Release 2.3.0

We’re pleased to announce the full public availability of brainCloud 2.3.0!

New features in this release include:


  • E-mail Identity improvements – you asked, we delivered – brainCloud now supports E-mail Validation for those of you using our E-mail + Password Identity Authentication.  We’ve added Forgotten Password flows as well – all customizable with your own text and branding.
  • Segment Definitions – we’ve completely re-done our Segment design screens, made them simpler and more flexible, while vastly improving the underlying data structures that represent segment criteria.  This was necessary work to support new segment features to come.

Note – the new segment data structures aren’t compatible with how things were being defined in 2.2.X and previous.  As a result, we’ve disabled any previously defined Segments – apologies about that.  You’ll need to select each of your segments, quickly recreate the criteria, and save them.  Once again, apologies, but this was a one-time situation that couldn’t be helped (and it’s honestly very quick to fix).


Portal Changes

  • Design | Core Game Info | E-mail Authentication – options for customizing the e-mails sent for validation and forgotten passwords.  Includes a [Test] button to send a test e-mail to validate (note that the test e-mails don’t actually contain the URL links)
  • Design | Segments – screens have been completely redone

VIPs Leaving Segment

API Changes

  • New Forgotten Password API for EmailPassword Authentication

Misc Fixes

  • Fixes to Import Configuration to properly re-evaluate level caps if new XP levels have been added
  • Misc fixes and performance improvements


5 Steps to Ignite your Free-to-Play Revenue (without Advertising)

5 Steps to Ignite your Free-to-Play Revenue (without Advertising)

Only one in ten mobile games succeed.

The business reality is that since 2011, Free-to-Play (F2P) games have been making more money than their Premium counterparts.

Although still essential – today’s games must be more than just fun – they must effectively employ F2P monetization to succeed.

bc-5steps-succedssAn effective Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) is an essential lubricant for the free-to-play economy. Here are 5 key ways a great Backend can ignite your free-to-play revenue:

  1. Go Cross-Platform – adding platforms adds audience, which feeds players into your F2P engine. An effective Back-end makes it easier to offer the same features across diverse platforms.
  2. Enable Cross-play – allowing your players to continue their play across devices encourages play when and where convenient, increasing engagement and forming habits
  3. Add social competition – social competition is an excellent way to give players additional objectives in your game, increasing engagement (and virality)
  4. Reduce cheating + theft – utilize server-side receipt validation to remove in-app piracy and increase your revenues.
  5. Grow/Retain your VIPs –  utilize an automated promotions engine to help push players through your funnel, and retain the VIPs that you have (increasing $ spend)

* Player segment definitions (below) courtesy of Emily Greer’s presentation at Casual Connect ’12.


For more details, check out the slideshare presentation below – and while you’re at it, be sure to check out brainCloud – it’s free during development, and starts at just $25 / month once you go live!

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Note that this content is from a presentation that I originally gave at the Montreal International Game Summit in Nov 2014 – used with my permission. 🙂

brainCloud BaaS is for Apps too

brainCloud BaaS is for Apps too

It seems like every other day that we’re asked – “Is brainCloud only for games? Can I use it for other types of apps?”

Make no mistake about it – the brainCloud BaaS is primarily designed for games.

But this doesn’t mean that it can’t be used for apps (including IoT) as well. In fact, allowing for any type of application is key to our overall business philosophy – use as much or as little of the API as you’d like, and only pay for what you use.

We’ve worked hard to ensure that brainCloud is the best BaaS / MBaaS solution available for the development of Freemium and/or Gamification enabled apps.

Key BaaS for Apps Technical Features

The key app-related features include:

  • Comprehensive Cloud data – user / global scoping, stats / entities / storage
  • Flexible Identity Management – identify users via E-mail, Facebook, Google Id, etc.
  • Custom Cloud Code – need brainCloud to do something special server-side – code it! (using JavaScript)
  • Cross-platform Push Notifications – reach out to your user base in real time across device platforms
  • Server-side Receipt Validation – increase revenues by eliminating in-app purchase piracy using server-side receipt validation
  • Rich Gamification – player XP, achievements, leaderboards and more are available for when [if] you decide to add Gamification
  • Easy integration – local libraries available across all device platforms (iOS, Android, WinPhone, BB10, Web, PC/Mac, etc.)
  • Great designer / debugger web tools – the brainCloud design tools make it easy to set up your game, and the monitoring tools make it easy to view, debug, and even edit the data of your app as you develop


Key BaaS for Apps Business Features

The key business / product management features include:

  • Centralized pricing controls – control the pricing of in-app purchases centrally
  • Scheduled promotions – set up promotional pricing in advance, together with language-specific cross-platform push notifications for when sales / events start
  • Auto promotions – plus, design custom auto promotions to be automatically triggered when users enter a defined user segment.  For example, a day after a user utilizes a new feature, hit them with a promotion to activate the “premium” version of it
  • Cross-platform Analytics – brainCloud include built-in “just-in-time” analytics that reports on the usage and monetization of your app, across platforms
  • Support Tools – the Monitoring tool makes it easy to provide field support for your user base
  • Affordable Elastic Pricing model – brainCloud “No-Brainer” pricing is based on API usage – only pay for as much of brainCloud that you’re utilizing. Pricing starts at just $25 / month, and is completely free during development.


The Backend-as-a-Service business case

And of course, the brainCloud business case works for the BaaS for Apps model as well.

  • Save development time and budget – zero developer and service costs during development!
  • Save hosting / operational costs – brainCloud is much cheaper than hosting yourself, plus you don’t need dedicated IT support personnel!
  • Increase revenues – brainCloud’s freemium and promotional features will increase the monetization of your app

So, the next time someone asks “Is brainCloud designed for games, or other types of apps?” – the answer is “Yes.

