Just in time for GDC – So you have a game… ever thought of engagement?
Our very own Tal Gurevich, a team leader in our account management division, is speaking tomorrow at GDC Europe, Europe’s biggest conference for game developers. So just in time for that, we thought we’d republish this post from March about how game developers can better engage their players and boost their DAU/MAU — the ratio of daily active users to monthly active users.
So you have a game… ever thought of engagement? Sure you have. But before you do anything about it, you may need to go back to basics. See, we talk to a lot of game publishers at conferences. They often like to boast about their daily-to-monthly active user ratios; the type of data that might show us just how successful a game they have. We usually take a look at their numbers and ask them two simple questions: “How do you engage users outside the game? And how do you manage those statistics?” Oddly enough, most game developers don’t even consider how practical it is to generate those ratios out-of-game with a well-built Community Toolbar.
This past month, Conduit attended Casual Connect, a casual games conference where game designers, developers, publishers, and all those in the surrounding industry meet to discuss all things gaming. If you’re not familiar with Casual Connect, it’s one of those conferences where you talk all day, and party all night (gaming companies throw the wildest parties). This was our 5th time at Casual Connect Hamburg, and one thing we couldn’t help noticing this year was that one buzzword wasn’t getting the credit it deserves: Engagement. So we made sure to bring the word back into the game.
If you have a Facebook casual game in your portfolio, you endlessly try to optimize players’ engagement. In fact, you fuss over engagement stats quite a bit. One way to do that is to compare the ratio of daily users to monthly users. In other words, how many of your unique monthly users return to play on a daily basis? There are many ways to boost this ratio, and the best ways usually include direct communication with your players. You can communicate game stats, incentives, premium content, events… anything to bring them back to the game. Sometimes, return play is built into the game (like coming back to harvest your crops), but other times it can be quite a challenge.
Today, we’re at GDC – Game Developers Conference – and once again, we want to communicate the point of going back to basics. GDC is a lively conference that attracts a variety of attendees ranging from programmers, game designers, artists, producers, audio professionals, and business developers. The conference takes place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA from March 5-9. It gathers over 19,000 industry experts and features over 400 lectures over the course of three days.
In conferences like GDC and Casual Connect, we like to show the game publishers we meet how a toolbar can do wonders for a Facebook game. When you build a good Community Toolbar, one that is filled to the brim with useful, dynamic content, it becomes an inseparable part of your product. A part of the experience. A Facebook game player will usually become immersed in this experience for the weeks or months s/he will spend in the game… Which means that game publishers who trigger successful player return are well on their way to bigger numbers.
Our publishers often offer their users exclusive rewards with their toolbar, as well as a way to keep track of their game stats while not playing. Toolbars usually also offer daily rewards, exclusive content they can only get with the toolbar, and other incentives that bring them back to the game on a daily basis.
If you improve the way you engage your users, you will see your daily game users start to jump back into the game. Here’s what it can look like:
If you’re a Facebook game developer, this sort of thing should knock you out of your tree.
Many of our game publishers report back to us with this sort of graph within just a few weeks of implementing a Community Toolbar. It turns out that if you find an engaging, effective means of communication, your players do come back! It just takes a bit of gentle reminding for them to pick up their rewards, harvest their crops, or perform certain worthwhile actions. That’s usually enough to trigger more minutes of play. And yes, there is a direct correlation between how often a user is reminded and how high his/her return rate is.
And still, I met too many eager developers at Casual Connect Hamburg who would start backing away from me slowly and uneasily as soon as I mentioned to them that, aside from going mobile, or porting to the next big platform, they should seriously consider re-engaging their users with a Community Toolbar.
Don’t believe me? Think there’s a better way to communicate with your players outside of Facebook? You really don’t have to take my word for it. Create an engaging Community Toolbar, distribute it to your players, and send me your graph after a few weeks.