Game Strategy: Keep Users Coming Back
If you have developed a game and released it chances are you received a good amount of downloads in the first couple of weeks. App Store users are always up for playing a new game. If your user base has stayed consistent or even grown then you may be on your way to a hit but if your daily active users have fallen then it’s time to think about how you can retain your current users to keep them coming back.
Successful games don’t just count the number of total downloads they’ve had, more important than that is the retention of the users for the longevity of the game. If you have promoted your game on one of the many app a day services then you’ve seen a huge influx of users and you can tell how you’re performing. If more than 50% of those users have left your game after the first week then you should think about implementing some of the features below.
1. Game Tutorial / Walk-through
If you don’t currently have a tutorial for new users of your game then maybe they don’t understand the objectives or know how to play your game. Before anyone can play the game on their own you should have a walk-through that shows them the key areas of your game. Included in this tutorial should be steps on how the basic game-play works, what they need to do to complete a level and how to purchase items in your store if you have one. Show them the benefit of collecting coins or objects.
2. Personal Best (High Score)
Users like to keep track on how well they are doing, make sure that their top score is shown to them often, either on the game start screen, during the game or after a game so they can see how they did. Nothing feels better than beating a personal best time or score.
As a user progresses through your game they should be rewarded. Give a reward after the first level so they get a feeling of accomplishment, then present a new achievement for milestones such as best time, best score for a round, etc… You should include a display (i.e. trophy room) of all of the achievements they have won so they feel the emotional connection and then see which ones they still need to get. Finally allow them to share them so they can show them off.
This is a must for any game. One of the main reasons to play a game is beat it or beat the other players. The leaderboard should show where the user ranks compared to all other players and how they are doing against their friends. Nothing is more rewarding than beating a good friend a a game you both love. The easiest way to implement leaderboards into a game is through Game Center.
Similar to achievements, a user should be rewarded for continuing to play your game. Either each day or after a certain amount of levels you should give the user a new special skill or money that will help them get further. If a user knows they are going to get a reward when they open your game next, it’s a huge incentive to come back. If you are going to have daily rewards, make them tiered. This gives an even greater reward to the loyal users who come back every day. The first day give them 50 coins, then 100 the next and 150 the day after that until a maximum is reached. If a user misses a day then they start back at the bottom. It’ll keep them coming back for the big bonuses.
6. Daily Notifications
Use Push Notifications of Local Notifications to remind your users to come back and play your game. The user has the option to turn off these alerts anytime they want (General Settings > Notifications) but you should be sending them to get their attention. When a user comes back to your game from a notification it’s best to reward them with a daily prize.
Keeping your users happy means giving them free stuff to help them get further in your game or beat other players. The happier a player is and the more value you give the more they will come back to play and tell their friends!
Game Strategy: Make It Social
Are you building a mobile game right now? If you are there are a lot of things you should consider before you release. Aside from your basic game play there are key features that you need in your game to make it to the top of the charts.
To get users to keep coming back to your app, it has to go viral. Meaning it should receive as much word of mouth through the social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Your app must leverage these networks by allowing the users who love your game the most to tell all of their friends, who tell their friends, etc…
Here’s how to integrate Social Networks into your game.
1. Share on Facebook & Twitter
Most of you are probably doing this already but it is the most important. The iOS 6 SDK easily allows you to share anything you want via Facebook and Twitter using the Social Framework. Use these APIs at the end of each game so users can share their score and when acquire an achievement. Let your users brag about how well they are doing in your game, then their friends will see it and want to get your game since their friend likes it so much.
2. Login to your App using Facebook
To do this, download the Facebook iOS SDK and follow their tutorial on Adding the Login UI Control to your app. This is important because once users are logged into your app their friends will know that they are playing your game.
3. Facebook Leaderboards
If users log into your app using the Facebook API you can use this authentication to query who of their friends have also used your app. With this information you can setup a web service to store each of the users scores then display a leaderboard of only their friends so they can compete directly against each other. For more information on how to integrate a Facebook Leaderboard, iCodeBlog wrote this great article, Creating an Online Leaderboard For Your Games.
4. Challenge Your Friends
You always need new users playing your game, what better way to get new players then by having your existing users invite them. Add a way for users to contact their friends (via email, SMS, iMessage or Facebook Message). Incentivize this by rewarding your user for each friend they contact. Give them a bonus amount of coins or a special social achievement.
5. Send a Bonus
Sometimes users need help to progress farther in a game. They may want more money or a special power or even unlock the next level but they can’t do it on their own. Allow your users to send a bonus to their friends that are playing the game. If you’ve implemented the Facebook Login above then you’ll know who of their Facebook friends are playing the game. Present a list of these friends to your user and allow them to select who they want to help out. The next time the friend opens your game show them that they’ve received a bonus from their friend, they’ll be happy they did and maybe next time they’ll send a bonus.
Implementing even some of the strategies above will help the social play of your game. The more you implement the more your users will come back. Take a look how other games have integrated some of these features into their apps to further understand their value.