Posted by Ellie Powers, Product Manager, Google Play
Today, Google Play is making it easier for you to manage beta tests and get your users to join them. Since we launched beta testing two years ago, developers have told us that it’s become a critical part of their workflow in testing ideas, gathering rapid feedback, and improving their apps. In fact, we’ve found that 80 percent of developers with popular apps routinely run beta tests as part of their workflow.
Improvements to managing a beta test in the Developer Console
Currently, the Google Play Developer Console lets developers release early versions of their app to selected users as an alpha or beta test before pushing updates to full production. The select user group downloads the app on Google Play as normal, but can’t review or rate it on the store. This gives you time to address bugs and other issues without negatively impacting your app listing.
Based on your feedback, we’re launching new features to more effectively manage your beta tests, and enable users to join with one click.
- NEW! Open beta – Use an open beta when you want any user who has the link to be able to join your beta with just one click. One of the advantages of an open beta is that it allows you to scale to a large number of testers. However, you can also limit the maximum number of users who can join.
- NEW! Closed beta using email addresses – If you want to restrict which users can access your beta, you have a new option: you can now set up a closed beta using lists of individual email addresses which you can add individually or upload as a .csv file. These users will be able to join your beta via a one-click opt-in link.
- Closed beta with Google+ community or Google Group – This is the option that you’ve been using today, and you can continue to use betas with Google+ communities or Google Groups. You will also be able to move to an open beta while maintaining your existing testers.
How developers are finding success with beta testing
Beta testing is one of the fast iteration features of Google Play and Android that help drive success for developers like Wooga, the creators of hit games Diamond Dash, Jelly Splash, and Agent Alice. Find out more about how Wooga iterates on Android first from Sebastian Kriese, Head of Partnerships, and Pal Tamas Feher, Head of Engineering.
Kabam is a global leader in AAA quality mobile games developed in partnership with Hollywood studios for such franchises such as Fast & Furious, Marvel, Star Wars and The Hobbit. Beta testing helps Kabam engineers perfect the gameplay for Android devices before launch. “The ability to receive pointed feedback and rapidly reiterate via alpha/beta testing on Google Play has been extremely beneficial to our worldwide launches,” said Kabam VP Rob Oshima.
Matt Small, Co-Founder of Vector Unit recently told us how they’ve been using beta testing extensively to improve Beach Buggy Racing and uncover issues they may not have found otherwise. You can read Matt’s blog post about beta testing on Google Play on Gamasutra to hear about their experience. We’ve picked a few of Matt’s tips and shared them below:
- Limit more sensitive builds to a closed beta where you invite individual testers via email addresses. Once glaring problems are ironed out, publish your app to an open beta to gather feedback from a wider audience before going to production.
- Set expectations early. Let users know about the risks of beta testing (e.g. the software may not be stable) and tell them what you’re looking for in their feedback.
- Encourage critical feedback. Thank people when their criticisms are thoughtful and clearly explained and try to steer less-helpful feedback in a more productive direction.
- Respond quickly. The more people see actual responses from the game developer, the more encouraged they are to participate.
- Enable Google Play game services. To let testers access features like Achievements and Leaderboards before they are published, go into the Google Play game services testing panel and enable them.
We hope this update to beta testing makes it easier for you to test your app and gather valuable feedback and that these tips help you conduct successful tests. Visit the Developer Console Help Center to find out more about setting up beta testing for your app.