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Retention/loyalty in the nontraditional terms

A blog made by Chris Kjosmoen about my thoughts around loyalty + games.
Hello, my name is Chris, I am the founder of Ardoetia Productions and I have had a thought within a specific genre to easier understand the core values around retention/loyalty and how it applies to different platforms other than where they are traditionally referred to, the mobile marked. 
Note that this is my personal understanding and not all of it is scientifically proven or tested but it's what helps me understand the values across platforms. 
Most of this is an attempt to find a great solutions to collect information on how to place players within the different tiers of retention, how to improve the chances of them moving up tiers and what effect the different tiers has.
 
I have 5 different levels set up in this blog post regarding the concept of retention/loyalty. These five levels I have marked as follows:
Very Low Value
Low Value
Medium Value
High Value
Very High Value
 
The reasonings behind these names is purely to address the levels of retention in an easy to understand way. 
 
Very low value:
 
This is where the player has not provided any type of income (it becomes a gray area with ad based games). 
This is where the player just downloaded the game and is considering the game, these are the day 1 players. This is where a high amount of players stops playing in the mobile market. 
This tier is hard to place within the computer games, as the player has devoted his/her time. So when it comes to computer games this is easily placed under when a player plays a demo of the game. Other than that it becomes a gray area which makes it more difficult to place because this very quickly drains into the area of prospect development and possibly prospect>customer (Traditional marketing)
 
Low value:
 
At this tier the player has usually come from very low value and decided that they wants to purchase the game, they liked what they saw and they wanted to invest more time to the game. This is usually because they liked what they played/saw in the previous tier.
When a consumer comes to this tier they are loyal to the game itself which improves the company's income. These are also the players that clicks on opt-in ads, in-app purchases and other monetization.
This is where some of the players become promoters of the game itself.
 
Medium value:
 
This is where the player had great experience with the game and wants to get more invested in the games connected to this game, this is usually from the same company but it's not a requirement in this tier. 
To provide better understanding I will relate it to Mass Effect, the player that purchase Mass Effect 2, are the player that has evolved from very low > low > medium tiers. 
This is usually the players companies building upon sequels or expansions will aim towards. But this is potentially a double edged blade as it may invoke the player towards other similar games. Not saying this is of itself a bad thing. If the company focuses on a specific genre this is great.
This is where some of the players become promoters of a series of games or genre, they usually are a promoter of the game itself.
 
High value:
 
At the point of this tier the player has decided that they like or love a company in and of itself. They are highly likely to purchase any or many of the games a company provides. 
Here there are more safety-net to guesstimate how much income a company can establish from loyalty (minimum income). 
Example include that a player that loves Bethesda as a company or the services provided by them they are likely to have a positive bias towards the services provided in the future and then in turn likely to purchase from them.
This is where some of the players become promoters for the company.
 
Very high value
 
Here is where the most safe and optimal loyalty a player can have, this is the consumers that spends a lot of time on the forums, gives back to the community and generally, this is where they are very likely to try to recruit all their friends, this is where the promoters are. These are the almost safe bets on income. This is often where mod developers lands.
These players are highly biased towards the brand as a whole and will defend and promote them as much as possible.
 
 
So now we have set a clear line between the different types of retention/loyalty within my terms, this gives me the opportunity to draw conclusions and better provide information about why I care about these levels of engagement and how it plays a role.
 
Now with this established information I can then draw some conclusions. First off, there is a gap between the different types of loyalty, which is really important to the information that they wish to have.
To begin with, this draws a difference between going indie, because this puts our reputation at zero to begin with, that means that there is no existing knowledge of the company to begin with, which then immediately means we need to create very low valued customers to be able to turn profitability, this is a specific way of addressing the information conveyed. As an indie company we need to build the community from none > very high to have a stable income and the possibility to work full time with little to no risk.
On the other side of the table is using a publisher, although this brings a whole heap of other issues, they are already established, they have big numbers within all of the levels of retention and knows how to create new prospects. But it makes creating company loyalist way harder because most players wont check developer pane of the game.
 
Now with these tiers of retention when we have someone in a tier, we need to find a way to attempt to get our customers to climb up the tiers as high as we possibly can, this does however bring an issue as this means each tier needs/wants different information. A very low level player wants other types of information than a high level player. This is important to note because this means that within the different channels we need different communication styles or different amount of information provided.
 
Building on the last part there, we do need to be able to locate where the different tiers of retention use their time.
This is where I think it's important to have a clear difference between games and companies. Because this helps identifying how many the company has in each tier.
 
Very low value:
 
Likely not to be a specific part of any social media or follows either the game or the company, this means they are either browsing the game and learning that it actually exists. This has a huge spike to the difference of what they want to know about the game, one way these players can be turned into low value players by either
1: providing an excellent experience in the game
2: providing an excellent first impression
 
Low value:
 
Here its hard, because some of the players do follow the game's social media, but not all of them, which means that the updates and other relevant information may be best addressed within the game or on launch to provide that information.
The player is interested in that specific game's development in one way or another. They want to know if there are updates, new content or other relevant information. Now here I think it's important not to overdo information, I think it should be concise and to the point but I also think it should have personal touch and links to more details. One way of turning these players into a medium value player is by listening to the community around the game, provide support and try to be proactive and active with updates to further improve their experience.
 
Medium value players:
 
These are quite likely to like the game's Facebook page, follow the game's twitter and is some cases active on the game's forums.
Often these players are the ones that likes multiple of the company's games within the same genre, they often tend to follow and be engaged when big updates and expansions. These players can in some cases be dedicated to create mods or wiki pages about specific games or series. They can often create fan-related things like art of fan-fiction.
These are the players that is on the game's email list.
 
High value players:
 
Now here we start to get to the point where the group will follow the companies Facebook page, the company twitter account, may be engaged on multiple of the forums and even off-topic forum if that is provided. These are the players that follow the specific company related sites. These are the ones on the company website's email list.
 
Very high value players:
 
This is where all the true promoters are, these are the fanboys, the ones that follow everything you do, they will often send email to show appreciation and these are the ones that will send status updates or tweet about a company and praise the company to their friends. These are also typically the ones that create debates and discussions about the company. One thing I think we need to note is that these are usually the ones that create mods, the ones that create wiki pages, fan-fiction, applies for jobs etc.
 
Now these are just my thoughts on how to differentiate where players reside on loyalty, now it's hard to completely see exactly what the different groups wants to know. But it can be easy to draw the line between gaps on interest about specific areas.
For instance low>medium players is likely to want information relating the game itself, of course personality and other social things apply to gain interest but they usually don't want the company to succeed, they want the game to succeed.
When it comes to high and very high, they want to know about how the company are doing, what challenges we are facing or overcoming. These are the ones that wants the company to succeed.
With this information, I would say that tweeting about a struggle a company is running into which is not related to a specific game may not be relevant on a game's twitter, but an issue or information about the development of a certain game really is.
 
So in the end here I would like to add this is a living document and something that requires testing and polishing to be completely applicable so any information or feedback is much appreciated.
And another thing to note is that other developers have a tendency to go straight from none > high. And since most of the players are likely to be within very low and low these are very important tiers, these players are the impulse buyers or the effect of traditional marketing, so most players is likely placed within these in any given project.

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