Liftoff - A Case Study


I’d like to preface this by saying that I’m no top developer by any means. But because of the experiences I’m about to go through, I think I’ve taken the first step of many in that path. Let’s begin.

This is a case study of my game Liftoff – what went well, and more importantly, what didn’t. I think it’s a great example of what not to do (and some good things too) when developing a game, and this information could probably help a lot of new devs out who are trying to release their first game. In this post I’ll go through my experience starting from the very beginning of Liftoff’s lifespan straight to the end, detailing everything that we did along the way.

(Note: when I say ‘we’ I mean my development team)

Beginning Development

First things first, we started developing Liftoff solely because we didn’t have anything else to develop. At the time, we were working on a far larger game and a ton of work had been done under my account. My account had been falsely terminated and we were scared we would lose all of our progress. During the appeal time, we did some thinking and decided we should start small before going in on a large game so that we could gain experience and funding for a larger project.

That was probably one of the best ideas ever. A lot of devs try to go straight into huge and awesome games, lacking experience and funding. If they can actually go through and finish development, they’re left in an extremely unknown environment that requires quick adaption which can be exhausting. It’s far better to start small to get this experience first so that you know what lies ahead.

Anyway, some time around early May we began work on Liftoff. I’ll skip ahead to some key points, because the rest is just pure development timem.

During Development

Being a small dev team (literally 2 people) with no funding, we did tons of research about the best way to build exposure for a game. The overwhelming consensus was to use Twitter.

But we didn’t have any Twitter following, at all. Over the course of a few days, we got maybe 10 followers. My partner then had the brilliant idea of using Reddit. We made a few posts there, and that garnered literally 10x more exposure: almost 2K upvotes across all of our posts and a Discord server of about 100 people. Before the game was even open to the public. From unknown developers.

That was another good thing – getting a community before releasing the game. Relying on a playerbase to build a community after release can be a volatile thing for unknown devs with no community. Building one before release can help boost player counts when release day finally comes, and is extremely good for exposure.

I’m not saying that you should definitely use Reddit. We used r/roblox, which can be an extremely unforgiving place. Most posts don’t get above 50 upvotes there, and we got so much attention because of a cool satellite animation that I made. If you’re curious, you can see all of our posts here, here, here, and here.


This is a big section and the one with the most downfalls. We absolutely dropped the ball when it came to testing.

We were rushing to get the game out before summer ended. We only had time for a few closed testing sessions. For each testing session, we specifically asked for feedback regarding economy balancing. We got none of that.

Choose your testers wisely. I’m partially at fault for the first testing date not yielding good feedback because it was plagued with game-breaking bugs that were far more important than balancing (test your game before others do!!!). But the other dates, all people were concerned with were minor gameplay suggestions even though we specifically asked for balancing information.

Because we only tested a few times and we didn’t have time to balance ourselves, we released with literal arbritary values for everything in the economy, like how much certain things cost/reward. Testing values that hadn’t been tweaked since I scripted the mechanics.

I know that that could’ve easily been avoided if we even spent a day on balancing, but honestly my later experiences in trying to correct this mistake have led me to believe that it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Game balancing is a huge process and one that we completely overlooked. You need to spend a lot of time on it and treat it as a regular aspect of game development, even though you’re not creating anything new. I think a lot of new devs like us would make the same mistake of not spending the required amount of time on it.

Release Onward

A lot of you might be curious to know our budget. I managed to scrape together 18K Robux from selling limiteds to put toward advertisements. We made our own game icon and thumbnails.

Release day went well. Very well. We made about 40-50K (can’t remember the exact number) gross Robux out of 7K that we spent on sponsoring. We didn’t spend much of that on mobile sponsoring (only 500), and none at all on ads. A lot of people say that you should be spending the most on mobile sponsoring because you get the most impressions, but my experience says otherwise. It may just be because our game wasn’t particularly well suited for mobile, but ultimately only 0.5% of our revenue came from mobile (seriously).

We were aware of how screwed balancing was even while releasing, but we did it anyway beause we were rushing. We made a plan to push a major update that fundamentally changed a major game mechanic and overall improved quality of life for the game to remedy the situation, and we immediately began working on it.

