Presented by Xsolla
To successfully launch your own game in an increasingly crowded market you need to develop a multi-platform launch strategy. Learn how to go multiplatform, capture and keep user attention, how to keep your game growing, and more in this VB Live event.
Getting noticed, as a game developer, is becoming more difficult in 2021. Increased competition makes discoverability a growing challenge on every platform. And when Apple begins to enforce the identifier for advertising (IDFA) changes, mobile in particular will be facing this challenge in a new way. With IDFA deprecation, developers won’t know where their players are coming from, and how those channels are performing, which makes it difficult to model acquisition strategies.
But cross-platform development opens up new growth avenues, says Michail Katkoff, CEO and co-founder at Savage Game Studios.
“It’s not only that it’s a new way to get new users — people that maybe aren’t discovering you on mobile that you can reach out to in a more direct manner on PC or the web — it’s reaching out to your existing players on different platforms,” he says.
Whether that’s giving them a cross-platform version of the game to play, or giving them a way to engage with the community, there’s opportunity for a lot more community engagement through the PC, which is a stronger social device for some of those deeper engagements, Katkoff adds.
“We think of things as a platform first, but really we have to think of the customers and how their usage of platforms is changing,” says Steve Peterson, CEO at StoryPHORCE Entertainment. “They don’t think of it from a platform centric view. People are using their PC more. They’re on the web more than they were on their mobile. If you’re not on the web, that’s something you’re missing, where your players may not be engaging with you as much just because their usage of a device is lower during the pandemic.”
In light of the IDFA challenges, one of the real benefits of going cross platform is being able to introduce your own login system. When players log in through your database, you can collect essential data about those players. That’s powerful information you can use to improve your business across all of the platforms. Getting out of the app stores and onto the web also provides many more opportunities to do direct advertising that you might not be able to do on mobile. It also opens up the opportunity to work with influencers and streamers.
“It puts more tools in your toolbox that you’re able to deploy and use to engage with the players you want to engage with, but also add new revenue streams that can offset, potentially, some of the losses, particularly if your game is built on a model of needing high spenders,” says Chris Hewish, president at Xsolla. “If you’re one of these 4X strategy games or another game that requires big spenders, then going cross platform is going to benefit you.”
He notes that the company’s mobile partners that are adding new platforms are seeing anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of the revenue that they’re generating on mobile now on PC and web.
“I’ve seen as high as 80 to 90 percent, but it depends on the style of the game,” Katkoff adds. “It depends on what your starting point was. Did you start from mobile and then move to PC? Then you’re going to make less money on PC because your players are accustomed to playing on mobile. Hearthstone makes good money on mobile, but a fraction of what they make on PC. In that sense it’s important to understand sessions as well as the starting point.”
There are technical challenges to taking your game to another platform, of course. The front-end tasks required are standard and can be output — getting a website, getting a multiplatform login system into place, developing a commerce solution, Hewish says, but the real meat and potatoes is getting the game up and supporting it.
“If you’re really thinking about a cross-platform game, that means you have to manage it across different platforms,” Katkoff says. “That’s where the real work comes in. There are a lot of things that have to change, and those things change on the operations side. Actually doing the cross platform and hooking up Xsolla to do the payments, that’s the easy part. Then you have to have your organization set up to run it.”
The server architecture has to change. The updates are becoming bigger because you have to roll them out to all of your players who are playing at the same time on different platforms — you can’t have an older version on one platform and a newer version somewhere else, which means QA is on overtime.
Growing your game outside the main platform also means you’re entering a world of totally different KPIs, and you might not have employees used to doing user acquisition for PC client titles. For every new platform, notes Miikka Luotio, Interim Director of Business Development, Europe, Xsolla, you need to consider growing, even doubling, team size for operations support. Team size is especially a concern for small and mid-size studios compared to enterprise companies, and something to consider right at the start.
And with a new title in development, do you focus on getting it right on one platform, and then expand and grow from there, or do you go multiplatform right from the start?
“Coming from a developer background, I tend to lean toward getting it right and then expanding and growing,” Hewish says. “It’s getting that core loop together for your game, understanding your core community, looking at your initial cohort and seeing how they’re engaging, and once you have all that understood, and you have a good economy and monetization model in place, then you can expand to other platforms.”
To learn more about the benefits and challenges of going cross-platform, including how monetization and game design are intertwined, how to build an ecosystem across platforms, real-world examples of successful cross-platform monetization, and more, don’t miss this VB Live event.
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