Soft launch AC Pocket Camp: why?

This week we finally got the word about the newest Nintendo mobile game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. I say finally because I haven’t forgotten Animal Crossing was one of the titles that was promised from the beginning when Nintendo entered the mobile market. What we were shown in the Nintendo Direct however looked very good, certainly worth the wait.

Much to the surprise of the audience, Nintendo choose to soft-launch the game on the same day in Australia on iOS and Android. Suddenly, people in Australia could download this exiting title, while the rest of the world looked on and has to wait for a couple more weeks till the end of November.

Many avid fans took the plunge and got to work to make downloading the game while they are based in another country possible. Not very hard when you have iOS, Android takes a bit more doing and doesn’t seem to be without risks. If you want to give it a try yourself, you can find how to do it here

It’s your own choice if you want to give it a try, one of my gaming friends Deb made these lovely printscreens and is enjoying the game a lot. I have decided not to do it for now, I’m having so much fun in Stardew Valley at the moment, and I just wouldn’t have the time to thoroughly enjoy it.

it did make me curious about soft-launching though. Why do companies do it? The answer is easy I guess. They might want to iron out the kinks, make sure the server holds up when the game is being playing by many people simultaneously.  Or they want to see how to best market the game, because free to play games depend on their income from in-game purchases. How much persuasion do players need to put in their hard earned cash?

I read this article that in past years, developers soft-launched games in Canada. A civilized English speaking market with similar consumer behavior then the US but with a much smaller population. Nice to have as a testing grounds. In fact, so many apps were soft-launched that Canada was dubbed America’s mobile app guinea pig. I know, it might sound like fun to be the first to give games a try. But when many such test games come to your App Store that aren’t all stable and smooth, you might get impatient and tired of putting your time into games that aren’t worth it yet.

Back to Pocket Camp: for whatever reason Nintendo choose to bring it to Australia early, it seems to be a success. According to new data gathered by Sensor Tower, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp climbed to the top of the Australian App Store much faster than either Super Mario Run or Fire Emblem Heroes. It debuted quite high among all iPhone apps on the Australian App Store, hitting around number 2 within the first hour of its soft launch on October 25. Afterwards, the new game reached the number 1 spot on the Australian App Store within 12 hours. AD685D6E-24CC-45DE-8854-D3417DC74022

More importantly though, the people who were able to take the game out for a test run are enthusiastic. The game has enough body to be a game in its own right, not just being an extension of one of the main games. And that, my friends, is most important, right?



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