85% of social players quit after one day

Playnomics report stresses importance of longer term engagement

Audience management firm Playnomics has released a report on user engagement for social games it tracks, and the findings show that players aren't exactly patient in giving free-to-play titles time to hook them. The group found that from July through September, roughly 85 percent of new players in the US never went back to their games after the first day. And of those who joined in the first part of that stretch, 95 percent had become inactive by the end of September.

The study also looked into play-and-pay patterns for social games, which yielded a handful of other insights. For example, Friday and Saturday are the two biggest days of the week for people to actually spend money on free-to-play games, even though those are the two days when people have the shortest average time spent playing the games. On the other hand, Monday and Tuesday see the least money spent, but boast the longest average play times of the week.

Playnomics also revealed findings using its own engagement metric, which takes into account time spent playing, sessions played, days played, and actions per minute. The firm found that in the US, players in Oregon were the most engaged, while those in the Southeast are less engaged than average. Globally, the Middle East and North Africa region was the most engaged, overtaking Latin America for the distinction.

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Latest comments (8)

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 9 years ago
Longer term engagement is important, who would have guessed?
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The next logical question then is, are social games lacking in depth and hence longer term engagement (after all, if 75% quit, they might not be whaley enough to monetize in these F2P scenarios )

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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 9 years ago
Chee, 85%. :)

With an extra 10% inactive in the months to come.
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Show all comments (8)
Christian Lavoie Creative Director, Setgo Limited9 years ago
Something to remember here is that these numbers are always going to be skewed by the fact people can try games for free. They can try it, bin it, try another, bin it, try, bin it... and then maybe stumble onto one that they get sucked into and switch camps, from the 85% to the 15% of engaged. These stats are not saying "85% tried playing free-to-play games (in general) and gave up on day 1". They are saying that on average 85% of people that tried a game never returned to that game. The chances are that on day 2 a lot of these people will have tried another game.

I suspect we'd see very similar numbers if hardcore console games were free as well. I know that I've personally bought my fair share of 35 priced games, played them for 4-5 hours and then have never gone back to them. That doesn't turn me off hardcore console games, it just means I occasionally make a bad call (and paid the price for it).

Of course, it would be great if all these game developers had super engaging hits on their hands, but I think it's just as important to note that it's very encouraging to see that so many people are willing to try new games in the first place. If any of you/us make something really engaging there is a massive audience out there looking for it!
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@ Kingman - my eyes read 85%. my mind typed 85% my hands betrayed me with 75% maybe it knew something i did not (*grin*)

I guess the really bigger question I had in mind was , can Free to try (play) be self defeating to some extent, and as a viable vehicle/model?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dr. Chee Ming Wong on 19th October 2012 11:33am

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Dr., I don't see it viable for all game types. Some genres simply need a long term commitment to engage the player and a simple 1 time trial may not do the game a service. It's why a lot of console developers don't like creating demo's (aside from the fact it eats up development time, budget and resources).
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@ Jim - not to mention Demos are often separate "promotional" developments that may not be fully integrated into the final development :)
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Hugo Trepanier Senior Game Designer, Ludia9 years ago
Aside from initial financial considerations, every single game should come with a demo or a way for players to experience an initial portion for free. Trailers and screenshots just don't cut it compared to actually trying the game.

With so many titles on offer, I find nowadays that I rarely buy a game unless I have tried it first, so unless it has a demo or a very, very strong recommendation from trusted sources I'll likely skip it. Likewise, I have purchased games after trying demos for titles that would normally have escaped my initial interest.

This model serves free to play games very well. Since they typically lack the depth of more prolonged experiences, they need to hook the player almost immediately. There are too many titles available and people nowadays all seem to have short attention spans.

And let's face it, most small free FB and iOS games are not very good to begin with, so it's not very surprising to see people play them for 5 minutes and move on to something else.
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