Blades of Brim and the Art of Successful Global Launches

Using the Sensor Tower platform, we take a close look at the strategy SYBO implemented to launch it's latest smash hit, Blades of Brim, for iPhone and iPad.

The creators of last year's wildly popular Subway Surfers have appeared in the app store again! Earlier this month SYBO released Blades of Brim for iOS, a game which combines endless runner gameplay with more classic RPG elements.

How did this brand new app grab thousands of downloads immediately upon release? Today, I'll show you how to deconstruct SYBO's launch and ASO strategies using the Sensor Tower platform.

The Many Sides of Soft Launching

The App Store profile for Blades of Brim shows it was globally launched on June 3, 2015. When I researched the app in our Store Intelligence platform, however, I saw it had been receiving downloads in countries like Canada and Sweden since October of 2014. This is how I learned that SYBO soft-launched the app before the big, global release.

One type of soft launching entails releasing a new app to a list of carefully selected markets before launching in the biggest countries, or globally. This strategy allows a publisher to gauge audience feedback, improve the product, and fine-tune their ASO. For example, China has been surging ahead of the U.S. in terms of downloads. So it would be better to test the app in other markets before releasing in China.

Holding off on any advertising campaigns or other marketing spend will also limit a published app's exposure in early phases, making it very easy to assess ASO and visibility.

Historically, it's been believed that a soft launch will prevent apps from being featured in "New Apps" categories when they eventually go global. Blades of Brim has proven that this is not the case!

Using our new Featured Rankings module, it's easy to see that the Canadian version of the app (which has certainly been live since October) is being featured in Best New Apps categories.

Bug Fixes and App Store Optimization

So what was SYBO up to between October and June? Our Update Timeline shows that in some markets, they released as many as ten updates. The majority of these updates contained bug fixes and UI improvements, many of which were surfaced in user reviews. A head-start on the global launch clearly provided much-needed time to polish the product and make gameplay more user-friendly.

You'll also see that the team was likely doing A/B testing on their media assets. During the June rollout, the app icon was swapped out, featuring a new depiction of the main character.

When using our Review Analysis module to visualize feedback by app version, I noticed that several negative reviews stemmed from confusion around device incompatibility. So it was a smart decision to edit the app's description alongside a version update:


Finally, I wanted to know just how "global" Blades of Brim's June launch really was. Our Internationalization Analysis module revealed that the while the title remained in English across all markets, description fields and screenshots were fully localized in all of the app's largest target markets.

Plot twist! Sensor Tower's Publisher Profile for SYBO shows that they actually released two separate apps:

The second version you see above is available only in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The app metadata for this bundle is displayed in simplified Chinese, including screenshots, title and description. And this version only came into existence on June 4. So were all of those bug fixes and UX improvements from the soft-launched app being rolled into this second version for the global launch date? You can bet they were.

What SYBO's Success Teaches Us

Always be prepared! If a successful global launch is what you're after, market research and iterative testing are of the utmost importance. During a soft launch, use App Store reviews to improve your product wherever possible. Test your metadata and spend time defining an ASO strategy for launch. Last but not least, localize as much as possible. This series of steps maximizes visibility, conversion, and retention before the world even knows what's coming.

Sensor Tower's platform is an enterprise-level offering. Interested in learning more?

Karen Biscopink

Written by: Karen Biscopink, Head of Content

Date: June 2015

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