The mobile app market is a highly lucrative and competitive industry, with premium pricing functioning as the most traditional form of monetization for app developers.
Premium mobile game developers' motivations are understandably very different from free-to-play, and only by analyzing actual player behaviour through data, can real insight be made into what is working, what isn't, and what can be improved upon in the game.
We have put together the top six reasons why developers should utilize game analytics and real-time marketing in premium mobile games.
1. Premium game developers often want to build on their existing game for the next instalment, so they may want to know how capable their players are, and what mechanics are too easy or too hard, to inform the game design approach. Even when the current game isn't due to undergo extensive fixes, it's imperative for a developer to learn from each release, so that old mistakes aren't repeated and learned successes can be capitalised on in future projects. Maybe a certain feature in a game doesn't get used, but the developer had a strong preference towards it - reusing the same feature in the next project would be a waste of precious time and resources. Instead, analyzing how each level of the game is received, helps them to develop according to players' needs and demands, which ultimately enhances the overall player experience.
2.Acquisition is not just vital for free-to-play. In premium games, it is still important to find out which channels are most cost-effective for finding both engaged players, and social players who virally promote your game. To do this, K-factor analysis can be used to measure the rate the game is growing through viral activity online, and acquisition source analysis can be used to determine the success of media campaigns, whether using advertising, social media or mailing lists. Knowing which channels provide the best return on acquisition investment, from the campaign level, right down to specific advertisements, can provide insight into where increased spending can have the greatest impact.
3. A benchmark report on players' ratings and comments word cloud that shows word prominence against each rating given during early development, will also be of interest to premium game developers. If the ratings are low, they can dig deeper to understand the adjustments they need to make, to increase its popularity. Objective comparisons to similar games show where a game stands amongst its peers, what's been implemented well and which particular features are missing.
4. It is essential to know how the game is performing and whether there are any problems. Potential problems can then be rectified for groups of players, through game balancing. It is valuable to track difficulty and see if there are any red flags. Do players understand the game? Are the vast majority of players dropping off at a certain point? Why are they dropping off? It's all about using analytics to sense check the experience with the masses. For example, if the game is aimed at a young audience, a developer would look to ensure players don't get stuck on levels, and that they have a good understanding of what to do. Understanding the data to influence the design is best.
5. Although not necessarily critical, knowing why and where people leave a game, and whether it is value for money, is extremely useful. If players can get enough use out of the game to justify their initial expenditure, it can positively inform future purchases. To do this, it is important to know how long players play for. For instance, if they pay $60 for a game but put it down after five hours, that's $12 an hour, which is a lot of money for such a short time. Did they simply complete it faster than expected? Maybe it's too easy? Maybe they got stuck at a certain point, got fed up and never played again? While player feedback from comments and ratings can be a valuable tool, it is not always representative of the whole player base - most feedback is usually at the extremes of people who either absolutely love, or unequivocally hate the game, and ultimately a vast majority of players will never provide any feedback at all. Developers should not always count on feedback, but they can always rely on data.
6. Cross promotion can be important for premium games. If a player is at risk of churning from a game, it is still beneficial to retain them as a player within the franchise. In this case, in-game messaging could be used effectively to encourage a transition - a download link could be provided to make the transition as smooth as possible. For example, if a developer has made an exciting new game, but has lots of players from an older game, they would be prime candidates to become fans of the latest release. In-game messaging can be utilized for players who are engaged with an older game, thereby encouraging them to be loyal to the franchise as a whole.
If players have a pleasant experience when monetizing in a game, they will be more likely to repeat the action and spread the word. To ensure this, developers should keep player enjoyment at the top of their priority list at all times. If data is used to ensure players are continuously happy and engaged, it will significantly increase their chance of developing successful games.