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

The User State

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The user state is the unsung hero of game analytics. People spend countless hours looking at dashboards from reporting tables, analysing datasets built from purchases and session events but the user state is only remembered when some vital piece of information about the user wasn’t added to it.

Still the users state is central to a well built analytics system, especially if we are building your own in house.

So what is it? And why does it matter? Continue reading

Mastering The Player Lifecycle


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

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.

Continue reading