Lions, tigers and huskies, oh my

How LiveTune helped Yodo1 optimize Rodeo Stampede for a fragmented Android market

Rodeo Stampede: A Unity Analytics case story

Using Unity LiveTune to optimize performance remotely for thousands of different devices on the market, Yodo1 saved hundreds of development hours, which they could instead use on developing great localized content that worked well on any device.

The game

More than your average mobile endless runner, Rodeo Stampede, offers animal round-ups, zoo-building, and engaging gameplay

The goal

Raise retention by optimizing performance for the many different devices on the Chinese market

Platforms

iOS, Android

Team members

125+

Location

Beijing, China

Yodo1 works closely with international game developers to create, localize, and sell mobile games. However, after distribution of Rodeo Stampede, they found that they were spending a great deal of time optimizing performance for the fragmented Android mobile-game market. Time that could be better spent creating more great content for the 150+ Million players that Rodeo Stampede has already garnered. What’s more, even with excessive hours spent, they were still only addressing optimization in a basic way. Unity LiveTune enabled them to optimize remotely in a much more efficient and segmented way, which added up to a better user experience. 

The results:

  • Saved hundreds of development hours
  • Increased retention by 26%, speeding up loading time from 20 seconds to 10 seconds or faster
  • Increase in predicted player LTV by over 17%

Saved hundreds of hours of dev time

In the past, Yodo1 had used a custom solution to optimize for the various devices in the Android market. This type of coding, however, required a lot of work setting up systems both in the game and on the server.

However, working closely with Unity, Yodo1’s VP of Global Publishing, Vincent Diao and his team were able to segment how many people were using high-end, middle and low-end devices, identify what they should be tracking, and make decisions about what needed to be optimized for each segment.

“LiveTune was a real eye-opener; it was as if it was made for our situation” says Diao. “It took us around a week to get everything fully integrated and upgraded. It would have cost us hundreds of hours of work time with our previous solution, and we still wouldn’t have been able to achieve the kind of results we have with LiveTune.”

Reduced loading time from 20 to 10 seconds or less

LiveTune is not only more efficient than Yodo1’s previous solution, it has also given them better control of the particulars of optimization. They can control graphical quality settings automatically and remotely, like shadows, how many animals were displayed on the same screen, and particle effects.

Most of Yodo1’s games are single-player casual, and once they went out and connected to a server they had limited control. Their former solution acted merely as a kind of on/off switch for all users. If they wanted a detailed level of control for given devices, they ended up with multiple switches, which was a clumsy way of solving the actual issues.

“When we noticed a problem, all we could do was turn a certain element on or off. Our former solution acted as a kind of a switch. We couldn’t segment and, for example, change a detailed shadow to a simple one based on the user’s device,” Diao says.

So while the detailed shadow might enhance the experience for some users, for others it made the experience worse.

“The great thing about LiveTune is that we can use it to control all the important details remotely. Each Rodeo Stampede user sees something optimized for their own devices,” Diao says.

 

How do you optimize a whole zoo full of animals?

With over 50,000 types of devices, it is difficult to achieve performance optimization, which Diao knew was key to success. They tracked fps but soon found that the main issue was a lag in loading time.

“We’ve turned out a lot of content since launch,” Diao says. “Eight maps, over 100 animals with different skins, and then we came up with the idea of turning it into one big zoo. And yes, the idea was really cool, but it created major performance issues.”

The banner size increased, and loading time lagged, especially when players scrolled through the zoo to view habitats.

”LiveTune gave us lots of flexibility to tune settings across assets, effects, and rendering categories,” Diao says, “We started with things like Animal Count per Genus/habitat, TextureQuality, and Shadows. Eventually, we found the Fence Quality had the most impact on the device performance.”

By using LiveTune to segment and control performance settings remotely, they saw a reduction of 10 seconds or less on loading time for most devices.

 

Yodo1 - Graphics and Quality Settings

*The AnimalCountInGenus## keys refer to the number of  different animals in the game.

 

Increased lifetime value by 17.1 percent

The issue Yodo1 initially faced with performance optimization was, of course, serious in and of itself causing their Day 1 Retention rate to drop dramatically to around 29% on certain Android distribution platforms in China due to the prevalence of lower-end Android handsets.

After implementing fixes with LiveTune in June 2016, though, they raised retention up to between 40 and 45% across different devices. Diao says that Day 1 Retention is still an ongoing effort.

Yodo1 doesn’t just localize, they culturalize

Naturally fixing performance issues was mission-critical, but the fact that they were able to do so efficiently with LiveTune also enabled them to focus on developing fresh new content, which improved the user experience and ultimately, increased LTV.

Diao says. “By calculating LTV [ARPDAU * Estimated Life Time], we estimated that after implementing LiveTune, average Lifetime Value increased by around17.1 percent.” That’s a huge amount of value creation considering that Rodeo Stampede has been downloaded by more than 150 Million players.

One of the companies main strengths, after all, is continually developing highly engaging content that resounds with the local market. Yodo1 creates topical content that has cultural appeal. For example, to coincide with the Year of the Dog, they introduced festive environments with lanterns and Husky dogs (a popular breed in China).

“We go beyond localization of language; we refer to it as culturalization. And thanks to the time saved with LiveTune, we can develop more interesting content, and we can do it smoothly and confidently, without the risk of disturbing our market momentum or breaking the game,” Diao says.

“LiveTune was a real eye-opener; it increased average player LTV by over 17%, and boosted player retention by 26%. What’s more, it took us just around a week to get everything fully integrated and upgraded. It would have cost us hundreds of hours of work time with our previous solution, and we still wouldn’t have been able to achieve the kind of results we have with LiveTune.”

Vincent Diao, VP of Global Publishing, Yodo1

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