For more information, why not take a test drive? Sign-up free today!

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Release 2.2.0

We’re pleased to announce the full public availability of brainCloud 2.2.0!

New features in this release include:

API & Client Features:

  • Promotions can now replace products in the active store. This allows swapping in new products during a promotion that pay out extra currency etc
  • C++ library now includes easier Facebook authentication using the BrainCloudWrapper class
  • Cocos 2d-x example upgraded to Cocos 2d-x 3.3 which includes Facebook support from C++
  • Cocos 2d-x example allows user to choose between three types of authentication now: Universal, Anonymous, and Facebook
  • Misc fixes and improvements

Portal/Server Features:

  • Segments – Now you can target only test users to be included in a segment. This allows for segments to be more easily tested before they’re launched
  • Misc fixes and improvements

We’ve continued to improve the documentation in our Apidocs portal. As usual, you can check it out by visiting:

BaaS for Single-Player Games

BaaS for Single-Player Games

An interesting question was put to me today:

“Would it make sense to cloud-enable an existing, successful, single-player mobile game?”

My gut reaction was “probably not“.  We know that the sweet spot for our Backend-as-a-Service is with social and multiplayer games, where a back-end is pretty much required. For those customers, pitching brainCloud is simply a question of Build vs. Buy.

That said, brainCloud offers a *lot* more than just multiplayer and social features – features that greatly aid in the management and monetization of any free-to-play game…  so lets dig deeper and do the full analysis.



First, a bit of background on the game in question:

  • It’s a freemium mobile game on iOS and Android
  • The game is successful, and doing roughly 50K DAU, with about $0.02 ARPDAU
  • Monetization is via in-app-purchases for speeding up the accrual of key stats and in-game currencies – progressing the meta-game
  • There are no social features – no leaderboards, etc.
  • The game is integrated with no cloud tech, other than analytics and some advertising – so no cloud saves, etc…
  • It’s a very small team – 1-3 devs really – so time is money

So – what benefits cloud features have to offer a game like this?  And do the benefits out-weigh the impact of adding the new monthly cloud service costs?

It’s easy to argue that their player base will grow and become more engaged if you add cloud saves (so players can play across devices), social leaderboards (to compete against friends), published achievements, player vs. player challenges, etc…  but it’s impossible to predict (or later prove) what the monetary impact of those incremental improvements might be…  [plus, in this case there’s an existing product and customer base – so greatly evolving the game storage and socialization strategies might be disruptive].

Instead – lets take this from a purely monetization perspective.  One of the key focuses of brainCloud is not just providing the bread-and-butter of cloud tech – but also providing a platform that allows you to really increase the monetization of free-to-play games.

So – focusing just on the freemium monetization features – what minimal integration efforts would result in maximum return for the game?

The key features I’d suggest are:

  1. IAP Validation – brainCloud provides server-side receipt validation, which eliminates IAP piracy, resulting in a boost to IAP sales.  Let’s be conservative and predict a 5% boost to IAP revenue as a result.  [For some background, see this GamaSutra article regarding IAP piracy.]
  2. Scheduled Promotions – brainCloud provides certralized coordination of pricing and promotions, across platforms.  And brainCloud supports scheduling of promotions – and automated sending of push notifications to inform the user base of the promotions as they happen.  Sure this is stuff a product manager can coordinate manually – but when you’re a small company, you tend to focus on the new products and leave the old ones to fend for themselves.  It’s fair to expect say 2.5% boost from allowing brainCloud to do this for you.
  3. Automated [Targeted] Promotions – finally, brainCloud allows you to aim targeted promotions and dynamic player segments.  This means, you can define a player segment for “VIPs that are leaving the game” – and hit them with a special promotion to get them to stay.  Given that whales are responsible for 80% of revenue for most games, extending that stay should be easily worth another 5% boost.

It would only take a week or two to add these features to the game (plus a bit of testing of course).



The Math

The game is currently bringing in about $30K USD per month (50,000 DAU x 0.02 ARPDAU x 30 days).  A 12.5% increase on the monetization results in an additional $3,750 USD per month.

But…  now there are [brainCloud] server costs – so we’ve got to factor that in.

Looking closely at brainCloud pricing, you can see that 50K users is estimated at about $1600 USD per month – which seems pretty reasonable given the benefit.

But wait, that’s assuming 100 brainCloud API calls per DAU – if the game is only using brainCloud for monetizaiton, it’s API usage will be way, way down – we’re probably talking 5-10 API calls per DAU (and that’s assuming players are playing multiple sessions a day).

Lets say it’s 10 API calls per DAU.  In a month, that would be only 10 x 50,000 x 30 = 15M calls – which is actually only $150 / month*.  Talk about a bargain! 🙂

* and that’s before the early adopter discounts!


The Results

And, the moral of the story is, there’s always room for increased monetization.

Our estimates are that for a cost of 10 days of integration, plus $150 monthly for brainCloud, the developer will see a 12.5% increase in sales, which in this case is a monthly increase of almost $3600 USD per month.

Even if the increase were over-estimated by a factor of 10x it would still be worth it in the long term…



One Final Note

This pricing analysis points out one of the greatest aspects of the brainCloud pricing model – you just pay for the amount of the service you use (in millions of API calls), not for the amount of the service that the provider fears you *might* use.

Utilizing these same features from competing platforms at 50K DAU could cost as much as $3000 / month!

Makes brainCloud seem like quite the deal, doesn’t it? 🙂

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