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Your web shop pre-launch: Focus on success

June 13, 2024
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As video game professionals, we inherently understand the importance of a well-polished launch. Like a game, a web shop's success hinges on a strong initial offering. This article series will delve into the key actions before launching your web shop, ensuring a smooth rollout and a foundation for future growth through data-driven improvements. Consider it the pre-alpha phase for your online storefront – prepare strategically, launch effectively, and iterate based on player feedback, just like you would with your game. Today’s blog post is inspired by Artem Liubutov’s Linkedin article.

Your mobile game and your shop: kindred spirits

This post dives into a crucial concept for game developers: your web shop isn't just a separate sales channel. It's an extension of your game. Why should you treat your ecommerce plan with the same reverence you do your game? Here’s why it matters.
  • Player experience: The web shop should reflect your game's UI, atmosphere, and community. For players, it should continue the game experience—one that fosters immersion, engagement, and long-term loyalty.
  • Monetization strategy: A well-designed web shop offers players additional ways to interact and potentially spend. A smooth UI caters to "super whales" —highly engaged spenders— and helps drive revenue beyond in-game purchases.
  • Metrics and data: A web shop integrated with your game can provide valuable insights into player behavior, optimize in-game monetization and bolster the overall player experience.
xsolla-blog-prep-for-success-featured-image-01-1056x573.webp Treating your web shop as a branch of your game’s overall experience can benefit you and your players.
  • Improved player lifetime value (LTV): Engaged players spend more, leading to a longer and more profitable player lifecycle.
  • Enhanced in-game revenue: Strategic web shop offerings can encourage players to spend more in-game.
  • Competitive advantage: A holistic approach to monetization can make your game harder for competitors to use industry tools to dissect and mirror your success methodology.
So, what is the key takeaway? Shift your perspective on what a web shop can be. It's not just a sales platform. It's an extension of your game — a powerful tool to deepen player engagement and drive overall game success.

