Maximizing Player Retention and
Monetization in Free-to-Play Games:
Data, Best Practices and Case Studies
David P Chiu
Sen...
What is Kongregate?
• Open platform for browser-based games
– Flash, Unity, HTML5, Java, etc.
– 96%+ of users already have...
Kongregate is also a mobile publisher of F2P games
Some of Kongregate’s Existing Developer Partners
Stats both reflect & shape mind-set
So what statistics does F2P focus on?
Daily Active Users, DAU
$/DAU
1- & 7-Day Retenti...
A little background
• All stats are lifetime, min 6 weeks on platform
• ARPU: average revenue per user
• ARPPU: average re...
$0.00
$1.00
$2.00
$3.00
$4.00
$5.00
$6.00
$7.00
$8.00
$9.00
$10.00
$0 $50 $100 $150 $200 $250 $300 $350 $400 $450 $500
ARP...
Linear Growth x Many Years =
Awesome Business
Commitment Matters
Type of Player % Buyers Avg Trx ARPPU ARPU % Players % of Rev
Non-Repeats 0.03% 2.1 $24.69 $0.01 43% 0%...
Commitment Really Matters
2D vs 3D
2D vs 3D
• 3D games tend to have lower monetization
compared to 2D games
– Lower ARPU, ARPPU & % Buyers
– Initial retentio...
2D vs 3D
• Confounding factors that may help explain difference
in monetization and retention #s
• Developers of 3D games ...
Asian F2P vs Western F2P
ARPU and ARPPU
ARPU & ARPPU
• ARPPUs for single-player games cluster around $5-$10
• Multiplayer games range $20-$350
• Average ARPPU for...
ARPU and % Buyers
ARPU and % Repeats
ARPU and % 50+ gameplays
Asian vs Western Style
• Asian games: High ARPPU, tight player funnel
– Monetization caters well to big spenders
• Western...
F2P Best Practices
Best Practices for Optimizing Retention:
Keeping players engaged
Daily Play Bonuses
• Daily play bonuses are good to get users coming back regular
• But improve on the typical 5-7 day dai...
Daily Play Bonuses
• Add an element of chance
- make it exciting!
• Repeat logins opens up
bigger potential rewards
Don’t punish people for taking a break
• Psychologically, punishments or the possibility of punishment deters
unwanted beh...
Don’t punish people for taking a break
• It can sting but it shouldn’t handicap
you permanently
• Limit amount of resource...
Keep players busy!
More things to do = more players staying
• Solo and team PvE
• Solo and team PvP
• Asynch raids
• Guild...
Without progress you have nothing
• The foundations of a F2P game are a strong RPG elements and a
sense of progress over t...
Asynchronous > Synchronous
Type % 50 Plays % Buyers ARPPU ARPU
Synchronous 1.4% 0.54% $43 $0.25
Asynchronous 3.6% 0.80% $8...
Best Practices for Optimizing Monetization:
A happy customer is a paying customer
Shopping should be easy and frictionless
• Location, location, location – make the store easy to find!
• Make it easy to f...
Buy Screen
• Bonuses % or/and items provide incentives for buying larger hard currency packages
• Clearly call out bonuses...
Making the shopping experience interesting
• First time buyer/ Starter packages
• Seed players with some paid/hard currenc...
Make sure players can spend
as much as they want
• The longer someone plays your game the more likely they are to buy and
...
Best Practices for Community Building:
When you’re here, you’re family!
Make it easy for community to build
Chat, forums, player-to-player
messages are all great
Real relationships build when
pe...
Guilds are awesome
• 100% of our top games have guilds
• Guild members spend 10-20x more than non-guild members
• Strong c...
Community Management and
Customer Service
If a player invests many hours into
a game they begin to feel some
ownership. It...
Opportunity Complains
Customer service is a chance to surprise and delight
• Handle things quickly
• Be generous with comp...
Surprise and delight
• IGG rewards its players with some resources after each of its
weekly 30-minute maintenance
Have fun with your community
The Value of Developer Activity
Keep feeding your players
• Regular updates, new features, and events yield greater
engage...
