Round-Up: Top Brand’s Games In Soft Launch

Feb
28

In the industry of games, soft launch is a release of your game to restricted localities ahead of the full launch. A sort of full-dress rehearsal before the opening night, that allows you to drive-test your new title: obtain major metrics, get feedback and do tweaks before releasing it to your target localities.


We made a soft-launched titles round-up to learn best practices from the top gaming companies of today.

First comes the match-3 genre, which is our main focus, and we can find 3 titles currently soft launched.

1. Angry Birds Match by Rovio. Another sequel to the acclaimed hit, now based on match-3 mechanic, requires player to match hatchlings to complete goals. The big surprise comes when you match 4 or more birdies and release the Angry birds. The game is live on iOS in 7 countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden.

2. Toon Blast by Peak Games. The creators of Toy Blast sticked to their success formula and soft launched another cluster breaker title. This app offers an engaging block-popping experience with a cast of cute animal characters and is available on iOS in 4 countries: Canada, Japan, Turkey, United Kingdom.

3. Treasure Hunters by Scopely. The company known for launching Yahtzee with Buddies is making its way into puzzle games niche. Their gems- and treasure-themed match-3 app offers quite uncommon experience with various distractions, such as several characters with different skills and customization, lots of game modes and more. It is live on Android and iOS in 2 countries: Australia and Philippines.  

All the three follow the common trend of soft launching in Canada, UK and Australia as US market substitutes, while Japan and Philippines are used as gateways to Asia, and mainland Europe is represented by Scandinavian countries.

How about the other big gaming brands? Let’s check what they have in store.

Zynga. After Words With Friends success, Zynga is working on several franchises in soft launch - Boggle with Friends (Android, Philippines only; iOS, same and Canada) and New Words With Friends (Android, New Zealand). While in Boggle you get a new twist with wordsearch game (link letters into words on a randomly generated letterboard), the New Words doesn’t seem to truly innovate except its new UI and some minor optimization.

Ubisoft. The publisher known for a series of world-famous AAA-titles, is planning to bring some of its games to mobile. There’s a currently unreleased former-PC game for Android called the Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, an RPG with plenty of collectibles and rooms for levelups.

Gameloft. The company is bringing another installment of Gangstar series, the Gangstar New Orleans. It’s an open world shooter with a new f2p mechanic live on iOS and Android; playable in the Philippines, Canada, Taiwan, Netherlands on iOS and in the Philippines only on Android. One more Gameloft title, the Asphalt Streetstorm Racing, a yet another part to Ashpalt series with a new gameplay twist with testbed in Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Romania, iOS-only.

Seriously. The makers of hugely popular Best Fiends puzzle took a soft launch shot with the third instalment, Best Fiends Slugs. The Slugs app offers a tower-defense-like experience with player busting the slugs and features 3D graphics for the first time. Launched on iOS in Australia and New Zealand, it is no longer live.

Bandai Namco. The company makes our list with Ridge Racer Draw And Drift, a racing mobile title has been live for 4 month. The ‘test drive’ covers both Android and iOS platforms in Australia, Canada, Philippines; iOS version is also playable in New Zealand.

Bethesda. The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a new collectible card game soft launched by the company last fall. iPad only, Canada only.

Rovio. There can never be too many Angry Birds, so Rovio has another franchise at a soft launch stage, the Angry Birds Evolution. It combines some features of Action! Instalment and Pet Monsters title and is regularly updated to bring fresh serving of fun. The game is available in Finland, Bulgaria, Poland and Hong Kong localities on Android and also in UK on iOS. Rovio’s another title, Battle Bay, holds quite a more impressive area for testbed. The arena battler is live on iOS, Android in around 20 countries (there is no U.S. among them), which is explained by real-time PvP requiring a lot of players for testing.

Scopely. The company keeps its business growing attracting more IPs to work on. Breaking Bad: Empire Business is a city-builder soft launched back in 2015 for Australia and UK on Google Play, and two more localities on top of these (Philippines and Romania) on Apple App Store.

Summary. Market leaders keep up the franchise and licensed IPs boom, bringing more and more instalments to the mobile gaming arena. While some stick to sure winner strategy releasing slightly modified version of successful titles, others step on shaky ground with innovational gameplay twists or completely new genres.  

As for the testbed, trends remain the same: Canada, Australia and New Zealand ‘speak up’ for English-speaking audience, the Philippines are major soft launch locality for future releases to Asian market. However, if your budget is small, you shouldn’t follow the same path. For Western-style behavior, you can turn to the Netherlands or Ireland that are not as pricy as Canada or Australia. The Philippines are still the best choice for testing Asian players, yet there is Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong to test in.

And yet budget is not the only point to consider in choosing countries to soft launch. Take into account the genre, the peculiarities of your game, whether it’s a solo player or multi-player that needs a lot of interaction between players and go for it!

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Posted by Renatus on February 28, 2017