The soft-launch period, the few months before you go global with your app when you must focus energy and resources on validating your product, is the most crucial stage in the lifecycle of your mobile game. It’s the phase that determines if you are on track to deliver a game that has hit potential. And it’s the time to take important decisions around the features and improvements you need to make in order to ensure your app stacks up to beat the competition and delight your audience.

As I point out in my other article there is no sense in spending time and effort to launch an app that doesn’t have a chance of success. That’s why app developers have to use their soft-launch phase to test the waters before they take the plunge.

Mastering the capabilities to measure performance and make improvements (in the soft-launch stage) will ensure a game hits it BIG. Even better if app developers make the effort to collect and analyze a mix of behavioral and empirical data drawn from a statistically significant sample of real players under real-world conditions in real-time.

Against this backdrop, I’d like to offer you solid advice. It’s guidance I know from experience will help app developers get more out of their time and budgets, freeing them to focus resources on validating their app, not spending time and money on figuring out user acquisition at a stage when the app is not really ready to release to the public.

Taking it a giant step further I also offer 4 Top Tips around what app companies need to consider (and get right!) in the soft-launch phase. I won’t give away the complete list here (check out my other post), but I will recap the takeaways that matter most.

  • The soft-launch is when you have to move fast and make changes even faster. So, choose your platform carefully and consider that Android allows developers to iterate and tweak the game in very short cycles. It’s a benefit that could literally pay dividends for your game.
  • Focus first on having an amazing product — because anything less will short-change your users and your business.
  • Knowing if users ‘get’ and love your game is not just essential; it equips you to decide if it’s worthwhile to continue to invest in order to finish the game, or if it might not be better to fail fast and move on to your next game.

Winning games are delightful and addictive because the app companies behind them grasp that their success depends on knowing what users do in-game (information gleaned from behavioural data) and understanding player motivations and feedback (revealed from empirical data).

You need BOTH to hit it big.

In my view, it’s all about ‘listening’ to the user signals — both behavioral and empirical — around what players do and say (!) in the soft-launch that will allow you to pinpoint with precision ways to improve gameplay and increase stickiness.