“Gabby, can you make an announcement at this year’s Philippine Game Festival?”
This was the question that Alvin Juban, president of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines, asked me last August. Unknown to Alvin, the festival had perfect timing for us as we were already preparing for the global launch of Run Run Super V on Google Play.
It’s been a long road to get here. We started Altitude Games 19 months ago in March 2014. That May, we announced Run Run Super V to the world. What happened between then and the release?
The first playable
Making a game is always full of unexpected twists and turns. When we started Altitude, we embraced a philosophy of iterative, metrics-driven development for free-to-play mobile games. With that in mind, we crunched for 10 weeks to get a first playable up and running at Casual Connect Asia 2014. Our goal for the first playable was to get user feedback and show the world what we were up to as a new studio. We even got a few nice write-ups from the press about our game.
We did get great feedback: the original game structure we planned didn’t work. It was good to know this early in development, before a lot of assets had been made. We worked tirelessly for a few more months to get an open alpha up in the Philippines, and released the alpha on Google Play in early September. All good, right?
Metrics and the PH release
Unfortunately, the early metrics told us another story. Players loved the theme and genre, but very few made it past the first few levels. We had a retention problem, which is the #1 problem of all free-to-play games. If you can’t make players come back, then no one will end up paying for your game! We continued iterating on the gameplay to improve the funnel, at the same time adding more content. This went on for the rest of the year, which was outlined in our end of year developer diary.
Meanwhile, another first was brewing in the Philippines. Xurpas, a mobile content company led by Nix Nolledo, had filed for IPO on December 2014. Nix has been our biggest supporter and one of our investors in our seed round, and now Xurpas was looking to beef up its mobile content and distribution capabilities after the IPO. That led to Xurpas investing in Altitude Games, and the subsequent release of Run Run Super V for the Philippines that month, distributed exclusively by Xurpas.
New year, new game
2015 started out well for us. We got featured on the cover of the Casual Connect Winter magazine, which was amazing free press for us. At the same time, listening to both player data and our industry mentors, we did a major overhaul of Run Run Super V’s metagame to better support retention and monetization. This was not an easy decision to make, but we knew we had to do it to give the game a chance of succeeding once it launched worldwide.
Which brings us to the worldwide launch. While there were still a lot of changes we wanted to make, we knew that it was already time to ship the game. We chose end of September as our launch window, but made it October 2 to coincide with the Philippine Game Festival. At the same time, we submitted the game to the Google Play editorial board for feature consideration.
Google Play global feature
We had already made previous contact with the folks at Google Play, and fixed a bunch of technical issues that needed fixing before we could be considered for a feature. So when we submitted the game to them close to launch, there were only a few issues left to address. The Google Play folks were very helpful and gave us great advice on how we can be more successful with our launch.
When the results of the review came back, we were told that we were selected for a global feature! The feature would happen either on October 2 or 9 (when the Google Play store updates its features). This coincided perfectly with the game festival. We busted ass to fix the few remaining issues before the deadline. Our Google Play rep also casually mentioned to us that Run Run Super V was the first game from the Philippines that they selected for a global feature. (There were previous Philippine-made games featured in some of the local stores, but none had ever been featured on a worldwide basis.) We immediately knew that was a great PR selling point and made plans for a press release to highlight the global feature along with the launch.
After a year and a half, we finally launched Run Run Super V during my talk at the Philippine Game Festival. The launch PR and global feature have been great so far, and we’ve gotten tens of thousands of downloads for the game worldwide this week alone. People have been buying in-game items (most popular: coin doubler!), but as a self-published game developer, we know this is only the start of a long road of learning, having fun, and making money with our game. With the data we’ve collected during the launch, we plan to support the game in the coming months with gameplay improvements, A/B testing, localization, live operations, and content updates, along with launching the game on the iOS and Amazon app stores.
At this point, I’d like to thank everyone who has made Altitude Games and Run Run Super V possible – my co-founders, investors, team, supportive families, mentors, and most especially the players who have kept us going along this journey. We’ve got more exciting games in the pipeline, and we can’t wait to share them with you as soon as we’re ready.
CEO and Co-Founder, Altitude Games