Article 9 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we saw how making it easier to buy resulted in a lot more sales; a conclusion that is not rocket science, but can be challenging to implement correctly. This week, we’ll take a look at some strategies that the top 50 have used to increase the number of minutes users spend in each session, and increase the number of sessions the users have per day.
Encourage More Sessions
Updating game content frequently keeps users engaged and coming back to see what’s new. While we didn’t see a demonstrable trend differentiating the top 50 from everyone else with regards to content updates, the developers we’ve interviewed are all fairly unanimous in this regard. Stale content kills long-term retention. And if you’re going to update your content, that might be a good time for a sale on IAP items.
Have a Sale
If you can, time your sales and content releases together. Playtika plans IAP sales when aggregate hard currency balances are low. Playtika also plans new content releases to go live during sales to give the purchased hard currency somewhere to go.. If customers don’t have a place to use their newly acquired IAP items, customers will just keep them in inventory, and you will see a resulting post-sale slump in purchases.
Reduce Barriers to frequent use
The first thing to do is reduce barriers to entry of additional sessions. Flappy Birds is a great example of how easy it is to get started. You simply tap on start and start flying the bird. And when you crash, you tap start once more and you start flying again. Compare that to apps where we’ve got to go to a splash screen, welcome menu, and options screen before we can even start playing. That’s a lot of work, particularly if you’re standing in line at the grocery store.
Another barrier to entry is not starting where you left off. If you’ve gotten to level 14 of a game on your tablet at home, and then pull out your phone when you get to the grocery store, will you really be willing to start all over again at level 1? Or will you close the app and play a different game? That developer has just lost a re-entrant customer. They just lost a potential re-order. What you want to do is use one of the game engines that will synchronize your progress across devices. I’ve got a screen shot of Amazon GameCircle here which has an active sync API that synchronizes the customer’s progress so that when a customer gets to level 14 on their tablet, they pick up right on level 14 on their phone; no barrier to entry.
Encourage Longer Sessions
One way to increase session time is to tune game difficulty. Imagine if you’re the small guy here. You’re going to do this once, and you’re to give up. That would get un-fun really quickly. But it’s not fun if you’re the big guy either. After crushing the little guy a few times it just gets boring. The top 50 do A|B testing religiously to tune the difficulty and find the sweet spot that keeps users in the game and increases IAP purchases. So absolutely do A|B Testing on the difficulty assumptions or other assumptions you make in your app. It’s free, and it’s surprisingly easy.
In the next article in the series, we’ll look at what you can do to see what’s going on with your customers inside your app, and how the top 50 use that data. For more insights on how to keep users engaged and boost revenue check out our free eBook, “In-App Purchasing Lessons from the Top 50 Game Developers”.
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