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Online developers warn against using inflated MAU stats

Asian markets being used to exaggerate audience with no monetary value

Publishers are entering tough Asian markets in order to boost their headline monthly and daily active user stats - and failing to monetise the audience.

That's according to two online games developers, who warned against the false perception that MAU and DAU numbers are a measure of success, and that regions within Asia offer the biggest potential for growth in the online games business.

"Asia is not our highest priority," Gerhard Florin, chairman of InnoGames and former European exec for Electronic Arts, told GamesIndustry.biz. "It's good for reach and to have lots of MAUs and DAUs, especially if I go to the Philippines, but I'll never make any money there. They are huge Facebook markets but deliver extremely small revenues."

While the number of users on Facebook and free-to-play games makes a great headline, if that user isn't paying it's nothing more than a marketing figure, said Florin.

We're more interested in the revenue making than the millions of people inflating our servers but never paying anything.

Gerhard Florin, InnoGames

"We're more interested in the revenue making than the millions of people inflating our servers but never paying anything. The balance needs to be kept."

And in the online space where analytics and user behaviour is central to the design of a game, inflated numbers will only corrupt data, according to A Bit Lucky CEO Frederic Descamps.

"We've had a pretty terrible time, like most developers, in South East Asia - Indonesia, Malaysia, India. These regions only inflate your numbers and they muddy the water on the analytics side because you'll see an influx of 20,000 people, but right away we know that most of them are not going to come back the next day."

"And most of them have a pretty terrible connection so they're not going to enjoy the game. And they absolutely do not monetise," he added.

Monthly Active Users data is increasingly used a mean of measuring a titles popularity. EA's The Sims Social has been the latest to highlight the data, as it tries to catch up with market leader CityVille from Zynga.

But smaller publishers, like A Bit Lucky, are concentrating on their own doorstep to please a more local and loyal audience.

"To put it more bluntly in our case, we are targeting North America and Europe because those are the audiences that retain the best and monetise the best," offered Descamps. "So in some ways we're not spending any efforts to market in those other regions."

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Latest comments (5)

Martijn Reuvers CEO, Two Tribes5 years ago
I really don't understand why you should call this "corrupt" or "inflated" data. It is a different territory. You can't compare apples with pears. So to get rid of the 'corrupt' data, simply split your dataset into North America, Europe and Asia and keep track of every individual region. I think it is very interesting to keep track of the Asian region, to see how it will change during the months/years to come.

It is of course a different story if a company wants to boast on their MAU and DAU numbers by adding everything together, but if you do that, please don't complain about inflated or corrupt numbers.
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Another way numbers are inflated is with multiple accounts something online MMO's know very well but that is also a reality in Facebook games.
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There are many people that are quoting MAU and DAU numbers without looking at detailed numbers or fully understanding what they mean. There are no public reports that break out numbers by region, yet they're mentioned in practically every analyst report on the industry. EA stock is currently being valued based on the MAU and DAU numbers for Sims Social. The current approach in valuing the numbers is just to take a conservative monetization rate.

While "corrupt" may be a bit harsh to use because it implies an intent to mislead, it definitely isn't outside the realm of possibility.
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Gavin Hartman associate producer, Replay Games5 years ago
This seems pretty obvious-

"We're more interested in the revenue making than the millions of people inflating our servers but never paying anything. The balance needs to be kept."

DAU is the number that really matters.
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actually pro (paying version) of appdata does give you the regional break down of DAU & MAU per game and yes for many of the top FB games traffic from low monetization countries can be as high as 40 or even 50%
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