Most mobile games these days have similar behavior when it comes to launch — they get attention the first few weeks, only to see it drift off as new applications arise. However, according to deltaDNA’s Dr. Isaac Roseboom, there may be a strategy that can keep retention on the rise.

Pocket Gamer recently posted an article featuring Roseboom’s thoughts on the matter, where the article states, “the most important part of the process is how and when you introduce your game to its potential audience. Of course, this can be done in many ways; from internal concept testing to friends and family, closed alphas and betas, etc.”

The article also indicates that soft launch is critical for a game’s success. “What used to be a quick ‘month in Canada’ to bug check has now in some cases become a year long iterative process in half a dozen countries, including in Asia and the Middle East, to carve out the game that players actually want from the designer’s initial concept.”

Roseboom stated that launch can be everything. “The most obvious and important thing to focus on during soft launch is your game’s onboarding funnel,” he said, pointing out a process where players download the game and play through a tutorial, hoping to find something for the long-term. “You need to test everything. Who’s dropping out during the download. Why Are you seeing lots of people quitting during the tutorial How about post-tutorial”

As you can see from the chart below, certain games tend to have different retention following launches, with a soft launch having better stability for retention in the long run.

The only problem is how to make the tutorial process work for the player. Some companies go too far with polish on that end, to the point that they’re stuck going through an automatic loop, instead of putting the game in the player’s hands.

According to Roseboom, the median time for a mobile game in “soft launch” is 40 days, and 68 percent of mobile game spending actually goes towards titles that last more than one month in soft launch.

Other stats from Roseboom indicate that games that spend less than one month in soft launch have a median day one retention of 27 percent, but games that spend more than one month in soft launch have a higher day one retention of 32 percent.

Games that spend more than a month in soft launch during retention by five to ten percent, which results in a boost in terms of in-game spending by 16-33 percent.

Keeping players engaged is a crucial part of the process, according to Roseboom, and making sure that monetization is properly tested. “Sometimes people can worry too much about their KPIs, especially when it comes to soft launch monetization,” he said. “In reality, there is a grace period once you’ve launched your game globally when you can tweak monetization, but this doesn’t apply to retention, as you risk turning off your most loyal fans in the early days with bad gameplay.”

“You can always monetize a fun game,” he concluded.

More info on Roseboom’s findings can be found here.