Superdata published an analysis of retention in F2P games. During the era of subscription-based MMOGs developers and publishers were mostly focused on aquiring new players. F2P brought up another problem: to make money F2P-games need to keep players happy. If the player is happy he will definitely try to spend more money in-game.
Superdata analyzed the login data we a set of free-to-play titles over five years and identified some patterns that guide player retention.
If the player signs in your game even before the official launch there is a high chance that this user will stay for a very long time. Highly interested players are less likely to wait before they start playing and they will not quit a highly anticipated game. They are the ones who explore all the game’s features and offerings.
6.21% of players who logged in for the first time in the 1st month a game is released will log on 360 days after their first login. By comparison, only one tenth of players (0.63%) who logged in for the first time in the 12th month after a game is released will log on 360 days after their first login, – Superdata.
Analytics believe that pre-release marketing is critical in establishing an initial customer base. These efforts will help to build a loyal and fully engaged community. However we all know examples of games that had a big following but still failed to keep the players interested after the launch (Firefall).
After the marketing effort a lot of newcomers will try your product. Only a fraction of them will stay with the game. In free-to-play MMOs Nth-Day Retention of gamers that log in for the first time during launch month doesn’t differ much from the other players. During the first month less and less gamers return to the MMOG, but later the dropout rate decelerates.
Superdata believes that the first month is critical to gather the long term user base that will define the success of your title.
83% of players who log in for the first time in the same month as the game’s release will log on the following day, – Superdata.
However down the road the retention suffers: only 20% of players who log in for the first time during launch month will log on 30 days later. If the user starts playing twelve months after launch, the retention is much worse.
“One-third of players (35%) who log in for the first time one year after launch will log on the next day and only 3% will log on after 30 days”, – Superdata.
Those gamers who log in the game during the initial launch period come back to the MMOG much more often.
You should expect the stabilization of your MMO community 24 months after release. During this period the quality of newly arriving players improves. New gamers are usually introduced by word-of-mouth. Sometimes their registration is a result of careful consideration. Retention among these players is better: 40% of users login the nest day and 2% return on the 30th day after the first log in.
Too bad that only a fraction of F2P-games manage to stay afloat for a period of two years. However it is during this period that the most valuable players begin to show up.
It is difficult to predict what will happen with the F2P MMOG. The most important insight of the Superdata report is the following: build your community early on, cherish the returning players and make everything possible to increase the retention. The first 30 days after launch are the most important for any F2P-developer.