New and advanced Google Play tools for game developers (Google I/O ’18)


[MUSIC PLAYING] JONATHAN CHEUNG: Hi. I’m Jonathan Cheung, tech lead
on the Google Play Console working on go-to-market tools. And I’m here today with
my colleagues, Ignacio, on the Play business
development team, and David, product
manager on Play Console. We’re excited to talk to you
about what Play Console tools you can take advantage of
when building and managing your games. Fact– in the last few years,
the number of Android players who have installed a game
has more than doubled. Players from all
around the world and from all
different backgrounds are enjoying an unprecedented
amount of new gameplay experiences on Android. As game developers, this
is your chance, your chance to build new experiences,
to connect to more players, and to find success
in the market. Whether you’re a new developer
building your first game or a seasoned veteran
of the industry, the opportunity
is yours to grasp. That being said,
with opportunity comes a degree of risk. Games development on mobile
is an ever changing landscape, and player expectations
of mobile games has never been higher. There’s more competition than
ever before in the marketplace. There are already one million
games live on the Play Store, and new games are launching
all the time on Google Play. Development costs are increasing
due to the demands of a higher fidelity on mobile games. And consumers are expecting
more feature-rich experiences on mobile. Finally, marketing games is
getting increasingly more difficult. Use
acquisition spending is increasing, as developers
are moving towards fewer, larger launches in a single year. At Google Play, we
understand these problems and want to help you where we
can to bring as much success as possible to your games. We are committed
to building tools to help you plan and
de-risk your launches and to help you maintain
and support your games after a successful launch. Let us take you on a journey
from pre to post-launch, which will hopefully provide
some insights into some of the exciting tools we
have available for you. We will be covering
some existing tools, share some interesting
anecdotes and best practices, and show off some
new tools, which we feel will help you
on your road to success. First, pre-launch. This phase is critical
for making sure you are delivering the right
experience for your players, whether that be in the
gameplay experience itself, the stability and
performance of your game, or in the content
roadmap you have planned. We’re going to be going
through some areas of focus during pre-launch
and also walk through some of these tools we feel
are helpful at this stage. First, and perhaps most
importantly, testing. It is crucial to get your
testing strategy right when launching a new game. As you know, launching
and maintaining games is an expensive proposition. It is critical to make
sure that, when you launch your product, it will
be stable and bug free, resonate with your players
from a game play perspective, and have a sustainable roadmap
to keep your players invested in your game. Internal testing allows you
to publish and distribute your APKs in seconds,
instead of hours, so you can push your
daily builds to your team immediately. It also features
integrations with our API and other third-party
plugins, such as Gradle. Finally, it benefits from
all the Google Play products you’ve come to love, such as
in-app product support, country targeting, LVL, and of course,
the newly announced Android app bundle. Developers are
using this new track to do rapid, iterative testing
for launching new games, as well as for adding
features to existing games. For instance, using it to push
the daily builds to QA in order to make sure the releases
meet their bar for quality, or using it to push experimental
builds to a group of friends and colleagues in order to play
test new gameplay mechanics. Here are some things
to think about when using internal testing. Its a great opportunity to
focus on stability and bugs in order to judge every release
against your bar for quality. If possible, it can also
be useful to start testing on a wide variety of
devices so that, when you decide to roll
out to more players, you can be certain they will
receive the quality gameplay experience that you will
want them to receive. One of our most used
feature for game developers is closed testing. Closed testing is
a great opportunity to build a tight-knit
community of testers who will be able to provide
you with valuable feedback before and after launch. Users can be invited directly
from the Play Console, using email lists
or Google Groups. They can then opt-in via web
app, as shown in this picture. Once opted in, they can
install the game directly from the Play Store. Over 60% of game developers on
Play already use this feature and have found great
success with it. Let’s take a quick
look at a case study. BRAVOCO, with the game,
“Forces of Freedom”, really took to
heart the philosophy of building a strong tester
community for their closed test. They focus on recruiting
the right sort of players, even reaching beyond the
usual online communities to find the sort
of player they felt would have affinity with the
theme of their game, which is a military shooter game. As you can see in this picture,
they went to this airsoft event and recruited players
