In Games Analytics, Player retention

Insight into F2P lapsing users

The clearest difference between F2P and traditional games is the focus on player engagement and retention. For traditional paid games, arguably it matters less if a player only plays a game once, as they have already paid for the game. In F2P, the relationship with the player is totally different, with install being just the first interaction and thereafter a continued process of engagement with the game which may result in monetization.

The first step towards monetizing players is to retain them. If they don’t play the game, they won’t pay. For this reason, a wide range of game mechanics have emerged to help ensure p[layers return regularly, including daily bonuses and multipliers, push notifications and re-acquisition campaigns and offers.

While these mechanics can all help to retain players, they are often deployed in a ‘scattergun’ approach that can negatively impact player’s feeling toward the game. In order to provide coherent targeting for this activity, it is important to know at what stage a player lapses. Most retention mechanics bombard players daily, and there is a tendency in F2P to declare that a player has lapsed if they haven’t been seen in a couple of days. But coming from the player’s perspective this is can come across as paranoia. There are many reasons why a player simply cannot play for a few days (travel, work, family, etc).

It is easy to surmise this, but it would be better to investigate with actual data. By evaluating the data on our platform, we at deltaDNA are in a strong position to shed light on this.

If we consider a player to be ‘engaged’ if they have played three sessions, we can ask; how does the probability of lapsing increase with the number of days away from the game?

Taking a sample of mobile games on the deltaDNA platform with more than 3 months of continuous data we looked at the return rate of players after three sessions. The overall rate of continuing (i.e. playing a fourth session) was 86% of which 58% happened the very next day, i.e. day 1. Players that skipped one day returned at a rate of 67%, somewhat lower than day 1, but still a significant fraction of players. Players that have not been seen in a week (7 days) return to the game 40% of the time. Even after 1 month of inactivity (30 days) we still see 11% of players eventually returning to the game.

We can perform the same experiment with a bundle of PC and Web based games. The overall rate of continuing to play is the same (86%) but the impact of inactivity is much lower; for PC games 50% of players will return after being inactive for a week, and 20% will return despite not playing for a month.

Overall these numbers suggest that perhaps the paranoia around daily users is unwarranted and focusing engagement mechanics on longer (e.g. week) timescales may be an effective approach to building long term retention. This may be especially true for PC and Web (e.g. Facebook) games.

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