The cost of doing business has gone up for mobile games. Market saturation means player acquisition is tougher than ever to accomplish, and companies cannot afford to make mistakes. Gabriele Aimone–Player Support Lead at PlayRaven and Supercell veteran–took a proactive approach with his company to make a great game affordably.

This interview shows how to:

  • Create a closed beta for player feedback that will ultimately yield a better launch product.
  • Generate community involvement to save acquisition costs on present and future products.
  • Discover player personas that aid your marketing, design, and sales efforts.

Why have a closed beta for your mobile game?

Usually there’s a practice in the mobile game industry that you need to keep the product secret until soft launch. And even then you don’t really talk about it, hence the “soft.” At PlayRaven we thought: let’s do the opposite! Since Finland is a hot place for games, we selected developers, friends, and others we knew in the industry to test our game early. The game we tested is called “Robocide.”

I had sent our testers an email about contacting us with Helpshift. We had specific questions upfront that we wanted players to answer in the closed beta. They were so excited to join and use in-app messaging that they gave us massive feedback, which changed the game drastically. Now when we go to soft launch we’ll have a much better game than we would have had without a closed beta and Helpshift.

How did Helpshift influence feedback gathering in beta?

It was easy to keep players engaged because the interaction was so fast. They would say “Whoa, this is so cool not having to leave the app!” You know people–they don’t read emails. Especially if it’s a bit long. We made a page in the game where players could input their email when they pass the tutorial. But people usually aren’t very happy about leaving their personal data.

So Helpshift’s in-app messaging definitely got us more feedback during the beta, and reduced unneeded points of contact. We especially liked to use automations for data based on player behavior. If they stopped playing the beta we would ask “What happened?” automatically, or if they stayed to the end we would ask a different set of questions. Getting that persona was a big goal.

The whole thing was a very great learning process. The best part is that we created a big community from the engaged beta. We already have over 400 people who want to try our next game “Winterstate”, and we used no marketing resources. The quality of our service ended up being free advertising. Word-of-mouth has grown us a lot.

Tweet: Get hundreds more to try your app with this strategy: Do something new. #gamedev #appdev @helpshift

Wow. Would you say Helpshift was worth the cost, then?

Yes. It’s unbelievable: 100% of the players that finished our beta said they are interested in trying an upcoming game in June. Helpshift had a part in that. You may not know, but Australia raised the price of promoting mobile games over there. Everyone markets in Australia, so I suppose they figured “Why not?” But that affects the price of marketing and other campaigns on Facebook. Having players already on board will help us save money in that regard.

The closed beta with Helpshift also enabled us to spot real users from the people just testing out the competition. That’s very important, because in common launch areas like Canada and Australia, people will create accounts and spend $200 just to study your game with no intention of really enjoying it. That’s why I think companies should try marketing in new countries.

Would you recommend Helpshift to others during soft launch?

I would definitely recommend Helpshift to another company doing a soft launch. Now that we’ve implemented this process, we’re doing it for all upcoming games. Everybody was really happy with Helpshift and your way of doing things. I like that your SDK is small and easy to install. No one likes to use larger SDKs, because you have to make sacrifices so that the app is small enough to download over 4G. Players need to be able to download it anywhere.

I’ve been reading a book called The Best Service is No Service. Basically, products should be designed so that customers can easily continue enjoying it even when there’s a problem. We need to give people the tools to self solve before they come to us directly. The more tools you have at your disposal, the better it is for everybody. I think mobile companies need to look at themselves as service providers. If the common strategies aren’t working, why not try something new?

Try something new by downloading the player-tested Spymaster for iOS. | Save costs on an excellent launch with a free consultation from Helpshift.