Finding your next hit game is a challenge on its own that many spend years and tons of money on, but no one tells you that the real challenge comes after actually achieving that.
For this reason, lots of initially hit games sink quite fast after the global launch and you have probably seen that curve that peaks in the first couple of weeks after launch and this drops very hard. What happened? well, success is slippery and you have to maintain it maintaining a game after its launch is exactly what we call “LiveOps”.
In this article, I will try to explain as much as I can what Liveops is from my experience in the gaming industry and from experts I know who worked on big-hit games.
What is Live Ops?
By definition, Live Ops or “Live Operations” is everything that after the game goes live meaning after the global launch happens, might be a good idea to read the Game Development article I wrote a while ago to get acquainted with the process.
As a short recap, any game development goes through 3 stages:
- Post-production (LiveOps)
Game Development is a Journey
Game developers get so into creating a game that sometimes they forget to enjoy the Journey, part of the process is heavily planned and business oriented and the other part is pure enjoyment and fun, whenever one part goes overboard it will affect your end result.
Let’s go over the 3 game development stages first and then go deep in Liveops.
Game Development: Pre-Production
- Retention Plan
- Monetization Strategy
- Game Progression
Game Development: Production
- Goal and KPI Plan
- Live Content Plan
- Community Feedback Plan
Game Development: Live Ops
Live operations are usually looked at as one stage or period but speaking to experts in this field I learned a lot about how they see Live Ops and how they tackle each stage.
Game Live Ops is divided into 3 stages:
- Live Ops Basics
- Live Ops Optimization
- Live Ops Mastery
Let’s go into each one of those in detail to explain what they entail and what are the expectations of each.
Live Ops Basics
The main goal of the first stage of Live Ops is to “Iterate your game ” and to be specific to push for better performance overall.
at this stage, the game just went live and lots of issues and bugs is to be expected the Live Ops team should be busy with planning for updates that make the game better performance-wise.
here are some main goals to keep in mind for this stage:
- Improve your Game Performance
- Respond to Feedback from players
- Increase Playtime
- BI (business intelligence) Tracking
- Make a process to Live issues
Live Ops Optimization
So you kept your players in the game for a long time and improved the game performance now the second stage is to start Personalizing the game for your players, as this will start building player trust and long-term players.
Here are some goals to keep in mind for this stage:
- Optimize your Player Experience
- Increase Revenue
- Reduce possible risks
Live Ops Mastery
Not many games reach the Mastery stage so if you did, congratulations that is a big achievement but also comes with a big challenge ahead that goes beyond the boundary of your game.
At this stage, you should start thinking of your game as a Brand and start building brand loyalty and reaching your players outside the boundaries of your game using external media.
Some goals to keep in mind in this stage:
- Build Brand Loyalty
- Organic growth
- Use external media sources to reach players
- Add social features
- Community events
Live Ops is a journey in itself, it starts with launching your game and extends endlessly, take a look at some of the games that have been live for 10 – 20 years and still generating revenue like clockwork.
The amount of loyalty and trust the players have with those games is incredible and that says a lot about the hard work done in the Live Ops stage and how crucial and important each stage of the Live Ops is.
I will end with this sentence, Finding success is one thing but maintaining and sustaining success is a huge responsibility.