The Straw that Stirs the Drink
Engagement is the heartbeat of a game. It can be the difference between a few hundred and a few million players. Often engagement and retention are used synonymously and misused in my opinion.
It’s the most important metric and both retention and conversion do not exist without it. Retention is the result of sustained engagement over time. It’s a chicken and the egg type of thing.
Now More than Ever
It’s so important to retain players as the costs of user acquisition, cross-promotions and paid installs are in jeopardy of becoming lost costs. And once lost, they’re largely unrecoverable. Like money down the drain.
In today’s free-to-play model, never has it been more important to quickly engage players. In the iTunes App Store alone are over 140,000 active games. A few more than the average arcade. Given the short attention span of most players and various device distractions, they are within a few clicks from churning and installing some other free game.
A 2012 Playnomics US Player Engagement Study of social game players found that 85% of players do not return after their first day.
Jesse Divnich, VP of Insights and Analysis at EEDAR told GamesBeat “the window of opportunity to get a user addicted to your title is measured in minutes, not hours or days, and it remains a constant problem for independent developers.”
Analytics provider Apsalar concluded from iOS data that mobile game developers had “no chance of generating high revenue from in-app purchases without high engagement”.
Engagement is Serious Business
How engaging is your game? Watch others play and quietly observe. In the data you collect, how far do players progress in their first session? What do they achieve and are you motivating them adequately? Remember engagement leads to retention, and retention leads to conversion. One is needed before the other. I worked to make the early arcade games more engaging while at Nintendo, Sega, Atari and Namco.
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