them a running start on launch day having built a group of users to activate upon the game's release resulting in a jump in D1 installs.

5. Seek feedback

All partners strongly recommended seeking feedback early and often. Feedback tells both sides of the story, by pointing out what's broken as well as what you're doing right. Find the right time and channels to request feedback, whether they be in-game, social, email, or even through reading and responding to reviews within the Google Play store.

If you're a startup who has an upcoming launch on Google Play or has launched an app or game recently and you're interested in opportunities like Early Access and pre-registration, get in touch with us so we can work with you.

Watch sessions from Google Developer Day at GDC17 on the Android Developers YT channel to learn tips for success. Also, visit the Android Developers website to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.


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Meet The AdMob Team at Game Developers Conference (GDC) Next Week

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is less than one week away in San Francisco. We’re excited to give you a glimpse into how we are helping mobile game developers build businesses and improve user experiences, while monetizing successfully.

Our Google Developer Day will take place in Room 2020 of the West Hall of Moscone Center on Monday, February 27. We'll share how new devices, platforms, and tools are helping developers grow successful businesses and push the limits of mobile gaming. Then stay with us for a diverse set of lightning talks and panels covering topics including virtual reality, machine learning, monetization and more. Here’s a look at the schedule:

  • Opening Keynote || 10AM: We’ll kick off the day by sharing how Google is ramping up efforts to help game developers grow their businesses and make Android a great platform for games. From Play store updates optimized for discovery and engagement, to performance upgrades making high fidelity gaming come to life on Android devices, 2017 will be another year full of exciting gaming experiences.
  • Lightning Talks || 11:10AM: Stay with us for a variety of 5-minute talks covering all the latest to know to develop great games using Google's technological edge with Machine Learning, VR for everyone, Cloud Gaming, Firebase and more... and learn how to make them profitable.
  • 3 x Panels || 2:00PM: After lunch, we'll host panels to hear from developers first-hand about their experiences launching mobile games, building thriving communities, and navigating the successes and challenges of being an indie developer.

Our main keynote will take place in Room 3009 in the West Hall of Moscone Center on Wednesday, March 1.

  • Smarter Growth, powered by Google's Machine Learning || 9:30AM: Join Jane Butler, Sissie Hsiao and Brendon Kraham, where we’ll discuss how the mobile games industry is becoming more sophisticated as technology, player demographics, motivations and community participation becomes more diverse. As a result, marketers are tasked with finding smarter and more efficient ways to engage high-value users. Using over a decade of machine learning technology, Google is driving innovations in growth and monetization across the player lifecycle. Hear from Google app promotion specialists on how to combine the power of data and technology to drive profitable growth for your games business.

We’ll also be hosting two additional ads focused workshops on Thursday, March 2.

  • Find Your Biggest Fans with Google's Machine Learning || 2:00PM: Join this session, hosted by Mark Heneghan, Analytical Lead, to learn how Google can help you grow both your game and profitability with a little help from machine learning.
  • Earn more revenue from Rewarded and the AdMob platform || 3:00PM: This talk will be hosted by Apoorva Sharma, AdMob Account Manager and in this advanced session, the AdMob team will provide a technical deep dive into how the right ad technology helps you earn money and enhance user experience. 

See all the details about our Google Developer Day here and check out all the other Google talks here.

For more information on our presence at GDC, including a full list of our talks and speaker details, click here. Remember, these events are part of the official Game Developer's Conference, so you will need a pass to attend. For those who can't make it in person, watch the live stream on YouTube starting at 10am PST on Monday, February 27th.

We’ll also be live tweeting on Twitter and sharing on Google+ and LinkedIn, so stay in the loop with what’s happening with #Google #GDC17.

Posted by the Google AdMob Team.

Source: Inside AdMob


And the winners of the Google Play Indie Games Contest in Europe are…

Posted by Matteo Vallone, Google Play Games Business Development


Today, at Saatchi Gallery in London, we hosted the final event of the first Google Play Indie Games Contest in Europe. The 20 finalists, selected from nearly 1000 submissions, came from 12 countries to showcase their games to an excited room of gamers, industry experts and press. Selected based on the votes of the attendees and the Google Play team, the Top 10 pitched in front of a jury of industry experts who chose the top winners.


