This sponsored post is produced in association with XIMÂ Wireless.
“A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” That quote belonged to legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and other popular Nintendo games. Unfortunately, today’s game developers have forgotten this sage advice and are paying the price.
Take for example the recent release of Batman: Arkham Knight. The anticipated final chapter in the Batman video game series from Rocksteady received rave reviews for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions. However, the PC version currently plays like a mess.
Warner Bros. Interactive entertainment, the game’s publisher, suspended digital sells of the PC version and issued refunds, because of how unpolished it was. By rushing out an unplayable version of Arkham Knight for PC, Warner Bros. not only lost money, but lost the trust of its audience as well.
Arkham Knight isn’t alone. Sega received ridicule when it released Sonic Boom for Wii U last year, which featured a plethora of bugs and glitches. Mobile apps aren’t immune either, as buggy games are commonly released on iOS and Android. With the mobile market flooded with games, a bad first impression is all it takes to doom a potentially successful app.
Making the QA process top priority
“During production, QA is one of those elements of the development cycle that is very easy to sacrifice in the name of ‘hitting the deadlines,” Rechevskiy told VB. “Even some experienced teams end up cutting the QA process substantially during a crunch. However, it is well known that skipping or shortchanging this final step in the development cycle will inevitably cost the team more time, money, and potentially even bring disastrous consequences in terms of the loss of long-term customer loyalty.”
Customer loyalty is especially important in the age of GameStop, where a dissatisfied customer could buy his next game used. It’s also important to maintain trust when trying to sell audiences on downloadable game content later on. PC gamers missing out on the superior version of Arkham Knight aren’t likely to buy $40 of DLC.
Rechevskiy said it’s imperative for teams to implement a robust QA process as part of the development cycle — not separate from it — to avoid the “temptation” of cutting down QA at the end of the project. He stressed that teams should automate the process, or at least follow a specific regime of QA actions that are essentially “on rails,” to prevent any deviations from members.
If a proper QA process is not established, Rechevskiy said it could financially cost the company. He warned rolling out updates won’t always fix problems within a game, as those updates are often hastily released, introducing more bugs than fixes. “In the gaming space, specifically, the userbase is extremely vocal, and hands out 1-star reviews for the slightest misstep.”
Maximizing profits with in-game analytics
Another important factor for developers to consider, when it comes to maximizing revenue, is in-game analytics.
“It is a well known fact in today’s market that in the F2P (free-to-play) gaming space (the business model currently dominating all mobile markets), only a small percentage of users ever monetizes,” Rechevskiy states. “This exacerbates the need for a proper in-game analytics system — the margin for error is very small, and an intelligent game developer will focus its efforts on specifically identifying the behavior of those players that do pay, and then improving and streamlining those players’ gameplay experience to extract the maximum value from each such payer.”
Rechevskiy suggests improving monetization in games by offering special discounts to users who purchased in the past; rewarding them for their past service. Another suggestion is to offer certain users the option to buy at reduced price at the exact moment they’re likely to pass on the offer, based on past data about purchases from the userbase.
XIM has found that effective in-game analytics can help increase MAU by 212 percent, mobile app revenue by 150 percent, and app lifecycle by 200 percent. When we asked Rechevskiy how companies can hope to achieve these stats, he had this to say:
“In today’s gaming space, it is virtually impossible to reach or maintain profitability without an effective in-game analytic system. There are many situations where the in-game analytics solutions can provide actionable data for the development team, including on-boarding funnels, user segment analysis, and level progression tracking system.”
Examples Rechevskiy listed include using in-game analytics to adjust difficulty in a level or tutorial step and observing how players use social media to spread word of the game.
In-game analytics could be seen as an extension of a robust QA process. Further analyzing a game’s quality, guaranteeing customers stay satisfied for years to come.
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