What You Can Learn from the Team Behind PUBG – Hacker Noon

What is PUBG?

PUBG or Playerunknown’s Battleground is a wildly popular online, battle royale game available on PC and Xbox.

In the first 3 months, PUBG acquired 5 million players speculatively grossing around $150M just for the Xbox One version.

The Lean Startup Method

I know what you’re thinking… what does a video game have to do with starting a SaaS business? Well, actually quite a bit.

It further validates the theory of testing an idea with small time and money investments before “going all in”.

At popular gaming convention, E3, the makers behind PUBG were criticized for purchasing open source assets from a marketplace, Unreal Marketplace.

PUBG Corp. communications lead, Ryan Rigney, confirmed the accusations in a post published to the PUBG subreddit. He went on to explain the realities of game development and most importantly, good business practice.

“Hiring an art team of 40 people to ‘try a game’ and ‘see if it’s fun’ is simply not a smart way to work — this is what the asset store is for! It’s a great resource for teams that want to work smart.”

Rigney said PUBG’s first map, Erangel, was a combination of in-house work done at the company’s headquarters in Korea, some direct purchasing of assets, and outsourced artwork from a team in the American midwest.

Evolving The Game

After proving that they were able to gain some initial traction, generate sizable revenue, and retain demand, PUBG Corp. began building out their internal team and developing more assets in-house.

Accordingly, each subsequent map has been progressively more custom with fewer assets coming from an open source marketplace.

Applying this to Your Startup

Don’t waste development hours on a new feature that hasn’t yet been validated.

Start with the minimum viable product. Do things that don’t scale.

Developing New Products

At Cloud Campaign, we built a prospecting tool that we mostly use internally right now. Since we mostly work with digital marketing agencies that are looking to expand, it seems like a logical product expansion to offer this on top of our social media marketing platform for agencies.

Rather than taking the time to stand up a new service and build another landing page for this new product, I’ve been emailing a CSV of leads to our existing customer base.

I’m not charging for it yet, but rather validating two things:

  1. Does our existing customer base even want this product (do they need more leads)
  2. Are the leads qualified

The next logical step will probably be charging for these leads to ensure people are actually willing to pay for them.

Until that has happened, it doesn’t make sense to waste development hours focusing on this new product.

Expanding Existing Products

The same methodology should apply for expanding the feature set of existing products.

These days, open source code is plentiful and SaaS API plugins are abundant.

There are many features that we’ve added to our product by initially paying for a service then rebuilding it in-house once we’ve seen enough demand. Most of these services have a free tier that is sufficient for first testing interest. Some examples of features/services that have followed this lifecycle are:

  • Website metatag scraper
  • PDF report generation
  • ML automatic caption generation

You can make as many assumptions as you’d like, but you’ll never know who is actually willing to pay for a new feature or product until you test it out.

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