The steps to success – A guide to concept testing before developing a game

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Author: Tomas Laincz, Growth Marketing Manager

Mobile game concept testing and its Importance

Before you’ve began developing a game, you’ll most likely have an idea as to whether its being built as a hobby or into a profit making, scalable game. If you are looking for a profitable game, you should always follow the data and not your heart – something which new publishers sometimes fall into the trap of. 

Therefore, before you start developing a profit making game, we always recommend undertaking proper research and testing. Tools such as data.ai or sensortower.com will help you find the best performing games in every genre, understand how many installs they are getting and what revenue they make. Many developers try to find a hole in the market and come up with something new but this can be a risky strategy. 

Generally speaking, a better approach would be to find what currently works and do something similar, which isn’t to every publisher’s taste but is a much better recipe for success – that is, if you define success as having a ‘profit making’ game. 

Good examples of games which are similar but still successful are Empires & Puzzles, Candy Crush Saga and Royal Match. This is because factors such as art styles, playability, storylines, game progression and so on, play a bigger factor in success than finding a concept that’s completely new.

Concept test process

Marketability and art style testing

Once you have an idea of the type of game you are planning to develop, it is time to explore the marketability of the concept and find the most preferred art style for the game. There are few things you will need:

Creatives 

Testing different art styles is relatively straightforward. You can pick 4-5 different art styles / themes, run a campaign with A/B tests of those styles and find the best performer (based on the campaign metrics). This is a perfect example of making strategic decisions using the data and not with your heart. 

Mockup an app store page

You can create mockup app store pages on both Android and iOS platforms. You can build your page from scratch, or you can use tools such as Geeklab to avoid the coding part. Regardless of which you choose, you end up with a mockup app store page which is identical to the real app store page. The purpose of this is to test which creatives have the best impact on installs of your game, therefore, we recommend keeping all the information about the game the same and only changing creatives.

Gameplay

But how do you test your gameplay? We found that players don’t usually spend much time looking at the in-game screenshots on the app store and it can be difficult for publishers to convey what the actual gameplay is like through this format. We often see best results when publishers make a video for each art style which shows detailed clips of the gameplay.

Using surveys

Conducting a survey will give you an opportunity to get more information about your target audience. You can ask about demographics, the reason why they clicked on the ad, what they like about the game, what makes them want to play the game and so on. Just remember to keep it simple as the completion rate drops with each additional question. The best place to host these surveys are on the mockup app store page you have previously created. 

Extracting the maximum value from testing

Keep in mind that the game you are creating doesn’t exist and you will not be able to run install or app event optimized campaigns. This means all the KPIs you get from the test will just be an estimation, but this shouldn’t stop you from testing.

It all depends on genre but for example, if you get the estimated CPI of $10 for a hyper-casual game, you know the audience isn’t resonating with your game the way you had intended. Here at SuperScale, we have helped hundreds of mobile games scale and can help you with interpreting and optimizing the results of your game testing.

Besides estimating KPIs for a game and finding the best performing art style or theme, we found that answers from surveys usually bring the most value to our clients. It not only helps them understand their target audience better but most importantly, tells them what users like about the game and what they expect from it.  

If you would like to know more about concept testing or if you are looking for help with conducting such a test, feel free to reach out and book in for a 15 minute qualification call

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