Yay! We Are In Beta!
When ZuluOneZero published NumBlocks on the Google Play Store we went through the requisite development phases.
The game has been released now – have a play:
NumBlocks published on the Google Play Store for Android.
Click to Play:
Also on the Amazon Play Store for Android and Kindle.
Click to Play:
This was our first app that we thought looked good enough to give away to real users.
I was very proud of the artwork and how the game played on screen.
It’s a simple no-frills game but it was a perfect test platform to scope out what’s required to get a game published.
Which incidentally is a little daunting but in reality the whole process of publishing a game on the Google Play Store was pretty easy.
The Google Play Console was easy to use and there were plenty of official and community references to help us through it.
Uh Oh … Problem …
We went through several development iterations and found a revision that worked on most Android platforms.
We were running Unity 5 and targetting all mobiles above Android API 15 4.03 called “Ice Cream Sandwich”.
Not being a big shop our test devices were old personal phones that were around this API version. It was running well and looked great an a VM but once we started using our physical test devices we found a few issues dealing with different screen resolutions and one phone didn’t have enough resources to run the random number generator so that the same numbers kept spewing out.
Then we upgraded to Unity 2017.1.0f3 and lost support for those older API’s. Oops no more supported hardware to test on! We really needed to get some Beta Testers who could trial the game on a variety of different platforms that we couldn’t access. We could test thoroughly with virtual machines but as we found when testing on real phones there are some things about how the game looks and plays that can only be reproduced on the real platform.
So our marketing team (Harmony and Felicity) and I did some research on recruiting Beta Testers and we quickly realised that we couldn’t affort to pay for the service.
We did find a wealth of paid services out there which I’ll list below in case someone can make use of that information.
Not all of these services were paid but most of them required some sort of effort or buy-in up front that we couldn’t match.
Social Media Save Me!
So we turned our attention to the online communities that might be able to assist us.
We did some more research and found that social media is literally teeming with sites and groups that want to Beta Test your app. Awesome. Problem solved.
We published a Beta version of the app on the Play Store and mocked up some Beta Testing campaign ideas along with a set of goals that we had for Beta Tests. We were looking for technical testers as opposed Marketing and I can tell you I was pretty excited about getting some feedback on the game. When we pubished the Beta version of the game we could choose a number of Beta testers that the game would be released to. The interface gave us a minimum of 1000 users so we went with that and given the number of social media sites we found thought that this didn’t sound all that unreasonable.
This is a brief list of the social media sites and lists and groups that we advertised for Beta Testers on….
Android Beta Tests
Android Game Developer
Indie Game Developers
Mobile Game & App Developers
We even did a big call through our Facebook Page and Blog.
Guess how many Beta Testers came flocking to try out our great new game…..
None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not one.
We checked around the boards on these sites and groups and actually found very little actual Beta Testing going on.
After a few weeks of interacting with these communities and even testing a few apps ourselves thinking that we might get some kind of Beta Testers Karma we still found that no-one really wants to test your app (unless maybe if you are building a huge free MMO that’s going to be awesome – anyone doing that?).
So there you have it – Beta Testing using social media groups doesn’t work. You don’t get nufin’ for free in life.
So my advice to you is that if you don’t have one already, start building an email list now. For a startup game dev studio with no support framework it’s pretty hard to come by free help when you need it. Ideally, start collecting email addresses before you even have an app, and keep at it! Because even a handfull of Beta Testers is better than none.