· 4 min read

What’s Their Secret? 4 Steps Successful Publishers Take to Find Hit Games

How exactly do successful publishers find hit games? What’s their secret? Here’s a sneak peek behind the curtain.

We’ve all asked ourselves this question: “How do publishers release hit game after hit game? How do they know which ones are going to be successful?”. Now, we don’t know all the ingredients to their secret sauce (be it their relationships with developers, network, or UA tools). But what we can do is go over what we know, and what we do best. Data.

Data is a crucial part in finding the next big hit. But sifting through tens or hundreds of prototypes at one time is in itself, a massive challenge. Especially when your team is small.

There are a few different techniques you can use to help you find hit after hit. To lend a helping hand, we’ve identified and summarised a few of the top techniques publishers use into four key steps, all in this nifty downloadable guide. But if you’re short on time, then here they are at a glance.

Step 1: Find more prototypes to evaluate

In an ideal world, you’d open up your laptop and see key metrics (like day 1 retention, day 7, and Playtime) for a bunch of new games that were submitted yesterday. Well, you can. And this is one of the first things that the big players do.

It’s fairly easy to achieve. All you need is one form and one API integration. To give you an example, this is what we currently have set up:

  • A publisher will set up a simple form for devs to submit games.
  • They’ll then use these details to create a new studio or game in their organization.
  • Set up the SDK integration.
  • Then watch the data populate.

In short: let developers submit games for publishing, and get them to integrate the right tools for evaluation. It’ll save a lot of time for all parties.

Step 2: Identify top-performing prototypes at-a-glance

So you have a bunch of games submitted, waiting to be reviewed. Checking these stats for the first 10-20 titles is fine, but can become a chore for any more than that. You can do this manually. Or if you’d rather save yourself time, then you can always go down the programmatic route. Which is what leading publishers do.

We’ve set up our Metrics API service so you can programmatically query KPIs for all games in your organization (and build custom views, like ‘Top games by overall retention day 7”, or even ‘installs per game yesterday”).

We won’t go into too many of the details (you can learn more in our full guide), but essentially you can create these custom views on what you want to see. So figure out what’s important to you, and let the tool do the rest.

Step 3: Optimize soft-launched games (to a tee)

Once a prototype has passed its soft launch, it’s then normally worked on by a publishing manager. This person will work with the dev team to improve core metrics and player LTV.

A/B Testing is a vital step at this stage. The big-time studios and publishers will usually A/B test different aspects of the game to increase retention, playtime, or virality. This could be anything, down to character design, ad placements, IAP cost, and more.

So figure out what areas of your game and KPIs need improving, and then test until you have the results you need.

Step 4: Increase player LTV for live games

At this stage, the game should have passed soft launch (usually with flying colors). And now, getting that gem to the top of the charts will be the publisher’s no.1 priority. They’ll likely be performing ongoing optimization of the game (see step 3), but they’ll also want to make the most of their existing audience.

A few ways publishers do this is to:

  • Cross-promote to relevant users from the existing portfolio, selected by their interests.
  • In-depth first-time-UX analysis and level analysis to further increase retention.
  • Closely monitor new game builds for errors or other changes that may affect LTV.
  • Launch the game in additional geos and optimize specifically for players in those territories.

To do all of this, we created our Player Warehouse solution. There’s some info about this in our guide, or head directly to our Data Services page to get the full low-down.

Ready to find the next hidden hit?

We’ve given you a glimpse of how successful publishers evaluate their games. But there’s more. Make sure you download our guide to get a full list of tips and tools that will help you identify your chart-topping hits. Enjoy!

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