31 August 2016

Android Developer Story: Hutch improves player engagement with A/B testing on Google Play

Posted by Lily Sheringham, Google Play team

Hutch is a London based mobile studio focusing entirely on racing games, with more than 10 million players on Google Play. For their latest game, MMX Hill Climb, they used A/B testing and game analytics to improve the game design and experience resulting in more than 48 mins daily active usage per user.

Watch Shaun Rutland, CEO, and Robin Scannell, Games Analyst, explain how they were able to deliver a more engaging user experience in this video.

Learn more about A/B testing and get the Playbook for Developers app to stay up-to-date on new features and learn best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

29 August 2016

Announcing Open Registration and Exhibitors for Google Play Indie Games Festival in San Francisco, Sept. 24

Posted by Jamil Moledina, Google Play, Games Strategic Lead

To celebrate the art of the latest innovative indie games, we’re hosting the first Google Play Indie Games Festival in North America on September 24th in San Francisco. At the festival, Android fans and gamers will have a unique opportunity to play new and unreleased indie games from some of the most innovative developers in the US and Canada, as well as vote for their favorite ones.

Registration is now open and the event is free for everyone to enjoy.

We’re also excited to announce the games selected to exhibit and compete at the event. From over 200 submissions, we carefully picked 30 games that promise the most fun and engaging experiences to attendees. Fans will have a chance to play a variety of indie games not yet available publicly.

Check out the full list of games selected here and below.


Fans will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite games at the festival, along with an authoritative panel of judges from Google Play and the game industry. They include:

  • Ron Carmel, Co-founder of Indie Fund; co-creator of World of Goo
  • Hyunse Chang, Business Development Manager at Google Play
  • Lina Chen, Co-founder & CEO of Nix Hydra
  • David Edery, CEO of Spry Fox
  • Maria Essig, Partner Manager, Indies at Google Play
  • Noah Falstein, Chief Game Designer at Google
  • Dan Fiden, Chief Strategy Officer of Funplus
  • Emily Greer, CEO of Kongregate
  • Alex Lee, Producer, Program Manager, Daydream & Project Tango at Google
  • Jordan Maron, Gamer and independent YouTuber “CaptainSparklez”

We are also thrilled to announce that veteran game designer and professor Richard Lemarchand will be the emcee for the event. He was lead designer at Crystal Dynamics and Naughty Dog, and is now Associate Chair and Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Interactive Media and Games Division.

The winning developers will receive prizes, such Google Cloud credits, NVIDIA SHIELD Android TVs and K1 tablets, Razer Forge TV bundles, and more, to recognize their efforts.

Join us for an exciting opportunity to connect with fellow game fans, get inspired, and celebrate the art of indie games. Learn more about the event on the event website.

22 August 2016

Taking the final wrapper off of Android 7.0 Nougat

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

Android Nougat

Android 7.0 Nougat

Today, Android 7.0 Nougat will begin rolling out to users, starting with Nexus devices. At the same time, we’re pushing the Android 7.0 source code to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), extending public availability of this new version of Android to the broader ecosystem.

We’ve been working together with you over the past several months to get your feedback on this release, and also to make sure your apps are ready for the users who will run them on Nougat devices.

What’s inside Nougat

Android Nougat reflects input from thousands of fans and developers like you, all around the world. There are over 250 major features in Android Nougat, including VR Mode in Android. We’ve worked at all levels of the Android stack in Nougat — from how the operating system reads sensor data to how it sends pixels to the display — to make it especially built to provide high quality mobile VR experiences.

Plus, Nougat brings a number of new features to help make Android more powerful, more productive and more secure. It introduces a brand new JIT/AOT compiler to improve software performance, make app installs faster, and take up less storage. It also adds platform support for Vulkan, a low-overhead, cross-platform API for high-performance, 3D graphics. Multi-Window support lets users run two apps at the same time, and Direct Reply so users can reply directly to notifications without having to open the app. As always, Android is built with powerful layers of security and encryption to keep your private data private, so Nougat brings new features like File-based encryption, seamless updates, and Direct Boot.

You can find all of the Nougat developer resources here, including details on behavior changes and new features you can use in your apps. An overview of what's new for developers is available here, and you can explore all of the new user features in Nougat here.

Multi-window mode in Android Nougat

Multi-window mode in Android Nougat

The next wave of users

Starting today and rolling out over the next several weeks, the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and General Mobile 4G (Android One) will get an over-the-air software update to Android 7.0 Nougat. Devices enrolled in the Android Beta Program will also receive this final version.

And there are many tasty devices coming from our partners running Android Nougat, including the upcoming LG V20, which will be the first new smartphone that ships with Android Nougat, right out of the box.

With all of these new devices beginning to run Nougat, now is the time to publish your app updates to Google Play. We recommend compiling against, and ideally targeting, API 24. If you’re still testing some last minute changes, a great strategy to do this is using Google Play’s beta testing feature to get early feedback from a small group of users — including those using Android 7.0 Nougat — and then doing a staged rollout as you release the updated app to all users.

