This week I’ve interviewed the app development company DM Digital who are releasing the app game Hoops Rivals on iTunes and Google Play. We talked about beta testing and how they used this method to create a basketball app with crisp graphics and stimulating user interface.
Hi guys! Tell us about your company and what you’re doing.
DM Digital, our company, is set up as two interwoven teams: one provides mobile and web development to local companies and startups (to bring home the bread), the other focuses on our own startup products. During these years we managed to grow slowly but steadily, creating a young, motivated and passionate 10-person team. We are in constant contact with a local university (me and our CEO Daniele Grassi wrote an academic paper last year) and we are very active in the community.
We are not very consultancy-like people: we feel that Italian companies strongly undervalue well-crafted software and the “price-is-the-only-thing-that-matters” mentality we perceive around us constantly frustrates us. That’s why our dreams, hopes and longest hours are invested on our own startup ideas.
How come you started with app development?
We started building mobile apps in 2011 because we strongly felt that the market had a clear growth potential, and we were extremely engaged by the endless interaction possibilities that mobile apps provided to users.
How long do you stick with an idea for an app before giving up on it? Do you prototype, do you test your ideas on people etc?
We think that early prototyping is the key to test ideas right away without risking to commit too much time to a losing one. We try to build functional prototypes using at most 20 % of the time-budget we allocate to a project, then test the ideas on friends, family and involving people who can be considered domain-experts in the context of the idea.
What motivates you and what are your goals with the company?
It would be too easy to say that we want to revolutionize the world with our ideas. The truth is that we love creating new things, and we get a great satisfaction in the process. We love nice and smooth user experience and solutions that make you say “wow!”, and keep you engaged with them. That’s our goal, providing great experiences to our users and keeping our creativity flowing.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful app developer?
Being a successful app developer means having the right mix of different skills: Great sense of design, great sense of technology and a great sense of the market.
What have been some of your failures and what have you learned from them?
In 2012 we launched a startup called inbooki that allowed people to write and read immersive and interactive e-books. “inbooks” could be written to change their content and their story depending on the reader’s choices, their profile and environment. We won a couple of awards for this app, but we made the mistake of focusing on the Italian market (too small) and of listening too much to so-called “business advisors”, instead of concentrating our efforts in providing the best possible experience to our user base.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a successful app developer?
Listen to your gut, test your ideas as soon as possible and iterate rapidly.
Can you tell us a bit about your new app and how you got the idea for it?
Our developers and CEO have a great passion for basketball but sometimes is not just possible to go out an play against your friends for different reasons: Bad weather conditions, lack of free time, etc. We believed that developing a basketball management game could have helped us to play basketball everyday.
As there were no realistic basketball management game on the market we believed that that could have been a great chance to build the first basketball management game for mobile devices. We wanted to make a realistic game in order to help young basketball players to understand tactics and stats in basketball and help them spread this sport worldwide.
Like all sports games, the quest for the number one spot sits at the center of Hoops Rivals goal. Once players download the app, they will love its crisp graphics and stimulating user interface.
Assembling a team is simple, making that team a wolf pack of winners is the challenge. True fans of the game will welcome that challenge, as they develop rivalries across the leagues and watch their amateur players grow into statistical giants. Users can create and manage their basketball team, purchase players from the global market, and train them according to the manager’s preferences for play style, strategy, and tactics.
Side activities include upgrading your stadium and facilities to accommodate your growing fan base, earning tickets and cash from sponsorships, prizes, player sales, and game victories. Managers can determine the aggressiveness and rotation of their players, with complete access to all player stats at every instant.
Daily player training encourages team growth and performance and enhances overall team standings. Pre season drafts each month ensure each manager 2 new players with fresh stats to grow from. Once assigned a team, managers will all have their unique set of players to begin with. What happens from there is the essence of the excitement that this radical new game promises.
Regular season team match ups can be complemented with friendlies coordinated with other managers. Stats include rebounding, steals, 2 pt shooting, 3 pt shooting, free throws, fatigue, form, and much, much more. Managers and their teams will “level up” after each season, giving them a draft advantage based on league averages.
What problems are you facing right now?
We have made a soft launch of the game and we are already getting an unexpected number of daily downloads. We are now trying to work on ASO in order to rank higher in both iTunes Store and Google Play as we believe that many people could appreciate our game.
What do you feel are the positive aspects of using a crowdtesting platform for your beta testing?
We believe that using a crowdtesting platform is essential to test an app under different realistic platforms which makes the test more reliable, cost-effective, fast, and it’s also easier to identify bugs. In addition to that, crowdsource testing is great to target a specific group of tester thanks to the different filters that can be applied when looking for testers.
What challenges are you facing in the beta testing process? Can Beta Family can help with them?
It’s not easy to find testers that are interested in giving an honest feedback. Our main goal was to find out what needed to be edited, removed or added in our app. We weren’t just looking for people playing the beta version of our game before releasing it; we wanted feedbacks outside our office.
Beta Family allows us to find many testers for both iOS and Android devices and thanks to the easy reporting system, we received plenty of honest and inspiring feedbacks.
Can you tell us more about your testing plans?
Our official testing plans are ended as our game is now available for iOS and Android devices. However, as we are the first users of Hoops Rivals, we are running performances and usability test every day.
Why did you choose Beta Family over other similar services?
We chose Beta Family as subscribing and starting our first tests was straight simple. Many other services require too many information and too much time to run a test. We also chose Beta Family as exporting and analyzing users reports was very intuitive and fast.
I hope you enjoyed this interview on beta testing with DM Digital. I like how they learned to concentrate their efforts on providing the best possible experience to their user base instead of listening to others about how to run their business.
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