營銷機構談利用精益方法快速試錯迭代開發遊戲

營銷機構談利用精益方法快速試錯迭代開發遊戲

原作者:Guest Author 譯者:Willow Wu

Johannes Heinze是AppLovin歐洲、中東、非洲三地區的總裁。

我時常好奇在這樣一個低進入壁壘、自由的全球分銷市場背景下,所謂獨立開發者的本質到底是什麼。

我看到的主要特質就是獨立開發者主要(有時候是隻)聚焦在如何做出讓人驚豔的遊戲上,而經濟和商務方面的因素是次要的。

別誤會我,我非常尊敬,也很欣賞這種致力於創造偉大娛樂的激情。但很多人似乎忽略了一件事:爲了塑造、保護文化,讓開發者們更好地製作出獨一無二的遊戲體驗,有些人要花大把時間在建立業務上,而那些最成功的遊戲公司也通常是由這些人領導的。

最終,文化、人、當然還有暢銷遊戲的產出,這些逐漸演變成了機構投資者們的有趣財富。

the supercell model(from pocketgamer.biz)

the supercell model(from pocketgamer.biz)

Index Venture的合夥人Neil Rimer,他主導了Supercell的第二輪的投資,資金高達1.3億美元。他曾寫了一篇博文告訴我們爲什麼要投資這個公司:“Supercell是由一些名爲‘細胞(cells)’小型獨立團隊組成,他們的工作任務就是開發新遊戲或者給現有的遊戲加上些深入的細節特色。”

針對團隊和工作室構架的Supercell模式

這些細胞團隊遵循着“開發-測試-優化-測試-淘汰”的循環流程來減少開發時間,持續反覆地評估產品。在大多數情況下,幾個月之後就會進行淘汰。

越來越多成功的遊戲開發者發現應用精益原則(lean principles)可以更快速地完成遊戲點子評估,最終可以通過數據驅動決策制定省去早期開發過程中的“垃圾時間”。

我會用實際例子來跟你解釋這些原則,來看看Gram Games是如何通過遵循明確定製的流程來開發、測試、迭代,促使這些超休閒(hyper-casual)遊戲在市場在獲得成功。

精益框架對於這類遊戲尤其有效,因爲吸引力和擴展潛力在早期就可以評估了,同時也可以繼續保持小額投入。

精益創業方法論

精益創業方法論是由Eric Ries提出的,在他的著作Lean Startup中有詳細闡述。

這個理論“支持實驗而非詳細的計劃,支持客戶反饋而非直覺,支持迭代設計而非傳統的‘設計先行’開發模式( Big Design Up Fron)”,它最終能夠降低風險,提高數據驅動決策的可行性。(HBR)關於這個話題有很多書籍資料,但是在這一部分,我只想集中討論其中2條核心原則:

開發-測量-認知(Build-Measure-Learn)循環:“把想法轉化爲產品,衡量客戶對產品的反饋,然後決定到應該是堅守不移還是改弦更張。”(維基百科)

最小化的可行產品(Minimum-Viable-Product,MVP):“所謂MVP的產品可以讓我們花最少的力氣、最短的開發時間,經歷一次完整的‘開發-測量-認知’循環。”(Eric Ries)

Gram Games

看它的名字你就明白了:Gram公司開發的是迷你、“輕型”超休閒遊戲,完全符合所有特徵。看看1010!、 Merged!或者Six!。你不用花費什麼東西就可以馬上開始玩遊戲。

遊戲的核心非常簡單,但是並不會少了樂趣,盈利也基本是通過廣告手段。Gram是廣告贊助與超休閒縱向結合的先鋒之一,這三個遊戲的累計下載量迄今已經超過了1億次。

公司創始人實踐了精益創業方法論和數據驅動決策,讓公司在市場中脫穎而出。這兩種概念都在組織架構中制度化了:

開發

爲了保證原始遊戲概念的順利實現,Gram每個週五都會用來開發核心遊戲的最小化的可行產品。最小化的可行產品由一個遊戲中心構思衍生的基礎(但是可以用的)原型和一段重點突出遊戲玩法的視頻組成。

測量

在最小化的可行產品上架Google Play之前,在Gram爲它預留了兩個週五原型製作日來評估它的市場契合度。目的是爲了衡量遊戲的KPI,例如遊戲的吸引力(點擊率和轉化率)還有通過付費用戶獲取、利用遊戲視頻得到的用戶留存率(早期參與率)。

認知

如果已評估的KPI比之前設定的門檻還低,這個概念就會被淘汰,把注意力轉移到下一個最小化的可行產品上。與之相反,如果早期參與率看起來是有發展空間的,視頻的轉化率降低了初始用戶獲取成本,開發者們就開始迭代產品,然後通過再次循環開發-測量-認知,提高指標。

重複

最優秀的最小化的可行產品會隨着時間在遊戲中進化,進入發行測試階段,用來測試盈利狀況和長期下來的不同地區的用戶留存率。

廣告盈利最重要的因素之一就是用戶每天能夠接觸到的廣告數量。在提高留存率之後,KPI就會增加,例如玩家平均每天完成的關卡數量,還有關卡花費的時間長度。

Gram原創

那些通過測試發行的遊戲現在成爲了“Gram原創”並且轉移到Gram App Store中,這意味着正式全球發行。發行通常是始於其他產品的交叉推廣。

Gram的遊戲Six!

現階段,嚴格的測試和發行前的數據收集能夠讓Gram詳細規劃生命週期總價值,志在必得地進行用戶獲取,快速達到理想的規模。Gram公司所有經歷過上述程序的遊戲幫助他們把團隊擴大到了60人,兩個工作室分別在倫敦和伊斯坦布爾。

少即是多

鑑於app stores每天都有成千上萬個新產品上架,初期的數據驅動決策制定,市場契合度評估變得越來越重要。

顯然,這個方法是有些侷限性,而且meta遊戲的核心越複雜,就越難精準評估,利用收集數據來預測遊戲前景的難度也越大。

在最近寫的系列文章中,我粗略討論了一下這種新的遊戲類型:超休閒,並且我認爲它和精益方法論相得益彰。精益創業的定位就是意在摒棄大企業中利用流線型的開發、組織所帶來的複雜性。

從另外一個方面來講,減小難度,降低製作成本,迴歸到遊戲本質,這樣怎麼能做出好遊戲? 超休閒遊戲給了你答案:那就製作一個有趣的遊戲——不僅僅是爲那一小撮能花得起錢的玩家,而是真正意義上的讓每個人都樂在其中。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Johannes Heinze is Managing Director for EMEA at AppLovin.

Sometimes I wonder what really constitutes an indie developer in a market with free global distribution and low entry barriers.

The main distinction I see is that indies mainly (sometimes solely) focus on building cool games, while the financial and business considerations come second.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect and admire the passion for creating great entertainment. But many seem to ignore that most successful gaming companies are led by entrepreneurs who spend the majority of their time building businesses to shape and protect cultures that enable developers to thrive and produce unique experiences.

Ultimately, the culture, people, and, of course, the output of successful games evolve into an interesting asset for institutional investors.

Neil Rimer, the Index Venture Partner who led Supercell’s $130 million Series B round, wrote a great blog post on why they invested into the company: “Supercell is organised as a collection of small, independent teams, called cells, tasked with developing new games or building new deep features for existing games.”
The Supercell model for team and studio structure
These cells follow a “Build-Test-Refine-Test-Kill” cycle to reduce development time, evaluate and iterate on the product consistently, and in many cases, kill the result after a couple of months.

More and more successful game developers have discovered and implemented lean principles to evaluate game ideas faster and ultimately reduce “waste” in the development process early by making data-driven decisions.

