Drew McInnes - Clash of Clans analysis
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Drew McInnes - Clash of Clans analysis Drew McInnes - Clash of Clans analysis Document Transcript

  • How We Can Make aGreat Game Even Better Andrew (Drew) McInnesandrew.mcinnes@alum.mit.edu
  • TABLE OF CONTENTSOVERVIEW 3  THE GAME 4  THE CORE LOOP 4  WHAT WORKS WELL 5  FUN PAIN CREATES TOP GROSSING GAME   5  SUPERIOR REVENUE STRATEGY   7  APPOINTMENT MECHANIC (THE GOOD)   8  WHAT DOESN’T WORK 10  APPOINTMENT MECHANIC (THE BAD)   10  VIRALITY   11  PRODUCT PRIORITIES 13  FEATURE RECOMMENDATIONS (SOCIAL)   13  FEATURE RECOMMENDATIONS (OTHER)   14  NEW FEATURE EVALUATION (RETENTION, REVENUE, REACH) 16  CHOOSING WHICH FEATURE TO IMPLEMENT FIRST   16  EVALUATING IMPACT OF SELECTED FEATURE   17     2
  • OVERVIEWClash of Clans (CoC) is my favorite game to play. So much so that my wife says that I am addictedto it. To which my credit card statement says that she’s right (hate when that happens – lol).But why is it that I’m on the fast track to become a “whale” of a spender in this otherwise innocuousfree to play game (FTP)? Welcome to what I look forward to learning in exploring: • Why the game is successful • How could the in-game virality be made stronger • What are the pros and cons of the appointment mechanic • Why the game’s revenue strategy is superior to that of other games • What should be the next five priority features on the product roadmapEach question speaks to what works in the game, and what can be better. Yes, I said it.Even though CoC is the best in class strategy game out there today as measured by its top billingamong all grossing games, I believe that it’s not without its flaws. At least, when I look at it throughthe eyes of a Level 54 player with deep behavior and business expertise, but more importantly asan avid gamer since the 1980s (yes, I owned an Intellivision set and lived to play Space Armada).Let me explain what I mean by first speaking to what works well in the game. Then to what doesn’twork so well. Before talking about some features I might consider adding to make the game evenbetter. One of which I’ll discuss how I would evaluate the potential impact of on revenue, retention,reach, and even engineering. First up though let me touch on what the game is all about and howthe core loop works in order to frame in the discussion as a whole.Please turn to the next page, and know that I wrote this analysis in a way that you can skip around.   3
  • THE GAMEAs you may know, CoC is a FTP, real time strategy game. Where you harvest resources, build anarmy and a village, and direct your troops in battling with other players or the computer. Battlesafford you the opportunity to secure additional resources for building your village:Screenshot of My VillageTHE CORE LOOPWhen you play the game, you engage in one of three core activities: collecting resources, buildingand training, and battling. Not all of the activities are equally important though. The importance ofeach activity is influenced by your ongoing goal in the game. Creating different game-play styles. Image Credit: Deconstructor of Fun   4
  • WHAT WORKS WELLFun Pain Creates Top Grossing GameUltimately what I believe makes CoC top grossing is the game’s use of behavior design to create afun pain that drives very solid retention and a whale economy. Where ARPPU of retained playersrises as average purchases increase in response to rising costs from making progress in the game.The game’s emphasis on playability over everything else also makes CoC accessible to casualgamers without alienating hardcore ones, who will really appreciate the depth beneath the surface.Thanks to a complexity of layers created through the game’s balanced loop, compelling graphics,and smooth gameplay that allow a broad audience to create an emotional attachment to the game.If interested in understanding what I mean by fun pain, I offer up an explanation below. Beforewalking through an example of how CoC creates fun pain to breed retention and revenue success.Saving my thoughts on mechanics/features that I like for driving playability for a future discussion.What Fun Pain IsAs you know, in order to have a successful FTP game, you need to get players into the game(acquisition), keep them in the game (retention), and get them to enjoy the game enough that theyspend money on things that they value (monetization). All of which is hard to do without fun.But you can have a fun game that doesn’t monetize. Look no further than FishVille. Where 60% ofthe players found it fun to feed their fish everyday, but never felt any pain in doing so. As a result,they never purchased anything. Forcing Zynga to shut the game down this past December. On theflip side, you can also have a game that creates pain, but doesn’t monetize because it’s not fun.If only there were a way to create what Roger Dickey (Mafia Wars Founder) calls a fun pain inorder to make it easier to acquire, retain, and monetize players. Something that is simultaneouslyentertaining yet a little bit annoying. Like how Farmville players need to click squares to plant orharvest crops. Giving Zynga a chance to upsell players on pain-reducing items like tractors, whichsave players from a lot of clicking and provides Zynga with a significant amount of revenue.How to Create Fun Pain that Breeds SuccessNow incorporating fun pain into a game is both art and science. That CoC takes to a whole anotherlevel as seen in the game’s battle play mode. Where CoC uses four features to create, elevate,and remedy a fun pain that I believe is what drives the game’s retention and revenue success.Starting with the use of 3D-View and Fight-Replay features, CoC creates an extraordinary fun painby allowing a player to watch his battle unfold from start to finish. Knowing that when a human   5
