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Srinivas Gurram
Srinivas Gurram October 17, 2023

Let’s rewind the clock a bit. When I was younger, I remember getting hooked on Subway Surfers, an undeniable titan of the mobile gaming scene. It’s an endless-runner game that had my heart racing and my fingers swiping at full speed.

Fast forward to today, and Subway Surfers continues to excel in teaching us valuable lessons about player retention. Players love investing their time in games like GTA, League of Legends, Call of Duty, etc. These games offer a strategic challenge, fun, and excitement.

The global gaming market is projected to reach USD 376.08 billion by 2028, experiencing a CAGR of 8.94%. This growth can be attributed to technological advancements, the widespread adoption of smartphones, and the increasing availability of internet connectivity.

In this blog, we will discuss user (player) retention, why it is essential for gaming companies, and the valuable lessons we can extract from leading gaming companies.

What is Player Retention, and Why is it Important? 

Player (user) retention, in the context of mobile apps and particularly in the gaming industry, refers to the ability of an app to keep users engaged and active over an extended period. It measures how many users continue to use the app or play the game after their initial installation or download.

User retention is an important metric for companies because it directly impacts revenue and profitability. Here are a few reasons why player retention is important.

  • Leads to increased time spent on the game.
  • Encourages in-app purchases, ad views, and premium content purchases, contributing to app revenue.
  • Higher retention rates result in players staying with the game for extended periods.
  • Longer player retention increases each player’s lifetime value, making them a more valuable asset for the game’s success.
  • Retained players are more likely to provide feedback and insights on improving a game.
  • Games with high player retention are more likely to rank higher in search results and play stores, which can lead to more downloads and installs.

Lessons From the Top Gaming Companies

Top gaming companies mentioned below have honed their strategies, offering invaluable insights for others to glean lessons from and implement as per their specific needs.

1. League of Legends: Teaching the Basics to Retain

League of Legends excels in player retention through education and guidance. The game’s comprehensive tutorial is a masterclass in teaching new players the basics and fostering long-term engagement. 

League of Legends interactive walkthroughs is an excellent example of how to retain players through effective onboarding.

League of Legends

Key Takeaways from League of Legends

1. Basics of Gameplay: Learning the Ropes

League of Legends understands that newcomers can be overwhelmed by the game’s complexity. The tutorial introduces players to fundamental concepts such as moving, attacking, and using champion abilities. This gentle introduction ensures that even novices can find their footing.

2. Introduction to Champions and Roles: Guiding Player Choices

The tutorial continues beyond the basics. It also acquaints players with the diverse cast of champions and the various roles they can play. This guidance is invaluable for new players, helping them understand their options and make informed decisions about their preferred playstyle.

2. Battleground Mobile India: The Power of Personalization

Battleground Mobile India (BGMI) has demonstrated an exceptional understanding of personalization in the gaming industry, catering to individual player preferences and creating a more immersive gaming experience. This approach to personalization has set a remarkable example for enhancing player retention.

Battlegrounds Mobile India

Key Takeaways from BGMI

1. Customizable Settings: Tailoring the Experience

BGMI offers players a wide range of customizable settings, allowing them to fine-tune their gaming experience. Players can adjust graphics quality and control sensitivity and audio preferences. This level of personalization ensures that players can enjoy the game according to their device’s capabilities and personal preferences.

2. Character Customization: Unique Avatars

This game provides an extensive array of character customization options. Players can personalize their avatars with unique outfits, skins, and accessories. This lets players express themselves and fosters a sense of individuality and attachment to their in-game persona. The in-game store in BGMI personalizes offers and recommendations based on players’ preferences and purchase history.

3. Matchmaking and Ranking: Fair and Competitive

It leverages personalization in matchmaking and ranking systems. Players are matched with opponents of similar skill levels, ensuring fair and competitive gameplay. This personalization fosters a sense of accomplishment, as players are likely to have challenging yet enjoyable matches.

3. Candy Crush: Sweet Success with Push Notifications

Candy Crush, one of the most iconic mobile puzzle games, has mastered push notifications to keep players engaged and returning for more. 

The game’s approach to timely, relevant, and engaging notifications is a textbook example of how to maintain and increase player retention.

Candy Crush

Key Takeaways from Candy Crush

1. Daily Rewards and Challenges: Keeping It Sweet

Candy Crush leverages push notifications to inform players about daily rewards and challenges. These notifications serve as a reminder for players to log in and claim their daily bonuses, whether it’s free lives, boosters, or special candies. This keeps players engaged and eager to play the game daily.

2. Event Announcements: Building Excitement

It frequently runs in-game events, introducing particular challenges and limited-time levels. Push notifications alert players about these events, generating excitement and encouraging players to participate. These events often come with exclusive rewards, providing additional motivation for players to return.

3. Game Updates: Fresh Content

Candy Crush uses push notifications to inform players about game updates, including new levels, episodes, and features. And also it sends push notifications about limited-time offers on in-game purchases. This keeps players informed about the evolving nature of the game and encourages them to check out the latest content.

