The mobile game market is tough, where the saturation of games in almost all genres is high. That’s why metrics like CPI (cost per install), retention, playtime, and more are all scrutinized not only by developers, but also by major publishers. Failure to take these steps can mean the end of leads or even existing deals with a publisher.
However, where some see failure, others see opportunity. In a recent blog post, publisher Azur Games detailed three separate games that it points to as examples of salvage projects previously abandoned by publishers. While this is naturally bragging about their success, there are also a few key takeaways from how they claim to have saved those titles.
The magic recipe
All three games have one thing in common, low metrics. The first game they describe, Chain Cube was said to have suffered from “annoying monetization that caused user numbers to drop rapidly on Day 2 and beyond.” They fixed this by changing the interstitial ad system and expanding the game further with features like the ability to save progress. They were able to increase R1 (first day retention) from 39% to 60% and at least 5% of players spent money on an ad-free version of the app.
Stretch Legs is another game they claim was turned down due to low metrics. Azur Games declares that it is committed to continuing its development, in particular the integration of players and the addition of new mechanics. Although this was a success, they noted that R1 remained at 30% as before, however, they noted that this was actually a positive because generally higher traffic means higher retention rate weak.
The third, Sword Play had actually seen high metrics in its prototype stage, but had since dropped significantly due to publisher-mandated changes, supposedly bringing it back to its prototype stage brought those metrics back to previous levels.
Certainly, in all three cases, the development and the additional investments have paid off. This could provide a valuable lesson that sometimes hard work pays off when it comes to mobile games. However, with the third game, Sword Play, publisher intervention doesn’t always translate to success.
Another option is to steer clear of publishers entirely and instead tackle publishing your game as a developer. We recently covered a Helsinki talk by Thomas Bidaux discussing how to self-publish your game which can offer another perspective.