Dislike Botting

Shortly after release, we were hit with two dislike botting attacks which absolutely killed morale and our will to work on the game. Not much you can do when your game has a 27% like/dislike ratio, especially when Roblox wouldn’t do anything about it. They eventually reversed the botted dislikes, but that was after we had already stopped maintaining the game. We still ended up finishing the major update I mentioned above, but that was ultimately the end of the game’s life.

It wasn’t only the dislike botting that ended the game’s support. While working on the major update, it became clear that the balancing situation was irreversible, and we couldn’t just reset data now. Because the economy was so terrible, we decided to just end the project there.

The main takeaway is to, no matter what, spend a long time on testing the game. Have a closed beta phase for weeks, not just a few hours on specified dates. Emphasize balancing. Reset data frequently during testing, and communicate exactly what you’re doing to your testers. If you release with bad balancing, it likely can’t be fixed because you don’t have the luxury of resetting data. More information can be found in a reply to a thread my partner made: Virtual Economy Balancing - How To Do Effectively?


I need to talk about one thing that I’ve avoided so far: monetization. Our monetization for Liftoff was absolutely stunning. Phenomenal. I don’t know how much of that is down to luck or whatever, but it was downright impressive. During development, I spent a lot of time researching monetization strategies. In total, we grossed about 570K Robux with an 18K investment.

If my experience with Liftoff is anything to go off of, my verdict is that there isn’t one best monetization strategy for Roblox games. Just go with whatever you feel will make money. In my case, we maximized profit by including only just enough gamepasses – not 2 useful ones and 13 useless ones. Only ones that actually made a meaningful difference in-game.

Most of our profit came from Developer products though (gamepasses only accounted for about a third). Money purchases was the biggest thing and the only one I can speak about universally: if your game has money, offer money purchases. Obviously. We had a few other helpful developer products, but they weren’t nearly as profitable as money purchases. I will say that money purchases might have been so popular because of how bad balancing was for new players, and that could have incentivized them to buy money early on.


This section is the complete opposite of monetization. Engagement and retention were absolutely awful and are the biggest indicator of why Liftoff ultimately failed, and can provide some insight into why Liftoff is such a strong study for what not to do.

These stats were so bad for one glaringly obvious reason: gameplay was putrid. I don’t even know if I can consider Liftoff a game. I’ll be the first to tell you how bad it was. There was literally nothing to do in game other than launch a rocket, watch it go straight up, and collect your money. Then you used that money to buy more rockets and upgrades to help you get more money. It was bad. As such, there was nothing to keep players coming back or play for more than 10 minutes.

In the major update, we did include a daily reward that you could get by joining our group, and that increased day 1 retention a little bit.

Stat Time

As Liftoff only really lasted for one month, all of these stats are taken from the Monthly Game Stats XLSX file that Roblox provides for the month of September. The major update happened in October, but it didn’t really make too much difference except for in day 1 retention. This is because of just how bad balancing and gameplay was. No update in the world could’ve fixed it.

Monthly Users:
That DAU/MAU ratio is horrible. According to the data sheet definitions, that can be interpreted as meaning the average player played for 4% of the days in September: 1.2 days. Terrible. Again, this is because of really bad game design.

Not surprisingly, English speaking countries top both lists, especially for revenue. Could translations have helped this? Probably. Would the extra revenue have been worth it? Maybe. I do know from playing that a lot of Brazilian players do play – maybe they would’ve spent more money.

Day 1 retention:

The graph speaks for itself. For those who don’t know, Day 1 retention is the percentage of players who play the day after the first day that they play. The major update increased this from 10% to 15%, so daily rewards certainly help.

I’ll spare you from multiple graphs by just posting that. I will tell you that all of those numbers (except for the gross) are extremely good and rank above or at top 25 games in the respective category. I’m very happy that we did so well in monetization on top of the invaluable experience that we gained, because now we have tons of Robux to fund a future project.

