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Google Play LiveOps: Best Practices & Examples

Ian Pernia by ,  Senior ASO Expert Advanced ASO

The dynamics of the mobile industry are ever-changing. What started as a term describing how to patch and fix bugs has now evolved into a tool used to boost awareness of your in-app events, offers, and major updates to targeted users and countries across the Play Store: LiveOps.

LiveOps on Google Play help to improve user engagement, monetization, and lifetime value. In fact, Google stated that apps that had run LiveOps during the closed beta registered an average of 5% more active users and 4% higher revenue than apps that had not. For both apps and games, LiveOps are a way to keep things fresh, unique, and exciting for users and promises to play a key role in the future of ASO on Google Play.


What are Google Play LiveOps?

Google Play live operations, or LiveOps, are in-app content, major updates, or limited-time events in your app/game that you can showcase to users across Google Play to boost user engagement, stimulate sales, and reduce player churn. For now, the feature still being in beta and currently only available to select developers who can express interest through this form.

LiveOps cards can appear on the Games tab, Events tab, store listing page, or in search results. The feature allows approved developers to promote different in-app events, embed a deep link within the event, and receive a boost in visibility across the Play Store from both new and returning users.

Different ways to find LiveOps on Google PlayDifferent ways to find LiveOps on Google Play. Source: Google Play

In other words, LiveOps allow developers to make and promote any changes that occur within their mobile games while the game is still live, without needing to release a new version of the entire game. Therefore, LiveOps can help to boost retention rates and improve user experiences by ensuring the regular showcasing of exciting content and interesting updates to your app/game. LiveOps cards also include analytics, which allows you to understand their impact and analyze the key metrics for each event.

Difference between LiveOps (Android) & in-app events (iOS)

Google Play LiveOps and iOS in-app events (IAEs) share a lot of similarities in terms of the ability to reach new users, re-engage current users, and promote new app content across both stores without an app update. Both LiveOps and in-app events help developers:

  • Target the right audience (based on country/region or user eligibility).
  • Increase your app visibility across the stores.
  • Increase your search visibility. Like in-app events, LiveOps can also appear in search results on Google Play. However, we do not yet know whether the keywords on LiveOps cards can be indexed by the store.

With these similarities, there are still some key technical differences between LiveOps and IAEs when it comes to metadata, creatives, and event details:

Event DetailGoogle Play LiveOpsiOS In-App Events
Event nameN/A30-character limit (indexed)
Tagline / short description80-character limit50-character limit (indexed)
Long description500-character limit120-character limit (not indexed)
ImagesPrimary: 1920x1080 px, 16:9 aspect ratio; Square: 1080x1080 px, 1:1 aspect ratioEvent card: 1920x1080 px, 16:9 aspect ratio; Event detail page: 1080x1920 px, 9:16 aspect ratio
VideosYouTube URL with video monetization turned offSupported extensions: .mov, .m4v, .mp4, no longer than 30 seconds
Badges / event typesOffer, event, major update, pre-registration announcement, crossoverChallenge, competition, live event, major update, new season, special event
Number of eventsNo maximum limitMaximum of 5 live events at one time
Maximum duration7 days (major updates, pre-registrations), 4 weeks (events, crossovers), or unlimited (offers)31 days

Another key difference is that LiveOps include the “Offer” event type, which allows developers to grant discounts, deals, or free rewards as part of a LiveOps event. These offers can appear under their own separate “Offers” tab on Google Play, a feature that is currently lacking in Apple’s in-app events.

Learn strategies and best practices for iOS 15 in-app events.

Types of LiveOps and when to use them

Selecting the correct LiveOps type is part of Google’s official content guidelines. So when planning for LiveOps, it is important you understand the different types of LiveOps cards and when to use them. Miscategorizing your LiveOps card may cause Google to limit its reach and impact. Here are 5 types of LiveOps that can be featured on Google Play:

