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Flurry: understanding users key to games success


Steve Costello

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Flurry said that revenue earned from apps in 2012 will approach US$10 billion, with games taking more than 80 percent of the pie.

In terms of app consumption, Android and iOS customers spend more than 40 percent of their time playing games.

Flurry notes that “the most successful companies in the new mobile economy, from Electronic Arts to Zynga and Mobage to Supercell, deeply understand consumer behaviour differences by game genre”.

This enables them to identify different app usage, retention and demographics profiles for various titles.

Game profiles

Using a quadrant system referencing frequency of use and 90-day retention rates, the company identified “slots”, “social turn-based” and “resource management and simulation” games as sitting in the frequent use, high-loyalty sweet-spot.

Flurry said that while there is “significant potential” to show ads to consumers who use apps frequently, some popular games in this group monetise via in-app purchases.

This means there is still the option to serve ads to customers who do not pay for in-apps, in order to maximise revenue.

Strategy games fall into the frequently used, but low retention category – “the most intensive usage over a short customer lifecycle”. Developers here accelerate sales by driving competition among players and by encouraging fast game progress through premium currency spends.

Perhaps the most challenging category – low frequency of use, coupled with low retention – is home to card battle and action titles. Flurry said that the popularity of card battles in Asia, which is now spreading to Europe, is “even more impressive when considering the short time-frame developers have to drive transactions”.

Success here relies on “targeted user acquisition”, to avoid paying to acquire large swathes of users who will churn quickly due to the focused-nature of the content and/or game mechanics.

The final group includes games which are played infrequently but “can remain on a user’s play list for years”. This category, which includes solitaire and “endless” games, may lack the depth required to drive in-app purchases, but does generate significant ad impressions over time – which can also be used by developers to drive customers to better monetising titles.

User profiles

Different game types also attract different user profiles. Using a similar quadrant system to track average age and percentage of female users, it was noted that middle aged females are most likely to use solitaire and slots apps – which as already noted, have “attractive retention and usage metrics”.

Casino/poker games tend to attract older males, with younger females preferring social turn-based, endless and resource management and simulation titles.

The “hottest sector” of the mobile gaming market – young, male players – tends to be home to strategy, action and card battle games. This includes games which were identified as low frequency of use and low retention, reflecting the fickle and competitive nature of this market.

“These young men are difficult to corral, but can monetise at a rate that justifies the cost and effort of acquisition”, Flurry said.

Games loyalty matrix

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