on-site to play their game. During the testing
period, BRAVOCO made sure that they
were available 24/7 via social media, and
especially instant messaging. This allowed them
not only to gather very specific valuable
feedback, but also to build connections
with individual testers of their game. This dedication to building
a strong test community paid off dividends
both during testing and even after launch
and early access where “Forces of Freedom” has
now attracted more than 10 million players and counting. In conclusion, here
are some things to think about when
using closed testing. Create a strong and
diverse tester community. Remember, these players
will be critical in shaping the initial direction
of your game. Experiment with new gameplay
mechanics and content. Don’t be afraid of
negative feedback. Remember, your
ratings and reviews are still not live
at this point. And finally, think
about reaching out to your tester community to
gather very specific feedback. This is your chance to ask them
what works, what didn’t work, and how do we improve. Next, open testing. Once a game is technically solid
and your main gameplay hooks are built in, it’s time
to think about expanding your test to more
players in preparation for your big launch. Open testing allows your game to
be discoverable and installable on the Play Store
and for players, after a developer defined
cap, to opt in and install your game. Players won’t be able to leave
ratings until the game fully launches, but can provide
anonymous feedback to the developer at any time. Open testing comes
in two flavors, depending on the
state of your game. If you don’t have a
production release already, or in the same country as
you are running your test in, users will be able to
install your game directly from the Play Store
without needing to opt in. We call this early access. Your game will be
tagged as unreleased, as shown in this image. If you have a production
release already– for instance, you may have soft
launched in the same country– you can still continue
to use open testing. Existing users will continue to
get updates on the test track, and new users can opt in via
a console provided web link or through the card, which
is shown on the screen here at the bottom of
the game’s details page. Players opted into an
open test in this state will see the game
tagged as Beta. So bringing together
these forms of testing, of internal tests and closed
tests, you, as the developers, have control over who can
install and play your game. Early access tests
can be installed and discovered directly
from the Play Store and are a great way to
expand your tester base, as well as building hype
around your big launch. Finally, open tests can be
used to continue testing with a wide audience, even
after your production release. Utilize these testers to try
out new features and tweaks to your game before rolling
out to all your players. Moving on– pre-launch
reports can also help developers iron out
quality and performance issues prior to launch. Whenever a test APK is uploaded
and nondeterministic bot will crawl your game
while it’s running on a real physical device
in one of our test labs. Game developers have
found a lot of value in the pre-launch report. 90% of developers don’t
push to production if the report shows issues. Demo loops goes even
further for game developers. Record and upload a game demo
loop using Firebase test lab and receive a PLR report on
crash and performance metrics, including the all important
frames per second. This allows you to discover
rendering issues even faster and launch with
greater confidence. Half Brick Games, the
developers of titles such as “Fruit Ninja”
and “Jetpack Joyride” have found great
values in demo loops. They’ve evolved
their QA processes around using PLR
demo loops, as it allows them to check for
visual glitches, crashes, and performance, among
many other things. They rely on the fact that
PLR will automatically run on a wide range of
devices and device specs for every test release. So how did they do this? Their new game, which
is “Endless Runner”, has a built-in
replay functionality which are used to record and
save interesting game runs. With a few simple
lines of code, they can instrument PLR demo loops to
run on these recorded sessions. Whereas before, it was
a very manual process to kick off their benchmarking,
now, with PLR demo loops, it’s automated for them
for every test release. They can look at these
metrics and compare them to every previous
release to make sure that their game has no
regressions in terms of performance. Before we move
over to launching, another important
aspect of pre-launch is to plan your
strategy around content. As such, don’t be afraid to
test longer and to test earlier. Consider using longer term
metrics, like D14 and D30, in order to predict
future success. Measure the rate of content
consumption during your testing phase. This can be useful
for planning ahead, so that you have enough
content for your players when you launch until
your first big update. Also, this phase is
a great opportunity to test what sort
of LiveOp events will resonate with
your player base, so that you can create the
content your players will want to receive. It is also important to consider
how different forms of testing can be used to achieve
different purposes. All testing tracks can be used
in unison with each other, allowing you to target
