Android Developer Story: Big Fish Games successful prelaunch with open beta


Big Fish started 15 years
ago as a casual game studio. Over the years, we became
a powerhouse in developing mobile games for multiple platforms. We’ve been making games for
Android since its inception. It’s been great to see how
their focus on developer tools, and also their global reach, has helped us make games better
for a much wider audience. One of the great things
now is we’re able to use tools like Open Beta to
really get early access in information to allow
us to actually do more of a user centered design
focused development. – Historically we’ve put
games into pre-launch that we were already
very comfortable with, and we just waited to validate that we had what we thought we had. Now that we’re using Open Beta we’re really willing to put
a game out there to the world much earlier in its process. Cooking Craze is a time management game, in which you play from
the perspective of a chef. Big Fish published Cooking Craze working with a partner named
ElaFun who developed it. This is our first free to
play time management game and it’s super fun, they really
knocked it our of the park. – When comparing our previous game launch to our more recent one Cooking Craze, where we used Open Beta, we saw a dramatic reduction in crash rate, about 21% decrease. We also got a much higher volume of feedback as well, about 10X. The other thing that we noticed, based on the larger sample
size, was with Cooking Craze, we had no surprise one
and two star reviews. Whereas our past game release, we had a few that were characterized. One of the benefits of being in Open Beta is you can still be released globally. This allows our marketing teams
to optimize their processes, their paid acquisition
partners and campaigns that they weren’t able to
do in a GeoLock soft launch. – Before using Open Beta, we
would pre-release our games into a small number of
soft launch countries, and we would use them
to see all the metrics that we’re looking for. With Open Beta, we’re going
worldwide right off the bat, and we’re able to gather
data from a much wider range of players that is much
more representative of what we’ll see when we
go to our official launch. With Open Beta, we have
said no restrictions. Go out, go live, see what happens, and we’re able to react
if there’s a problem instead of assuming that
there would be a problem. – We’re looking at the core game capiod, as we’re looking at the team
that’s delivering the game and their ability scale. We’re looking at a lot of the metrics that are in Android vitals. – When we’re in pre-launch, we start by looking at retention numbers. Are people coming back on the second day, or are the coming back on the third day? We’re typically looking
at D1, D7, D30 retention. Then we start looking at
the monetization metrics. Once we’re comfortable with those metrics, then we know that it’s
time to start moving toward our official launch. We are able increase our retention numbers fairly significantly. We went about nine percentage
points up on D1 retention, about eight percentage points up on D7, and about 5 percentage points up on D30. One of the great things about Open Beta is that we’re able to gather feedback from the beta players without having public facing reviews and ratings. We’re able to fail harder
without having negative reviews that stick on our permanent record, for the life cycle of the game. – My recommendation for
all developers out there is to take a close look at the
tools and the play console. We use a lot of them and we
benefit from them tremendously. Just in the last year,
we’ve changed the way we’ve developed and released
our games substantially, based on Open Beta alone.

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