There are a lot of considerations you want to consider when developing a game, from IAP design, to level difficulty and more. While some of the basic considerations, such as “fun and engaging” go without saying, there’s an additional requirement that successful developers are increasingly taking into consideration when designing a mobile game: longevity.
Incorporate ongoing, perpetual content
In a study of the top-grossing freemium games in the Amazon Appstore, we found that 56% of a game’s revenue occurs after the first 30 days. And the players that stick around past the 30-day mark are willing to spend 60% more for in-app purchase items.
The depressing news is that about 80% of the users in our study didn’t launch the games again after the 7-day mark.
So how do you encourage more of those 80% to stick around? One solution is to design your game with a strategic approach of perpetual content. In other words, carefully create a plan to deliver ongoing, changing content. This is the approach that Wooga takes with their hidden object games, and they have been successful in their design goal to “make games fun for a year”! As a result, their customers have rewarded them with significantly higher revenues.
What does perpetual content really mean? Consider adding new game modes, outfits, weapons, maps or whatever else your users want every week or month.
Here are some other things for developers to consider in the longevity arena:
- Rewarding gameplay. Regardless of a user’s skill level, it’s important to ensure your players always feel empowered and good at what they do in your game. When tuning level difficulty, aim to maximize next-level starts.
- Multiplayer experience. We believe that few other approaches can come close to the long-term intrigue and comradery that a well-designed and well-supported multiplayer game can. Don’t just bolt on multi-player however; take the time to do it right, or it will actually hurt you game.
- Competition. Even if a player has achieved everything there is to achieve, they will still often find themselves wanting to reach for those best-of-the-best player rankings. Consider adding a leaderboards feature in your game.
- Low tension. With all of the competition and multiplayer experiences, it’s critical to also ensure your players are never afraid to casually engage in your app. Consider giving your game at least one stress-free engagement mechanic (like crafting).
- Diversity. The possible variations of building, costume and character designs are so vast that the creative gameplay choices are essentially infinite. With this approach, a player never runs out of options until they run out of bling. And you can always find ways to get them more bling…
- Complex strategy. While easy to learn and control, the depth of the strategic choices and their implications are impossible to ever fully calculate. Your players will keep learning forever.
So, there you have it—6 suggestions to help you create a long-lived game with better user retention.
To learn more about how the 50 top-grossing freemium apps keep their users engaged and spending, check out our recent eBook: “In-App Purchasing Lessons from the Top 50 Game Developers”.