Stay tuned for more pictures and a video of the event.

Without further ado, join us in congratulating the winners!

Winner & Unity prize winner:

Reigns, by Nerial, from the United Kingdom

You are the King. For each decision, you only have two choices. Survive the exercise of power and the craziness of your advisors... as long as you can.

Runners up:


The Battle of Polytopia, by Midjiwan AB, from Sweden

A turn based strategic adventure. It's a game about ruling the world, fighting evil AI tribes, discovering new lands and mastering new technologies.
Causality, by Loju, from the United Kingdom

A puzzle about manipulating time, altering the sequence of events and changing the outcome of each level to help a group of astronauts find a route to safety.


The other top games selected by the event attendees and the Google Play team are:


Blind Drive, by Lo-Fi People, from Israel

You're driving blindfolded as a mysterious voice gives you suicidal commands on the phone. Survive on-rushing vehicles using only your hearing to guide you.
Gladiabots, by GFX47, from France

A competitive tactical game in which you design the AI of your robot squad. Use your own strategy, refine it online and fight for the top of the leaderboard.
Happy Hop: Kawaii Jump, by Platonic Games, from Spain

This isn't just an original one-tap endless hopper, it's also the cutest one. Ever wondered what's in the end of the rainbow? That would be Happy Hop.
Lost in Harmony, by Digixart Entertainment, from France

Experience music in a new way with the combination of rhythmic tapping and choreographic runner to go through two memorable journeys with Kaito and M.I.R.A.I.
Paper Wings, by Fil Games, from Turkey

A fast-paced arcade game which puts you in control of an origami bird. Avoid the hazards and collect the falling coins to keep your paper bird alive.
Pinout, by Mediocre, from Sweden

A breathtaking pinball arcade experience: race against time in a continuous journey through this canyon of pulsating lights and throbbing retro wave beats.
Rusty Lake: Roots, by Rusty Lake, from Netherlands

James Vanderboom's life drastically changes when he plants a special seed in the garden. Expand your bloodline by unlocking portraits in the tree of life.



Check out the prizes
The prizes of this contest were designed to help the winners showcase their art and grow their business on Android and Google Play, including:
  • YouTube influencer campaigns worth up to 100,000 EUR
  • Premium placements on Google Play
  • Tickets to Google I/O 2017 and other top industry events
  • Promotions on our channels
  • Special prizes for the best Unity game
  • And more!
What’s next?
The week is not over just yet for Indie games developers. Tomorrow we are hosting the Indie Games Workshop for all indie games developers from across EMEA in the new Google office in Kings Cross.

It’s been really inspiring to see the enthusiasm around this inaugural edition, and the quality and creativity of the indie games developed across the eligible European countries. We are looking forward to bringing a new edition of the contest to you in late 2017.

Many thanks again to everyone who entered the contest. We can’t wait to see the amazing games that you will create this year to delight Android users.

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Get ready for Google Developer Day at GDC 2017

Posted by Noah Falstein, Chief Game Designer at Google

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) kicks off on Monday, February 27th with our annual Google Developer Day. Join us as we demonstrate how new devices, platforms, and tools are helping developers build successful businesses and push the limits of mobile gaming on Android.

Expect exciting announcements, best practices, and tips covering a variety of topics including Google Play, Daydream VR, Firebase, Cloud Platform, machine learning, monetization, and more. In the afternoon, we'll host panels to hear from developers first-hand about their experiences launching mobile games, building thriving communities, and navigating the successes and challenges of being an indie developer.
Visit our site for more info and the Google Developer Day schedule. These events are part of the official Game Developer's Conference, so you will need a pass to attend. For those who can't make it in person, watch the live stream on YouTube starting at 10am PST on Monday, February 27th.


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Discover and celebrate the best local games at Indonesia Games Contest


Posted by David Yin, Business Development Manager, Indonesia, Google Play.