4. User Retention Campaigns: Re-engaging Lapsed Players

Push notifications are also employed to re-engage lapsed players. Candy Crush sends “We Miss You” notifications with enticing offers to bring back players who haven’t played in a while. This not only revives player interest but also encourages them to continue playing.

4. Minecraft: A Masterclass in Community Engagement and Game Improvement

Minecraft, a game that needs no introduction, has created a thriving, dedicated community of players. What sets it apart is the captivating gameplay and the exemplary way it leverages player feedback to improve the game and boost player retention continuously.

Minecraft

Key Takeaways from Minecraft

1. An Active Player Community: The Feedback Source

Minecraft boasts one of the most active and engaged player communities in the gaming world. This passionate player base willingly provides feedback suggestions and even reports bugs to the developers. This valuable player input forms the cornerstone of Minecraft’s ongoing success.

2. Responsive Developers: Listening and Adapting

One of the key lessons from Minecraft’s success is its developers’ responsiveness to player feedback. The developers consistently demonstrate their commitment to the player community by actively listening and making changes to the game based on this feedback.

3. Continuous Game Improvement: A Moving Target

Minecraft recognizes that to keep players coming back, the game must evolve. Regular updates introduce new content, fix issues, and refine existing features. These updates often directly respond to player feedback, reflecting the developers’ dedication to enhancing the player experience.

5. Subway Surfers: Winning Customer Loyalty in the Mobile Gaming World

Subway Surfers, the beloved endless-runner game, has crafted an outstanding model for building and retaining customer loyalty in the fiercely competitive mobile gaming industry. This game’s approach to engagement, consistency, and player rewards has set a standard for keeping gamers coming back for one more run over and over again.

Subway Surfers

Key Takeaways from subway Surfers

1. Endless Engagement: Keeping Players Hooked

Subway Surfers excels at keeping players engaged through its dynamic, adrenaline-pumping gameplay. The thrill of an endless chase, combined with the challenge of dodging obstacles and collecting rewards, creates an addictive experience that keeps players returning for ‘just one more run.’ This engagement is at the heart of Subway Surfers’ player retention.

2. Daily Rewards and Player Loyalty: Encouraging Regular Play

Daily challenges and rewards are instrumental in Subway Surfers’ approach to player loyalty. The Daily Dash, for instance, offers daily missions and rewards, motivating players to return frequently. The promise of a reward with each login keeps the game exciting and nurtures player loyalty. Players return daily to collect prizes, fostering a sense of commitment to the game.

3. Gameplay Balance: The Art of Challenge and Progress

Subway Surfers skillfully strikes a balance between challenge and progress. As the game becomes progressively more complex, it motivates players to improve their skills and set new records. This constant challenge and the sense of achievement it brings encourages players to keep returning for ‘one more run.’

Conclusion

User retention is the lifeblood of any successful gaming company. While attracting new players is important, keeping them engaged and satisfied is equally crucial. The lessons learned from top gaming companies emphasize the importance of seamless onboarding, interactive walkthroughs, personalization, rewards, community building, player and feedback.

Gaming companies can create an environment where players feel valued and will likely stick around by applying the above-discussed principles. 

As we talk about user retention here, it is the best time to talk about a potential tool that will help you retain users successfully, Upshot.ai!

How can Upshot.ai help? Join the Revolution!

At this point, you might be wondering, “These strategies sound incredible, but how do I implement them?” That’s where Upshot.ai comes into the picture.

  1. Personalization at Scale: With our intelligent customer segmentation and personalization tools, Upshot.ai enables you to create hyper-personalized experiences. It’s like having a one-on-one conversation with each of your customers, no matter how big your audience is.
  2. User Experience Mastery: Our seamless integration and user-friendly interfaces mean that providing a smooth user experience is no longer a mountainous task. You can design and tweak customer journeys that feel natural, enjoyable, and effortless.
  3. Gamification Unleashed: Looking to turn engagement into a fun game? Upshot.ai’s gamification tools allow you to design engaging challenges, badges, and rewards that keep customers coming back for more.
  4. Omnichannel Communication Hub: Be everywhere your customers are with our robust omnichannel communication platform. Keep the conversation flowing seamlessly across platforms, ensuring a consistent and engaging brand voice.
  5. Onboarding Brilliance: From the first hello to the successful conversion, Upshot.ai’s onboarding tools guide your users through the process with ease and style, all while keeping it personalized and engaging.
  6. Rewards & Incentives Reinvented: Tailor-made reward systems, easy-to-implement referral programs, and incentives that resonate with your brand – Upshot.ai’s reward and loyalty tools has it all covered.
  7. Analytics and Insights: Monitor, analyze, and adapt with real-time analytics and insights. Understand what wows your customers and continuously evolve your strategies with Upshot.ai’s powerful analytical tools.

Upshot.ai isn’t just a platform; it’s a partner in your quest to redefine the customer experience. With our comprehensive suite of tools, seasoned expertise, and customer-first approach, we stand with you in your mission to WOW your customers in 2023 and beyond.

Ready to take the plunge? Let’s turn the ordinary into the extraordinary together. Book a demo, and let’s get started! 🚀

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