What’s next for Nougat?

We’re moving Nougat into a new regular maintenance schedule over the coming quarters. In fact, we’ve already started work on the first Nougat maintenance release, that will bring continued refinements and polish, and we’re planning to bring that to you this fall as a developer preview. Stay tuned!

We’ll be closing open bugs logged against Developer Preview builds soon, but please keep the feedback coming! If you still see an issue that you filed in the preview tracker, just file a new issue against Android 7.0 in the AOSP issue tracker.

Thanks for being part of the preview, which we shared earlier this year with an eye towards giving everyone the opportunity to make the next release of Android stronger. Your continued feedback has been extremely beneficial in shaping this final release, not just for users, but for the entire Android ecosystem.

10 August 2016

New features for reviews and experiments in Google Play Developer Console app

Posted by Kobi Glick, Google Play team

With over one million apps published through the Google Play Developer Console, we know how important it is to publish with confidence, acquire users, learn about them, and manage your business. Whether reacting to a critical performance issue or responding to a negative review, checking on your apps when and where you need to is invaluable.

The Google Play Developer Console app, launched in May, has already helped thousands of developers stay informed of crucial business updates on the go.

We’re excited to tell you about new features, available today:

Receive notifications about new reviews

Use filters to find the reviews you want

Review and apply store listing experiment results

Increase the percent of a staged rollout or halt a bad staged rollout

Download the Developer Console app on Google Play and stay on top of your apps and games, wherever you are! Also, get the Playbook for Developers app to stay up-to-date with more features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

Android Developer Story: Hole19 improves user retention with Android Wear

Posted by Lily Sheringham, Google Play team

Based in Lisbon, Portugal, Hole19 is a golfing app which assists golfers before, during, and after their golfing journey with GPS and a digital scorecard. The app connects the golfing community with shared statistics for performance and golf courses, and now has close to 1 million users across all platforms.

Watch Anthony Douglas, Founder & CEO, and Fábio Carballo, Head Android Developer, explain how Hole19 doubled its number of Android Wear users in 6 months, and improved user engagement and retention on the platform. Also, hear how they are using APIs and the latest Wear 2.0 features to connect users to their golfing data and improve the user experience.


Learn more how to get started with Android Wear and get the Playbook for Developers app to stay up-to-date with more features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

09 August 2016

Expand Your Global Reach on Google Play With New Language and Country Analytics

Posted by Rahim Nathwani Product Manager, App Translation Service

With users in 190 countries around the world, Google Play offers you a truly global audience for your apps and games. Localization is one of the most powerful ways to connect with people in different places, which is why we launched translation support for in-app purchase and Universal App Campaigns earlier this year. With over 30 language translation options available via the Developer Console, we updated our app translation service to help you select the most relevant languages, making it quick and easy to get started.

With the launch of new language and country analytics, you gain access to app install analysis on Google Play, including:

  • Information on the top languages and countries where apps have been installed, broken down to the level of your app’s category
  • The percentage of installs that come from users of those languages
  • Further information to help inform your go-to-market plans for these countries

To make ordering translations easier, we show language bundles that you can add to your order in a single click.

To get started, select Manage translations -> Purchase translations from the Store Listing page in the Google Play Developer Console.

02 August 2016

5 Tips to help you improve game-as-a-service monetization

Posted by Moonlit Wang, Partner Development Manager at Google Play Games, & Tammy Levy, Director of Product for Mobile at Kongregate

In today’s world of game-as-a-service on mobile, the lifetime value of a player is a lot more complex, where revenue is now the sum of many micro transactions instead of a single purchase with traditional console games.

Of course you don’t need a sophisticated statistical model to understand that the more time a player invests in your game, and the more money they spend, the greater their LTV. But how can you design and improve monetization as a mobile game developer? Here are 5 tips to help you improve game-as-a-service monetization, with best practice examples from mobile games publisher, Kongregate:

1. Track player behavior metrics that have a strong and positive correlation with LTV

  • D1, D7, D30 retention indicates how well a casual player can be converted into a committed fan.
  • Session length and frequency measures user engagement and how fun your game is.
  • Completion rate at important milestones can measure and pinpoint churn.
  • Buyer and repeated buyer conversion, represents your most valuable user segment.

2. Optimize for long-term engagement and delight your best players

Retention is the first metric that can distinguish great games from mediocre ones. Games with higher retention rates throughout the user’ lifecycle, monetize better consistently. Retention is king, and more importantly, long-term retention should be prioritized. Therefore, when designing your game, aim to create a sophisticated and engaging experience to delight your most committed fans.