The Value of Developer Activity
Hot New Games
Badges added
Custom User Items
New zone, XL, etc.
Equips, Guild bonuses
Hall...
The Value of Developer Activity
Front Page
Badges
Item promotion
New Version
Revenue
Fantasy Online
Asian MMO
The Value of Developer Activity
Front page
Badges added
Expansion
Labor day event
Expansion
Christmas update
Expansion
Eas...
THANK YOU
For a copy of the presentation or questions, email
davidchiu@gamestop.com
For more talks & data visit developers...
DavidPChiu Kongregate - Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games: Comparative Stats for Asian & ...
DavidPChiu Kongregate - Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games: Comparative Stats for Asian & ...
DavidPChiu Kongregate - Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games: Comparative Stats for Asian & ...
DavidPChiu Kongregate - Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games: Comparative Stats for Asian & ...
DavidPChiu Kongregate - Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games: Comparative Stats for Asian & ...
DavidPChiu Kongregate - Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games: Comparative Stats for Asian & ...
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DavidPChiu Kongregate - Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games: Comparative Stats for Asian & Western Games (Brazil Independent Games Festival 2014)

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Presentation from the Brazil Independent Games (BIG) Festival 2014 on Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games with a Comparative Analysis of Asian & Western F2P Games

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DavidPChiu Kongregate - Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games: Comparative Stats for Asian & Western Games (Brazil Independent Games Festival 2014)

  1. 1. Maximizing Player Retention and Monetization in Free-to-Play Games: Data, Best Practices and Case Studies David P Chiu Senior Director of Developer Relations & Business Development Kongregate, A GameStop Company
  2. 2. What is Kongregate? • Open platform for browser-based games – Flash, Unity, HTML5, Java, etc. – 96%+ of users already have Unity installed • 21M+ monthly unique visitors worldwide • Core gamers – 85% male, average age of 22 • MMOs, RPGs, CCGs/TCGs, TD, shooters, etc. • Platform level virtual currency “Kreds” for F2P games • Acquired by GameStop July 2010
  3. 3. Kongregate is also a mobile publisher of F2P games
  4. 4. Some of Kongregate’s Existing Developer Partners
  5. 5. Stats both reflect & shape mind-set So what statistics does F2P focus on? Daily Active Users, DAU $/DAU 1- & 7-Day Retention To a lesser extent MAU & 30-Day 30-Day Retention is a good stat, but 30 days is not “long-term” retention, it’s the start.
  6. 6. A little background • All stats are lifetime, min 6 weeks on platform • ARPU: average revenue per user • ARPPU: average revenue per paying user • Player: a Kongregate registered user who loaded the game page at least once • Plays = Sessions: our preferred method to measure retention
  7. 7. $0.00 $1.00 $2.00 $3.00 $4.00 $5.00 $6.00 $7.00 $8.00 $9.00 $10.00 $0 $50 $100 $150 $200 $250 $300 $350 $400 $450 $500 ARPU(USD$) ARPPU (USD$) ARPU & ARPPU
  8. 8. Linear Growth x Many Years = Awesome Business
  9. 9. Commitment Matters Type of Player % Buyers Avg Trx ARPPU ARPU % Players % of Rev Non-Repeats 0.03% 2.1 $24.69 $0.01 43% 0% Repeats (2-9 plays) 0.40% 1.85 $19.61 $0.08 40% 3% Regs (10-49 plays) 4.68% 2.61 $21.35 $1.00 10% 12% Committed (50+ plays) 16.53% 7.03 $96.92 $16.02 7% 84%
  10. 10. Commitment Really Matters
  11. 11. 2D vs 3D
  12. 12. 2D vs 3D • 3D games tend to have lower monetization compared to 2D games – Lower ARPU, ARPPU & % Buyers – Initial retention has similar range vs 2D games – But long term retention is much lower • Does this mean a 3D F2P game can’t succeed? – No, remember correlation does not equal causation!
