In Game design, Game monetization, Games Analytics, Player retention

It would be a wonderful scenario if all your players responded to your game in the same way, everyone loved it and your job was done when you released the game. In reality though, all games have a broad spectrum of players reacting to challenges and rewards in their own way. Treating all players of F2P games the same inevitably means that some will be disappointed with the experience, they’ll leave the game and fail to monetize, unless you personalize.

With ever increasing competition in a crowded marketplace, developers need to get serious about understanding their customers and responding to individual needs to keep them in the game. This is why game personalization has become ‘big news’ as the most powerful tool around to cater for all your players and maximize the potential of your game.

What is game personalization?

It would be very difficult to design an individual experience for each of your players. Instead, personalization involves using segmentation to find groups of players who are similar and designing game changes for that group. It works on the basis of understanding that there is a threshold of engagement for all players existing on a scale between boredom and anxiety. If players cross this threshold, it will cause them to leave the game. Developers need to keep each player segment within the threshold by adapting the gameplay.

The threshold of engagement in games

The threshold of engagement in games

The first advantage of treating your segments differently is that your players will enjoy your game more. A player whose experience is tailored to what they enjoy – whether that’s fast game play, building up coins, tricky puzzles, or plenty of hints – will keep playing and is more likely to monetize. While it’s not possible for every game to appeal to every audience, a fixed difficulty curve excludes a huge group of players who could love your game but are just a little too experienced or inexperienced for it.

Why player segmentation is essential in every F2P game

You might, for example, find a group of players who are novices and are struggling to move through the levels. They can be targeted with advice or bonuses, while other players find the game easy and need the difficulty ramped-up. But segmentation isn’t just about player skill – you’ll often find a group who are using your game’s social features much more frequently. You can target these players with offers to keep them sharing. A good thing to do when defining segments is to see if important metrics like Retention and Spender Fraction are different among different groups.

Novice journey

Boosting the skill level novice players’ who are struggling with the level of difficulty will keep them in the game

Segmenting players has huge benefits for monetization. Understanding what the big spenders in your game want and treating them right can have big payoffs. You might also find groups who want to spend in different ways, for example one segment might want to buy lots of grind currency, the other lots of premium currency. Some segments are attracting new players to your game, while others will be happy to watch rewarded adverts all day long. You should be using personalization to augment their monetization experience, to maximize your revenues from all players.

How to maximize monetization using personalization

The principle here is the same as when looking at gameplay. In the example below, we’ve identified a segment of players as Grinders; players who decline opportunities to make an in-app purchase (IAP) but repeatedly return to play. You know they are unlikely to ever make an IAP, so this segment should be monetized with a mixture of rewarded and interstitial ads. In the same game, you could choose to protect payers by not showing them any ads at all.

Game personalization applied to Grinders to improve monetization & retention

Grinders who decline IAP can be monetized through ad serving

Practical steps towards game personalization

The benefits of personalization are clear, so how do you go about applying this approach to your game? First of all, you will need to define what your segments will be. While you may have a very clear idea about the different player groups in your game, you will need to make sure that these groups really are as similar as you think, and the only way to do this is to refer to your game data. DeltaDNA’s game analytics & marketing platform has a range of sophisticated algorithms available which can automatically define segments; simplifying and speeding-up the segmentation process while providing reliably accurate results. The platform provides the tools you’ll need to monitor your segments, as the type of players you have can change though time.

Once you have accurately defined player segments, our Analyze tool-set can be used to determine why these players are leaving or failing to monetize, and our Engage tool-set can be used to change the game to stop this from happening. With these tools, you can respond to behavioral characteristics of segments live in-game and change their journey using automated player campaigns that feature image‐based rich messaging. Game balancing can be set-up at any point in the game to provide players with additional resources or make obstacles tougher. The platform architecture collects, processes, and actions event data within milliseconds, enabling you to identify players on the basis of segmentation criteria and engage with them as they play.

The most recent edition to the deltaDNA toolset, smartads, has been developed to optimize ad serving within your games and increase revenue by combining intelligent player targeting with dynamic ad mediation. It uses predictive modelling to show ads only to responsive players, protecting those who are more likely to make an IAP. It also works to maxmize revenues from ad serving by cascading ad networks from over 120 to select the best CPM.

Balancing in-app purchasing and ad-serving with positive player experiences using personalization tools is the most effective way of ensuring your F2P game is successful. Take a holistic view of your entire game economy and think about your game from the player perspective.

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