[This chart shows the retention of top games / apps over time]
  • When considering long term retention, focus on achieving a strong D30, but also look beyond the first 30 days. Measure long term retention by assessing the following rates: D30 to D60, D30 to D90, and D30 to D180. The higher the rate, the stickier your game is in the long term, which will increase your LTV.
  • Players are willing to pay a fixed amount of money per hour of “fun”, so think about updates when designing your game, to make the content rich and fun for those who will play at very high levels and spend the most time within your game, don’t gate your players or hinder their in-game progression.
  • Use the Google Play Games Services - Funnel Report to help you track different milestone completion rates in your games, so you can identify drop off points and reduce churn
.
3. Increase buyer conversion through targeted offers

First-time buyer conversion is the most important as player churn rate drops significantly after the first purchase, but stays relatively flat regardless of the amount spent. Also, past purchase behavior is the best predictor of future purchases. Find your first-time and repeated buyer conversion rate directly in the Developer Console.

  • Use A/B testing to find the price that will maximize your total revenue. Different people have different willingness to pay for a given product and the tradeoff between price and quantity is different for different products, so don’t decrease prices blindly.
  • Tailor your in-game experience as well as in-app purchase offers based on the player’s predicted probability to spend using the Player Stats API, which predicts players churn and spend.

For example, in Kongregate’s game Spellstone, testing two pricing points for a promotion called Shard Bot, which provides players with a daily “drip” of Shards (the premium currency) for 30 days, showed players had a much stronger preference for the higher priced pack. The first pack, Shard Bot, priced at $4, granted players 5 daily shards, and the second pack, the Super Shard Bot, was priced at $8 and granted players 10 daily shards.

[Two week test results showing preference for the more expensive pack, which also generated more revenue]

Kongregate decided to keep the higher priced Super Shard Bot in the store, although both packs resulted in very similar retention rates:

4. As well as what monetization features to implement, take into consideration why, when and how to do so

  • Why: “Buyer intent” is most important. Any item with a price tag should serve to enhance your players in-game experience. For example, a new map, a new power, something exciting and additional to the free experience. Don’t gate your players with a purchase-only item as happy users means more time spent with your game, which will lead to higher revenue. Educate users by gifting some free premium goods and currency during the tutorial, and let users experience the benefit first.
  • When: Time offers based on when users may need it. If your IAP is to continue gameplay after timeout, then you should surface it right when the timer ends. If your IAP is to offer premium equipment, then you should surface it when users gear up their characters. The offer should be contextually relevant, such that the content should cater to the player’s current status and needs in-game.

    In particular, Starter Packs or New Buyer Promos need to be well timed. Players need to understand the value and importance of all the items before they are shown the promotion. If surfaced too early, players will not feel compelled to purchase. If surfaced too late, the offer will not be compelling enough. The Starter Pack should appear within 3 to 5 sessions since install, depending on your game. Additionally, limiting its availability to 3 to 5 days will urge players to make a quicker purchase decision.

    For example, BattleHand’s starter pack is surfaced around the 4th session, it is available for 36hrs and contains the following items to aid players in all areas of the game:

  • Powerful cards that have an immediate effect in battle
  • High rarity upgrade materials to upgrade your card deck
  • A generous amount of soft currency that can be used in all areas of the game
  • A generous amount of hard currency so players can purchase premium store items
  • Rare upgrade materials for Heroes
[Example starter pack offer in Battle Hands]
Thanks to the strength of the promotion over 50% of players choose the Starter Pack instead of the regular gems offerings:
  • How: There are many ways you can implement premium content and goods in your game, such as power-ups, characters, equipment, maps, hints, chapters etc. The two most impactful monetization designs are:
      Gacha - There are many ways to design, present and balance gacha but the key is to have randomized rewards, which allows you to sell extremely powerful items that players want without having to charge really high prices per purchase.
[Example of randomized rewards in Raid Brigade’s boxes]
      LiveOps - Limited time content on a regular cadence will also create really compelling opportunities for the players to both engage further with the game and invest in the game. For instance, Adventure Capitalist has been releasing regular limited themed time events with their spin on the permanent content, their own progression, achievements and IAP promotions.
[Example timed event for Adventure Capitalist]

Through this initiative, the game has seen regular increases in both engagement and revenue during event times without affecting the non-event periods:

[Timed events drastically increase engagement and revenue without lowering the baseline average over time]

5. Take into account local prices and pricing models

Just like different people have different willingness-to-pay, different markets have different purchasing powers.

    • Test what price points make sense for local consumers in each major market. Don’t just apply an umbrella discount, find the price points that maximize total revenue.
    • Consider charm pricing but remember it doesn’t work everywhere. For example, in the United States, prices always end in $x.99, but that’s not the case in Japan and Korea, where rounded numbers are used. Pricing in accordance to the local norm signals to the customers that you care and designed the game with them in mind. The Google Developer Console now automatically applies local pricing conventions of each currency for you.

Check out the Android Developer Story from games developer, Divmob, who improved their game’s monetization threefold simply by adopting sub-dollar pricing strategies. Also, learn more best practices about building for billions to get more tips on monetization.

Get the Playbook for Developers app and stay up-to-date with more features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.