  • being can watch any form of competition that he’s an active participant in unfold from start to finish;anticipation, anxiety, fear, and elation come bursting out uncontrolled with every twist and turn inthe competition. Creating an emotional rollercoaster that is both exciting and unpredictable, andstems from higher levels of dopamine now surging in the player’s brain in anticipation of a reward.Whether that reward for winning a CoC battle will be more trophies, gold, elixir, or a combinationthereof is unknown to the player, and this uncertainty is intentionally baked into the game. Make nomistake about this. Designers of CoC and other games know that when you introduce a scheduleof variable rewards in any form of competition you can maintain a player’s dopamine levels at anelevated state, but this is where CoC’s designers innovated on this standard metal hack in games.By allowing a player to see every twist and turn in his battles using 3D Views and Battle Replays,CoC’s designers can actually elevate, not just maintain, that player’s dopamine levels. Providing foran even greater multiplier effect of this standard mental hack in games than what you already getfrom introducing a schedule of variable rewards. The result of which is longer periods of playerengagement with this core gameplay and other gameplay modes. As we know, longer periods ofengagement often lead players to create preferences, and preferences generate in-app purchases.In CoC’s case, players just can’t help themselves but to stay engaged because the “anticipation iskilling them.” When a player says this it signals to a behavior designer that the levels of dopaminein the player’s brain surpassed the point of chemically triggering the brain to enter a semi stressfulstate called desire. Where the brain is now in a frenzied hunting state that suppresses areas mostclosely associated with judgment and reason, while activating parts more closely associated withwant and desire. This is where the Next Battle button now takes over the job of driving retention.Let me explain by saying that now that the player’s brain is immersed in this “stress of desire,” theplayer’s natural instinct is to seek relief from this fun pain. Leading the player to jump on the NextBattle button in search of the perfect village to plunder, but this doesn’t actually provide relief. Ifanything, taking this action actually increases his stress of desire. You see our dopamine systemdoesn’t work to provide us with rewards for our efforts, but to keep us in search mode. So beforeour hypothetical player knows it, he’s spent 20+ minutes and $10K in gold clicking the Next Battlebutton again and again. Digging only a deeper hole that he will have to crawl out of to escape thisfun pain, and only made deeper when he finds a perfect village to attack, yet loses the battle.Welcome to the final aspect of CoC’s fun pain.When a player loses a battle or fails to seize the reward that he anticipated winning, his stress ofdesire is fast replaced by another wave emotion that washes over him. That emotion is literally atinge of physical pain. Activated by the same area of the brain associated with physical loss andnow triggers the brain to both feel the pain and rid the body of this mental agony of defeat. Greatjust when the player escapes the clutches of the stress of desire he’s greeted by physical pain.   6
  • Fortunately, CoC offers the perfect feature for vanquishing this final element of the game’sextraordinary fun pain, and from a behavior economic perspective, it’s what I believe drives a fairportion of CoC’s revenue. Finish Training is the fastest way for the player to get the troops that heneeds in order to get back into battle and win one. Winning a battle after a defeat turns off the partof the brain associated with physical loss and allows the brain’s natural “fight or flight” mentality totake over. Willing to do anything to admonish the agony of defeat. Even if it means slapping down$4.99 for 500 gems in order to use the Finish Training feature. The brain will do whatever it takesto get off this emotional rollercoaster – well at least until it’s ready to experience this extraordinaryfun pain again. Now this is how you manufacture desire that keeps free players engaged andprovides room for spending by whales. Bringing me to your question about monetization strategy.Superior Revenue StrategyI believe that CoC’s revenue strategy is superior to that of other empire-building games becauseit’s progression based. Meaning that prices only increase as a player makes progress in the game.Thereby creating a situation in which ARPPU goes hand in hand with retention.Please read on for a more detailed discussion of why I think this.Taking a player progression driven approach to monetization is superior because it helps CoC tobetter retain players for months and months and even years. Especially with the game’s decision toonly make new content available to loyal players. Providing for, you guessed it, another fun pain. Inwhich a player’s dopamine system sets the brain aflutter again with anticipation of what newcontent (i.e. variable rewards) that this player will be able to unlock and interact with next.Compare this to a game like Kixeye’s Backyard Monsters. Which is quite successful in monetizingon the desire for revenge, but some players say that their desire for revenge starts to waneknowing what the likely outcome will be. Leading them to stop playing the game altogether havingonly picked up