In Analytics insights, Free to play, Games Analytics, Player retention

The games industry is very seasonal. Everyone wants to be the “must have” game under the Christmas tree, and the same is true for F2P games. However, the player relationship in F2P starts, not ends, with install, and so the trends around the Christmas and New Year period are quite different to console games. With this in mind, we analyzed over 1000 games on the deltaDNA platform to report on the impact of the winter holiday period on game performance. Use this data to optimize your marketing strategy and budget.

Christmas F2P statistics

Looking first at player volumes across a selection of games in our game analytics platform, the number of active users and installs for Christmas and Boxing day is 30% higher on average compared to a “normal” period (i.e. September through to November). This Christmas boost also comes with an increase in player engagement, with 1 day retention increased by 17% over typical levels.

So, Christmas is a good time to be a F2P game, similar to the rest of the games and entertainment industries. In fact the Christmas boost lasts for much of the Christmas to New Year period, dropping back to normal levels with the return to work of most people at the beginning of January.

The jump in January

It is the period after Christmas where things really get interesting for F2P.

Specifically, the first weekend after the return to work displayed another spike in F2P player activity. For this weekend, we see a boost of around 41% in active users and installs compared to normal periods, a peak 12% higher than the Christmas/New Year period! In contrast to Christmas, this spike in activity does not come with any boost to retention.

Planning ahead for the season

We can speculate on the cause of this post Christmas spike. Traditionally, January is a time where people don’t go out too much and try to save money = a good time to play F2P games. Another possibility is that the first week in January is when game developers/publishers get back into action (and back into the business of paid user acquisition).

Regardless of the cause, the Christmas and post-Christmas bump are real trends in F2P games, and something for all of us in the F2P industry to watch out and plan for.


You can use deltaDNA’s integrated games analytics platform, developed specifically for games, to monitor your own players’ behavior and identify trends.

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in reading Seven Insights for Game Monetization

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