In Free to play, Games Analytics

Delivering a great free-to-play (F2P) game experience requires data, and lots of it. Deep data is vital in order to determine player engagement patterns and high definition player segments for targeting. Real-time player engagement enhances the in-game player experience and drives retention and monetization, by providing micro-personalization of each player’s experience.

We’ve highlighted the key ways you can deliver an optimum F2P game experience.


1. A/B testing

In order to deliver the best game experience for players you need to continually improve your game parameters. One way to accomplish this is to do regular testing. A/B testing is the art of testing different variables to a sample group within your player base, to compare the impact. For example, adjusting the game difficulty, changing the value and type of offers at different stages within the game or making adjustments to stages within the first time user experience (FTUE). At least one test group and a subsequent control group is required for comparison. Those who are new to the game and chosen at random are the preferred groups to target to ensure the data is accurate. Consider carefully how many alternative tests you want to run at any one time, as there needs to be a decent sized test group for each to achieve statistically significant results. Tutorial flow, difficulty, special offers, price points and menu organisation are the key things to consider when A/B testing. Find out more in our Developer’s guide to A/B testing.

2. In-game messaging

It’s an area that is sometimes overlooked, but in-game messaging – whether it is push notifications, offers, in-app messaging and daily bonuses – can increase monetization, engagement and retention if used effectively. To do this, the messaging needs to be as appealing as possible, and therefore highly targeted. Tailor your messaging to the ability of different players in the game; for example, if a section of players is struggling to complete level 3, they may need an offer, or help to find extra resource to help them progress. In-game messaging can direct your players to unexplored regions, health potions or weapons. A simple “did you know that…” message is a good way of achieving this, and using a likable character is much more effective than a generic pop-up. Keep it personable and personalized. Frequency is another important factor to consider. Too often and it can feel intrusive and irritating, not enough and your players can abandon the game completely. Balance is the key to success. Check-out our retention guide to discover more.

3. Personalization

It is important to understand that your players are different – a one size fits all approach won’t work for everyone. Personalization is integral to understanding your players. It involves using behavioral segmentation to discover groups of players who are alike, and designing real-time game changes for that group, so they remain within their own threshold of engagement, between boredom and anxiety. If players break through the threshold, they will quit the game and stop playing. Therefore, by adapting the game-play with experiences that resonate with the player, you can increase retention. For instance, you might discover a segment of Novice players who are finding it difficult to progress past a tricky level. They can be targeted with either extra lives or an increased stamina potion to help them to the end. On the other hand, for more experienced players who are progressing quickly through the game, you can increase the difficulty level to challenge them. You can maximize your player revenue by making offers based on the different ways groups of players like to play the game. If they are aggressive, they’ll like offers that support fast game-play, if they are social, they may want to customize their character and if they are strategic, they are more likely to appreciate extra content. Understanding your players and keeping their enjoyment and engagement levels high is the key in optimizing game revenue and retention. See our short animated video on personalization.

4. Ad serving

Ad serving can be a useful way to enhance monetization in your game, however, it can be a delicate balancing act. If done right it can increase profits, but if done incorrectly it can have a knock on effect on player engagement and retention figures (find out your ad-serving personality in our quiz). One thing to always remember is that the ads should never disrupt the flow of the game, so careful placement is essential. Rewarded video is a good way to monetize as casual players really engage with it. If appropriately targeted, advertising produces a strong revenue stream that supports the flow of In-App Purchases (IAPs) while maintaining retention and producing high effective cost per thousand impressions (eCPMs). The upside of this to the players is that they get premium content for free. You can show ads later in the game such as Pilot Flight Simulator, or earlier in the game such as Bee Brilliant. Both strategies are effective if you offer something interesting and relevant to your players in return for watching. By intuitively integrating ads into your game you can boost player experience. Choose your timing wisely and increase the value of the offer as the player advances through the game. Check out our ad survey results to find out the best way of doing this.

5. In-game events

To build detailed profiles of behavioral engagement without being overwhelmed by data, you need to be strategic in setting your events. First impressions are important, therefore it is vital to follow the user flow during the first few minutes of game play so that you can nail your user on-boarding experience. FTUE is essential to the game’s performance and should be tracked with a high concentration of events. Custom events help you to determine where players are coming to a standstill and what parts of the on-boarding need to be improved. Level progression funnels can immediately flag-up what areas of the game are acting as blockers, and by analyzing which player groups are affected you can balance the game in a targeted way to ensure those players don’t churn. Here are 5 in-game events all F2P Games should track.


If you liked this article you can read how Thumbspire used deltaDNA to improve monetization, on-boarding and retention here.

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