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Diamond Partner Q&A: Google Play's Sarah Thomson explores what indies can do in mobile games

At GDC 2018, attendees will have the opportunity to interact with an array of sponsors who help fuel the games industry, including our Diamond Partners, whose support plays an integral role to the success of GDC.

To introduce you to our Diamond Partner Google Play, we've reached out to indie business development lead Sarah Thomson to discuss how Google is working to support indies on its platform and what they can expect out of GDC!

Don't miss out! The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March will be a hub for many more great industry titans. For more visit the show’s official website.

Can you introduce yourself and explain what we can expect from Google at GDC?
My name is Sarah Thomson and I head up the indies business on Google Play. I’ve been in games for over 11 years and started as an indie! Mobile indies are my passion and I’ve always loved advocating and fighting for the underdog. My goal is to foster success for as many indies as we can.

We’re excited to be back at this year’s GDC to host Google Developer day on Monday, March 19th from 10:00am to 4:00pm in Moscone West, room 2020. The day will be full of announcements and best practices from various Google teams. After the morning keynote, we’ll dive into three main themes; new platforms and innovation, tips and tools for the pre-launch phase, and ways to optimize games post-launch. We’ll also have a booth in Moscone South where people can hear more talks, meet the experts, and check out demos of individual products.

Since you’ve been working so closely with indies, what’s Google’s current strategy for indie games?
As gamers ourselves, we look to the huge value indies provide on other gaming platforms such as PC and console. In many ways, mobile is no different, except we’re younger. Google Play has a massive opportunity to turn Play into a hotbed of innovation via indie games. We’ll continue to be open and accessible through our unique tools and services. All over the world we’ve been running Indie Games Festivals and Contests giving devs an opportunity to showcase their awesome creations to mobile gamers. Indie Corner has been around for over a year and a half and is a destination on the Play Store that updates monthly and has featured more than 400 indie games since launch. The newly formed Premium page of the Play Store serves up amazing paid games, many being indies. 2018 is a big year for indies on Play, so keep an eye out for more indie love!

Does Google offer any tools or initiatives to empower devs in the development process?
Google is focused on building great tools for our partners to manage all phases of publishing. We’ve ramped up our pre-launch offerings in the Play Console through improved alpha/beta testing and staged rollouts, which provide invaluable user feedback early in the process. Developers can also apply to the Start on Android program, which provides support and guidance for apps and games prior to launch and offer opportunities to be included in relevant developer programs throughout their lifecycle. Post-launch, it’s really important to monitor your game’s technical performance with Android vitals, and get in touch with your players by reading and responding to their Play Store reviews. We also offer store listing experiments to a/b test various parts of your store listing page, such as your game icon, screenshots and game description. Getting this first-hand feedback from Android users provides incredible insights and helps developers pinpoint exactly what’s working or needs improvement.

What’s the path forward for Google?
As we announced last year, Google is looking at the importance of user engagement and retention in games. This will continue to be a focus for us in 2018. Specific to indies, we understand there’s a segment of gamers on Google Play that LOVES indie games, just like PC and console. In order for us to be the best gaming platform we can be, it’s imperative we showcase the best in class when it comes to indie games. Play has an incredibly rich offering of gaming content. It’s one of our strengths, and we’re committed to exploring new and exciting ways to showcase the best games to all types of gamers.

GDC 2018 will take place March 19-23rd at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. For more information, visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via FacebookTwitter, or RSS.


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