different experiences to different groups of testers. For instance, you
may want to consider to run your daily builds past
your internal test track users to check for regressions
at the same time as you’re running a large scale
open test with early access. Closed testing can also be used
to fine tune specific gameplay mechanics with a select
audience before rolling out to your production users. Finally, you should
always keep in mind that mobile games development
is an ever-changing landscape. New technology is opening
up new ways to play, and player expectations on
mobile are ever changing. Remember to continuously
evaluate your processes around development and testing. See what works,
what doesn’t work. And most importantly, do
not be afraid of change. With that, I would
like to hand over to Ignacio, who’s going to talk
to you about launching games on Google Play. [APPLAUSE] IGNACIO MONEREO:
Thanks, Jonathan. Hi, everyone. I’m Ignacio. I’m part of the Play
team based in London. And I have the
privilege and honor to work with many game
developers, like you. So let’s talk about
launching your game. I’m pretty sure that, by now,
you have tested and tested your game. And you are 100% confident,
or let’s say at least 95% confident, that your game is
ready both from the backend and frontend to
receive a lot of users. That as well, your
customer teams are ready to manage
the community, create new live events,
or deal with the feedback. But above all, that your
game is lots of fun. And so you have a launch date. And it’s still is scary, right? So we are lucky in the Play
team, in the Play Console, you have some tools that
will help you to reach those levels of confidence. And today, for the large part,
we’re going to talk about three in particular. We’re going to talk
about Device Catalog. We’re going to talk
about preregistration, and then last,
country targeting. Let’s look at them
in further detail. So device catalog– this
feature, it’s very popular. And the reason is because it
helps you make better decisions when prioritizing back fixes and
delivering the right experience for each device. Since launch last year, we have
seen that 66% of developers are using it on a monthly basis. We all know that Android is
an incredibly rich ecosystem with hundreds of manufacturers
and thousands of devices. So let’s turn these
into an opportunity and try to deliver the
best experience based on relevant factors such
as SOC, RAM, or CPU. But during this process, there’s
one key thing to remember, which is essentially
to think big. And what I mean by
think big is just let’s try to include as many
devices by default as possible. Excluding devices should
be a temporary measure until some of these
bugs are fixed. Let’s look at the
device detail page. The device detail
page is a feature that allows you to
review individually thousands of devices,
identify relevant criteria, such as RAM, SOC, or CPU. Since last year, we’ve
added new filtering methods, so for example, the screen size,
density, and application binary interface. As well, since last year, we
added the unsupported reason. So you can very quickly
identify why a device isn’t supported by your game. Lastly, I wanted
to highlight also some interesting information
that the device detail page is providing– essentially, the number
of active devices in this particular game,
the average rating, and the revenues generated
by inner purchases or subscriptions
in the last month. So what some of the developers
are saying about this. So Digital Legends, a mobile
developer from Barcelona, they actually launched a very
popular game, “Respawnables”, which was launched in 2014. And since then, they have seen
more than 30 million installs, and what is more important,
more than 2 billion battles played by the players. So Digital Legends, two
or three times a week, they check the device catalog. And essentially,
they do three things. The first one, they
exclude those devices that do not meet the minimum
requirements in order to deliver a great
user experience. Then second, they
isolate the bugs. And then third, they prioritize
device support and, as well, these bug fixes. So thanks to this
feature, Digital Legends has seen an increase in the
user experience and ratings, as well on the overall quality
and performance of the game. So in conclusion, I wanted
to highlight three things to remember. So the first one, think big,
and support as many devices as possible. Second, if we have to
exclude some devices, try to do it in a temporary way,
so we can fix all those bugs and increase our chances
to reach a bigger audience. And then last, use
the device detail page to get very relevant
information, such as, for example, the unsupported
reason, or the average revenues or average rating. And with this, let’s move
onto the next functionality feature– preregistration. We all know that, in
gaming, creating excitement before even launch
is increasingly critical and popular. So the preregistration
feature has two benefits. As a player, it’s clear. You can pre-register, and then
when the game is launched, you will receive a notification
to install the game. We all know that in certain
type of games, multiplayer, social games, competitive
games in general, it’s critical to get
on early into the game. However, from a
developer perspective, I can see that there’s