  13. 13. 2D vs 3D • Confounding factors that may help explain difference in monetization and retention #s • Developers of 3D games tend to: – Be console developers with limited F2P experience – Focus on gfx, may shifts resources away from improving retention and monetization funnels – Not accept pay-for-convenience & pay-to-win – Make games in genres with low monetization (FPS, MOBA) – May still design games as a shippable product instead of designing for long term retention, games-as-a-service
  14. 14. Asian F2P vs Western F2P
  15. 15. ARPU and ARPPU
  16. 16. ARPU & ARPPU • ARPPUs for single-player games cluster around $5-$10 • Multiplayer games range $20-$350 • Average ARPPU for a multiplayer game from Asia: $181 • Average for Western multiplayer game: $51 • Only 9 Western games have an ARPPU above $100 • ARPPU is the main factor in high ARPU for Asian games, important factor for all games
  17. 17. ARPU and % Buyers
  18. 18. ARPU and % Repeats
  19. 19. ARPU and % 50+ gameplays
  20. 20. Asian vs Western Style • Asian games: High ARPPU, tight player funnel – Monetization caters well to big spenders • Western games: Lower ARPPU, wide player funnel – Monetization focuses more on initial retention and broad conversion to paid at lower prices – Pay 2 Win is not as accepted by Western devs • Mixed games: can combine the best of both – High conversion, wide funnel, still create big spenders
  21. 21. F2P Best Practices
  22. 22. Best Practices for Optimizing Retention: Keeping players engaged
  23. 23. Daily Play Bonuses • Daily play bonuses are good to get users coming back regular • But improve on the typical 5-7 day daily bonuses • Reward playing game regularly in longer term • Doesn’t reset after 5-7 days • Doesn’t “punish” players for missing a day
  24. 24. Daily Play Bonuses • Add an element of chance - make it exciting! • Repeat logins opens up bigger potential rewards
  25. 25. Don’t punish people for taking a break • Psychologically, punishments or the possibility of punishment deters unwanted behavior • Base/castle raided, loot stolen, crops withered, troops dead, account de-activated, etc. deter players from being away too long • But it can be a two-edged sword • Players sometimes need to take a break (exams, vacation, illness) • Punishment may drive re-activated users away again “I just got back from vacation/work conference/being sick but my base is completely destroyed, my resources are gone, troops are dead. No point in getting back in the game since I lost everything already.”
  26. 26. Don’t punish people for taking a break • It can sting but it shouldn’t handicap you permanently • Limit amount of resources that can be looted or # times you can be attacked while gone • Enable shield or protection time if you lose a significant amount • Mix positive reinforcement with punishment • Quick one-button rebuild • Resources still available for harvest • Gain XP or gold while away
  27. 27. Keep players busy! More things to do = more players staying • Solo and team PvE • Solo and team PvP • Asynch raids • Guild battles • World boss raids • Farming • Town Building • Weapon/Gear Synthesizing & Upgrading • Astral Collecting and Combining • Etc. It is important to pace the introduction of new features/gameplay modes to not overwhelm players with a long and intimidating tutorial.
  28. 28. Without progress you have nothing • The foundations of a F2P game are a strong RPG elements and a sense of progress over time • Building up account, leveling up, adding/improves skills and stats, etc • Surprisingly it’s more important than multiplayer Type % 50+ Plays % Buyers ARPPU ARPU Multiplayer RPG 2.6% 0.75% $69 $0.51 Multiplayer Non-RPG 1.0% 0.45% $9 $0.05 Single-player RPG 1.8% 1.29% $12 $0.10 Single-Player Non-RPG 0.2% 0.53% $4 $0.02 Deep RPG mechanics and multiplayer matter: • 25x ARPU for Multiplayer RPG vs Single Player non-RPG!