Practical steps to web shop analysis

A successful web shop launch hinges on understanding the market and your audience. Here's a focused approach to pre-launch optimization that will maximize your long-term impact.
  1. Analysis of successful web shops in similar genres;
  2. Evaluation of your target audience;
  3. Scrutiny of SKUs and offers to find what sells well in the game.
Focusing on these three steps will give you valuable insights that will help you ensure a smooth, successful start. Let’s dive a little deeper. xsolla-blog-prep-for-success-featured-image-02-1056x573.webp Step 1: Perform a competitive analysis Building a video game web shop expands revenue streams and player engagement. However, before jumping in, it's crucial to analyze competitive (successful) web shops within your genre to uncover valuable insights that inform your own web shop strategy. Conducting competitive research can feel daunting, but its benefits outweigh the effort. Competitive research hack #1: Reach out to companies with expertise in video game commerce and monetization. Xsolla launched over 200 Web Shops and we’re always happy to answer your questions — whether or not you decide to partner with us. Ultimately, your goal should be to balance operational investments and financial returns. Here are the areas to focus your attention on.
  • Product mix: Identify which in-game items are offered on competitor web shops to reveal popular items players are willing to purchase separately.
  • Pricing strategy: Analyze the price points used on competitor web shops compared to in-game pricing — establishing a baseline for your own pricing strategy.
  • Monetization techniques: Examine the types of mechanics employed by successful web shops. The list might include loyalty programs, special offers, virtual currency systems (like piggy banks or gacha mechanics), etc. Understanding these methods can help you choose the most effective ones for your game.
  • User experience (UX): Look at the authorization process for web shop purchases. Is it streamlined and user-friendly? Additionally, see if the web shop employs personalization features to cater to individual players.
  • Player communication: Analyze how competitor games inform players about their web shops. Effective communication is key to driving traffic and sales to your own web shop.
Conducting a thorough competitive analysis will give you a strong foundation for building a successful web shop that complements your game and drives player engagement. Step 2: Understand your target audience A successful web shop for your game hinges on knowing your audience. Understanding your customers means analyzing your player base, segmenting them into groups, and using information about their behavior and choices to tailor your shop's offerings. High-value players reveal the most. While all customers are important, your web shop should prioritize attracting high-spenders — dolphins for sure, but especially whales and super whales. Analyze in-game purchases to understand their preferences. Look at what they buy, how their behavior changes during events, and which bundles they favor. This data is crucial for creating targeted web shop experiences. Web Shops and whales are meant for each other. Whales value exclusivity and premium content. Your web shop is the ideal tool to cater to them. It allows you to break traditional pricing structures and offer high-value, high-cost items. Some games generate over 50% of their web shop revenue from items exceeding $100, particularly in strategy and RPG genres. Even casual games can succeed with expensive offerings by leveraging deep meta-game elements and progression systems, which the web shop can accelerate. Discounts versus added value. Understanding how your paying audience responds to incentives is vital. Do they prefer discounts or extra value? This will inform your web shop's offerings, including bundles, special deals, personalized promotions, and, most importantly, your initial "welcome offer." If you lack data or currently mix discounts and value, focus on offering additional value.
  • Discounts reduce your profit margin through lower ARPU;
  • Super whales might perceive discounts as cheapening the brand;
  • Discounts can lead to a trap, where ever-larger discounts are needed to drive sales, harming profitability.
By prioritizing added value, you create a more sustainable and attractive web shop for your game's more demanding high-value players. xsolla-blog-prep-for-success-featured-image-03-1056x573.webp Step 3: Scrutinize the SKUs and offers that sell Let’s talk about analyzing in-game store data to understand player spending habits and optimize your web shop offerings. xsolla-blog-prep-for-success-featured-image-04-1056x573.webp After examining how different player segments interact with your web shop, create reports that categorize each segment's SKUs (store items) by profitability — thereby revealing spending preferences. Focus on how these segments react to different price points. Key questions to ask yourself include:
  • Do high spenders primarily purchase the most expensive offers, or do they buy mid-tier items more frequently?
  • What is the maximum price point Dolphins are comfortable with (their "price ceiling")?
  • Did any segments deviate from their usual spending patterns (outliers)? If so, you should further analyze these cases to identify trends. This might involve understanding the events leading up to the outlier purchase and determining if specific in-game events or monetization mechanics influenced the purchase.
xsolla-blog-prep-for-success-featured-image-05-1056x573.webp This analysis helps us optimize key metrics like average purchase value and repeat purchases by allowing you to move players up the spending tiers – potentially turning Dolphins into Whales and Whales into Super Whales. Limited-time events offer valuable insights as they present exclusive or highly desirable items in a unique context for players. This temporary environment mimics the core function of your web shop – selling unique and valuable items. Analyzing how players in each segment respond to these events helps identify crucial patterns that inform future web shop strategies. We'll discuss the practical applications of these learnings in another post. By understanding player spending habits and preferences, you can tailor your web shop offerings to maximize revenue and keep players engaged.

In conclusion

This wraps up our exploration of core web shop analysis concepts. While there's always more to delve into, this foundation equips you to boost your game's success significantly. The data you meticulously gather will play a central role in making critical pre-launch decisions. xsolla-blog-prep-for-success-featured-image-06-1056x573.webp In upcoming posts, we’ll zoom in on:
  • UX design and frictionless transactions: Why minimizing player frustration is paramount.
  • Geographic considerations and Localization: Tailoring your game for different regions and languages.
  • Retention mechanics: Strategies to keep players engaged for the long haul.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Keep an eye on Xsolla Blog for the next post in this series that will help propel your web shop toward launch. If you missed the first post in this series, you can find it here: HOW TO DRIVE PLAYERS TO YOUR WEB SHOP.

Take the next step!

Ready to go direct-to-players and launch a lucrative Web Shop of your own? Schedule a time to chat with one of our game commerce experts. We are always happy to help you take your creative project to the next level.
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