Last week, I summarized Andrew Chen’s “New Feature Fallacy,” which your new features need to touch players at the top of the funnel to improve your game. Several colleagues offered suggestion why the fallacy is a fallacy. In thinking further, the true fallacy is that any feature can fix a broken product.
Games are not a collection of features, there needs to be a core game loop that is fun. Then you can improve your LTV by building on that game loop, but if the loop does not exist there are no features that can help.
You often see this problem in the free-to-play game space, where product management teams believe that successful products are a collection of features. Their roadmaps list each feature with the improvement in metrics it will generate. They then add up all of these improvements and come up with estimates that show how the game will generate millions of dollars. The company then invests because it wants to make millions of dollars (or investors buy shares in the company) and a year or so later they wonder why the game does not work.
Related, they look at each feature in a vacuum and AB test it. All of the features show positive improvement in metrics. The game, however, fails. A senior product who is probably the best PM I ever met once said to me it was curious how every AB test an unnamed game company we worked out had fantastic results, so good the PMs would create presentations so others in the company could copy them, yet the company’s revenue and user base continued to decline rather dramatically. Unfortunately, he was one of the few who found it “curious.” Continue reading “You need a good game, not a feature”