  29. 29. Asynchronous > Synchronous Type % 50 Plays % Buyers ARPPU ARPU Synchronous 1.4% 0.54% $43 $0.25 Asynchronous 3.6% 0.80% $88 $0.66 Both 2.9% 1.07% $51 $0.55 Single-Player 0.8% 0.85% $7 $0.05 • Multiplayer keeps players engaged and busy in the long run • But not all types of multiplayer are created equal • Top games have both synchronous and asynchronous multiplayer (more is better) • Asynchronous is better than synchronous because it allows players to play at their own pace and convenience
  30. 30. Best Practices for Optimizing Monetization: A happy customer is a paying customer
  31. 31. Shopping should be easy and frictionless • Location, location, location – make the store easy to find! • Make it easy to find the right item – Meaningful categories and item descriptions – No massive scroll bars • Mix soft currency and hard currency items • BUT – don’t try to sell too hard, too fast. First few sessions should focus on fun & giving players reasons to come back to play and get hooked.
  32. 32. Buy Screen • Bonuses % or/and items provide incentives for buying larger hard currency packages • Clearly call out bonuses of larger packages! • Make all packages visible in one page • Hide $100+ packages until after first purchase
  33. 33. Making the shopping experience interesting • First time buyer/ Starter packages • Seed players with some paid/hard currency and guide “intro purchase” • Deals/events to get people into the habit of spending regularly • Offer items that enhance the gameplay experience (not just speedups) • Intro the right items at the right time – Lvl 1 players should not be shown the lvl 100+ holy sword that’s on sale for $100) • Keep them coming back – keep store fresh by adding new items, unlocking items as players level up and featuring seasonal and time-limited items
  34. 34. Make sure players can spend as much as they want • The longer someone plays your game the more likely they are to buy and the less price sensitive they become • Give committed players the ability to spend at $1,000+ if they want • Have lots of items that are appealing and useful to a committed player and price them higher (if possible) than items meant for early/mid-game play. [Higher means $30-100, not $1000] • If you make a fun game, someone may want to spend an infinite amount. • Don’t create a situation where spending is capped by availability or utility. • Again, remember to make it easy for players to buy!
  35. 35. Best Practices for Community Building: When you’re here, you’re family!
  36. 36. Make it easy for community to build Chat, forums, player-to-player messages are all great Real relationships build when people interact. The more ways they can do it, the better.
  37. 37. Guilds are awesome • 100% of our top games have guilds • Guild members spend 10-20x more than non-guild members • Strong correlation as guilds improve retention and monetization with late stage players Some reasons they make a difference • Social incentives to return  I want to see my friends • Social pressures to return  I don’t want to disappoint them • Improves the psychology of purchases  I’m doing it for the team, not me • Upends the dynamics of pay-to-win  can set up a symbiotic relationship between buyers and non-buyers where both add value to the same group
  38. 38. Community Management and Customer Service If a player invests many hours into a game they begin to feel some ownership. It may be YOUR game, but it’s THEIR experience 1. Be visible – forums, chat, email 2. Listen to their concerns and acknowledge their emotions 3. Be transparent, honest, and accurate 4. Give advance notice of changes and downtimes 5. Don’t feed the trolls
  39. 39. Opportunity Complains Customer service is a chance to surprise and delight • Handle things quickly • Be generous with compensation • But don’t do something unless you’re willing to do it for everybody
  40. 40. Surprise and delight • IGG rewards its players with some resources after each of its weekly 30-minute maintenance
  41. 41. Have fun with your community
  42. 42. The Value of Developer Activity Keep feeding your players • Regular updates, new features, and events yield greater engagement and reduced fatigue. • Sales and specials can offer significant jumps in revenue.
  43. 43. The Value of Developer Activity Hot New Games Badges added Custom User Items New zone, XL, etc. Equips, Guild bonuses Halloween, sale Christmas event Guild wars FantasyOnlineRevenue
  44. 44. The Value of Developer Activity Front Page Badges Item promotion New Version Revenue Fantasy Online Asian MMO
  45. 45. The Value of Developer Activity Front page Badges added Expansion Labor day event Expansion Christmas update Expansion Easter event Expansion Expansion New Server Revenue Fantasy Online Dream World Asian MMO
  46. 46. THANK YOU For a copy of the presentation or questions, email davidchiu@gamestop.com For more talks & data visit developers.kongregate.com For web games contact us at apps@kongregate.com If you’re interested in mobile publishing it’s mobile@kongregate.com Follow us on Twitter: @EmilyG & @KongregateDevs
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