· 5 min read

How to Improve Your Game KPIs and Boost Revenue – Lessons From Bubble Sort

You’ve built a game and shared it with the world. But how do you keep it’s steam going? Publishing experts, TapNation, answer just that.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published by Kinsey Dardanus, publishing expert at TapNation. You can find their version here.

Bubble Sort is a worldwide leading puzzle-game, on both Android and iOS, totaling more than 15 million players across the world. We originally launched this game on December 19th 2019, and since then we’ve been at the top for a whole month. But what’s the secret sauce behind this game’s success?

The short answer: deep player behavior analysis, and lots of level difficulty improvements. But there’s much more to it than just that.

At TapNation, our data scientists and engineers have developed tools and algorithms to monitor, analyze and test our gameplay and difficulty curves in order to improve our KPIs. And in this blog, we’ll give you a sneak peek behind the curtain, and share some of the techniques and tips we used to make Bubble Sort a hit game.

Tip one: Boost your retention using data

When optimizing a game, you need to define your metrics. Are average retention and session length the most important metrics? Perhaps your ARPDAU or Conversion rate? Before you do anything, you’ll need to figure out what’s important for you and in your genre.

For us (and any hyper-casual game), retention and session length are useful proxies for the main metrics when it comes to business. They help us figure out 1, will our game be profitable? And 2, by how much? For Bubble Sort, we found that our CPI, session time, and retention (relative and absolute) were not good enough to ensure its profitability.

So we introduced ads from the start to analyze our players’ behaviors. By doing this (and testing creatives, frequency, etc), we were not only able to optimize retention and session time, but also our ad revenue, and the LTV itself!

By optimizing our LTV directly, we managed two things: first, we found interesting new AB tests to optimize the user experience, and second, we saved a lot of time when launching the game at scale.

Tip two: Find actionable data

In hyper-casual, you won’t always want to come up with preconstructed ideas. Players will always find a way to surprise you (and that’s the whole fun of this business).

We always think of how data can improve business, and how data can be used to shape new hypotheses on a game, and how to test them. That’s why, for Bubble Sort, we made A/B testing a crucial part of our creative process.

Streamlining our A/B testing process is one of the keys of TapNation’s success. For Bubble Sort, we launched more than 50 AB tests – and methodically analyzed their results. And the results were surprising, to say the least. Some small changes (UI and progression) increased our KPIs drastically. Whereas other times, some of the bigger gameplay changes didn’t add any value, and actually decreased our general LTV.

So our advice, A/B test what you can. Measure up the results, and use these to help with your decision-making. Never go in blindly. A small mistake earlier on can lead to some big changes down the line. Spotting those issues earlier can save you a bunch of money and time.

Tip three:  Don’t overlook data science

Our Data Scientists used our craftily trained LTV models to generate thousands of scenarios for Bubble Sort, in order to understand what part of the game needed the most work (all to improve the game’s profitability). Our AI-generated different scenarios, which were then analyzed by our product team and other key members.

Those scenarios were generated in an iterative process, where at each round, our AI learned from the result of the previous one. For Bubble Sort, we implemented those processes from the beginning, which both helped us increase retention and KPIs dramatically but also saved us time from useless gameplay changes. More precisely, those scenarios helped us increase our LTV by 18%.

Hyper-casual players come from different backgrounds. Especially for puzzle games where performances are very different across players and therefore the level curve must be custom shaped.

We applied clustering techniques very early on in the development in order to find the best performing users for our LTV and understand their progression paths. More specifically, we identified problematic levels and “churning patterns”. Our Data Scientists developed algorithms to analyze, visualize and share those patterns with the rest of our team members.

Perfect your processes

For Bubble Sort, we implemented a carefully crafted process which allowed us to get actionable data from the start, analyze and visualize those data points, and share those results to all teams. This helped us quickly iterate and improve our game’s KPIs that led to a profitable HIT game.

Through simulations and clustering, our data scientists and engineers have elevated the A/B test paradigm one step further to design the finest hit game generator.

If you want to learn more about TapNation, then feel free to contact us here. We’d love to have a chat.

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