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Lion Studios Webinar Recap: 3 Key Takeaways From Our Epic Failures

by Claire Tak on Sep 17, 2020

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

When the team at Lion Studios recently brainstormed for our very first webinar topic, we thought about how we got to where we are today and the mistakes and challenges we’ve experienced along the way. The conversation gravitated towards our past failures—even epic ones, which helped us ultimately make better games. 

While we’re certainly proud of the chart-topping games published from Lion Studios, we rarely stop to highlight what didn’t work and why—much less put together an entire video presentation that picks apart what went wrong. We hope you’ll learn from them.

The Epic Failures webinar was led by Chris Lefebvre, who heads up Lion Studios’ global business development. He was joined by Lillian Nguyen, Publishing Lead of Lion Studios and Michael Hoyos, CEO from SRG Studios. The trio discussed how past flops proved to be huge drivers for future growth. 

Here are key takeaways from the webinar. 

1. Always test marketability through a standard CPI test

CTR Testing is a regular part of the game development process and is a great way to understand early engagement for your game concept. Lillian warned, “While it can provide an early indicator for your game concept, don’t [soley] rely on it. Always confirm marketability through a standard CPI test.”

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou

2. The four best indicators for evaluating engagement

When we talk about marketability, what are we really referring to? It boils down to four factors:

  • The theme
  • Art
  • Mechanics
  • Creatives

The discussion detailed what different combinations of this formula may lead your team to conclude. Here are examples:

Good marketability & good engagement: 

  • Great indicators that your game has low CPIs so forge ahead

Good marketability & bad engagement:

  • Improve mechanics, onboarding, UI

Bad marketability & good engagement:

  • Improve theme, clarity of mechanics, and visuals

Bad marketability & bad engagement:

  • Might be best to scrap and move on

As you evaluate engagement and marketability, use the data along the way to help guide your decisions. 

Michael explained, “As long as the data is telling a good story, you’re on the right path. If it doesn’t tell a good story, then at least it helps you avoid wasting time on things that aren’t working.” 

3. Tips for understanding stage completion benchmarks

Understanding stage completion benchmarks can be tricky. Chris, Lillian, and Michael offered their best tips on how to figure this out, as it depends on a number of different factors. 

If you’re experiencing a drop in engagement in the beginning which then plateaus, Chris suggested, “It could be an onboarding or UI problem which means something is fundamentally missing in terms of how the user is being onboarded.”

Also, when looking at stage completion and early game metrics, don’t forget to track notes for your first CPI test—context is king.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” —Booker T. Washington

How will your failures and mistakes make your game better?

While learning from our mistakes is a great way to start thinking about how you want to improve your games, no one can dictate what you should or shouldn’t do except you and your team. Use key data to guide tough decisions and consider building formulas and setting benchmarks to better understand how your game is received.  

If you notice marketability and engagement are low, it might be best to scrap the idea and quickly move on. Conversely, if you see solid engagement based on theme, art, mechanics, and creatives, you may have reasons to move forward with the launch of your title. 

We plan on creating more videos from Lion Studios, so stay tuned. Also, check out our events page to catch up on the latest videos from AppLovin. 

Claire Tak is Marketing Manager, Content at AppLovin.