In case you are not into gaming or didn’t hear of it, let me quickly summarize what’s that all about.
On 4th February 2019, EA Games announced a new Battle Royale style game called Apex Legends made by Respawn Entertainment, an EA Studio.
They not only “announced” it but also released it the same day for Windows, Xbox and PS4. It’s completely free to play. There wasn’t a single word in the media earlier, no marketing at all, no Beta test, nothing.
A couple hours later they had 1+ million gamers. 3 days later its more than 10 million players. Today they announced to have hit their 25 million player milestone. A huge success.
Why is that special you ask?
Simply said, they did things completely different to usual things in software business these days. Not even only related to games. Today, people always try to earn money with their software as fast as they can. Half baked software is released to customers with a “beta” label and sometimes even as the official release build just to earn money fast. Some companies especially in gaming announce their new titles multiple years before they’re finally available just to keep the anticipation up. And usually when those titles are available, a lot of players are disappointed when the title can’t make up the promises made in the media.
Apex went the opposite way, didn’t create any upfront anticipation, no upfront marketing. People could “test” the full product on release day and it was hell of a polished product. So other than the usual business. EA did something completely different to everyone else and prooved everyone else wrong who says you need to beta test and do marketing a year earlier.
They probably invested the money they didn’t spend on marketing into a better product. And in this case it was worth it. So lesson learned, build a good product and don’t do year long marketing campaigns without any idea if you can keep your promisses.
Don’t be afraid of your competitors, just do things better!
Apex is not the first Battle Royale game and probably not the last. Its jumping in a big nest of competitors. Most people are afraid of starting a business with something that already other people are doing. Many people probably wouldn’t build a piece of software already available on the market. But! Let me tell you this. Its always worth it. Do your homework, find out what people don’t like about competitors and do it better. Do things people like in a similar way no worries about that!
If you’re scared of competitors you’re just not confident enough with your own work, not trusting your skills.
You don’t need to publically test things if you know what you’re doing!
Roughly a week before Apex was released EA ran a big beta test for Anthem, another upcoming game. The Game is about to be released soon, yet compared to Apex it felt like 50% finished. Tons of server issues and other problems. The Apex devs didn’t run a beta test, didn’t test their game with multiple million players. They just released it, and don’t have any larger issues.
Of course they probably ran internal tests but no player has seen their game before they released it. That requires a high level of confidence in your product for sure. But if you are really confident people will love your stuff (and you did your homework! ) there’s no reason to do a beta test.
Beta tests are used as a marketing thing mostly but also to test infrastructure. If you are confident your infrastructure can deal with many people…do you really need to test it? Doesn’t a test mean you’re not confident enough?
Do not change features in beta testing, just fix bugs!
Lets say you have build a feature you’re really happy about. You think its great and people will love it. You put a lot of thoughts and market research into that feature. Now you start a Beta test and 3 people tell you the feature is bad. Hey its your Beta testers so you jump on it, change everything so the 3 people will like it and you’re happy. When you release your product you suddenly hear from 1000 customers that the feature is bad and they suggest the approach you originally had….the beta test here actually made things worse instead of being helpful.
A polished good product is the best marketing you can possible have.
All that shows again. You don’t need to do a ton of upfront marketing. Just build a polished product with good well planned out features and just make things better as your competitors.
Happy customers are your best marketeer! Good feedback on the media is better than any marketing you could have thought of yourself!