  • Offers: Offers include discounts or $0 items made available to users, including giveaways for joining an event, value-adds, and bundles. If your app is running an event that includes high-value deals such as discounts or exclusive free items, you should select “Offer” as your LiveOps type. Offers can be time-limited up to 28 days, or run indefinitely if targeting specific types of users.
  • Events: These are non-offer, limited-time events happening in your app or game, such as tournaments and challenges. Limited-time events can also include holiday-themed events, special competitions, or even engage users by giving them new leaderboards for which they can compete.
  • Major updates: Significant updates like new gameplay features, content drops, or major in-app products like battle or season passes. This could be the addition of a new level or multiplayer mode in your mobile game, as well as the release of new episodes or shows on a streaming app.
  • Pre-registration announcements: Updates for pre-registered users, new content to keep users excited and informed, instant app demos, milestone rewards progress, or global release announcements.
  • Crossover: A crossover between games or IP collaboration events. If your crossover offers a reward or discount, you should select “Offer” as your LiveOps type.

How to implement Google Play LiveOps for your mobile game

LiveOps are especially important for mobile games that rely on retention rates and in-app purchases to become profitable. These games are only monetized through large audiences who are active and engaged; therefore, it is important to come up with creative ways to keep your app or game fresh, new, and exciting. Here are a few ways in which you can implement LiveOps for your game:

Holidays & anniversaries

The simplest LiveOps tactic is to run a special sale for a holiday or anniversary, as these events offer the opportunity to try interesting things and provide set dates to plan for. Using LiveOps to create special limited-time offers during holiday events is a quick way to test the waters on user reactions.

Pokemon UNITE LiveOps card on AppTweakPokémon UNITE LiveOps card on AppTweak

For example, Pokémon UNITE is running an event celebrating the game’s first anniversary. The event tagline and description use most of the available character space and detail all the different components of the event, including a new game mode, special sale, and ongoing challenge. Pokémon UNITE is also using a unique image made for the first-anniversary celebration.

Visualize & monitor your competitors’ LiveOps events on AppTweak

Competitive tournaments

For games, competition can drive high engagement and incentives to monetize. If you are a fighting game or RPG, consider holding a community-wide tournament where players can compete for spots on a leaderboard and the winner can get access to a highly coveted reward. However, be cautious not to create a “pay-to-win” feel.

Challenges

Challenges are more lightweight and easier to execute in games than tournaments, but may not drive as high of an impact as competitive events. Challenges are like limited-time achievements and encourage users to be active and complete activities to achieve a goal before the event ends, such as teaming up and going on raids with other players.

Loyalty rewards

One way to improve retention is to create special offers for long-time players and VIPs. Create a limited-time bundle that gives VIPs a new game setting to play against one another, along with some exclusive content for purchasers of the bundle. These bundles can also contain items that players can collect over longer periods of time and can be used to redeem rewards after collecting a certain amount. This can help build loyalty and create repetitive behavioral patterns tied to engagement.

DoorDash LiveOps card on AppTweakDoorDash LiveOps card on AppTweak

Loyalty rewards can also be promoted through LiveOps by mobile apps. For example, DoorDash is currently running a LiveOps offer promoting its “Summer of DashPass” event which “brings member savings from the best of the neighborhood.” Both the tagline and description use the full available character count and clearly explain the event and promotional offer. DoorDash is using a unique creative specifically made for this LiveOps event, visually showcasing the event name and additional, high-level information. With the event clearly benefiting “members-only,” the LiveOps card promotes DoorDash’s membership scheme and further helps to increase consumer loyalty.

Best practices for LiveOps on Google Play

At first, the idea of LiveOps can seem daunting, but setting up an attainable strategy will help you get started. Below, we have listed some tips to help you start preparing for LiveOps:

Listen to your users

Go through your reviews and ratings, look at similar apps in your category to understand the variety of gameplay, ask users for their feedback through surveys, or check social media platforms and forums to get a clearer picture of what users want and how they can be addressed through LiveOps.

Be creative & informative

LiveOps cards are a great opportunity to utilize creativity to attract and engage users. However, in the example below, Call of Duty Mobile’s LiveOps card leaves some space for improvement. For instance, the card showcases a generic creative image that is not specific to the event. Furthermore, the event tagline and description utilize less than 10% of the available character count and do not provide much information about the event details. With the event type an “Offer,” it remains unclear as to what exactly is being offered to players.