Key Takeaways

If you didn’t feel like reading the wall of text preceeding this, this is the section for you. I’ll just quickly list them:

  • Please, for the love of everything, TEST YOUR GAME!!! Not testing will only lead to messed up balancing that is absolutely unfixable by any update and will be sure to doom your game for all of eternity. We learned this the hard way. Find testers who give meaningful feedback. Reset data frequently. Test more than 4 times for one day at a time; have a large period of time dedicated just to testing. This is by far the most important takeaway. Listen to testers to not only balance the game, but add features that make sense. Sometimes, in the heat of being a developer, you don’t make the best game design decisions.

  • Don’t spend too much time worrying about monetization. It’s obviously something that you should be thinking about, but the money should roll in as long as your strategy makes sense and provides something that players want and are willing to pay for. If you don’t know what this could be, ask testers.

  • Do not rush your game. I think that a lot of beginning devs might fall victim to this one in the excitement of trying to actually release a game. This is also probably the biggest reason why Liftoff is what is was. We rushed so hard in trying to get the game out by the end of summer that we didn’t test nearly at all, didn’t flesh out gameplay aspects, and didn’t set up a maintainable game. You can see the results of doing so clearly in the stats section. Not good.

  • Don’t try to cram too much into release. Leave room for updates. Give yourself a break sometimes, not everything you want in the game has to be in the first version. Cramming will only lead to rushed design and execution, which is why Liftoff wasn’t maintainable at all.

  • Balancing is a process. If your game has any type of virtual economy whatsoever (which I struggle to think of games that don’t), this is an important takeaway. DO NOT try to balance everything either at the very beginning of development or the end. It’s impossible. You cannot take into account every source and sink of money in-game, while maintaining your desired progression. Go back to the first point, test your game, and gradually balance things out based on analytics and tester feedback. It’s not something you’re going to get right the first try. With Liftoff, we tried doing that and it failed horribly. Just look at the stats.


I hope this is helpful for people who don’t already have the experience that I do. Remember, money can’t buy you experience and it’s something that you need to succeed. You can’t succeed without a little bit a failure first.

Take everything I said here with a grain of salt. In the grand scheme of things, Liftoff didn’t get that many visits - only about 120K. Everything covered here could be inaccurate due to a small sample size. However, I still believe that the experience speaks for itself and is generally a good starting point. Thanks for reading through this wall of text, and I help it was helpful :wink:

Edit 10/29/20
At the end of March, Liftoff was put on the Learn & Explore sort. That sort was on the front page for a small period of time, and we got a lot of exposure and revenue from that. Unfortunately, the game won’t last if the sort ever gets removed/bumped down more because it has horrible retention. The point is that because of the amount of money and exposure we got from the sort, we have huge potential for our next game which is currently in the works and will be way better than Liftoff. It’ll also be way easier to release, something that having a large community gets you.

It’s been a little over a year since Liftoff first released, and we’ve made about ~3.5-4 million Robux (I don’t know the exact amount). Almost all of that comes from March 2020 to now. We don’t update the game content-wise anymore, we just do occasional seasonal updates like for Halloween or real-life events like NASA launches. These events do generate us a lot more revenue and players than just normal operation. Even with Liftoff’s outdated, poorly maintained, and generally horrible codebase, we have even managed to pull off a legitimate live event like you see in bigger games. It went very well; do these every so often and you’ll see a lot of community involvement and an increase in revenue.
(if you want to know what we did for the live event, we released a new rocket when the timer hit 0 – no server shutdowns and it was synced across every server within a few seconds!)


Wow! I am just looking at how big a game can get with only 17k robux. This is both a success and a failure story. The aspect of marketing a unique game really brings out the successful side, whereas the dislike bots and the balancing issues show where you went wrong. Lots of key takeaways from this post, and it should help guide aspiring developers through making their game.


This… this is a godly.

This is such a sick and useful contribution to this section. There’s a lot that any developer can take away from, given the fact that so much of this is applicable to games of all sorts. I can definitely sympathize with some of the struggles and affirm that many are universal.

Awesome post.


Agreed with @https_KingPie
This might be the most useful thing to come to this section for a very long time…


Like @Whimzer said, Wow!

This is pretty much if not the most desired post I’ve been willing to come across! I made a game a while back for Car Madness and am currently making a new one, this will definitely help out! Thanks so much for sharing your experience :slightly_smiling_face:


This is a really great post, thanks for sharing your development experience!