the game two months prior. This is code for their anticipation “stopped killing them.”Another reason that this progression based monetization strategy is superior is because it doesn’tcripple the experience for those players that don’t pay like other empire-building games do. ZyngaI’m looking at you. Where in Coasterville I find it really tough to progress beyond level five withouthaving to part the “Red Seas” of my wallet. To which I say that if you’re making a FTP game, makesure it’s really free. I recognize that making a FTP game requires a change in mindset from that ofthe bygone days of say paid console games, but if you can make the shift, you stand to capture theconsumer and producer surplus you’re leaving on the table by not making your game truly FTP.Granted that in CoC there is a lot of waiting around that can cripple the experience. As you wait fornew armies to be trained or upgrades to finish once you get to level twenty. At that point, the gametruly revolves around the concept of “time is money,” but if you have time-consuming actions, thegame never forces you to buy gems to speed up their completion. Instead, CoC allows you to do   7
  • other things and sends you a notification when your actions are completed. This in turn makes theplayers who I talked to feel less anxious about playing the game, perceiving that no one is trying toswindle them out of their money. Nice way to create “true fans.” Nonetheless, let’s take a closerlook at this “time is money” concept by looking at the appointment mechanic in the game next.Appointment Mechanic (The Good)In my experience with the game, I find that the appointment mechanic does some things well andother things not so well. Please read on for the “good,” and see the next the section for the “bad.”We know that appointment mechanics are a powerful way to retain and engage players, and thesemechanics work best when players can schedule their own appointments. Players who can choosetheir own appointment schedule are much more likely to come back each day and remain engagedwith the game. But how do you retain and engage players when the time in between appointmentsgrows longer and longer because of the game’s use of a progression based monetization strategy?Welcome to the question that CoC addresses in quite a meaningful way.Let me explain how.Meaningful Downtime MechanicAs an avid gamer I typically find that games relying on appointment mechanics as part of their wayto keep me engaged have trouble addressing the downtime that arises in between appointments.Struggling to figure out how to best keep me entertained during these periods of time given that themost engaging gameplay and core mechanics are intertwined with these downtime-creatingappointment mechanics. For instance, in Tiny Monsters, the only thing that I can do as I wait for mytiny monsters to breed and hatch is to re-arrange my village – really shallow gameplay.In this sense, CoC is no different, and actually faces a greater challenge in keeping players like meengaged during what are now longer periods of downtime. All because of how the game punishesus through its progression based monetization strategy, which dictates that players who are furtheralong in the game have to wait longer and longer periods of time for upgrades of buildings andtroops to be completed. Where the amount of time that I once waited to say upgrade my cannonwas fifteen minutes, but now I’m at a stage in the game where upgrading the same cannon takestwo days. Leaving me to twiddle my thumbs for those two days wondering what else can I do.How CoC addresses this even greater challenge in quite a meaningful way is by making thecomposition of my village not only vital to my success, but also a downtime session for movingresources around. So that I can focus on better defending against attacks from other players whoare constantly exposing holes in my latest and greatest layout, and have access to tools for doingso. Like using Fight Replay to watch and learn from these defeats. As well as ask other players for   8
  • suggestions about how to make my defense layout better. Feeding inside of me an obsession withcreating an airtight defense to protect my stores of gold and elixir.This isn’t just a fantastic downtime mechanic, but a fantastic gameplay mechanic period! In that I’mnow playing additional sessions of the game that are even longer and more fun. As I invest severalhours at a time engaged in this meta-level of gameplay where I’m revamping my village literallyone stone at a time. Heck, this mechanic has even gotten me to make in-app purchases. After Isee that having a level seven cannon will not be sufficient in my new layout, I paid to accelerate theupgrading of the cannon to level eight to fend off attacks that are sure to occur while I sleep.What great care and attention that went into creating this mechanic, but the appointment mechaniccan be better. I discuss how so in the next section on the next page.   9
