Dot-veloper Insights: Purr-fecting the Game during Soft Launch
We are just over two months into Peridot’s soft launch and our team continues to be inspired by the excitement we see from the Peridot community! A big shout out to our first Keepers in Singapore and Malaysia for raising so many Peridots and for continuing to provide us great feedback. We know that our global audience is super eager to join in on the fun (who wouldn’t!) and we wanted to reassure everyone that we are hard at work during this soft launch to deliver an amazing game. Today, we will chat with Peridot’s Global Product Marketing Manager Asim Ahmed and Associate Producer Jessica Jung to share behind the scenes on the soft launch process and how valuable it is to developing a game.
What is the goal of a soft launch? Why do video game developers choose to roll out games in a handful of countries before a global launch?
Jessica: Think of a soft launch as a dress rehearsal. It’s a time for us to test our internal development processes, understand technical performance, measure feature engagement, and more. Our team has been working on developing Peridot for a long time, but now it’s time to see if we are ready for the big stage. We as developers also relish opportunities to hear directly from players, so getting that feedback earlier on helps us make more informed decisions about the game. Our ultimate goal is to deliver the best quality game to a global audience.
Asim: Similar to what Jessica mentioned, soft launch truly is our practice run before the marathon. As someone who has been involved in a few game launches at Niantic already, this period of time is such an important opportunity to make sure the game is functionally working as intended and understand player engagement and motivations. For example, how many players are returning to play the next day or throughout the first week, how long are they engaging with day-to-day game features, what aspects in the game loop cause confusion, and what do they enjoy the most over time. Getting this early chance to study player behavior at a smaller scale enables us to iterate on and improve game features as we prepare for a wider release.
How do you determine what countries to include in this process?
Asim: It’s a little bit of an art and a science. Ultimately, you want to find soft launch markets that’ll be close to representative of how your game would expect to perform at launch for various player behaviors. This usually can vary by game genre. In the case of Peridot, we looked at markets where other pet simulation games and virtual pet experiences were popular. We also had to take into consideration that Peridot is an AR-first game, so we wanted to make sure folks in the regions we chose had a variety of device types so we could evaluate the technical performance. Additionally, as a real-world game, we consider the time of the year we’re beta testing to better understand how weather or seasonality may impact how players are engaging with the game.
Jessica: One criteria we look for is countries that we can use to test to see how our game would perform according to different metrics such as how performant our game is, how well our game retains players, and more. For example, if we were looking to test our game’s live performance on a wide range of device tiers, we would try and soft launch in countries with a high concentration of Android devices, as Android devices tend to have a wider range of technical specs than iOS devices.
How do you go about collecting feedback from the community during this process?
Jessica: I love this question, because it really highlights the multiple ways we are doing this. In game, we use telemetry to quantitatively measure how much players are engaging with different features, what items players are purchasing, how many players are active on a daily or weekly basis and more. Our data scientists are an incredible help here, giving us statistical insight and assisting us in validating assumptions we have about how our game plays.
Asim: In addition to the quantitative insights we gather from the game, there are also a variety of channels where we capture user feedback. I really enjoy getting the opportunity to work with our market research teammates to run user surveys and understand how much our player base enjoys engaging with specific features, what problems they may be running into, areas where they think the game can be improved, and more. Additionally, we are grateful to have so many other platforms where players are directly sharing their experience with us. This includes reviews on the app stores, comments on social media, discussions on community-created Discords and Reddit channels, and of course, through our in-app community on Niantic Campfire. We are super excited to have this platform available during soft launch because the Peridot team can engage with players to further inquire about bugs or certain feedback. I know our game designer is reading our players’ comments daily!
Jessica: I know a lot of our team members spend time ‘lurking’ on all these amazing community channels - it is so neat to witness conversations between players about the product you work on. I think it’s so important to take all this qualitative feedback into consideration with the quantitative insights we gather from the game to make informed decisions.
What are some actions that the player community can do to help Peridot during Soft Launch?
Jessica: For those in our soft launch markets, please play and provide feedback. Whether it’s live bug reporting, participating in our surveys, or even a short comment about a feature – it is all really helpful to us because we pay really close attention to any and all feedback we get.
Asim: For folks that aren’t in our soft launch markets, but super eager to play, sharing your thoughts and what you’re liking about what you’ve seen about the game online is equally as helpful. As we plan out long term roadmaps, game events, and future game features, we keenly pay attention to what the community would love to see.
What are some takeaways you have from listening to player feedback so far?
Jessica: Overall, players are enamored with their Dots and just how cute they are – and the dev team completely agrees! We all collectively lose our minds when we see some of the cute new archetypes we’ve come up with and we all have our own “awww” moments when we see a new animation for the Dots get into the game. So given how excited all of us are about the game, seeing that the players share that enthusiasm is something all of us really appreciate.
Asim: We’ve already learned so much! One thing that I am particularly interested in that we’re gathering a lot of player insights on is what encourages players to come back daily, weekly, and over the long term. One thing we anticipated and that has been confirmed via feedback is that players would love to have more things that they can do to bond with their creatures. This has been helpful for the team focusing on our soft launch feature prioritization as we look to implement features that expand how Keepers can engage with their Peridots. Stay tuned for more here as the soft launch continues! ;)
Jessica: It definitely has been really validating to see how well the feedback from players about features and content they want to see in the future actually aligns with things we’re actively thinking about and working on.
It’s amazing seeing players share feedback around their favorite things in the game. That being said, what is your favorite Peridot look?
Asim: There are so many cool creature looks in the game already, and even more Archetypes that we’re brainstorming. I really believe that there truly is a perfect Peridot for everyone. My personal favorite look right now are Peridots with animated textures – I think it just adds so much more personality and flair to the Dot! There are a few Archetypes on the roadmap that I think are super neat too, such as Mosaic and Monkey Archetypes.
Jessica: It’s hard to pick favorites when they’re all my babies, but some of my favorite Archetypes in the game currently are Kintsugi due to its elegance, Yeti because it’s just so fluffy, and the Peridots with animated textures since they’re visually mesmerizing. As Asim mentioned, there are also a lot of Archetypes we have planned for future releases that are really great and hilarious, such as a Radish Archetype.
What are you most excited about when it comes to sharing Peridot with the world?
Jessica: I’d love to see those really long Youtube videos that do a deep dive into Peridot, breaking down all the lore with clickbait titles like “10 More Hidden Facts about Peridot that Devs Don’t Want You to Know!” We are already starting to see some great content creators on Youtube and TikTok so I’m hopeful that as our game continues to expand, the community grows even more. I’m also the type of person to get really into a game’s lore, and love seeing charts and graphs created by enthusiasts so I’m quite excited to see what content our player base comes up with for Peridot.
Asim: I’m so excited to see all of the awesome Peridot content from our community – we’ve already seen some hilarious TikToks! We’re making it SUPER easy for players to share their favorite Peridot moments from the game directly to Niantic Campfire as well as other social media platforms. So I’m looking forward to seeing all of our Keepers from around the world with their Peridot companions! I’m also eager to explore all of the possibilities for Peridot real-world events. I’ve always been inspired by the live events we’ve hosted with our Niantic games. If you’ve been to one, you know just how magical the experience feels while bringing to life our mission of getting people outdoors discovering, exercising, and connecting with others. If you’re familiar with pet meetups, like Corgi Con or dog shows like the Westminster Kennel Club, I kind of envision a version of that for Peridot Keepers in the future.
Thank you Asim and Jessica for sharing! Speaking of spectacular user content, we wanted to highlight a few awesome TikTok and Instagram Reel creators. We simply adore the creativity and humor in all of these videos.
–The Peridot team