How to maintain retention and revenue in the world of mobile games

Ljubica Rančić,
UX/UI LiveOps Team Lead, PlayStudios Europe

In the constantly growing and highly competitive gaming industry, very important items for the sustainability and success of the game are the number of players and the revenue that the game generates. Due to the great saturation of the market and the constant bombardment of players with various information, the biggest challenge is to provide interesting content that will keep the player in the game long enough. If the number of players decreases, the possibility of generating income directly decreases, and thus the product/game is called into question.

LIVE Operations team

In Playstudios, this issue was recognized as one of the essential focus points and so the Live Operations team was created and grew (LiveOps for short, refers to all changes, updates or improvements to the game that do not require the release of a new version of the game). The primary task of this team is monitoring the reactions and activities of players, then based on these statistics and analysis follows the construction of methods to motivate current players and increase the number of new players (both payers and non-payers), after which we move to the creative realization of mechanics ii the concept chosen as most appropriate to the current situation.

In order for this process to be realized successfully, first of all, a well-coordinated team of professionals from various domains is needed. The LiveOps team consists of product managers, art directors, illustrators, UX/UI designers, technical artists, animators, copywriters and quality assurance testers.

What sets Pop Slots apart (the main application being developed at Playstudios Europe) is that it is a multiplayer, real-time, social casino application. Such an environment increases the technical challenges for realization as well as the motivation of the players. The way the LiveOps team pushes the boundaries of these challenges is by creating additional in-app content that aims to animate players to play more and have more fun. In addition to the original main content (slot games themselves), our players are offered an additional layer of challenges (game challenges, daily challenges…), short or continuous events (MiniPop’s collections, PrizePath events, Stickers Album …), “arena” and “stand-alone shows” (WinZone, BingoHit), as well as adequately adjusted offers for the purchase of additional in-game currencies (Special Sales, One Time Sales, Limited Time Sales…).

Due to frequent changes and oscillations in the market, as well as with the LiveOps players themselves, the team has the additional challenge of constantly listening and adapting activities to new circumstances. The way these things are regulated is with good planning and analysis of previous results and markets. It is very important to use attractive topics, seasonal adaptations, and thematic events, and that when the saturation and reduction of players’ interest in approaching are noticed, the structures of these accompanying contents and their offer to players are changed. Sometimes a visual/conceptual change of events is enough, and occasionally it is necessary to construct a completely new structure in order to achieve the desired effect.

The variety of content available is crucial

One example of recently announced challenges that achieved good results and were created by the LiveOps team is Treasure Islands. With this three-day event, we “took” our players on an adventure of exploring three islands in order to find treasures. The goal of every challenge that is made is for the player to fulfill certain activities in the game and thus progress in the challenge and reach the reward. The mechanics more or less do not change from event to event of this type, but the scope changes (how many days the event lasts, how many steps there are in each day, what is the weight of which step/challenge, etc.), narrative and concept, race, collecting some specific things related to the topic, etc.) as well as the graphic language/style that will bring the narrative closer to the player in the best way.

In addition to the challenges related to the slot games from virtual casinos in the application, there are so-called “arenas” that periodically open and close and allow players to achieve great prizes through this type of additional content. Arenas operate according to a system of time-limited games/rounds with a predefined size of stakes and a guaranteed prize. These rewards are usually larger than the rewards in ordinary challenges and by being periodically active they represent very popular and successful events within the app.

The domain of marketing should also be mentioned in this context. Presence on social networks and interaction with the players themselves is extremely important. Since the focus of our application is on the social casino, the opinions and comments of our players are a very important and valuable source of information. Often, feedback from that side often modifies future events or current ones if technical possibilities allow. And by the fact that players get an up-to-date reaction from us, as a final result, we have a functional product that is in line with the needs/desires of the end-user whose motivation and time spent in the application is growing.

All of these activities together make up our formula for win-win outcomes.