  • WHAT DOESN’T WORKAppointment Mechanic (The Bad)Again, appointment mechanics are a powerful way to retain and engage players and work bestwhen players can schedule their own appointments. I find this difficult to do in CoC, however. Nowthat I’ve reached a higher level in the game where upgrades of buildings and troops require severaldays to complete, and no longer can be done in minutes and hours. Making me feel frustrated bymy inability to play the game on a daily basis like I once did and enjoyed doing very much.Yes, I too have spent my downtime in between multi-day upgrades obsessing over how to perfectmy defense layout (see Appointment Mechanic (The Good) under What Works), but I can onlyobsess so much in this meta-level game play while waiting for my buildings and troops to finishupgrading. Before I become anxious to find something else to do in the game to pass the time.Ultimately, I want to get back to engaging in the game’s fun pain of attacking other villages (seeFun Pain under Successful Game under What Works), but what inevitably happens when I attackother villages as an alternative to obsessing over my defense layout is a huge waste of time andeffort. In that after I invest my precious time to attack a village someone attacks me (not a revengeattack). Seizing the gold, elixir, and trophies that I secured in my raid. Putting me back at squareone, where I’m still waiting for my upgrades to finish. This is truly frustrating – my motivation to playthe game is so high, but playing the game on a daily basis is now way too hard to do!One idea I have for ridding others and myself of this frustration is to make the game’s appointmentmechanic better. By improving upon the current “all or nothing” upgrade functionality. Where aplayer today must accept having to wait say the four days required to upgrade his Wizard Towerfrom level three to four, or not. If “not,” then he can’t upgrade his Wizard Tower at all.What if however we incorporated 1-2 other features so we no longer punish players for playing?BoostThe first feature could be a standard “boost” mechanic. Where the player can shorten his upgradetime for that Wizard Tower from four to two days. By paying 400 gems to only have to wait twodays instead of 800 gems to avoid waiting four days altogether.Pay As You GoWhat would be even cooler is if the player could pay as he goes. That is to say, he could pay forthe four-day upgrade in say twelve-hour increments. So instead of paying the full 1,280,000 in goldrequired to upgrade that Wizard Tower to level four, the player would make eight installment   10
  • payments of 160,000 each at anytime of his choosing, but for game-balancing reasons, he wouldnot realize the increase in “damage per second” and “hit points” from his upgraded Wizard Toweruntil he completes the entire upgrade.Why this would be very cool is that in the matter of five minutes twice a day I could enjoy the fun ofattacking a village and then the sense of progression from plowing my winnings into upgrading mybuildings and troops on a time scale that works for me. Where I play five minutes in the morningwhile on the train and five minutes in the evening before heading to bed. Thereby allowing me toget back to attacking and upgrading on a daily basis, and as part of a set routine when I playmobile games. Where I’m like everyone else in the sense that I mostly play my mobile games onpublic transport in the morning and right before bed in the evening as this survey shows. It’s reallya tragedy that CoC is not capitalizing on this golden opportunity to help higher-level players like meto get back into playing the game on a daily basis like we want to be doing.Now I should mention one important design and development caveat here. My proposed Pay AsYou Go feature would likely require a greater amount of design and development resources thanthose that would be required to deliver my Boost feature. Nevertheless, my hypothesis is that thereturn on Pay As You Go would more than justify this greater amount of required investment. Asmeasured by the increase in the number of retained and monetized users at later stages of thegame. That is to say, CoC would be able to drive higher volumes of revenue from now having anappointment mechanic that can actually capture the game’s producer surplus of “minnows” and“dolphins” like me. Who are willing to pay something to reduce upgrade times because we want toget back to playing the game on a daily basis, but are less likely to pay the “full upgrade cost” like a“whale” of a player would in order to keep on playing the game everyday.ViralityNow another aspect of the game that could be made better includes the game’s virality features.Where I see room for improvement in the clan and friend features that CoC uses to drive in gamevirality, and others and I find to be disappointing in making our game experience more fun andpleasurable. We want to have better ways to play together in the game starting through the clans.ClansToday there’s no real upside for becoming a member of a clan. Unless you count getting a few low-quality reinforcement troops for your next attack or defense worthwhile. Or you’re one of the top tenperformers in the one clan that gets a reward each week for wreaking the most damage among allclans. So I guess clans could be fun for you, but not for the vast majority of other players like me.What I believe would make clans more attractive to join for the vast majority of us “non top decile”performers is providing for more interaction between clans. Say through clan tournaments, or even   11
