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Sep 26 2021
Testing is a common practice among mobile game developers. However, developers often struggle to prioritize which features to test, and find it difficult to interpret the results so that changes are often postponed or never made.
As a developer, you may be familiarized with ASO testing tools, such as Google Experiments. Or even you may have already found about the recently announced A/B testing tool for Apple App Store. These tools make it super easy to compare different creatives, test them on your core markets, and improve your icon, screenshots, videos, and many other assets of your App Store Product Page.
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Testing means ensuring that a program meets its predefined requirements. Mobile game applications require precise, organized testing strategies that must be incorporated firmly into the development procedure.
It is our nature to try new things, whether our goal is to improve key business metrics, to check if we were right about a certain hypothesis, or simply curiosity. When it comes to mobile games tests, whether you want to improve monetization, retention, or user acquisition, having a methodology and carefully interpreting the results are just as important.
Game design isn't easy, though, and neither is game testing, especially when testing games for mobile devices. Developing, designing, and testing mobile games require specialized skills.
You don't always know all of an app's requirements before you start developing, so testing is one step in an iterative process for creating a quality mobile game.
When we talk about ASO, or App Store Optimization, we mainly focus on improving the visibility of your mobile apps and games on the Google Play or Apple app stores.
As a Developer, the main goal for you is to increase the organic traffic you receive from the Search Results Page, Category pages, the Top Charts, and even the Apps or Games tab or various other places in Google Play or App/ Game of the day in App Store.
To track how visible your app is, these are the most common ASO metrics that you must check from your preferred ASO Tool:
Keyword Rankings: Once you've set your target keywords (or combination of keywords), you must check how your App ranks on the Search Results Page for each keyword you selected. This will allow you to modify and optimize the use of keywords in your metadata.
Top Charts: There are three main Top Chart Rankings: Free, Paid, or Grossing. Check them to see how trendy your game has been lately.
Category Pages: Users can search mobile apps and games by categories, and they're ranked by relevance. Check which positions you occupy to see how relevant you are in comparison to your competitors.
Similar & Related Apps: Find out those apps that are driving traffic to your products. Many users come from the “similar apps” widgets on other App Store Product Pages. Finding those apps that drive you most users to your app can give you ideas on how to adapt your communication.
Featured: You can track this metric with several ASO Intelligence tools. Further, in this article, you will find a dedicated section on getting featured.
Once you integrate more advanced ASO tools into your ecosystem, other visibility metrics may become relevant for you. Check these ASO Metrics regularly. Then, organize them into different countries or markets — Benchmark your rankings against your competitors' apps. Little by little, you'll find more growth opportunities.
Once the users have already found you through search or exploring the stores, as previously mentioned, and they have landed on your App Store Product Page, you want them to install your app or game.
On ASO, when talking about App Store Conversion, there are two primary ASO Metrics that you must check:
Click-Through Rate (CTR): Also known as Tap-Through Rate (TTR). The % of users who have seen your app or game in the search results or rankings, and have decided to click on it and open your App Store Product Page.
Conversion Rate (CVR or CR): Also known as Install Rate (IR). The % of users who have landed on your Product Page, and have installed your app or game.
These two ASO Metrics are decisive to understand how your app store assets are performing.
Every expert on App marketing has a different view on how to measure mobile growth. For Indie mobile developers, sometimes this may be confusing.
In ASO (App Store Optimization), growth is commonly measured by:
A number of organic installs (on a specific period) – If you were to choose only one ASO metric, this would be the most important of all. Also, depending on the installs' speed, number, quality, source, and other KPIs (Key Points of Interest), you can say that your app or game is growing or not.
Retention Rate – This is a secondary metric that could be tracked for ASO purposes with the help of various tools. You can check retention rates for the 1st, 2nd, 7th, 30th days since installation in relation to the organic traffic to your app page that converted into organic installs and thus analyze how the in-app experience meets installers' expectations initiated on the app page.
The main goal of ASO is to increase your Organic Growth, and the main ASO Metric to consider here are the organic Installs. You can track your app installs on your Developer Console on each app store. While the data provided by Google Play Console or App Store Connect Analytics can be a good indicator of how your app page is performing, if you're also engaging in some paid campaigns, you better look for an Attribution tool to split your organic and paid installs.