I’ll illustrate these principles in practice by describing how Gram Games follows a clearly defined process to build, test, iterate and grow some of the most successful hyper-casual games on the market.

The lean framework is specifically useful for this genre of games, since the appeal as well as the scaling potential can be evaluated early on, while keeping the investment at a bare minimum.

The Lean Startup methodology

The Lean Startup methodology was coined by Eric Ries and laid out in detail in his book Lean Startup.

The methodology “favours experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional ‘big design up front’ development” to ultimately reduce risk and enable data-driven decisions. (HBR) There is a lot of literature available on the topic, but for this piece I’d like to focus on two key principles:

The Build-Measure-Learn loop: “A learning cycle of turning ideas into products, measuring customers’ reactions and behaviours against built products, and then deciding whether to persevere or pivot the idea.” (Wikipedia)
Minimum-Viable-Product (MVP): “The version of the product that enables a full turn of the Build-Measure-Learn loop with a minimum amount of effort and the least amount of development time.” (Eric Ries)
Gram Games

The name already says it all: Gram develops minimal and “lightweight” hyper-casual games that tick all characteristics. Have a look at 1010!, Merged!, or Six!. You can play the games instantly without any commitment.
The core game is simple but enjoyable and monetisation is primarily done through ads. Gram is one of the pioneers of the ad-funded hyper-casual vertical – combined, the three games have amassed more than 100 million downloads to date.

The company’s founders’ commitment to the Lean Startup methodology and data-driven decision making is what makes it unique. Both concepts have been institutionalised in the organisational framework:

BUILD

In order to ensure a constant flow of original game concepts, Gram dedicates every Friday to developing core game MVPs. The MVP consists of a very simple (but working) prototype of the core game idea as well as a video highlighting the gameplay.

MEASURE

Gram allows two of these Prototyping Fridays before the MVP needs to be uploaded to Google Play to evaluate product-market fit. The goal is to measure key performance indicators (KPIs), such as interest in the game (click and conversion rates) and retention (early engagement rates) of users by doing paid UA, utilising the gameplay video.

LEARN

If the measured KPIs are below a given threshold, the concept will be killed and the focus will shift to the next MVP. On the contrary, if the early engagement rates look promising and the conversion rates of the videos result in low initial user acquisition costs, the developers start iterating on the game and try to increase the metrics by starting another Build-Measure-Learn loop.

REPEAT

The very best MVPs evolve over time into real games and go into soft launch, which is mainly for testing the monetisation and long-term retention of the game in different geographic regions.

One of the most important factors for ad monetisation is the amount of ads that are being served to a user on a daily basis. On top of increasing the retention, additional KPIs are added, such as the amount of average daily sessions by users and the session lengths.

A Gram Original

The games that make it through the soft launch are now “Gram Originals” and are transitioned to the main Gram App Store account for global launch. This launch is usually kicked off with a cross-promotion from their other properties.
Gram Games’ Six!
At this point, the rigorous testing and data collection pre-launch enables them to map their LTV accurately and do aggressive user acquisition to reach scale quickly. All of Gram’s existing games went through this process and helped Gram to grow to 60 employees across two offices in London and Istanbul.

Less is more

Given the flood of new content popping up in app stores every day, it becomes increasingly important to start making data-driven decisions to evaluate product-market fit early on.

Obviously, there are limitations to this approach, and the more complex the core and the meta game get, the more difficult it is to accurately evaluate and collect data to properly forecast a game’s potential.

In my recent series, I outlined a new category – hyper-casual – and I’d argue that it and lean methodology compliment each other. The Lean Startup movement positions itself against the complexity of big corporations in streamlining development and organisation.

Hyper-casual, on the other hand, is the answer to the increasing complexity and production costs in stripping down the gameplay to what’s essential: having a game that’s fun to play – not only for a small niche of people that can afford to play it, but literally everyone.

(source:pocketgamer.biz