  • quest systems. Where two clans are paired together to achieve another goal other than amassingas many trophies as they can. Like destroy 1,000 builder huts in a week and receive 20 gems. Thiscould require the clans’ members to interact on a daily basis in order to coordinate everyone’sefforts toward achieving the goal. Anything that would get more interaction going on between clanssure would be a step in the right direction from an in game virality perspective.FriendsEven CoC’s team acknowledges the importance of increasing interaction between players, havingsaid, “the most important reason CoC players keep on returning to the game is other players.”Players want more ways to play together. So you can imagine how disappointed a player is whenhe connects to the game through Facebook or Game Center, only to be able to see which friendsare playing the game and visit their clans, but can’t attack, message, and gift any friends. Nor invitenon-playing friends to play. What kind of in game virality is that – definitely room for improvement!MapOr how about including a map in the game?Like the one that Kixeye added to War Commander last fall after having success with it in BackyardMonsters. As this article says, “adding a world map in [War Commander] led to a major lift inretention and monetization.” Makes sense to me. Having used the map in Backyard Monsters tocreate a few neighboring rivalries for myself when I played that game and that wouldn’t have comeabout if not for a map like the one below. The rivalries sure kept me playing and spreading thegood word about the game to several people. Here’s an example of the Backyard Monster map. So why not test this feature in CoC as another way to increase interaction among clan members. Where they can now create rivalries by picking which clan to do battle with as part of a tournament. Or if CoC ever lets friends attack other friends and rivals, then this map is sure to get me going too. Now that we have a sense of what doesn’t work well in the game as well as what does work, let’s talk about how to make the game better.   12
  • PRODUCT PRIORITIESWithout knowing the business needs of CoC, or having access to data to understand these needs,I believe that the game would stand to benefit from delivering a better system of social rewardsthrough the game’s clan feature. Bridging the gap between the rewards of competition andcooperation the feature only scratches the surface in delivering today and CoC’s acknowledgmentthat the most important reason players return to the game are for the rewards of the tribe.Before continuing on, I should say that how I design and prioritize new features typically starts withunderstanding the needs of the business. Then translating the business needs into product needs.Before working with design to translate the product needs into features; and in the case of games, Iwould also work with design to fit these new features into the game’s fiction space. So they makesense to players. Finally, I would take this second cut of priority features and work with the team tofinalize their priority based upon the cost and time to develop each feature.Feature Recommendations (Social)Now I took this approach in coming up with three priority features for delivering a better system ofsocial rewards, even though I had to improvise at certain stages in the process:Clan ChallengeThrough this first feature, two clans can challenge one another to a one-week competition. Whereonly the clan leaders can accept or decline the challenge. If accepted, then whenever members ofthe clans were to select the attack button, they would attack a village from their rival clan.Now whichever clan has the greater number of trophies at the end of the week would be declaredthe winner. With each member of the winning clan receiving 100 XP and 50 gems from the losingclan. Of course simulations would need to be performed to ensure proper game balancing.This feature marries the tribal rewards of competition and cooperation nicely in driving higher levelsof retention and monetization. Providing another economic sink for gems that could producerevenue from losing clan members who must buy gems to cover their portion of the collective lost.Not to mention any gem purchases made by either team during the competition, even if the amountpurchased exceeds that of the reward. Never underestimate the behavioral economics of rivalries.Finally, different metrics could be used to iteratively test and build this feature, which can reside inthe clan chat page and leverage the same functionality that already exists for donating troops.   13
  • Clan MapIncorporating a map of all of the clans could then drive even higher levels of retention through theClan Challenge feature. By allowing clan members to track their collective progress towardconquering neighboring clans on the map in their quest for more purposeful, tribal gameplay. Withthe map also helping to drive increased amounts of social interaction on the Clan Chat page. All ofwhich further feeds the player’s sense of rivalry and camaraderie that in turn drives retention.Dueling MembersClan members also want to interact more around how to build defenses or pursue attacks, butdoing so today is just way too hard. Given that the only tool clan members have to engage in thiskind of interaction is the Clan Chat. Yet providing this kind of advice strictly by text just doesn’twork. Players need to incorporate visuals into this form of advice giving in order to be effective.The best solution that exists today for engaging in this kind of interaction is YouTube, which offerscountless videos on how to defend and attack your CoC village. The problem though is that thesevideos are only a one-way communication medium. Making it difficult for a player to gain clarityaround why whoever created the video made the defense and attack decisions that he made.The good news though is that this YouTube activity shows that people clearly want to engage inthis type of interaction. Demonstrating a high likelihood that if CoC were to develop a feature thatprovided two-way communication, the return on development dollars would be meaningful.One way for improving on the YouTube solution is by developing the Dueling Members feature. Inwhich a clan member can challenge another member of the clan to attack his village, and if thechallenge is accepted, the attack is recorded using Fight Replay. Then the clan member who wasattacked