Paid installs most likely boost your organic growth. A well-tuned user acquisition campaign can drive you enough installs to uplift your ASO and make you reach the top charts. You may want to consider that when launching your marketing campaigns.
To understand how your paid installs affect your organic, do this formula:
The difference between regular mobile applications and mobile games impacts test plans strategies. Games are more unpredictable than ordinary mobile applications, since they invite users to act unpredictably. When testing a game, you have to anticipate a player's behaviour.
When testing a mobile app, you have to make sure that your app is easy to use and works well across multiple devices.
Mobile game testing combines those two requirements, which makes it more challenging.
While testing offers several benefits it also presents developers with challenges. Conclusive results are not always guaranteed especially in free-to-play (F2P) games where the payer population is low. According to one developer, this issue resulted in up to 15% of tests being inconclusive.
In the following sections, we will cover these testing challenges and how two developers approached these questions to improve their business. First, we'll cover the pre-launch stage and testing for engagement and retention, then move on to the post-launch stage and testing for monetization improvements.
A mobile gaming app prioritizes certain functions that regular mobile apps either need less of or don't need at all. These are the parts of your app that you'll be checking as you test.
Your game's user interface (UI) and overall functionality determine how successful your mobile app will be. It's crucial that you get both right.
User interface layout, screen orientation, menu structure and functions, and screen resolution are some of the aspects that make up UI and game functionality.
A high-quality graphics performance is key. Gamers like to engage with smooth, responsive graphics but will become frustrated when an app's art crashes or slows.
To figure out how your game's graphics perform under all kinds of conditions, use a stress test. This performance test will determine how responsive your game can be on a real gadget.
Mobile gamers enjoy competing with real-life players, especially friends and family. Some of the most successful mobile games, such as NBA Jam, NFS, and Nova Legacy, are multiplayer.
That's why you should consider including multiplayer functionality.
However, multiplayer functionality is hard to get right. All players must be able to perform the same set of app interactions at the same time, so the users' devices and your server are constantly exchanging data.
Test your server thoroughly to make sure it can handle multiplayer interactions.
Social media integration can make your mobile game a success.
Consider Candy Crush. The app has 100 million daily active users, and that's partially because developers embedded connection and sharing tools.
However, using open-source assets sometimes creates security problems. Any third-party software packages and libraries come with their own set of bugs, which hackers might exploit. Any time you incorporate an open-source asset, do your research and learn about that
You have to be proactive in testing your app's security for the sake of your users.
The following testing strategies are unique to mobile game testing.
Functional testing means playing games to find bugs. For the most part, functional testing can be automated.
If you understand your mobile app's code, you can set up test automation frameworks. Automated functional testing can uncover issues related to user interface and graphics, game flow/mechanism, stability, and integration of graphics resources.
Slow speed and broken game systems, such as dialogue or loot, can undermine an otherwise sound gaming app. That's where performance testing comes in. It shows you the metrics your app needs to run correctly.
When conducting performance testing, make a list of your game's real performance prerequisites, such as:
Many games are developed and tested on high-end devices. The developers never test these games on lower-end or older devices, so the games don't work on some devices. Make sure your game works on all devices, including 2G and 3G ones.
This means making your game compatible across different devices.
Your app should work on Android, iPhone, and tablet devices. If it's an extension of a web or desktop game, it should work as well on mobile as it does on a TV, desktop computer, or laptop computer.
Many developers think that they can only test for compatibility with the product's final version. This isn't true, though. If you perform compatibility testing during every development phase, you can uncover incompatibility bugs as you go.
If you're targeting worldwide markets, localization testing is imperative. Localization testing ensures that your game works well in any location you release the app.
All text, including titles, messages, and menus, must be translated into each supported language. They must display properly when users select a certain language.
While you can't automate translation (you'll have to hire a translator for that), you can automate localization testing. To do this, choose text assets in each language and compare them in your app. Are they correctly translated? Do they display properly?
Ensure that you've completed localization testing before expanding your game into multiple languages.
Load testing checks the limits of both a user's device and your app's mobile network usage. It answers questions like:
Perform regression testing whenever anything changes in your app.
Most mobile games have a server-client interaction that requires a login, a transfer of user information, and then downloading of server information (such as data and images). As you build up these services, you run the risk of breaking your code.
Follow these steps to perform regression testing:
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