It is a great time to be a mobile game developer on Android with the opportunity reaching more than a billion global users on Google Play. At the same time, developers in fast growing mobile markets like Indonesia have an additional opportunity in the form of a huge local audience that is hungry for local content. We have already seen thousands of Indonesian developers launch high quality, locally relevant games for this new audience, such as "Tahu Bulat" & "Tebak Gambar".

In our continuous quest to discover, nurture growth, and showcase the best games from Indonesia, we are really happy to announce Indonesia Games Contest. This contest celebrates the passion and great potential of local game developers, and provides an opportunity to raise awareness of your game with global and local industry experts, together with gamers, from across Indonesia. It's also a chance to showcase your creativity and win cool prizes.
Entering the contest

The contest is only open to developers based in Indonesia who have published a new game on Google Play after 1 January 2016. Make sure to visit our contest website for the full list of eligibility criteria and terms. A quick summary of the process is below:
  1. If you are eligible, submit your game by 19 March 2017.
  2. Entries will be reviewed by Google Play team and industry experts, and up to 15 finalists will be announced in early April 2017.
  3. The finalists will get to showcase their games at the final event in Jakarta on 26 April 2017.
  4. Winner and runners up will be announced at final event.
To get started

Visit our contest website to find out more about the contest and submit your game.
Terima Kasih!


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Tips from developers Peak and Soundcloud on how to grow your startup on Google Play


Posted by Francesca Di Felice, Developer Marketing at Google Play

At Playtime 2016, Google Play's series of developer events, we met with top app and game developers from around the world to share learnings on how to build successful businesses on Google Play. Several startups, including game developer Peaklabs and audio platform SoundCloud, presented on stage their own best practices for growth, which you might find helpful.

Testing for growth, by Peak

Hear from Kevin Shanahan, Product Manager from Peak, a brain training app, on how to grow sustainably.



  • Test lots of ideas: You can't be sure of what will work and what won't, so you need to test lots of ideas. Peak ran four different tests to try to increase conversions to Pro (their subscriber offering):
  1. Made the ability to replay games a Pro feature
  2. Reduced price of Pro by 25% in top 2 markets
  3. Bundled add-on modules from partners into Pro
  4. Showed a preview of Pro-only content
          One of these tests resulted in a 50% increase in conversions.

  • Get the basics right: Start with a great product and have a data-informed culture. Don't only test app features, experimenting your store listing using store listing experiments is also important.
  • Build a robust A/B testing process: Having a well-defined A/B testing process and a system for tracking your experiments is key to testing quickly and effectively.

Improving user retention, by SoundCloud

Andy Carvell, former Product Manager at SoundCloud, an online audio distribution platform that enables its users to upload, record, promote, and share their originally-created sounds, explains how they focus on retention to improve growth.

 

  • Design your retention strategy: Apps with poor retention grow slowly. To increase your retention you should:
    • Convert new users to repeat visitors by providing a strong onboarding experience for new users and taking a high-touch approach during the first days and weeks.
    • Increase visit frequency within this group by providing frequent, timely, and relevant messaging about content or activity on the platform.
    • Target returning users who were not seen over the last period, who are 'at risk of churn' users, by giving them reasons to come back for another session before losing them.
    • Re-activate lapsed (long-term churned) users with campaigns to remind them about your app and offer an incentive to return.
  • Build 'growth machines': Create repeatable processes that testing has proven to positively impact retention, retaining users, and preventing churn.
  • Use activity notifications in a personalised and effective way: At SoundCloud there are plenty of things that happen when users are not in the app that might be relevant to them, for example new content releases or social interactions. They tested 5 new notification types, always keeping a control group to better keep track of the impact, and managed to increase retention in a 5%. Watch the video above for more of Andy's tips on making better use of notifications.

Other speakers, such as Silicon Valley VC Greylock, have also shared their tips for startup growth. Watch more sessions from this year's Playtime events to learn best practices from other apps and game partners, and the Google Play team. Get the Playbook for Developers app to stay up to date with news and tips to help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

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