can watch the video and ask questions afterward using the Clan Chat page.Dueling Members is a step in the right direction. Delivering the tribal rewards of competition andcooperation that clan members want to have with each other as well as higher levels of retention.Particularly among players who are about to quit the game because they’re always losing in theirattacks or defenses. But would stick around if an experienced clan member could coach them.Feature Recommendations (Other)This now brings me to my two final priorities on the game’s product roadmap. Yes, I still believethat improving upon the game’s social experience through the three features proposed above is“mission critical.” But I don’t want to leave out two other priority features that I believe can also helpto take the game’s retention and monetization success to the next level.   14
  • BoostThe first feature would be the Boost feature that I proposed in Appointment Mechanic (The Bad) inWhat Doesn’t Work. Where the player can cut the amount of time in half that it takes to upgradebuildings and armies when the upgrade times exceed two days. I believe that this feature is worthbuilding and testing. As a solution for helping mid to later-stage players remove the upgrade frictionthat makes it tough for them to play the game on a daily basis. Like they once did and want to getback into the habit of doing. The results of this initiative can then be used to gauge the viability ofiterating to the Pay As You Go function that I also proposed in the same section as Boost.Wall Mover (Proposed Before Latest CoC Update That Includes Feature)Finally, one of the best fun pains for a player in the game to engage in beyond the core gameplayis re-arranging his village. The fun lies in the promise of winning more trophies through moresuccessful defenses, while the pain lies in having to move the walls of his village.Having to move the walls of his village one stone at a time becomes excruciatingly painful to do formid to later stage players with anywhere from 100 to 200 stones to move. Made even more difficultby having to move the stones on a tiny mobile device screen. Eventually leading some players tosay, “why bother to re-arrange my village anymore, the hassle of moving the walls is too much.”From a behavior design perspective, this is well known signal of a user that is likely to engage lessand less with the product going forward. Not good for driving retention of a player who is just nowat the point of the game where he’s invested enough of his time that he will start to spend money inorder to preserve the investment of his time. So why not hit two birds with one stone.I propose developing a Wall Mover feature that not only makes it super easy for a player to movehis walls, but also in making his first purchase in the store a no brainer. By selling the player thisWall Mover for $0.99. The objective of this no brainer first dollar is to get the player to spend for thefirst time, not to maximize revenue. Making it incredibly easy for the player to spend the $0.99 thathe’ll perceive as an excellent value investment for preserving his time invested in the game to date.Now let’s talk about which feature to implement first.Please turn the page.   15
  • NEW FEATURE EVALUATION (RETENTION, REVENUE, REACH)Choosing Which Feature To Implement FirstTaking a Goal Oriented ApproachSay that we observe a declining trend in the game’s ARPPU over the last three months. In peelingback the layers of this onion, we uncover an actionable insight. The game is drawing fewer playersalong its revenue curve (see below) from Point A to Point B because of an increasing rate of churnamong the minnow spenders in the game. Creating a trickle down effect that adversely impacts theconversion rates of minnows into dolphins and dolphins into whales (Point C). That is to say, thecontinued ability of the business to profitably scale CoC net of marketing and development costs.Drilling Into the Problem Revenue CurveProduct wise, we might then determine that this rate of higher churn is attributable to a decrease inthe “win/loss” ratio among level 25 to level 30 minnows that spent $4.99 to buy 500 gems, andused the gems to accelerate the training of troops for raids or upgrades of buildings for defenses.Only to lose more often than previous cohorts did as measured by their aggregate “win/loss” ratios.Leading us to next perform another statistical analysis. That reveals the decline in this “win/loss”ratio across the last 12 monthly cohorts of level 25 minnows is positively correlated to thechallenge that these minnows face in finding a combination of troops or buildings that will generatewins in their first five raids and defenses after they gain level 25 status.What this means is that from both a business and product perspective, our goal is to help morelevel 25 minnow spenders in the game get over this first major progression hump. In order to stemthe decline in ARPPU and preferably without tinkering with the balance of this well balanced game.Design Solution (Dueling Members)One solution for drawing more of these minnows along the revenue curve is the Dueling Membersfeature (see Product Priorities). In that this feature builds on a behavior that these minnows already   16
