5 Retention Strategies for Games Developers and Publishers

By Hayley Pearce | September 2nd, 2014

Effective retention strategies are the key to successful mobile game monetization. Creating a game, and marketing strategy, which hooks users in and keeps them returning results in good player retention levels and more revenue. There are different ways of measuring user retention, such as classic retention and rolling retention, but regardless of the type of retention you decide to target, there are various strategies to employ to keep your users engaged with your mobile game.The reasons why players decide to return to a game time and time again or start paying for a game differ slightly between, say, China and the US. Retention initiatives that work for Candy Crush may not be the same as those that work for Clash of Clans. The retention strategies that are most effective for your game will largely depend on: · The game sub-category or genre· Your user base· The target countries and locations That said, our selected best practice retention strategies below can be adapted to universally apply to all games, in all locations and for all target user groups. As is always the case when it comes to industry advice on how you should market your game and engage your users, we recommend you to take these as a starting point and build your own retention strategy from there.

1. Have an engaging user experience and offer limited time in-game events

A game that users simply want to play is always going to be a major performer when it comes to good player retention. Creating games that satisfy users’ competitive hunger, making the gaming experience fun and just the right level of challenging is your first step to excellent user retention levels.One strategy employed successfully by publishers for retaining their players is the inclusion of in-game events such as the new characters/weapons available or log-in events like the ones we talked about in our Asian Beat instalment on the Japanese mobile games market, which offer rewards for completing small tasks and incentivize user actions, encouraging them to play on.

2. Send push notifications

Sending push notifications to users to in order to retain them is another of our top retention strategies. They push your existing users to start up your game again. Push notifications can serve to remind players about a game, or let them know that something within the game is now ready for them or needs their attention. They encourage users to continue their mission, complete the next level, or make an in-game purchase. Being fun and relevant, without annoying users with too much frequency or spamming behavior, is the aim of the game here.


3. Retarget users through advertising campaigns

Like push notifications, retargeting ads reach users who already have your game installed, while they are active on their mobiles. Retargeting has the potential to encourage once active but now dormant players to start playing a game again or prompt players who played a game just a few times to play more. Users can be segmented into different levels of activity and engagement to make retargeting more relevant.As both a re-engagement method and a retention strategy, it is effective because it can be used to target particular cohorts of users who have completed specific parts of a game and after specific time periods of inactivity.

4. Be easily reachable for your players

Making it easy for players to contact you can also help you retain users. For example, you could integrate a live in-game CRM system which allows people can talk with you in real-time. Giving them a voice and replying to them in a timely fashion to solve their complaints can turn even fickle and impatient users into long-term valuable ones.As a Google Play games publisher, you can communicate with users that leave bad reviews and back your corner a little, addressing any concerns they have raised or letting them know you are working on it. It is this kind of attention to detail that shows users you care and may help to retain them.

5. Track conversions, measure traffic source performance and optimize for high LTV (the king of retention strategies)

Tracking your user conversions beyond the download will allow you to define what makes a high LTV user and allocate your advertising spend to the top performing traffic sources.Post-install conversions might include:· App start· Level completion· In-app purchaseOptimizing for high LTV users who perform a number of these over a specified period of time (it can take a few weeks to optimize with precision) will see you achieve higher user retention, and continually improving and optimizing will serve to finetune your advertising campaign and obtain the most valuable users with the longest shelf lives.Which game user retention strategies will you be employing?

Hayley Pearce

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