two main benefits here. The first one is you can start
marketing early and capture the audience interest. As well, by monitoring
the pre-reg count, we have an indication of the
influx of users at launch. And we can plan ahead not
only from a server side, but also like marketing. So let’s look at a case study. Nexon is a Korean
developer and the creator of some popular games, in
particular “Durango Wild Lands”, which was
launched in Korea the 25th of January, 2018. So they started
the pre-reg process six weeks before
launching the game. And during this time, they saw
2.5 million preregistration users. Out of those 2.5 million
users, pre-reg users, 46% were coming from the Play
pre-registration feature. And what is very
interesting here is that the day
seven conversion, meaning from launch date
until the day seven, the first week, the conversion
for Play pre-reg users was about 70%, which
is seven times higher than the other sources. So as Kiki [? Heelman, ?] the
head of platform relations says, “Google preregistration
is essentially a very effective marketing tool.” So how is Nexon using
for other games? So Nexon has launched
20 games in 2017 and has used the
pre-registration feature in 10 games last year. They saw a 50% conversion
from pre-reg users to actual users
downloading this game. They have seen also that
the CPIs are quite lower. They’re 60% lower in pre-launch
than in post-lunch period. And as such, this has led
to a decision to allocate the marketing budget 50%
to the pre-launch state , rather than in post-launch. So far, the preregistration
pilot has been very successful. In 2017, we’ve seen numbers,
such as more than 50 developers using this
functionality, as well, 200 million players registering,
and 100 million players actually downloading
those games, and then a total of 400 launches across
both small and big developers. Indeed, this is exciting. But what is even more
exciting is to know that, today, we are
announcing that pre-reg is becoming available to
all developers very soon. So what are some of
the things that we need to take into account
if we want to have a good experience with pre-reg? So three things, as well,
that I wanted to remember. So the first is allow some
time to build excitement. So in between three
to six weeks is enough in order to gather all
this audience interest. But as well, use
all the channels that you have available in
order to build that excitement, for example, media, communities,
forums, your own website. And across all
these channels, make sure that you have
a clear action– in this case, preregister
in Google Play. With this in mind, let’s
jump into the last tool, which is country targeting. Country targeting is
a very powerful tool. And essentially, it
allows two things. So first, we can have
different tracks per country. And then we can run
separate closed, open tests or production in a
specific geography. This is very useful
as the quote mentions, for soft launching processes. Where for example, we want
to have one particular region in production to test user
acquisition or monetization. Secondly, it’s key during
launch because we can use a staged rollout per geography. And this means that
you can control the rollout in
different countries, and then monitor which users
are getting into the app. This allows us to test server
performance or user feedback. So let’s look at how
some developers are using this functionality. So Wargaming, Ukrainian
developer and behind the game “World of Warships Blitz”,
they launched this game in January, 2018, as well. And the game has already seen
more than 3 million installs in Google Play. By the way, 100
million ships destroyed and more than 15 million
planes shot down. So incredible numbers,
as well, on that side. And we spoke with
Raymond Cheung, who is the marketing
manager in Wargaming. And he told us that they
used the country targeting during the soft launch period. This soft launch period
took about six months, and they divided
it in three stages. So the first stage, they select
a few number of countries. And they were testing
things like stability– so crash rates, monetization,
lifetime value, and CPI– and then engagement, which is
user engagement and duration of the games. On the second stage, they opened
up to a few more countries, and they were testing
mostly server capacity and ensuring the
stability of the game. And then on the
third stage, they opened up to already
more countries across all continents with the
intent of testing monetization, mostly. So lastly during
this whole process, Wargaming was testing,
as well, and monitoring the ratings and the
reviews and reacting based on the user feedback. So in conclusion, regarding
country targeting, two things to remember today. So the first one is like we
can use country targeting during soft launch, but also
during the open and closed Beta test processes, as well as
during even like future updates or post-launch period. And the second
thing is, at launch, plan ahead what is
going to be the rollout to the different countries. So [INAUDIBLE] all the
work, and download the game, and enjoy it quickly,
but without any issues. And with this, I would like
to call my colleague, David. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] DAVID WIESENFELD:
Thanks, Ignacio. I’m David, product manager on
Play Console Go To Market Tools and Google Play Games Services. Now we’re moving