  • engage in today. Only that Dueling Members makes it far easier to solicit and receive high qualityadvice from fellow clan members than the two clan-based features that players can use today to doso. Thereby providing the minnows, and heck their fellow clan members too, with a tool that theywould truly value. For honing their abilities to wage effective raids and laydown better defenses,and more importantly, removing the frustration that leads these minnows to stop playing. Placingthem on a path to become long term, high-spending players, without charging them for the feature.Evaluating Impact Of Selected FeatureWhat I mean is that CoC employs a progression based monetization strategy as discussed in WhatWorks in the game. Meaning prices for items and upgrades only increase as a player progresses inthe game. Creating a situation in which ARPPU goes hand in hand with retention – more progressthe player makes, the higher his average purchase will be (for the same items and upgrades heacquired before). Meaning retention rates are truly the bellwethers of success in this game.RetentionSo let’s first evaluate Dueling Members’ impact on retention – by architecting an analytics systemto capture and monitor the effect of this new feature on the retention rate of our target minnows.How we would build this system is by collecting the telemetry data in the game and translating thedata into metrics for understanding Dueling Members’ impact on the retention profile of our targetminnows. First mapping the retention profile of level 25 minnows over the last 12 monthly cohortsby retrospectively indicating engagement and retention metrics. Before next evaluating how threefeatures in the game today impact this retention profile and its correlation with the “win/loss” ratio.Thereby providing us with a proxy against which to evaluate the impact of Dueling Members inmoving retention. Given that Fight Replay, Clan Chat, and Village Visit target the same importantyet unsatisfied job that Dueling Members is targeting and can do a better job of getting done.Retention and Engagement Metrics to TrackPrimarily measured by DAU and its correlation with the “win/loss” ratio. I believe that DAU retentionby days is the king of all general metrics in the game and the “win/loss” ratio is the most importantin game activity metric to track for moving the needle forward on the retention of our targetminnows. Before stating all metrics that we should track, let’s first contextualize their importancethrough the diagram on the next page.   17
  • Retention and Engagement FlowsPrimary Metrics to Track (For Answering the Questions that Follow) • DAU Retention by Days o What is the current retention profile of our DAU minnows by calendar days o By how much does the new feature improve this current retention profile o By how much does the new feature improve the rate of reactivated users o How do these improvements compare to those brought about by existing features • DAU/WAU o What is the current engagement profile of minnows o By how much does the new feature improve this current engagement profile o How does this improvement compare to that brought about by existing features • “Win/Loss” Ratio (In Game Activity Metric) o How well does this ratio predict churn among our target minnowsMore Granular Metrics to TrackMore granular metrics that we would track, analyze, and optimize would be determined by runningA/B tests. Analyzing the conversion of minnows that use Dueling Members versus any combinationof the three aforementioned features in the game today, or choose not to use either feature set atall. In turn allowing us to segment our target minnows by those that are most likely to convert tousing Dueling Members based upon attributes like level of play, hour of day, etc. All of which weneed to optimize the feature to further drive retention via the feature’s in-game virality mechanic.With this said, our A/B tests are most likely to reveal the need to track these more granular metrics:   18
  • • DAU/WAU by Feature o Existing Features (Fight Replay, Clan Chat, and Village Visit) § How frequently do our minnows interact with these features (all combos) § How do these interactions change as minnows make progress in the game § How do these interactions affect retention by days, sessions, session times o New Feature § How frequently do our minnows interact with Dueling Members § How do these interactions change as minnows make progress in the game § How do these interactions affect retention by days, sessions, session times § How do these effects compare to those of the existing features o Neither Feature Set § What percentage of our minnows use neither set of features • Playtime o How many more minutes of play does Dueling Members generate § By level, day, and time o How does this effect compare to that brought about by the three existing features • Drop-off Rates o By what level have 80% of our target minnows stopped playing the game o What effect does either feature set have on reducing drop-off rates by level o How does this effect compare to that of the three existing features • Reactivation Rates o What effect does either feature set have on improving rates of reactivation o How does this effect compare to that of the three existing featuresNow let’s assume that the Dueling Members feature is moving retention of our target minnows inthe right direction. That is to say, the feature is helping them to win more raids and more defenses.To the point where their frustration no longer leads our target minnows to stop playing the game.This does not necessarily mean that the feature is drawing our target minnows to Point B on therevenue curve. The feature may be doing so, or may not be doing so. We won’t know until we takea look at a few key metrics for evaluating the impact of the feature on the game’s revenue.RevenueLet’s begin by benchmarking the absolute revenue generated on a daily basis at both Points A andB today. Measured as a function of: (DAU) * (Buyers/Players) * (Revenue/Buyers). Where weinsert the number of minnows or dolphins where “Buyers” is indicated. Why also benchmark   19
