Retention and Churn

This post was written 10 months ago… yep, right after Retention 101. Since then it has been in an out of the publishing queue. I’ve been picking up things to improve it but it doesn’t make sense to keep it out… and it took too long really! I wanted to improve it beyond this but it’s better to simply publish it and follow up if I make up my mind about what is that magical improvement than to leave it lingering in the Drafts section any longer.

This post is about ways of measuring retention, how each of them relates with true churn and which should be used.

Retention 101 post was an overall intro. I gave the formula generally used to calculate retention and mentioned there are other ways of calculating it. This post is about those additional formulas, namely rolling retention and rolling window retention and also about churn.

Each retention formula has strengths and weaknesses. Some are more adequate for reporting, other’s for modelling and each has a different relationship with churn. Let’s start! Continue reading

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Mastering The Player Lifecycle

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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

Virality 101

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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.

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Acquisition 101

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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.

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Engagement 101

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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.

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The Holy Trinity of Monetisation

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The term The Holy Trinity of Monetisation struck me when I was writing Monetisation 101. I had never read it and I’ll admit I even googled it just in case someone had coined it before. All performance dashboards that I maintain have a line graph with the three parts of this trinity:

  • ARPU aka Average Revenue per User
  • ARPPU aka Average Revenue per Paying User
  • Conversion Rate

These are the three most important KPIs of monetisation of freemium games because… they are free.

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Monetisation 101

My grandmother told me that great men have their faces on bills. Observing the picture above I believe it’s fair to say she raised me well! Or that I asked Pedro to put my face in it. You’ll be the judge of that.

On to more relevant matters…

Monetisation is the end result of our analytical journey, The Player Lifecycle. I’m a firm defender that retention is king and engagement the successor to the crown. After all without players that stay and love our games there won’t be anyone to monetise. But not admitting that the end goal in freemium games as a product or service is monetisation is to be naive.

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