on to post-launch. At this point, you’ve
developed your game, tested it with a growing
cohort of testers, had a good launch day
and a strong launch week, and the dust is settling. What are the things
that you’re going to be thinking about next? Three post-launch activities
that we’re going to focus on are growing your audience to
get as many people as possible playing your great
game, engaging your players by delivering a
great experience that they want to keep coming back
to, and earning money so you can keep running your
game or build your next one. Let’s start with
audience growth. Players are becoming harder
and more expensive to acquire and retain. Game developers
like you are using lots of different
strategies to acquire users. UA is common, but so are
other less trackable methods– cross-promotion in other games,
leveraging YouTube influencers, utilizing social channels,
third-party website marketing. And I’m sure you have
other great methods too. You can track clicks
and installs from ads. But players who install your
app organically from the Play Store who may get there,
say, via search after reading about your game on a
third-party website are a black box while accounting
for the majority of installs for most developers. Using the new tools in Organic
Acquisition Insights report in Play Console, you can
now see the breakdown of how many new
installers have accessed your listing either via search
or by browsing the Play Store. Most users find games in
Google Play using search. And with this tool, you
can dive deeper into search and see the specific
search terms that drive users to your game. Organic Acquisition
Insights reports is coming soon for
all developers. The developers
we’ve talked to are excited to use these
insights in order to assess the
acquisition strategies, change their store
listing and screenshot to reflect what their
users are looking for, and even optimize
in-app onboarding experiences to ensure that
it references the features and benefits that the
users find most appealing. This is a powerful new tool
that I hope you’ll explore. To find out more about
Organic Acquisition Insights, you can go to this
talk tomorrow morning. Next, we’ll talk about
Google Play Instant. Growing your game involves
getting users excited about it. And a great way to do that is to
give them a quick and easy way to experience it. For quick background, we
launched Instant Apps at I/O last year. And since then,
we’ve been very busy. There are more than
a billion devices that support Instant Apps. And we’ve improved our
tooling to make building Instant Apps even easier. And as you may have
heard, we announced that we’re bringing Instant Apps
to games at GDC six weeks ago. And as of today,
Google Play Instant is now available to
all game developers. So why should you consider
making an instant game? Instant games allow players to
try your game before installing it and make it easy to
install the full game at the end of the instant
game experience using the install prompt API. Being able to try a
game before installing is a hit with players. And after publishing
their Instant game, Mighty Battles has seen a 19%
increase in acquisition rate. So what’s the difference between
Instant Apps and Instant Games? What we’ve done is adapt
the Instant App frameworks so it better meets the needs
of game developers like you. There are three
things we’ve changed. We’ve increased the size
limit to 10 megabytes. We’ve enabled
progressive download of executable code and assets
using the [INAUDIBLE] API. And very importantly,
we’ve added full support for native code
and are integrating with game engines and Open GL. This means you can
use the same codebase and tools as your full game
to build your instant game. And by creating an instant game,
you open up a lot of surfaces. Players can experience instant
games directly from ads, in the Play Games app
arcade, via a link you can send with a messaging
app, and of course, in the Play Store. While we’re on the topic
of Google Play Instant, we need to touch back just for
a moment on launching tools. Pre-reg is a very
successful program. And we’re bringing
the Instant games to Play Store’s
preregistration feature. Now players that
preregister can get a sneak preview of your game. And when you promote
preregistration through social media,
email, or on your website, users will be able
to play instantly from any Android device. It’s an awesome way to introduce
your game to the world. To learn more about
Instant games, you can attend this
session on Thursday. Next, we’ll look at engagement. Android Vitals is designed
to help you identify issues at scale so you can create
a better, more fluid, more optimized, and more engaging
experience for your players. There are a number of new
vitals features launching, including benchmarks
for all vitals, and new vitals, including
startup time, which were discussed in the
Android Vital session earlier this afternoon. Of particular interest
for game developers like you, are stability
and battery vitals. Stability vitals include
A and R’s and crashes. And batteries include stuck wake
locks and excessive wakeups. We’re now showing these
vitals against a bad behavior threshold. Exhibiting bad
behavior in vitals will negatively affect the
user experience in your game and can result in bad ratings
and poor discoverability in the Play Store. We also have vitals for