  • absolute revenue at Point A is to see whether Dueling Members has a “middling” effect. That is tosay, the feature generates more minnow purchases at Point A versus more dolphin purchases atPoint B. It’s useful to know that the typical minnow and dolphin purchases at Points A and B are$4.99 for 500 gems and $9.99 for 1200 gems, respectively.Now let’s move on to diagramming the flows that affect absolute revenue at both points A and B.Using metrics that will allow us to measure how much Dueling Members contributes to absoluterevenue at each point and are spelled out in the following diagram:Revenue FlowsNext up then is benchmarking the impact of two in-game activities on absolute revenue: upgradingdefenses and accelerating upgrades. Measured by our target minnows’ use of Village Visit, FightReplay, or Clan Chat, or all three, right before these players spend gems purchased at points Aand B, and assuming that these two in-game activities account for the majority of gem spends.Of course, we’re also assuming that statistical analysis validates our hypothesis that changes inthe usage of these three features (as well as Dueling Members when implemented) are a strongpredictor of changes in the frequency of our target minnow’s defense upgrades and accelerations,which again directly impacts our minnows’ “win/loss” ratio that keeps them playing the game.Let the fun begin now. We would run A/B tests. Analyzing the conversion rate of our targetminnows into dolphin spenders right after using Dueling Members. Comparing that conversion rateto those conversion rates attributable to any combination of use of Village Visit, Fight Replay, orClan Chat, as well as to minnows that convert into dolphins without using any of the features. Wewould also run tests to determine the impact on revenue by minnows that use all four features.Much like we would do in evaluating the impact of Dueling Members on the game’s reach.   20
  • ReachLet’s think of Reach as the Princess in our royal family of game metrics, without which, Retentionas our King and Revenue as our Queen wouldn’t have loyal and profitable subjects to preside over.What makes for an attractive Princess of Reach is strong in game virality and game viralizationmetrics. Both of which Dueling Members can drive nicely. Here’s why. When our target minnowsduel with fellow clan members, that’s definitely something worth sharing, win or lose. And we’re nottalking about posting “brags” on the minnow’s Facebook timeline. We’re talking about posting thevideos of the duels themselves. So friends who also play the game can see how to lay down betterraids and defenses, while non-playing friends can pique their interest in giving the game a try. Oh,let’s not overlook those friends who stopped playing the game altogether. They may reactivatethemselves as players after seeing how to improve their “win/loss” ratio through the videos.No matter the virality scenario. How we would measure the impact of Dueling Members on thegame’s Reach is by tracking the metrics in the following function: [Posts * (Receivers/Post)] * (ClickThrough Rate). In order to answer the question of how many DAUs do Dueling Members videosgenerate per post. We can then optimize for the number of DAUs generated per post of a DuelingMembers video by targeting the dialogue and clickers in the posts. Meaning that we should alsotrack the breakdown of the click through rate on an “installs” versus “reactivations” basis.Now that we have a way for evaluating the impact of our new feature priority on the game, we needto evaluate the cost of building the feature and getting it into the game. So let’s wrap up ourdiscussion by evaluating the impact of Dueling Members on the game’s engineering.EngineeringBefore evaluating the impact of integrating Dueling Members into the game, please know that I’mnot an engineer by training, only a product manager with some programming skills. So take what Isay with a huge grain of salt, and correct me where my thinking goes askew. It’s how I learn best.On the surface, Dueling Members leverages engineered assets that are already in the game today.Namely, the game’s ability to record and replay fights. What this means is that we may be able touse much of the code base for the Battle Log and Fight Replay features to record and reply duels.In terms of new engineering, we will need to replace the Revenge button for each battle logged andrecorded with a Share button in order to allow both playing and non-playing friends to watch theserecorded duels on Facebook and within their clan areas of the game. Swapping out the button froma frontend and backend integration perspective is not trivial. Mostly because of the need to post thevideos in the clan chat area. Even though posting videos to a player’s Facebook timeline should bemore straightforward upon reviewing the literature for Facebook’s API for posting video content.   21
  • How we would ascertain the scope and scale of these integration requirements as well as identifyother development costs is by asking the development team for a cost estimate. In the form of fivebullet points that we would ask the team to spend no more than an hour or two to complete, andexclude technology debt and maintenance, which we’ll assume accounts for 10%-15% of costWe would also ask QA for a cost estimate, which will take time to complete. Given that our targetminnows are highly unlikely to be the only players interacting with this feature. The majority of theplayer population is sure to interact with the feature. So QA will have its hand fulls.   22
  • End of Document   23