It’s been almost two months since I started the blog and began writing about The Player Lifecycle. Next I will write about how to set up your game analytics stack and The Player Lifecycle has a central role, moving from a theoretical context to a practical one. Continue reading
I’m looking forward to moving to more practical stuff. To do that I need to wrap up the 101 posts of The Player Lifecycle. The one missing is Virality.
So, what is virality?
Virality is the game’s ability to acquire new players through actions of existing players. Facebook shares, tweets, SMS, invite codes, etc. All of these actions count as virality as long as they are trackable. This means that things like word of mouth don’t count. It’s a pity I know! A good game gains traction pretty fast through word of mouth, but we want measurable virality.
And so it begins. Acquisition is that special moment where someone opens our game for the first time. As magic as it is (and it is!) there’s quite a bit going on. Acquisition is important in a couple of different areas: the first, more business oriented, is marketing and user acquisition. The second is early knowledge of the player. Let’s begin.
Engagement is the most misunderstood and complex part of game analytics. The reason for this is that engagement is about fun and fun is something very difficult to infer. Average session length (measured in short units of time) and average session frequency (measured in a number of daily sessions per user) are often the metrics used to measure engagement. If we think about retention on a user count basis it is easy to see engagement as a session count and/or length basis. After all, the frequency at which players return and the amount of time they spend in the game should be good indicators of this, right?
As I see it, the difference between retention and engagement is not a matter of differentiating users from sessions. Retention is about returning to the game. Engagement is about interacting with it meaningfully. Sessions alone won’t tell you if players are having fun. Let me tell you a true story that will illustrate it perfectly. Although the story is a true one, data are illustrative.