rendering and startup time, though, these are
informative at this point. And with the new
vitals benchmarks, you can see how you stack
up against similar games. It’s important to know
that Android Vitals is a powerful tool not
just for app developers, but for game developers too. Using Vitals, game
developer, Kiloo, whose game “Subway Surfers”
just passed 1 billion installs on Google Play, was able to make
drastic improvements to their A and R rate, reducing it from
around 2% to below 0.1%. So to help you ensure your
users enjoy playing your game, how should you be thinking
about using Vitals in your day to day? Keep an eye on A and
R’s, crashes, wake locks, and wake ups, which will be
easier with the notifications and alerts built
into Play Console. And use the Vitals dashboard
as part of your toolkit to chase down problems. Now, we wanted to share
with you something we’ve been working on. It’s not ready for
general consumption yet. That’s coming. But we’re excited to be working
to bring LiveOps to play. We are creating new
experiences in the store and in the Play Games
app to show players the events that are
happening now in their games. This is proving very
popular with players, and we’re going to continue
exploring in this direction. And finally, let’s
move on to revenue. Google Play has had
subscriptions since 2012, but they’ve mostly been
the domain of subscription for access apps. Games typically monetize through
IAPs in ads or are paid games. But a number of developers
have been experimenting with subscriptions,
and we wanted to share their experiences. You may be wondering,
what’s the business case of adding subscriptions
when I already have IAP? Developers who
implement subscriptions report an increase in
engagement and retention not just for the subscribers,
but for their overall user base, as well, as you can
see from Monster Strike’s experience with “MonPass.” Many, including Scopely, also
notice minimal cannibalization of IAP, resulting
in incremental gains to overall revenue driven by
both subscriptions and IAP. Another developer who’s found
successful subscriptions is Network in “Legendary
Game of Heroes.” They use subscriptions for
their VIP loyalty program. This program has proved popular
with players, as you can see, and had created a
new revenue stream for “Legendary Game of Heroes”
with strong positive impact on overall revenue. There are two best practices
in using subscriptions to provide value to players– loyalty programs for your high
value users and a new access point to premium experience
for traditional non-buyers. The target audience
will influence how you choose to design your offering. Some examples of a
VIP loyalty program features include exclusive
or early access to content, special in-game VIP status
and title, or a bonus payout with each purchase. This is the most popular
subscription design we’ve seen so far
and, as you can see from Ludia’s “Jurassic
World, The Game,” implement here. Developers have also
found that subscriptions can be effective in converting
traditional non-buyers. These players are motivated by
getting a good financial deal. You can see Network’s
implementation here, which is a VIP
loyalty program aimed at these traditional non-buyers. Of course, as with any
monetization system, be aware of potential downsides. And keep a close pulse of
player feedback and community sentiment. To help you with your
subscription program, Google Play has a very robust
subscriptions infrastructure with a lot of rich features. We support you with billing
tools and analytics insight reports throughout the
entire user funnel. And we can take care of
useful subscription features, such as flexible billing,
free trials, account hold, so that you can focus on
testing and implementing an effective in-game
subscription design. To learn more about
subscriptions, you can watch the
recording of this session from earlier this afternoon. We’ve gone through
some of the tools that you can take
advantage of post-launch. But as we draw to
a close, I want to loop us back to the
beginning of our talk and call out testing again. It’s good to always be testing. In comparison to apps, this
can be tricky for games, as some games need users
to be on the same version to function properly. But think about how you can
effectively use Play’s testing tracks, which will all work
as well post-launch as they do pre-launch, to
ensure your updates live up to the quality
bar set for your game. To wrap up, we’ve
discussed a number of tools in Play
Console you can use in various stages of
your game’s lifecycle. There’s a lot going
on in mobile gaming right now with
fantastic gamer growth, loads of high quality
games being released, and lots of competition. It’s your own fault,
as you keep raising the bar higher and higher
in terms of graphics, story, and gameplay. Well done. We’re excited to see what
you’re able to build next and where gaming goes from here. The tools we’ve talked
you through today can help you along your
journey in a few key places and give you some abilities
and insights you can leverage to help you succeed. We’d also love to hear your
feedback on this session. Thanks, for your time. We’re around for
the rest of the day. And you can also check
out the sandbox over here. Thank you. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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