To improve the LiveOps card’s alignment with best practices, Call of Duty Mobile could create a LiveOps image that stands out more on the store and clearly references the in-app event, and incorporate more specific details in the card metadata.

Call of Duty Mobile LiveOps on AppTweakCall of Duty Mobile LiveOps on AppTweak

Spy on your competitors

Get an idea of the type of LiveOps events your competitors are running. Using AppTweak, you can track and monitor your competitors’ LiveOps, including the event type, metadata, creatives, and duration. This can help you understand what your competitors are doing and the resources your team would need to run similar events.

Check your resources

Does your team have the bandwidth to create, manage, and monitor all your LiveOps? Do you need to look for extra help to build this event? Can any of your events be automated? Answering these questions can help you determine what types of LiveOps are feasible for your app and game team.

Plan ahead

Have a calendar of planned LiveOps events far in advance to help plan around holidays, real-life events, and other internal and external factors. This will help you better understand the amount of time and resources you will need for each LiveOps beforehand to be able to implement changes as needed.

Establish a cadence

While planning ahead, it is important to establish a cadence of LiveOps events to help with internal organization as well as create repetitive behavioral patterns in users. Releasing a new season pass consistently can help new users get started as well as entice lapsed users to return to the game. Also, be strategic about offering both regularly scheduled and spontaneous limited-time events and choose to release them on the days of the week that work best for your users.

Provide variety to gamers

Different LiveOps events and offers appeal to different types of players. Try spreading rewards over multiple event types to encourage broader participation in-game and design events with different player segments in mind. For example, events tailored to new users may encourage basic gameplay to form the desired habits, while events for long-time players may drive competition or social status with exclusive rewards.

Perform an A/B test

Develop a hypothesis, segment your audience into testing groups, then test and iterate to find the updates that performed the best for users. While Google does not currently allow for A/B testing of LiveOps card metadata, developers can still run tests within the app itself. For instance, if you want to run an event with an offer for a new bundle, you can show the offer to different user segments to see which is the most receptive. In addition to pricing, there are other components worth testing, such as the number of activities required to complete an event challenge, event duration, use of push notifications, and in-app messaging.

How to set up LiveOps on Google Play

LiveOps events can be created at any time but must be submitted within 14 days of the event start date. It can take up to 4 days to approve your event, so plan to submit your event at least a few days prior to the start date to ensure it goes live on time.

Expert Tip

Important: You can’t edit your event after you submit it, so make sure everything is correct before submission.

To create a LiveOps event or offer in the Google Play Console:

  1. Go to the LiveOps page (Grow > Store presence > LiveOps).
  2. Click “Create Event.”
  3. Add the following information:
    • Event name: An internal event name that is only displayed in the Play Console.
    • Event type: Choose an event type (see types of LiveOps above).
    • Offer type: If your event is an offer, specify what type of offer it is. This allows Google Play to display offers correctly, helps quicken the review process, and enables users to see offers of similar types.
    • Countries/regions: One or more countries/regions where this event will be displayed.
    • Start/End date and time.
    • Priority: If you have multiple events for your app or game, this selection determines which event will be shown first.
    • User eligibility: If your event is an offer, you can select which users are eligible to see it.
  4. Provide your event’s text and graphical assets
    • Tagline (required)
    • Description (required)
    • Primary Image (required)
    • Square Image (required)
    • Video (highly recommended)
  5. Click “Submit event” to publish it on Google Play. You can click “Save” as a draft to save your work without submitting to Google Play.

Conclusion

With ASO 2.0 coming into effect, LiveOps will become more sophisticated going forward. As older games figure out how to implement events into their existing gameplay, and as new games plan for events as an important part of gameplay, new innovations around LiveOps are certain to develop. The biggest differentiator will be the creativity of those promoting these events, offers, and challenges and how they resonate with users.

While LiveOps can contribute to short-term spikes in revenue when executed properly, this feature can even retain and engage users to create lifetime value. When planning LiveOps for your app or game, remember that you should not be aiming for quantity but rather community and data-driven, personal, and impactful quality.

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Ian Pernia

by ,  Senior ASO Expert

Ian is an ASO Expert at AppTweak helping apps improve their store presence. He is passionate about movies, traveling, and spending time with his dog.